Dear Cousin Butchie,
I am writing to you because I have read your blogs in NJ Gay Life... and I don't know who else to discuss things with.
I am gay, and my parents took a little time to get comfortable with this "news" but they quickly educated themselves and asked me many questions. Now, it's cool with them.
But, they have told me that they are very concerned about my younger brother who is telling them that he is really transgender and plans to transition as soon as he can. He is 13 years old and sometimes dresses in jeans and shirts which would better fit a girl. And there are other signals. My parents tell me that they can't make any progress trying to understand his decision. I have not been told anything at all by my brother, so I am in the same "feeling stupid" mode as my parents. They have agreed to seek whatever help is available.
I don't know if you can suggest any place to turn so that we can deal with this situation as a family. Forgive me, but I had a brief time getting my parents to accept me as a gay dude. My little brother has really topped them (and me) on this revelation.
Dear Feeling Stupid,
First of all, I suggest that you stop saying you are feeling stupid. This doesn't help matters any, and you are really just not well informed on this subject.
For many years, there has been reference to the LGBT community. Stop and think how often we have given any consideration to the "T" people in our community identity. Admittedly, the transgender people have been coming out in fairly large numbers in the past several years but we still haven't responded as well as we should. They are still part of our community!
Instead of trying to accept and understand your brother on your own, it would be a great idea to go to a specific support group for transgender people and their families. It will work best if you all go.
Any PFLAG group in NJ will be kind and understanding and somewhat helpful with this situation. However there are two NJ chapters which have specific meetings only for people and families dealing only with our transgender people and their issues-- which is only slightly similar to the gay and lesbian and bisexual challenges.
Please call either of the PFLAG numbers listed below. Even if it might be a distance, I urge you to go and make friends with other transgender people and their families and friends. You will be given valuable resources which will make this stage of your lives much better... and your little brother will thank you and love you more for going to real lengths to understand.
PFLAG-Ridgewood/Bergen County 201-287-0318
PFLAG-South Jersey Chapter 908-814-2155
Any readers who might wish to add some encouragement or resources for this family is asked to reply to NJ Gay Life in the comments space following this blog.