'Letter to My Transgender Daughter' - Walking Through the Steps of Acceptance

"Letter to My Transgender Daughter" by Carolyn Hays.

The piece of cake you cut into did not have a pastel center.

There were no pretty balloons in a box, no colorful confetti, no "Team Pink" or "Team Blue" t-shirts or bracelets. You didn't have a gender-reveal party for your baby because you didn't want to know. As in the memoir "Letter to My Transgender Daughter" by Carolyn Hays, you'll let your child tell you in person.

She never expected another baby.

After seven years, Carolyn Hays thought she was done with diapers and late-night feedings, but the pregnancy test didn't lie. This was good news. The whole family was excited to welcome another member into the household!

The baby was a boy – but as soon as he could talk, he told everyone he was a girl.

No problem; Hays' other children rolled with it; they "saw" their sibling for who she was. Teachers were also nonplussed; they gave the girl a nickname, and extended family members quickly learned to use it.

Hays and her husband balked sometimes, though. They hoped it was a "phase." They gave their daughter "girly" things and allowed her to wear girls clothing, but they tried "boy on the outside / girl on the inside" wordage. Their daughter patiently corrected them each time until eventually, they, too, saw the truth. Their youngest child was a girl.

They were, at that time, "a big, loud East Coast family, new to the Bible Belt" but they'd found community in the south, and a support group, so Hays could parent her trans daughter better. Everything seemed to work out – until the knock on the door.

The representative of the Department of Children and Families couldn't tell Hays who'd made a complaint about them, or when. They could only guess who was offended by their personal family matter, or their total acceptance of their daughter.

All they knew, she said, was "We could lose custody. We could lose you."

If you are someone who loves a child – any child, even a cis child – be prepared to have your heart fall out of your chest. "Letter to My Transgender Daughter" is a nightmare, not because of the book itself but because of what very nearly happened to its author and her family.

Indeed, this "letter" in book form goes from mildly confessional to outright terrified, and author Carolyn Hays susses out all your emotions and turns them raw. Hers is an honest story, not only of a trans girl but of parents who walk through the steps of acceptance. Cue the ominous music, though: you know what's coming but foresight doesn't diminish the outrage and fear you'll feel, once you get there – although Hays doesn't completely let you roll in misery. Readers will be delighted by the precociousness and determination in her daughter's patient steadfastness, and by Hays' family memories.

Now out in paperback, "Letter to My Transgender Daughter" is an absolute read for parents and for trans adults. Read it – then check the headlines and see if it doesn't cut your heart to pieces.

"Letter to My Transgender Daughter" by Carolyn Hays

c.2023, Blair Publisher $17.95 282 pages


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