Updated DEC 2008
Actual Letters of Intent to Transition (employment)
& Coming Out Letters (family)
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Table of Contents:
3 Letters to Colleagues at Work - Letter #3 contains responses back from colleagues
2 Letters to Family - Edward and Beck
Letters to Colleagues at Work: 3
This May I will begin an important process that will result in significant changes in my physical appearance. This process, known as
"gender reassignment," is being done to remedy a condition that I have had since birth. It is a recognized condition that involves different biological signals sent to the developing internal body than are sent to the developing external body. Essentially, the fetus develops the physical characteristics of one gender while having the psychological and emotional characteristics of the other.
As of May 29th, my legal name will be Name omitted, so it will be appropriate to refer to me as Name omitted. It will also be appropriate to refer to me as "he" rather than "she," though I am not going to be upset or angry if you forget. I am very aware of how difficult this may be for some individuals. Over time this should become much easier.
This process entails a gradual evolution, rather than an abrupt change. You can expect to notice increasing physical changes to my voice, hair, face, and body structure. For those of you who may be curious I welcome any questions you may have regarding this process and will answer them honestly.
I want to reassure you that I will still be the person you have worked with and known for the past fourteen years. This means you can still count on my professionalism throughout the transition process. Please realize that this has been a difficult decision for me to make, and I truly appreciate the support you provide.
I will be on sick leave for the month of July, but I will be resuming my administrative duties as of August 1st as Dr. Name omitted.
June 4, 2002
This letter is in follow up to our previous conversation, regarding the disclosure of my decision to pursue physical means towards gender transition. I initiated such a dialogue for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I wished to include the Firm in my decision to transition, because I was approaching a point at which the physical changes would soon become fairly obvious. It was my objective to find a way to work with the Firm in undergoing such changes, and to remain an employee of [Firm] while doing so.
Moreover, as I began the transition process, I wished to be open about my gender status. After a period of silence and frontage about this aspect of myself, I decided that I needed to be honest about my transgender identity, to seek measures that would help me to actualize and express the gender I have “felt” throughout my life, and to do so in all dimensions of my life, including the professional. As difficult as it has been to explain this to family, friends, and now the Firm, it is important to me that I be candid throughout this process. I appreciate the Firm’s willingness to work with me on ensuring as smooth a transition here as possible, and I hope that you all will continue to approach the situation with open minds.
I intended our previous conversation to be an introduction into this subject, and I would now like to provide you with further information, as well as some insight into my own current situation and most recent decisions. I would like to broaden the Firm’s understanding of transgenderism, as well as to address some concerns that were raised regarding my situation, in particular.
There is no single definition of transgender, and likewise, there is no single way to pursue transition. Gender transition is a highly personal experience, and while there are often commonalities among our various stories, the decision to proceed and the process of transition itself are unique to each of us. There are individuals who comprehend their gender as “different” in some way at a very young age, and there are those who come into such self-awareness at a later point in their lives. It is no more valid an experience or feeling for someone who “knows all along” than for one who finds a desire, or finally the vocabulary, to express their “gender difference” as an adult. The vise versa is true, as well.
For me, gender has been central to my identity throughout my life. Since very early childhood, I have understood my gender to be different somehow. Most evident has been the fact that I have always been aware of, and questioned, my gender, whereas most people take their own for granted. Despite a period of time during which I attempted to find comfort in living as my given, or born, gender, I have never quite succeeded in doing so. Although I did not always have the language to express this, the awareness of my difference has always been present.
Until recently, I believed that my only viable option was to find some way to be a woman, and I spent many years concealing or ignoring my feelings of incongruence with this classification. I cannot pinpoint any specific event or occurrence that caused a shift in my thinking, that prompted me to end this silence around my feelings of being differently gendered and to finally go forth with a transition that I have envisioned, to which I have aspired, throughout my life. Nonetheless, I would like to emphasize that despite such silence during my time with C&B, I have been dealing with this throughout, and even before, my time here, and indeed, throughout my life. My recent pursuit of physical transition is, for me, a way to express these lifelong feelings.
