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Explaining to My Family

Patty Jean's story

I had been struggling for some time knowing that I soon had to tell my family what was going on with me and try to explain it in a way they could understand. What I did was to create a video tape.

Why did I choose to do it this way? It was the only sensible way for me to be able to explain things in a sensible yet somewhat personal way. In person it would be very difficult to say things so shocking, and knowing that I would be very scared and emotional, it would be too easy for things to not go well or I wouldn't say things in quite the way I really felt. I've always been too shy for my own good.

If I was to write a letter I could say what I meant, but for something so important to me and with so many feelings involved that wouldn't feel what I was saying. They would be reading an explanation and facts, which just seemed to impersonal and cold. I didn't want to break the news about something so drastic and surprising to them that way. I didn't think that would be right and they deserved better than that. Since I was too chicken and it would be too difficult for me to say how I really felt I did the next best thing. I made a video tape.

By the time the holidays of 1999 came I had been growing out my hair for a year and a half. I had lost about 25 lbs., had both ears pierced, my nails were quite long, and a few other noticable things. During the holidays my little sister had even asked me if I had a part-time job I wasn't telling anyone about. She thought maybe I was doing female impersonator shows or something. That was about as good an opening to tell them as any, but with people there who were not family the time wasn't right.

After the holidays I knew I had to tell them very soon. I waited until after my mother's birthday, and then decided to do the video. First I typed out just what I wanted to say. That only took about a week to write. And finally I had a whole day with just me and the video camera. I was so nervous. It took me about 14 hours to make a 20 to 30 minute tape. I suppose you could say I was a bit emotional, and I went through a whole box of kleenex as I kept choking up and crying. I would keep pausing and rewinding the tape a bit and finally made it through saying what needed to be said.

I started off explaining things about my life during the last 20 years. I wanted them to understand how I really felt about them. How I wanted to be close and more a part of the family, and to not distance myself from them or hide, or lie about things anymore. Then I eased into explaining how I really am, what I was doing and what my intentions for the future was, including going all the way through SRS. That had to be a big shock as they never even knew I was bi-sexual or had any of the feelings and gender issues I've been struggling with my whole life.

I even went on to explain why I did this on a video tape. How I hoped they would understand and accept me as I am because my worst fear was losing my family. But that it was a risk I had to take. Because if I didn't transition I would lose my life and my family. I then delivered the tape to my sister with instructions for her to watch it and then take it to my mother and watch it with her. It did take her a week of thinking it over to show it to my mother. I have more details about all that on my website in my diary.

But I believe it went very nicely that way. With one family member taking it to another's so they can watch it together and discuss their feelings and their shock over the news. A few days after my mother watched it we met for dinner then went to her house and talked into the night. This was the best and most honest and emotional conversation I ever had with my mother. And it was great!!! I still don't get up to see my family as much as I should; but we are very much closer now and get along better than ever in my life.

If I can be of help to anyone with doing this themselves or answer any questions feel free to email me. If you are in the local area and hav no video camera I can even assist with that.

I hope this helps in some way. Thank you for listening.

Patty Jean