Disowned: When Coming Out Doesn’t Go As Planned

Author’s Note:

This piece was inspired by Whitney’s powerful essay about her estrangement from her family. Like her, my parents and I are no longer in contact with each other.  It’s been nearly a year and a half since my father formally disowned me in a letter- you can read the response I wrote at the time on my WordPress blog.

I’ve been meaning to write the piece for weeks. It’s been on my do list: change birth certificate, make dentist appointment, write disowning piece. But every time I sat down to write it, I struggled to get the words out. I recently realized that I had been carrying a copy of my father’s letter in my purse for months. I read it one final time, and then tore it up- it was finally time to get through this.

The queer experience isn’t always just rainbows, unicorns, and glitter- sometimes it’s full of heartbreak and disappointment as well. Parental rejection, or at least the fear of it, is something nearly all of us can relate to. I believe that it’s important to acknowledge the setbacks I’ve gone through in order to fully appreciate and embrace the joy that comes from living life authentically.

My girlfriend and I earlier this month

“I’m sure they’ll come around eventually- maybe you just need to give them more time. Don’t give up hope!” This is what people usually say when they find out that my parents disowned me last year for coming out as trans*. It often follows some variation of “Where are you from, Alabama?” (I grew up in Seattle.) And every time, I smile and respond with a “Maybe you’re right, but I wouldn’t count on it. And either way, I’m so much happier now that I’m no longer living a lie. I don’t let it bother me.”

But the truth is that it does bother me that my parents are pretending that I’m dead—probably more than I’ve been willing to admit. For months I told myself that I didn’t care, that I was glad to be free of the burden of trying to live up to parental expectations. I reminded myself of how privileged my experience of transition has been—who was I to complain when I didn’t have to deal with the transphobia and discrimination that I often write about? But by refusing to acknowledge the scars of rejection, I didn’t allow myself to heal from them. That’s what part of this piece is about—sharing the pain that I’ve kept bottled up for far too long, while also affirming that even if transitioning cost me my relationship with my parents, I’d still do it again in a heartbeat.

A little background for those of you who don’t know my story: I’ve known that I was really a girl for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t work up the courage to tell anyone until was 23. I had a very gendered upbringing—my parents made it clear early on that boys behaved one way and girls another and that those lines were not to be crossed. I felt scared and ashamed knowing that my parents likely wouldn’t accept the real me, so I tried as hard as I could to meet their expectations of masculinity.

New Years 2011- the first time I wore full makeup in public

Being a closeted trans* person is exhausting. It’s like being cast in the wrong role of a seemingly never-ending stage play, and the longer it goes on, the harder it gets to not slip out of character. By the time I was a teenager, I had acquired a small collection of makeup and clothing, and I began dressing when I had the house to myself. These precious hours of authenticity were always punctured by an overwhelming sense of shame as the time came to wash off the makeup and hide my clothes before my parents got home. I was terrified of getting caught, and my mind always raced as I heard their car pull into the driveway. Did I wipe off all the mascara? Did I forget that skirt in the living room? Should I run downstairs and check? What do I tell them when they ask what I’ve been doing all day?

My parents never caught me, although a part of me secretly wished that they would so I wouldn’t have to hide anymore. They didn’t actually mean those things about not loving a queer child, right? They might be upset at first, but they’d try to help me. They’d understand that I didn’t choose to be this way.

Fast-forward to February 2011. I’ve been out to my girlfriend and a few close friends for a couple months and I’m about to start hormones and transition at work. But first I needed to do the one thing that I had feared since kindergarten: I had to tell my parents the truth. I wrote them a letter explaining how the dysphoria I had been silently dealing with for years had become unbearable, dropped the envelope in the mailbox, and hoped for the best.

my parents don’t want to know me as female- but i couldn’t pretend to be a boy again if you paid me!

My mother always wanted a daughter. I remember as a small child she sometimes let me braid her hair, and she would tell me how she would have named me Annika. When I came out, I didn’t expect a very good reaction from my father, but I that my mother might be more accepting—maybe even happy to learn that the daughter she always wanted had been here all along.