The question of my young age is one that surfaces in many of my discussions with people that are older and can only compare my youth to their own. My response to this has been that my age does not reflect a lack of experience or understanding where gender is concerned. These are issues that I have explored from every angle, and that I have contemplated for years, even before my discovery of transgenderism as an identity and concept. I find comfort in finally having a language through which to convey these feelings to others and to live more honestly, as well as in discovering the means through which I will be able to more fully and truly be myself. It is a sensation that is difficult, if not impossible, to translate to those who have not shared it, but I assure you, transition represents an awakening for me. It has provided me with a newfound optimism, and I begin this process with confidence.
There are various options available for FTM (Female-to-Male) individuals seeking physical transition, and most “pick and choose” from among them, as best fits their geographic location relative to available surgeons, therapists, and other necessary providers, as well as their financial status and their personal desires.
Surgical procedures for the FTM are generally divided into two categories, most commonly referred to as “top surgery,” the reconstruction of the chest to provide a more appropriate-feeling, male appearance, and “bottom surgery,” the manipulation and/ or reconstruction of the genitals. Because many FTMs regard bottom surgery as somewhat underdeveloped in its technology and, therefore, as reaping less rewarding results both aesthetically and functionally, individuals often choose top surgery without pursuing further surgical reconstruction. For more information on the various procedures available for genital reconstruction for the FTM, please see the resources listed below.
I have chosen to undergo chest reconstruction, and at the time of this writing, I am healing from this surgery. There are two primary modes of achieving this effect through surgery: the first procedure is called a “keyhole” surgery, through which simple liposuction is employed to remove excess fatty tissue; the second procedure involves a double, or bilateral, mastectomy. Although there may be some loss of sensation with the bilateral mastectomy, it often offers the surgeon more “artistic leeway” in reconstructing the patient’s chest.
The use of these options depends on the individual’s size before surgery, as well as the desired effects and potential consequences. I chose to undergo the bilateral mastectomy. It is outpatient, and has proved only minimally inhibiting and uncomfortable. So far, I am pleased with the results, and I am already far more comfortable and “at home” in my body.
Many FTMs also pursue hormone therapy, which most commonly entails bi- or tri-weekly injections of Testosterone. These dosages of “T” induce a sort of second puberty by bringing out secondary sex characteristics. Within a few months, an FTM on T will experience a voice change, as well as some degree of change in his facial structure and an increase in facial and body hair. The degree of change depends on the dosage of T and the individual’s genetic predisposition.
Hormone therapy is carried out under the supervision of an endocrinologist, who first evaluates the individual, deciphers his eligibility, and discusses risks, outcomes, and expectations of Testosterone treatment, and who then oversees the administration of the injections and monitors the individual’s progress and general health over time.
As with any introduction of a new hormone into a person’s body, Testosterone involves emotional effects in addition to the physical ones briefly discussed above. However, most FTMs who undergo hormone therapy as a part of their transition report feelings of increased comfort and energy and, in turn, a greater capacity for carrying out daily tasks and duties. Testosterone ,and the physical changes it produces, most often allows an FTM individual renewed and increased self-confidence. These effects should not be overlooked or disregarded, including their extension into the workplace.
I have consulted with an endocrinologist familiar with transgender issues and attuned to the emotional effects that are a part of such treatment. I am set to begin hormone therapy as soon as I have sufficiently healed from my recent surgery.
As expected, bringing this subject to the table has been difficult, and as I stated earlier, I appreciate the cooperation of the Firm thus far. I hope that we can continue to work together and find a way to provide information and support to others affected by my decisions and courses of action. I believe that it is possible to inform others in a way that is sensitive to, and respectful of, my transition process, and in a way that will allow for open discussion. I also believe that this is an opportunity for [Firm] to enhance its dedication to workplace diversity.
As I mentioned before, I do foresee an improvement in my work product as a result of my transition. It requires an exhausting dedication of energy to conceal this aspect of my identity throughout the workday, and over time, I have incurred a great degree of stress as a result. This inevitably interferes with the carrying out of my duties as a paralegal to some extent, and I anticipate a marked improvement as an outcome of what I believe will bring about a general increase in energy and enthusiasm.
I am not the first individual to proceed with gender transition in the workplace, and although there does not necessarily exist a protocol for facilitating such changes, there are various models from which we can draw. I have listed some of these below, including: a therapist with whom I consulted as I began this process several months ago, who is versed in issues regarding gender transition at work, and who is often willing to meet with staff, co-workers, and supervisors of transitioning individuals; and, further reading materials and websites for exploring the issue on your own.
