Family Letter

Dear Family,

Yesterday was a momentous one for our family. Hannah came out to us as transgender. Her preferred pronouns are “they” and “them”. They now wish to be referred to as Ezekiel or Zeke, for short.

A couple of days ago, Zeke told us that they had been in a depressive phase for a while. Anke and I both assumed that it had to do with the lack of success on the job front. (Not to mention that, new gender identity notwithstanding, they continue to do things like staying up until 4:00 AM!)

Zeke had a lot of anxiety surround their coming out to us. Who wouldn’t? We told them that we’ve always viewed the hetero cisgender norm as a patriarchal construct, developed in order to maintain an artificial male dominance in modern and post-modern culture, so it was no big deal. Actually, what we told them was that we always have and always will love them, regardless of sexual or gender identity. We have always affirmed the various identities of our children’s friends, not to mention the members of our direct family and family of choice. But when it comes time to say, “Mom, guess what”, a heaping portion of anxiety is in order. Zeke is a Deibler, after all!

Zeke first told Anke, and then asked Anke to tell me. They didn’t think they had the emotional energy to do it twice in the same evening. Anke told me after she picked me up from having dropped a car off for Julia, who was working. I was a little irritated that Anke was taking so long. Turns out the reason she was taking a little longer than I would have liked was because our son was acting upon one of the most momentous decisions of their life. Mine and Anke’s responses were identical. Our first response was an accepting, matter of fact “OK.” Our unspoken internal response was, “Well, I’m not surprised.”

Names are powerful things. They define us in ways both conscious and unconscious. I look back across Zeke’s life and can see the arc toward this day. Their declaration, from fairly early on of hating the name “Hannah”; their efforts later to recast themselves first as “Iz” and then as “Kat” (Not to mention our rejection of such efforts, seeing them as an obtuse adolescent attempt at reject parental confines and redefining themselves in their own image. Well, yeah. No shit.); their going by “Deebs” in college. It gives me pause to wonder about the power of the feedback loop between Asperger’s and Gender Non-conformity. The difficulty with social interaction, resulting in social anxiety, multiplied by the effect of not understanding/being non-accepting of one’s own assigned gender…

The long and the short of it is, as much as we loved our daughter, Hannah, we love our son, Zeke, all the more. And not only because we have witnessed a new level of honesty and openness in our relationship with them. We love them all the more, because of their bravery and grit. We’ve always been proud of them (Magna Cum Laude from Univ. of Alabama. Hello?”) But to take this kind of step in one’s life; to venture into this place of candor and vulnerability is truly remarkable.
I’m not going to ask for your acceptance because in our family, I know that this is a given. I know that you will continue to love Zeke, as you loved Hannah. I am unendingly thankful to God/god/the universe/the fates/chance/the witches from The Scottish Play that Zeke was born into this family. This is going to be a difficult path for Zeke and, as parents of a child who will face unnecessary challenges and discrimination, for us. Your continued love and support mean everything to them and to us.

As a side-note, the name change takes a while. I still catch myself saying “Hannah” on impulse, even though I’m making every effort to monitor myself and make sure. But a habit of 22 years isn’t going to change over night.

In closing, I would like to say, “Thank you.” Thank you for being available, patient, and loving towards Hannah. And thank you for being available, patient, and loving towards Zeke.

And yes, we will be hiring a therapist.

All our love,
Eric & Anke

8 thoughts on “Family Letter

  1. Beautifully written, Eric. God couldn’t have chosen a better family for your son. The level of tolerance, love, and acceptance you all have exhibited for so many years bodes well for Zeke’s new path in life. Kudos to Zeke for their bravery and strength. I wish you all well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Eric. Our family has “shepherded” our older daughter’s best friend through this; from Erin, to Aaron, to Ezra. We spent many hours with Ez’s parents and Ezra through this. I am glad that Zeke seems on a healthy path. Ezra has not had an easy path and has made some very difficult choices for himself that have affected/effected his short term educational path and life opportunities. Our daughter Fiona has been through the good, bad, and ugly with her friend. If you want to talk while your family goes through this process with Zeke, give me call. Messenger me through Facebook. I’ll share what we have done.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Eric,
    This is moving. Thank you for sharing. I applaud Zeke for their courage and strength to make such a monumental life change. The strength of your wonderful family will, I have no doubt, enable Zeke to thrive. Love and hugs to all of you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ERIC and ANKE … I will not soon forget the years PTN pastors shared each other’s journey: the sense of acceptance received without “crossover” debate, the genuine inspiration of actually being-in-church and the simple joy of it all. As Rebecca and I read your testimony of genuine love for your child, no matter what, there was a very personal emotive rush of deja vu for us. Though these are presently change moments for you, we would suggest that you may be in the process of being called by the Living Christ to add an incremental step toward “moral maturity” (Cornell West) in our present culture. Love you guys … Larry.


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