I Am Done Hiding: An Open Letter From A Trans Daughter-In-Law

Why I’m passing on turkey this Thanksgiving

Freedom From Want

I have been out for two days to you. As I write this, that’s less than 48 hours. You have been kind and jovial and accepting thus far. I appreciate this and it means a lot to me that you would promise to support your child’s spouse through a gender transition. It’s a rather unusual circumstance, even I would admit.

I heard you had concerns about Thanksgiving. You are having guests you normally do not have this year, a pair of older Southern Baptist ladies. I also heard you do not want to tell them about me and that you would want me to come as my “male” “self”.

I think this is unwise. Let me explain. This idea has three main problems.

It Underestimates Your Guests

Not long ago, I attended the wedding of a friend; one of the people present was a lady far older than your guests. She talked about her church a lot. Then she took out a tablet and showed everyone a picture.

“This is my grandson. I was happy when I had a granddaughter and now I have a grandson and that’s ok. There’s a lot of people talking about bathrooms. But does he look like belongs in a woman’s room? No no no. That’s not right.”

I bring this up not to praise this woman, but to show a person’s faith and age do not define an outlook on trans people. We do not know that for certain, and they may have never even met someone like me (at least that they know of). They could meet me and we could talk and they might understand. It’s not impossible. I have met one of them before.

Even if that were wrong and the statistically likely attitudes prevailed and they would be unable to accept someone like me, your idea presumes that they will not be able to hold their tongue. Are you concerned they will not be able to adjust to the rules of decorum that passes for normal in a Midwestern Thanksgiving? That they will not be able to contain their offense and would be liable to start voicing their opinions about people like me around children? The general public? And, even if so, what is the cost there? That their bigotry is laid bare? I can handle that, I think.

I think they are better than that. And even if they are not, I know I am.

It Insults Me

Your idea presumes that I am willing to subsume my identity, which I have struggled with for years, for the theoretical comfort of two people who may or may not despise my real self?

Your idea and solution to the theoretical conflict is to deny who I am, again, and the skin I live in every day for their comfort, tells me that my well-being and acceptance is less important than a dinner.

It Teaches Kids The Wrong Message: Shame and Bigotry Are Acceptable

I could handle donning the yellow cardigan that I got a few months ago over a polo shirt for a couple hours, I know it won’t damage me permanently. However, it would teach my kids a lesson I do not think I can unteach: that bigotry is to be tolerated, even coddled, merely because the bigots are old. And not just my kids, but also the nieces and nephews who also know who I am.

(As an aside, do we want to show them it is OK to lie about ourselves? Or that love and acceptance is conditional on the convenience of the persons involved?)

This is not situational awareness. This is not a surprise de-escalation of some threat. Your guests do not offer any potential physical harm; there is no reason to dress in guy-mode other than to make them comfortable.

No. Bigotry must be fought. Unfortunately, by proposing that I do this, you show that being good allies—no, fuck that—being loving and decent people can be put on the back burner when it is not convenient.

If I were to acquiesce, I would be complicit in that. I do not know if I can handle that.

But I Have A Solution

I propose a solution: Go ahead and out me to your guests. Tell them ahead of time what to expect—that your new-to-them daughter-in-law will be in attendance. Give them my new name. Use my pronouns. Be the example I know you can be.

Ultimately it is your holiday, host-wise. We’ve had 20 Thanksgiving meals together. I suppose me missing one is not a tragedy, even if missing out on your pie would be terrible. But even missing that pie is not as bad as allowing transphobic bigotry (and you know how much I like pie).

If this is your will, I respect it. However, I will then not attend Thanksgiving this year. I will not play that role any longer. Even then, me being trans may come up anyway. By not coming, my absence will be felt by those who know why I am not there because that will not be a secret.

Also, if you insist on this charade, you do not fully support me. I know you can be better, and so I forgive you, already, for this suggestion. As I said, this situation is very new to both of us—as in days for you—and we’ll both learn a lot.

I am not mad; I am disappointed. It’s OK. You can do better. You will do better. I believe in you and I love you.

With love, your daughter-in-law,


This piece was originally featured on Medium.

AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less