Specifically, there are logistics that will need to be negotiated, such as bathroom issues and name and pronoun changes. I welcome the opportunity to discuss these matters in greater detail and also urge the appropriate personnel to seek outside resources for examples of how this has been carried out in other work environments.
I hope that this letter helps to explain some of the concerns expressed in our previous conversation, and also helps to furnish you with resources for further exploration of the subject of transgenderism in general. Please do not hesitate to approach me with additional questions. I hope that we can continue to work together. Thank you for your help in facilitating my transition at [Firm], and I look forward to working with you all in the future.
CC: [Names Omitted]
NEW 10/13/03 Letter Three with Comments back from fellow colleagues!
I have you here today to
inform you of an important change that taking place in my life. This not easy to explain, but I am going
to do my best to try. I hope that no matter what your reaction is, you will take
the time to listen.
Right now I am in the process of seeking
gender reassignment from female to male. I have been diagnosed with a condition called gender dysphoria. Simply put, my gender does not align
with genetic sex. This not an
acquired condition; rather it is in intrinsic part, a lifelong aspect of my
being. There is no easy way to
explain to you the basis for this condition or decision. I have spent a good
part of my life struggling with this conflict between my body and my mind.
The reason that I’m telling you about this “transition”
now is that I have recently started the process of legally changing my name. I’ve also reached a point where it’s
becoming increasingly difficult for me to keep this change personal. On August
19th, my name will legally be changed to Joseph ( last name) . Since I am legally
changing my name from Jennifer to Joseph, I ask that you please refer to me as
such. I also fond of going by the
nickname Joey or Joe. I also
ask that you begin to refer to me with the correct pronouns of “he” rather than “she”. I won’t get upset if you make genuine
mistakes, as I’m quite aware of how difficult this can be, but I’d
appreciate your every effort. As a part of this transition, all references to my
previous name and gender will be replaced.
My personal identification such as driver’s license, and social
security card and also my business identification, such as e-mail, ID card,
nameplate, paycheck, business cards, and directory listings will reflect this.
In the process of gender reassignment, ones undergo hormone
therapy. I have been on male hormones since the end of April of this year. This
process entails a gradual evolution, rather than an abrupt change. You can expect to notice increasing
changes to my voice, hair, face, and body structure. This going to continue for the next
several months and become more obvious as time passes. Since the effect of hormones is powerful
and irreversible, physicians don’t prescribe them unless you have been
diagnosed with gender dysphoria. One must follow an internationally recognized
set of standards for this reassignment to take place. It takes a few years for the potential
of hormones to be fully realized, but at this point in my transition I have
found that I am much happier a person because of the changes taking effect.
I intend on using the men’s bathroom everywhere I go, and
in the future that includes ( my company) .
But while everyone is getting settled with this new change, I will be
using a private bathroom on the fifth floor.
Overall, You can expect things to remain pretty much the same
as they’re now besides the new name and gender. I really enjoy working at
( my company ) , and I’m committed to doing a great job and being a
part of a wonderful team. I’ll
try my best to minimize any disruptions caused by my transition on my work and
to the team. I want you to know
that it is not my intention to embarrass or upset anyone here at ( my company),
although I am realistic enough to know that everyone will not readily accept me. I ask merely that you recognize the fact
that this decision has been reached after years of unhappiness. I fully expect
your tolerance, and if you can supply it, your continuation of your friendship.
If you see me around the building, please continue to say hello. If you want to provide additional
support you may send me a friendly e-mail.
Beyond that, there is no need to treat me differently, I’m
still the same person, and I hope you’ll continue to relate to me like you do
now. This means you can still count
on my professionalism throughout this process.
I expect you to introduce me to others as Joey, but while I’m open
being transgendered, it’s not courteous for you to tell others. It’s not a secret, but it’s my job
to tell people if I feel it is important.
For those of you who may be genuinely curious about what
I’m doing, I’ll make myself available to answer in person or by e-mail any
honest questions you may have. I
have various other resources at my disposal to which I would be glad to provide. I have provided to HR, a book called “
True Selves” for you to borrow. It
contains useful information about dealing with people in the process of
transition in the workplace. Overall,
Please realize this has been a difficult decision to make, and I truly
appreciate any support you provide.
Thank for your attention.