Things didn’t turn out quite as well as I had hoped. After reading the letter, my parents quickly progressed from shock to disbelief to grief and disgust. I tried to send them resources for parents of trans* children, but when it became clear that I was serious about transitioning, they cut off all contact. I received a formal disowning letter in March 2011, in which my father warned that my life as a trans girl would be “bleak with much unhappiness.” He told me that he didn’t want to know me as female, and that I should change my last name and only contact him if I “decided to be a boy again.” Anyone who’s met me as Annika knows that that’s never going to happen.

Despite this, transitioning was the best decision I have ever made, and my only regret was waiting as long as I did to take the plunge. Literally everything is better now that I’m not longer hiding who I really am. I connect with my girlfriend on a much deeper level than I did before. I’ve been able to meet so many extraordinary people, and I easily have ten times as many friends as I did a few years ago. Even music and food are better! I no longer feel this nagging sense of despair about the future.

Spot the forced smile from the genuine one

But something is still missing. I notice it every time a coworker goes home for the weekend or when a friend introduces me to their parents. Whenever I read a story about a gender-variant child and a proud, supportive parent, I can’t help but feel a little jealousy, along with excitement for the next generation of trans* people. Sometimes it hits me out of nowhere, and I start to wonder what about me was so easily discardable. I have so many unanswered questions. What name and pronouns do my parents use for me? What do they say when an old friend asks them about their children? Does either of them regret the way they reacted to my coming out? Do they read my blogs? Do they even talk about me at all?

My brother recently posted a picture of my parents on Facebook, and as I looked at their faces, it struck me that they have no idea who the daughter they raised for 18 years is, nor do they want to know. They don’t know what my passions are or what clothes I like to wear or even what my voice sounds like. How is it that these people, who are essentially strangers, continue to have an impact on my emotional well-being?

And the answer is that a part of me is still a scared little closeted trans girl who just wants to braid her mother’s hair and be loved for who she really is.

Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


I'm a 23 year old femme lesbian living in SF. Once upon a time, I was a USC frat boy ;) I ♥ music so please recommend your favorite artists to me!

annika has written 21 articles for us.


    • I have lived in a similar situation, but with much worse results. Because of my fear of rejection by everyone I knew (and yes, I am from the South–Florida to be exact), I tried very hard to be the man everyone expected of me. The problem was that it was 1987 and transgender people have it much easier now. I had a daughter by my first marriage and along with my parents, she quickly disowned me. My mother died in 1997 as a result from a lifetime of being an alcoholic. My father died this past December 28th at 4 AM. I am specific because exactly 6 hours before his death, my appendix ruptured and I had my emergency appendectomy. My daughter is a nurse at the hospital I was admitted to and she refused, even after being threatened by management, to see or acknowledge me. My mother burned every single one of pictures of me when I was younger. At least through the last 1 1/2 years of my father’s life, we had begun to converse on the telephone, but he still refused to see me and both my parents hadn’t seen me at all since 1984. After my father’s death (which was attended by my daughter) was relayed through an email the day before my third day after my appendectomy and my readmittance to that same hospital because my gall bladder had become seriously infected due to the poison my appendix released before it was removed. I was miserable and the news about my father was just the cherry on top. I told my daughter in another email that I wanted to meet my four granddaughters and she accused me of having a “grandma delusion”. My daughter inherited my ex’s disdain for everything that doesn’t meet her personal standard of morality. It has nothing to do with religion, although she’s used that against me through the years. I remarried last year on May 1st, just celebrated our first anniversary, but the dark cloud of my family hangs luminously over my head–so much so that for the first time since 1987, I’m seeking counseling about it. The hurt runs deep inside me and can’t simply be shaken off. I did the same thing you did for many years; I told myself I was better off without them, but my heart ached so deeply and I tried so hard not to succumb to it, but with both my parents gone and a daughter who hates me, I have no blood family left. No transgender is an island and after 30 years since I transitioned, the pain caused by my family hurts more than ever.

  1. Annika, I mean this in the best way:
    You have a lot of balls to be who you are against all odds.

    You’ve mentioned before that your parents are from a scandinavian background. Scandinavians have a reputation of being open-minded. I am really surprised they have/are giving you such a hard time.
    No pressure, but if and when your girlfriend ever have babies, I have a feeling you parents will come around.

    • Or, in the words of this woman who came to talk at our college women’s group, that takes ovaries.

      I want to give you all the hugs.

