I used to love the holidays. Christmas was my second favorite celebration next to my birthday. I enjoyed getting together with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. My parents and I would make the trek to my grandparents’ farm around the 20th or 21st and we would stay through the 28th or so. My mind gets lost in the memories of all the smells, sounds, and tastes of the holidays. I always seemed to get good presents and have a good time.
The holiday season has been tricky for me the last few years. Between working a stressful retail gig, transition, and isolation from my family, the holiday season seems to be a cause of many struggles and bouts of depression. Last year was the first real Christmas as myself. My parents, unfortunately, did not see it that way. I received way more gifts than a 31-year-old only child should receive. It was hard seeing my dead name on every single package from my parents. My lovely wife at least got me some of the girliest presents to make up for my family’s shittyness.
It was a struggle to take a phone call from my family on Christmas last year. Plenty of them were eating good food, watching Christmas day television, opening presents they wanted with their correct name, and having a good time. I felt isolated from being able to enjoy the company of many people. I also felt separated because I wanted to shout to my relatives that my name is Alyson and that I am a woman. I just felt that maybe fucking up my family’s holiday was a bit much.
Carolina deserved better than me still pretending to be “him” with my family. I resolved to make this year different. I have struggled with figuring out a way to make my coming out to my parents stick. I came up with a pretty good idea to come out to all of my family and hopefully make my parents realize I am not in a phase. I am not just a man in a dress. I am an amazing woman who deserves unconditional love. Around November 9th, I resolved that I would come out to my family via a really awesome holiday card. I wanted to make it real for everyone. I wanted everyone to know how happy and awesome I am. I want them to see how much I love Carolina. I want to connect with them again and reopen those old memories.
I want to make great holiday memories from here on in. Carolina and I have been working on our own traditions the last few years, like going to a movie and opening packages Christmas morning. I want my family to be a part of these memories. I want to feel welcome to come home and celebrate the holidays. I want to invite my cousins and family back into my life.
I started working on my letter to them, but it has been hard. I keep tearing up while trying to write it. I know that they will see the pictures first because its hard to get someone to not look at pictures in a card before they read the letter.
Our friend, Alyssa, took some great photos for our holiday card and I really love them. I think they capture Carolina and I’s love amazingly well.
Sadly, my family experience is not unique. Too many trans and queer people face ostracization by their biological families simply for existing. The statistics are horrible with regards to the amount of homeless queer youth, the amount of queer people who commit suicide, especially trans people, the amount of queer people who are assaulted for being queer, and the amount of trans people, especially trans women of color who are murdered simply for being themselves.
The holidays are supposed to be a time for celebration and for love. Too many of us do not feel the spirit of the holiday season. If you are a cisgender or heterosexual family member of a queer person, please make them feel loved and wanted. Please reach out and tell someone how much you love them. It is greatly appreciated. My one cousin who knows about me is great and she has made me feel ok about myself.
If you are an awesome queer or trans person like myself whose family sucks, know that there are plenty of us out there to make a family from. I have met some awesome people who I consider my family. I have a great brother, C, in California who I absolutely love. I feel so close to him because we have shared so many similar experiences. I love each and everyone of you reading this article right now.
I look forward to creating awesome holiday memories over the next years.
If you are a trans person in crisis, there is a new hotline staffed by trans people for trans people. Trans Lifeline can be reached at 1-877-565-8860.
If you are a queer or questioning youth struggling with the depressions of the holiday season, the Trevor Project can be reached at 1-866-488-7386. They also provide text and chat support through the website.
Also, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) 24/7.