Congratulations on your decision of a life time. You make me proud to know
you. I know you will be happy and if you ever need anything, count on me.
I am so proud of you!!! You have no idea! I know it took a lot of guts on your part to do this and also to stand up in front of everybody and go through your most personal issues. Sorry I started to cry - I was crying out of happiness for you.
If you need anything at all, please let me know. I am here for you!
Good Job......that should put an end to all gossip.....I'm here.....
Well, that beats the hell out of any 'ole "ice breaker" speech you could do, huh?! Had I known what you were going though I CERTAINLY wouldn't have jested about doing one!
An incredibly brave talk, not to mention life change. Best of luck to you,
I can't begin to fully understand everything you are going through, but I am fully prepared to support you as both a teammate and a human being.
It takes courage to stand to the world and let everyone into a piece of your private life.
Your speech was conducted with sensitivity, tact and honesty. All qualities I can appreciate.
Please accept my proactive apology if I refer to you as Jen or she. If it happens at all it is out of habit and not meant as a demeaning statement.
That took a lot of guts, and that's what everyone is saying around here.
I'm sorry you've been going through such a hard time, but as I told you
before, your a nice person so don't change that and everything will
I wanted to say something
to you yesterday, but I didn't get a chance.
I have to tell you that I
think you are incredibly brave, and I totally admire what you are doing and the
way you are handling your decision. I wish I could have attended one of the
meetings downstairs - but I don't think we even found out about them until they
I apologies in advance if
I slip and call you Jen, please forgive me, it is completely unintentional and
not at all indicative of lack of support for you.
I wish you good health and
if there's anything I can do - just let me know - but know you have my support
and well wishes to both you and your wife.
That took a lot of guts,
and thats what everyone is saying around here.
I'm sorry you've been
going through such a hard time, but as I told you
before, your a nice person
so don't change that and everything will
First of all, let me commend you for having the
courage to do what you did the other day. I can only imagine that that took a
level of bravery not known to many of us, and I wish you nothing but the best of
Letters to Family: 1
Letter Two - 2008 Edward
Too my dearest family members:
It saddens me to admit that for the past fifteen years of my life I have been forced to live a lie; this lie has consumed my soul, my mind my life. It is one that has made me feel ill at ease for the last time. I write to you not as the person you know but as that which I am for as the butterfly emerges from the cocoon in the spring, it is my turn to emerge as it where.
As your nephew, your son: (name deleted to protect submitter). The journey to this point has been a emotionally draining weathered road that I desire never to have to travel down alone. I wish this evil not even on my worst enemy.
I desire to not go down the rest of the road alone. Leaving everyone in the dark to declare me a freak, a monster for going through that change which will save me from an early grave.
By divulging this information to you all I ask for nothing there is no motive here only the genuine desire to be free of the chains that bind my male sole. I ask for nothing from you but perhaps your understanding your tolerance and perhaps that you not look upon those who have spawned me, no one did this no one caused this. They are not responsible for the mental defect if you will, the birth defect perhaps that made me unique.
It is my understanding that by writing this letter by coming out as your nephew as your son as male, I am opening up the porthole that I know may be filled with hatred it is illogical of me not to suspect or anticipate this factor. And thus I am enclosing information for those of you who wish to know who have a desire to keep me as your nephew. Please fell free to respond to call whenever it is right for you. I shall wait with patience to hear of your acceptance or your rejection.
February 28, 2002
Dear Mom and Dad,
Writing this letter is a daunting task for so many reasons. I’ve sat down to write it several times already, but have not managed to make any sense out of what I need to say. Part of the problem is simply not knowing where to begin or how to explain what has gotten me to where I am and where I want to go. Part of the problem is just not knowing how to talk to you two, specifically. I’ve done so much talking recently -- to friends, therapists, people entering and re-entering my life. Once I opened up, it became easier to talk. In fact, it became somewhat impossible to stop talking.
Nothing in particular occurred to bring this about now; it’s just time to address this head-on and move forward. This letter is long overdue, but I wanted to collect myself and my thoughts before coming to you with this. I’m not sure how much you will understand, how much you will tolerate. I just hope that you will be open for further discussion, and that you will at least make a concerted effort to understand. I hope that you will listen.