    • sorry, this was a beautiful essay and the last lines made me tear up a bit, but “uglystepsister” that was maybe the least fortunate way of calling some brave, ever.

    • Dear Ugly SS,

      Wow, seriously, that’s the most sincere phrase you could come up with to express your admiration for Annika standing up for her womanhood. Really? I shudder to think what you say when you intentionally insult someone or consciously try to put them down. :(

    • Ladies, stop hating on me.
      I meant ‘courage’, and in the English language ‘balls’ and ‘guts’ mean just that.
      You ladies could really lighten up, ya know. I don’t think politically correct words define what is and isn’t acceptable treatment towards a person. I think respectable treatment is about intentionality.

      Annika, maybe you also hate me now, but for the record, I don’t genderize genitalia. One doesn’t need balls to be a man, and vice versa.

      Lesbians, you are my people, but puhleeze get off your high horses.

      • I don’t think anyone hates you, they were just pointing out how poor your choice of words were. Some people resent that balls are synonymous with courage while pussy means cowardly. Not to mention the use of that phrase when responding to an emotional post about parent not accepting someones transition. You even acknowledged it yourself. Just because you don’t find a statement doesn’t mean those who do are on a high horse.

      • Dear Uglystepsister,

        1 – privileged people don’t get to define what constitutes appropriate language towards oppressed minorities, or what they ought to not be offended by. (I also find it rather telling that you assumed all the answers you got were from cis lesbians – they weren’t.)

        2 – You don’t get a cookie and a free pass for being a somewhat decent human being.

        3 – http://genderbitch.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/intent-its-fucking-magic/

        • Dear GV,

          1. Why do you assume I am privileged and not trans*? What makes you think the trans* community finds my choice of words offensive? I wish to treat and talk to trans-lesbians the way I would to talk to other lesbians. If I tell a courageous cis-lesbian she has ‘balls’, then do you think it’s fair to a trans-lesbian that I suddenly change my style, instead of acknowledging her the way I would any other Big Ol’ Lesbian?

          3. I’m not asking for a license to shit on everyone in the name of ‘lightening up’. My point is that the politically correct police is way too fixated on ‘form’ and acceptable titles and labels, instead of focusing on ‘content’.

        • My girlfriend and I use this expression in reference to women all the time – and I’d go so far as to say that we’re a lot less likely to use it in reference to men, because to do so would seem too gender-normative. And gender-normativity is simply no fun.

          I can appreciate why it might cause offense to a trans woman, and I would probably personally exercise more caution in using such a phrase in a situation like this one. But I can also see where Uglystepsister is coming from in stating that, by using the phrase, she’s treating Annika in the same way she would any other lesbian.

  2. Incredibly moving piece. No one should ever feel that type of rejection from the people who are supposed to love us unconditionally. I’m fairly uneducated about the Trans community so I’m excited the church I attend in Orange County is doing a viewing of “Trans” the movie. http://chotf.org/index.htm

  3. Thanks for sharing your story, Annika. Your strength to be true to yourself and acceptance from your girlfriend and those who love you are so inspirational.

      • Those were the words that struck me, too. Annika, you are NOT discardable. The people who love you here on this site are just a part of the proof of that. Your parents are making a terrible mistake. I wish and hope that they’ll realize that while there is time to mend things.

  4. Thanks for sharing you story Annika. You are an amazing and inspiring woman. This was a very moving article, and hope you come out better through it all, with love and forgiveness. Wishing you all the best!!

  5. The line about ‘what made me so discardable’ is so true and to the heart of the wound. When you tell someone you love them, that shouldn’t really mean “but only if you do exactly as I want you to do and follow my expectations.” I’m glad the rest of your life has so many positives to it and that you’ve been able to find love elsewhere.

    From my experience with the trans community, most transitions don’t go as planned (hey, some actually work out way better than you assumed, while others…). The most painful part is when your expectations about who will support you are dashed. It’s hard not to doubt your very ability to read and rely on people, or receive love and I’ve seen some trans people experience something very much like PTSD from that aspect to their transitions (and the profound loss). Especially for some older trans women, I’ve seen some who are still scared to come out of their shell because they were so battered during transition. You can cut their loneliness with a knife.