This letter will probably not come as a huge surprise to you, since the issue has come up recently and I have put you on hold with it. I thought at first that I should work things out on my own before coming to you with it all, so that I would have more definitive answers to offer. Also so that I could hold my ground more strongly. But, I’ve realized that it might be best to initiate this conversation sooner rather than later, with the hope that this will give you that much more time to come to terms with it.
I suppose the first step in this should be to assure you that I am coming from a place of unprecedented comfort with myself and understanding of myself, and that I am excited about the various opportunities before me. The attitude that you remarked on during our previous conversation, that “take it or leave it” thing about me these days, comes from an acceptance of who I am, who I have always been, and how I would like to go about living my life from here on out. It is a tumultuous time for me, but like I said, an exciting one, as well. This does not come out of spite, and it is not a personal attack on you in any way. I’m not trying to make a statement, although I know that that might be unavoidable. I realize that you two are unlikely to share my eagerness or enthusiasm, but I think that it is important to reiterate that this is, for me, something positive.
It’s tempting to go back and offer you the experiences throughout my life that have led up to this, or that help to explain it. But I’m resisting that, at least for now. Right now, I’m not as concerned with how I got to where I am, as I am with where I go from here, and how. All I will say is that this has been a life-long issue for me. I have looked at it in various lights, turned it over several times, approached it from every which way, and am now finished backpedaling my way out of things or trying to find alternative ways of dealing with it. I’m being more honest with myself and others, including you. I can’t say it enough: I’m finally just ready.
As opposed as I am to the idea of “coming out,” I suppose that it is fitting to say that I am coming out as transgendered. What that means to me is that I have tried throughout my life to be a girl and a woman. But it has never felt right. Even during those years when it seemed to be “working,” when I thought that I could “girl” myself, after all, I was uncomfortable. Approaching this from a political perspective, and delving into it from the even safer distance of academia, I tried to perceive myself as a defiant woman. I tried to take pride in teasing the boundaries between male and female, in existing as an example of the actual ambiguity of gender. I called myself “gender queer” and resisted adopting “transgender” as a label for myself, because I did not wish to affiliate with the community at Smith, and because I was reluctant to rename the sum of my experiences thus far with a term that was not available to me growing up or when I was first coming into my own adulthood. I wanted to believe that I was something different, something somehow distinct from all of that, that I was just me.
To some extent, that remains true. I have accepted that what makes me me in the first place is my gender. It has always been a source of anxiety for me, both internally and in my interactions with the world at large. Before now, I had just attempted to deal with it by skirting the issue entirely, trying to circumvent it, trying desperately to ignore it. Now, however, I am finally facing it, accepting it, and believe it or not, reveling in it.
I am transgender, because I feel completely in between genders. I’ve never made a believable girl or woman; I’ve never been interested in that or comfortable with it. I’ll also never be like other men, because I have the distinction of having a girlhood and young womanhood behind me. These things do not deter me. Instead, they have compelled me to examine this from the inside out, to ignore as much as possible the various influences from the so-called “real world,” from trans-communities, from the realm of queer politics. I have been sitting down with myself and figuring out what I want, separate from what is expected of me, separate from whom I wish to please, accommodate, or protect. And this is what I have come up with:
I do now identify, and have always identified in some respect, as male. It is incredibly uncomfortable and stressful for me to suppress that, as I have throughout a good deal of my life. I am not comfortable being addressed by female pronouns or by my given name; I am not comfortable being read as female. I have gotten into therapy so that I would be able to work through this further, and also to set myself up for getting the letters that I expect will be necessary in the near future. As you have probably read by now, doctors require letters from a therapist attesting to a patient’s condition and general stability, before they will talk about hormone therapy and possible surgery.
Just to lay it out for you, I have spoken with my therapist about starting Testosterone by the end of the summer, and I have a preliminary consultation with a doctor in Maryland who performs chest reconstruction surgery for F-T-M (female to male) individuals. I know that this is where you, as my parents, are concerned and upset. I understand that this must be difficult to come to terms with, and I cannot imagine being in your shoes. I’m just asking you try mine on for a little while and stick with me through as much of this as possible. All I am asking for is as much of your support as you can give. I am not doing this to upset you, and I wish that there were a way to protect you from this.
During the summer that I spent in Berkeley, I “passed” as male often. I tabled that when I returned to the east coast and to Smith. I did not want to offend or alienate anyone in the family any more than I already -- albeit unintentionally -- had. I did not want to detract attention from Grandma, Grandpa, or either of you. I thought that I could keep on dodging it, working around it, and for awhile, I did. But, I felt as though I were leading a double-life, which is incredibly stressful and inevitably leads to feelings of shame and guilt. I knew that it was bound to resurface, but I just kept putting it off. Ironically, it was only upon leaving Smith, a place that many consider an ideal space for this kind of personal work and experimenting, that I was finally ready to confront this.
I have already come out to most of my friends, [my girlfriend], to some family members ([one cousin] knows, and yes, that’s what the letters to my brothers were about), to people in the community here. Most have already begun to address me as “Beck,” and most have also begun to use male pronouns in referring to me. I cannot even describe how exhilarating that can be, how right it feels, how much more comfortably I relate to those who respect those things. It is not a perfectly smooth process for people, but their efforts are all I ask for, and they have come a long way, for which I am thankful. I hope that, at least someday, you might also respect these things about me, as well.
I need for you two to understand that it is more difficult and painful for me to ignore these issues, to work around it, to live without ever dealing with it all. It’s overwhelming, but to me, it’s also beautiful. This is who I am, and I feel good about it. It would be more of a strain for me not to transition. Yes, I am looking at a long road and difficult times ahead of me. I’m aware of that, but I can barely contain my excitement for finally having found and started down that road. Being honest with myself and with others about myself makes it that much more conquerable, that much more enjoyable. This is simply my lot in life, and knowing that has allowed me to breathe for the first time in so long, possibly ever.
Everything seems to be coming together for me, and I am so much more in tune with myself that it overwhelms me much of the time. I assure you that I’m happy about this. You both know that I have been a wreck for the past few years. Not unhappy without exception, but certainly an ongoing storm, constantly in motion, constantly in battle, constantly on edge. I’ve settled into myself a lot through coming to terms with this, and it’s my hope that this will actually allow the three of us to relate more comfortably and sincerely somewhere down the line.
My biggest concern is losing people who are important to me, which is why I’m going to such lengths to include others in this process and to explain where it is coming from in the first place. You two are absolutely invaluable to me. I have other support networks in place, but that could never replace my need for you two, as well. I want you to see the positive effect that this can have on my life. I want for you to be able to look at me with something besides disgust or shame, and to see how much more genuine and present I have become by finally addressing my gender. I wish that I could keep on being “Daddy’s Little Girl” and the next in line for the matriarchy that Grandma left behind. But even though those things may change, I am still me. I am still your child. I do not want to lose you, and I hope that you will be able -- and willing -- to stay in my life throughout this. I hope that you will exhibit some of the tolerance and open-mindedness that you imparted on each of us growing up in your house; I hope that you will not withhold yourselves from me or withdraw from me.
I recognize your concerns that I will be shutting doors for myself by choosing this path, that I will be compromising opportunities in my career and life in general. But you have to understand that the world out there is much more accepting and accommodating than you seem to believe. I have encountered obstacles, but overall, I have been pleasantly surprised by the medical community, friends, family, and current or potential employers. This letter is difficult, because I cannot stand the prospect of you two being the ones who do not support me in this. I have spent so much of my life wrapped up in shame about my gender. Recently, however, I am learning how integral to my identity and approach to the world this truly is, and also how amazing it can be when divorced from that shame. People who know me or are learning about me tell me that I am brave and strong and beautiful in what I am taking on and how I am taking it on. I hope that you will someday come to see that, as well. This is the most complete and at-home with myself that I have ever felt. This is something that I need to go through now, so that I can get on with the rest of my life. This is just who I am, my process of coming into myself. I hope you get that from this letter. This will most likely be the first, rather than any ultimate, correspondence. I am ready to talk about this with you, but only once we can all come to the table with open minds. This is not something that you can talk me out of, so I hope that you will approach it more with the intention of reaching a better understanding of me, as well as with a common desire to re-connect.
I have been busy with my end of this all, so I appreciate that you will probably need time to work through your end of things, too. Please take your time and get back to me when you are ready. In the meantime, just keep in mind that I love you both so much and would like for you to be a part of my life, including what I am facing now. All I’m asking for is your support and acceptance, not necessarily of the choices I make, but of me, your child.
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