    When I transitioned I had a slew of people I knew who, while not saying I was dead to them, literally cut me out of their lives in a very crude and obvious manner (especially people I knew through parenting our children). This easily went on for 4-5 years… a time when I really needed support (and both my parents were no longer alive). At the same time, I was tossed from two jobs which compounded the pain and confusion and my feelings of low self-worth. Some of those people came back into my life when they could see the sky wasn’t falling in and I seemed more, to their tastes, gender normative (AKA passable). Others left and stayed away. It’s been a hard process of sometimes swallowing my hurt and pride and allowing them back into my life or encountering them in certain situations. Sometimes I feel as if not attempting to reconnect with them gives them a power over me and perpetuates my hurt far more than they should be able to. Other times, it just seems too exhausting to re-encounter them or to even pretend I care anymore.

  6. “…so easily discardable…” Ugh, dagger right to the heart. My mother did that to me but for religious reasons. Sometimes, I forget that parents are humans just like us. They can be downright jackholes. I think that because they raised us, it is expected that they will love us unconditionally. Then, I remember that some folks don’t know (or learn) how to do that. It’s almost as if raising child was a cultural expectation rather than a true desire. Love doesn’t really factor into that. But then I wonder if there is love but they are feeling so much shame because they didn’t meet society’s expectations (whatever that means) and instead of working through it, they project it onto us. It doesn’t excuse their behavior, I’m just curious about the source of this rejection.

    Anyway, enough rambling. I hope that your parents come around. It may take some years but fingers-crossed that they will reconcile.

  7. This. Just all of this, it resonates so hard. I just came out to my dad, and his reaction, though not surprising, still hurts. He and I have never been close, but still you feel these feelings. And I just reread your reaction to your dad’s letter, and I wish I could just quote you to my dad. Stay strong Annika, you have so much support in your life, and so much support from these strangers on the internet. :)

  8. hi annika,
    i just want to let you know how brave and strong i think you are. i also want to say that anyone who refuses to see you as who you are does not even deserve to have you in their life. i had a variation of this with my abusive, oppressive mother and i cut her clean out of my life. now i am myself, and my life is filled to the brim with hopes and happiness. you might miss having your parents in your life, but if they truly feel about you the way they said they did, then they do not deserve to have the wonderful, amazing (and SO gorgeous!) daughter you are. i hope this doesn’t offend you. it’s just my take on it and i only put it out there in the hopes of offering you *some* measure of comfort. :)

  9. Thanks for sharing Annika! I’m sorry, that sucks for you, I’m always said when your parents come up; it’s really terrible how they’re treating you.

    As a trans person, who has had a fairly privileged transition herself, transitioning isn’t without seriously painful bumps for all of us. I really hope someday your parents wake up and realize how precious life is and how awesome you are. It’s really tough when the ones you love and who are family turn out to be the ones who are the least accepting :(

    I think ripping the letter up, writing this piece, and moving on is best thing you could do in your situation. Life is short, for you too, and no one should have to wait around for someone to become accepting, even if it is the most painful of people to be unaccepting: parents.

    You’re a beautiful person!! <3 You deserve happiness!! <3 Continue being brave and going out and finding that for yourself!!

  10. “Being a closeted trans* person is exhausting. It’s like being cast in the wrong role of a seemingly never-ending stage play, and the longer it goes on, the harder it gets to not slip out of character.”

    Word. I am in that place right now, and I keep wondering why I wake up so tired. Why I struggle to get ready for work, even though I like my job. It’s because there I’m not myself. I’m “her”, that girl I see in the old photos who doesn’t even feel like me anymore. I’m playing that role half-heartedly at best, forgetting that I’m playing it until someone says “she” and I belatedly realize ‘oh shit, that’s my cue!’.

    It is indeed exhausting, and untenable. And yet people wonder and ask why trans* folks “choose” to transition. As if they were truly changing, instead of just playing along. As if they had a choice, instead of being worn down slowly, inexorably.

    • Wish I could explain this to my mom, but she’s so worried about what she saw in Boy’s Don’t Cry. :\

  11. I was truly able to keep all of this in perspective and at a level place in my mind while still being compassionate and feeling for you…except for that last sentence. That just caught me so left field and smacked me so hard upside the head with its profoundness that I just couldn’t help tearing up. That last bit was so complete, so simple, and so vulnerable; it was pretty much the most genuine part of this piece, not that the rest of it wasn’t genuine, mind you.

      • that last sentence, that last sentence! I was reading it feeling all these feelings and then the last sentence just hit and I was crying so hard, harder than I have for a while. It’s so painful.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, as hard as this must have been for you. It is absolutely heart-breaking to hear of situations where parents disown their children, for whatever reason but particularly for simply being who they are. I no longer have a relationship with my father (for an unrelated reason) and although I chose it, accepted it and have come to terms with it, it still hurts sometimes.

    My daughter is trans. She is almost 8. I love her unconditionally and am doing whatever I can to support her so that she will always know her family has her back. I wish you blessings in your life forward…and know that by sharing, you are helping others and that there are people in this world (yay for the internet) that accept you and appreciate you for who you are.

  13. Thank you for sharing your story. Your strength and bravery and staying true to yourself are so inspiring.

  14. My wife and I are expecting a baby in November. (I’m actually awake at 5am writing this as the kiddo tries to kick his way out of me.) We know that the baby is a boy, but if this were his story I Would be so proud. My biggest fear in having a Trans child was that they would reject the gift of the name we’d given them. When I realized that you’d chosen to take on the name your parents chose for you it made me so incredibly impressed (and caused an incredible lack of eloquence apparently). You are a remarkable young woman.

  15. You can do it, girl! My Mom disowned me in similar circumstances about seven years ago. I won’t lie and tell you I still don’t hurt, but it has gotten easier with time. For me, it’s been a fine line between acknowledging the hurt in a productive way and feeling like a victim. Also, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say, “she’ll come around, just wait,” I would, well, probably buy myself a very expensive present.

    Fact is, she may never come around. If she does, there may be nothing left to say. But the bottom line for me is that I will not kowtow to the kind of emotional blackmail that is a parent saying, “You can have my love back only when you do what I want you to.” I think life’s too short (and would be too miserable!) to not do the immensely important (and totally harmless) things that make you happy.

    And if nothing else I bet a ton of your friends/girlfriend’s moms would love to take you under their wing. Annoying as it may seem when you take it for granted, it’s kind of nice to have somebody who cares enough to nag you about showing too much cleavage. This time around, you get to choose who it is–to choose your family–and for me, it’s been kind of a privilege. So rock on!

  16. Wow! This resonates with me so much – especially wondering “what about me was so easily discardable.” Such a painful feeling to associate with your parents. My partner and I participate in a PFLAG group for trans families. The group is primarily composed of parents, and though I am always happy to see that they truly love their trans child (or adult child)and come to understand and support their need to transition, it is always a little bittersweet. When I came out as trans to my parents their reaction was, “No you’re not, don’t tell anyone, and for god’s sake don’t do anything about it!” They refused to read any of the information I gave them and to date really know nothing of their daughter or how much happier and more fulfilling my life has become. They don’t want to know. I’ve also heard all the same encouragements that they’ll eventually come around and accept me. I’m fortunate, I suppose, that though they don’t really seem to want to have much to do with me anymore they didn’t cut me off entirely – though they refuse to acknowledge any change. I called my mother last night (because she doesn’t call me anymore unless she needs something.) As is usual since I came out it was a pleasantly distant conversation about the weather and my sister’s family. Then she came up with an excuse to get off the phone. It sucks to realize that your parents really just don’t like you anymore. I know that it’s worse to have them cut you out of their lives entirely, I’m so sorry that you’ve experienced that. It’s good that you have the support of your girlfriend and friends. I rely on the love and support of my wife and her family and my friends – almost all of whom have had no problem with my transition. The family we choose – and who chooses us – is more important than the one into which we were born.

  17. This made me cry so much. Rough piece to read early in the AM, because nothing in the world makes me feel like the world is a tragic place more than parents mistreating or abandoning their children. Which is exactly what they did to you — disowning isn’t even the right word, I don’t think, because it makes it seem like this is just about inheritance/money/legal rights and it’s totally not.

    • Yes, thank you for saying that about “disowning.” The inverse of that word is “owning” and parents don’t own their children like property.

      Can there be anything harder than parenting (I’m dealing with a lot of very complex teenage daughter issues right now and it’s scary and hurting big time). I understand parents being overwhelmed, feeling helpless, feeling isolated and judged, even needing a break. It happens a lot. But there are ways to deal with all those issues without doing what they did. Even writing a brief note saying something like “this is really threatening to me and far from my experience… I don’t get it. I’m sorry I can’t deal with it now but I’ll try to find out more so maybe it won’t seem so overwhelming. I can’t be there for you right now and need to take a break. I still love you and care about you. Stay safe.” There’s a world of difference between something as simple as that and some knee-jerk, screaming child reaction like Annika’s parents (and lots of other persons who’ve cut trans and queer people out of their lives) sadly do every day.

  18. Um I guess I should write a hopeful and uplifting comment, too? I mean, I don’t want to be one of those people who says, “they’ll come around,” because not only is it maybe a lie, but (from what I’ve seen of friends whose parents have treated them similarly), the longer they maintain radio silence, the more ‘bittersweet’ the final reunion would be, if it did happen. If you and your gf did end up having a child, and that was what finally made your parents come around, I mean it would be great for your kid to have grandparents, but they’ve proved that their love is totally conditional, so ugh.
    I do agree with everyone else though, that found/created family is the new normal! And sometimes hugs from your friends can feel ALMOST as good as from your mom, especially when you know they’ll love you no matter what.
    So, *HUGS*. Good luck! Thank you for writing this amazing piece (which was probably MUCH worse/harder than that dentist appointment).

  19. Thanks for writing this, Annika. I guess it’s a sign of how far I’ve come in the past two years that I can read it without crying.

    I’m estranged from my parents too; but in my case, I’m the one who disowned them, before they had a chance to do it to me. I lived all my life hearing them call anyone in the LGBT community “perverts” and “the dregs of humanity”; by the time I finally came out, I’d been closeted for so long that I knew I wouldn’t have the strength to transition if I had to listen to their voices any longer. I still hear those voices, of course, but every day they get a little quieter while my own gets louder, and every day I get a little closer to being my authentic self, rather than the person I pretended for so long to be in order to please them.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t miss them, though, and it doesn’t negate the good times we had together. What it does mean is that my life is better without them in it than it would be with them. For a year or more after I cut off contact with them, I kept thinking that maybe someday they’d be able to see and love me for who I actually am, rather than for the person they want me to be; but I know them, and I know that isn’t going to happen. I have to find my happiness and love where I can, and like you, I’m finding it with people who know and accept me for my real self. And every day is a little easier than the day before.

    All the best to you, and to all of us who have suffered loss to become ourselves. We are better than we know, better than anyone has ever given us credit for, and we are lighting the way for those who will come after us. May they always be loved for exactly who they are, just as we hope to be.


    • “I still hear those voices, of course, but every day they get a little quieter while my own gets louder, and every day I get a little closer to being my authentic self, rather than the person I pretended for so long to be in order to please them.”

      I really, really like the way you phrased that.

  20. Annika I am so moved by this piece. I know how you felt (I think) as a little kid. I grew up scared and in a super conservative household with very conservative friends and kept being trans hidden till I was in my 20s and in college a state away. I was a real guys guy all growing up and some things still carry over after my transition. I mean I still work on muscle cars and build things but I also like to knit and get dressed up pretty to go out.
    I feared for the reaction you have gotten from your family and I went through some really crappy stuff but my family surprised me. I don’t want to make you jealous of what happened to me I want to give you hope. It was not easy to get where I am now. I had to endure going to a “fix the gay in me” religious meeting or two. And even now my parents don’t respect my being a lesbian or wanting to get married someday (they don’t consider it a marriage). But I wish you all the best! You seem like a great person that any parent should be proud of!

  21. Annika, thank you so much for writing this powerful, very personal article. I am positively amazed at your journey and at the strong person that you are.

    I am also very negatively amazed at your parents. I just can’t understand it. My wife and I recently had a son (well, she did most of the work…) and in the 6 months he has been with us, I have completely fallen in love with him. I asked myself some very deep questions while reading your article and came to the conclusion that there is nothing that he could do to make me stop loving him. I am sure we will disagree and we will fight, but he will be his own person and I will love him for it, no matter what.

    Again, thanks to you for sharing your story.

  22. hi annika – something in your piece triggered my memory of a scene in Laurence Anyways – phenomenal film that i don’t think i”ve seen discussed here, i’d be interested to know what you think about it btw. Anyway, at 35, Melvil Poupaud’s character has finally realized that he just can’t keep on living as a man. His mother, Nathalie Baye, after an initial crisis, finally tells him that she all these years she just couldn’t love him as a son, but know she loves her daughter…ideally this happens at some point, maybe, eventually, and if not i admire your courage and strength.

  23. Annika, you are such a strong woman. In your writing you come across as confident and vivacious, as well as being a caring person who supports her community.

    I don’t know what say that won’t sound trite, but I hope for such good things for you.

  24. Seeing this today is so helpful to me, as I am going through a similar set of feelings and a similar situation.

    I’ve been coming out to family the last few months, and my wife and I just told her parents about a month ago. I wrote them a detailed and well thought out letter, gave them resource information, and even a letter from my therapist. Ever since then they have completely shut down all communication with us, except for the occasional incredibly hateful message. In just this month we’ve been told it’s like we just died to them, that we’re “sick!” I’ve even been not only compared (subtly but all too obviously) to both a cheating wife, but also with a homicidal pervert.

    I’ve always been a really sensitive person, despite every effort not to be, and this has really hurt me deeply. We expected something like this, and my wife is dealing with is really well despite this being her parents. It is me who has been absolutely grief stricken and unable to accept the situation.

    I realized after the last couple weeks of extreme depression like I’ve not had in at least a year, that I need to just let them go. They are toxic and there is little hope they will ever turn it around. I am reminding myself constantly that, no, this is not my fault and it’s not my responsibility to change their attitude, it is theirs. I’m doing nothing wrong (on the contrary), and they are the ones at fault. It’s not easy to give up on people I once thought of as family, but it is the only way I can move on with my life.

    Anyway enough ranting. THANK YOU, Annika! This article really touched me on a personal level and just knowing that I’m not alone in this is incredibly comforting. Remembering that I’m a part of a community and there are people that both understand and love me for who I am is so very important.

    • “I’ve always been a really sensitive person, despite every effort not to be, and this has really hurt me deeply. ” — I totally know what you mean by this. I try to pretend I don’t give a shit what people say/think/do, but it’s so hard to completely ignore it and not let it get to you.
      Good luck!

  25. It must have taken a lot of courage to speak so earnestly about this part of your experience, Annika, and I think that your words resonate in everyone’s hearts here on a personal level. I think that rejection (in all its forms) is the single ugliest social act human beings are capable of.

    It still feels terrible to hear that your parents haven’t recanted – it was clear from your prior comments about them that their reaction was really bothering you. It’s good to see that you’re moving forward from that and coming to terms with their inability to come to terms better than most would. I wish all the best for you.

  26. This resonated with me on so many levels. A year and a half later, my parents have reversed their stance of cutting me off completely. Instead, they’ve “re-owned” the empty boy husk, with the admonition that they don’t ever want to meet the girl again. I was never sad to lose them in the first place – just scared that everyone else in the world would reject me the same way. Luckily, that has not been the case.

    Thanks so much for writing this and just keep being you! That alone is amazingly powerful in this crappy little world.

  27. Oh lady. You’re so brave and wise and kind.

    Although it must be a terrible loss for you I can’t help but think it is your parents are the ones who are really losing out. When you talk about them discarding you I think of fools throwing away a diamond because they think it’s just a piece of glass.

  28. Annika, your posts are one of the few things that give me hope.
    Hopefully, one day I can do what you have done.

  29. This broke my heart. I don’t understand how parents who disown their children live with themselves. I’m so happy you’re making it without them though, Annika. Thank you for sharing. <3

  30. This really reached out to me. “How is it that these people, who are essentially strangers, continue to have an impact on my emotional well-being?” struck home like no other. I have a lot to say and it would be wonderful to talk : ) I feel like a comment here isn’t really where I want to let it all out, ha. My story in short is that I left America and now that I live abroad I’ve left it all behind and finally felt like I could explore what it was that I was so confused about with my gender. I’m not trans, though I finally realized that I’m not just a “feminine guy.” I wore a dress in public for the first time recently, started buying makeup, and all of that. So, I’m about to start telling friends and whoever else that I’ve realized I want to wear women’s clothing and that it’s not that I’m simply a cross-dresser, but it’s a big gender thing (and aaaall of that). I’m extremely nervous and am pretty sure that I will never tell my father if it isn’t forced or if I don’t have a raging desire to hurt him in some way, heh. Shame : (

  31. (I should have written the first time around: Thanks so much for your story. My thoughts go out to you and your words really reached me.)

  32. I don’t want to get into details online, but I’ve been through a similar experience. I think it’s hard not to feel unwanted, because parents are supposed to love and protect you, not disown you for being who you are in a way that isn’t even hurting anyone else. It’s really tough, but I try to remember that at the end of the day being true to yourself and loving yourself are more important than what anyone might think of you.

    Stay strong! And also, you’re super stylish and I want to live in your wardrobe/hairdresser/make-up box.

  33. annika, there are 104 reasons i admire you, but this: “But by refusing to acknowledge the scars of rejection, I didn’t allow myself to heal from them. That’s what part of this piece is about—sharing the pain that I’ve kept bottled up for far too long, while also affirming that even if transitioning cost me my relationship with my parents, I’d still do it again in a heartbeat.” is one of the biggest. you’re so amazingly open and willing to make yourself vulnerable so that other people can learn and not feel so alone. i know it hurts and i know we’re not your “real” family, but i hope you know that there are so many people who love you.

  34. Dude you are such an inspiration! I’ve wanted to come out soo badly to my parents but after my mom referred to the LGBT community as “those people” I had second thoughts. Wish I could be as strong as you! I’m so glad to see you have an amazing support system, you’re super awesome!

  35. I wish I could tell your parents how important, strong and inspiring you are to us all. How you educate people every single day; making us all better people in the process. You are an amazing leader and an incredible woman. I can’t imagine anyone being anything but proud to have someone so full of grace and intelligence in their family.

    Hopefully someday they will see.

  36. Awww, Annika. You’re such a lovely person. It’s totally your family’s loss that they don’t know how amazing you are. You are definitely an inspiration to me always and I really enjoyed sitting outside with you, crafting notes for campers. I found it to be such a privilege and an honor to be a Unicorn with you and Daniella.

    • Oh Evey, it was so lovely to meet you as well! And I will definitely let you know the next time I visit Seattle <3

  37. Annika, you told me the piece would be sad – and it is, but I think you are brave that you are embracing your sadness! And it is so important not to ignore the fact that certain things make you sad. Even if you at one point feel that a chapter is closed or something has been revolved, even if it’s just for you personally, internally, the sadness can always come back – I realized that at camp, and it hurt so much but it was good to be able to cry those tears and acknowledge my own feelings.
    Even though feeling these things is scary I hope you can make it through and find inner peace, even if it’s disrupted at times.
    You are such a lovely, smart and beautiful person, I hope you stay that way and that no hurt in the world will bring that down.

  38. Thank you for writing your story. You’re such an incredible woman, and it’s been an honour to meet you twice in-person.

  39. So it’s late at night and I’m clicking links and then I end up here. I’m sharing this. Your strength gives me strength.

  40. As another transwoman who has cut ties with her family I can really relate. When I came out my family tore the house upside down to find my clothes. Then they threw all of the various cosmetics I had been given, or bought away. Your story is truly an inspiration to those who have been abused, or estranged from their families. With love!

  41. Pingback: Call For Submissions: Trans*Scribe (deadline 03/01/13) |

  42. I’m jealous of you, your looks, your courage and your new life! You are BEAUTIFUL and I envy you! Stay strong!

  43. My whole family and many so – called friends have dishoned me and it hurts more then words can explain. But I wouldn’t change a thing because for once in my life I feel happy and comfortable in my own skin.Dont ever let another persons opinion of you dictate your happiness. If they dont accept you when you are desperately trying to save your then they were never worthy of your love in the first Place.

  44. This was very sad to read but at least I don’t feel alone. I started hormones to mtf transition 6 months ago. My wife & I have recently purchased our 1st house & my parents came up to see it. It went OK albeit awkard silence at times. I look different for sure but they didn’t say. Mom found me on instagram as Joella & my transition. 2 weeks after they leave I get a disowning text “it’s your life but we’re not happy with what you’re doing. from now on we have 2 sons until you can be the man you’re supposed to be.” Like you, I saved it a while to cry to. Then I said screw it & deleted it. I’ve heard the maybe they’ll come around speeches too. I don’t care anymore. I’m me & that’s all that matters.

Comments are closed.