Desister Feminism For Parents Mental Health Trans Issues

An Open Letter to my 17-Year-Old Transgender Self

Dear Aaron,

That’s what you go by now, isn’t it? That’s how you feel inside. I remember the joy it brought when you first started using it. I remember how you never felt connected to your birth name. I remember how Aaron just felt so right – you didn’t choose it, it just came to you. Like it was meant to be.

This letter is from you, 15 years into the future. I know that’s hard to believe right now, when you don’t feel like you’ll survive another day, let alone another 15 years. But you do. You get through it. This isn’t the first shitty time you’ve been through, nor will it be the last. But you get through them all.

I remember the gender dysphoric feelings all too well. I remember feeling like I couldn’t have been meant to be a girl. I was too different from the others, too weird. But I want you to know that those feelings pass. You learn to feel better about your female body. You stop wishing you were male. And it comes sooner than you think. Just hang on in there. I know it feels impossible to keep going. But trust me – you got this.

Just because your guy friends can’t accept you as an equal doesn’t mean that you need to be a boy to fit in with them. In fact, looking back, I see them as sexist misogynists who weren’t worth my time. And 15 years from now? You never see any of them anyway. They disappeared from my life a long time ago. Their acceptance of you feels important now, but in the long term, it isn’t. In the future, you’ll find women who are just like you. Ones who also felt like aliens growing up. But regardless of how they felt, how masculine they were, how badly they failed to fit in with other girls, they were still girls. Perfectly valid, perfectly wonderful girls, who were perfect just the way they were. Just like you are.

What I want you to know with all of my heart, is that there is no right way to be a girl. It is absolutely okay to be a girl who doesn’t act like other girls. It is okay to be different. And the older you get, the more comfortable you will be with that. ‘Being a girl’ isn’t liking make-up. Being a girl isn’t having female friends. Being a girl isn’t the ability to act like and fit in with other girls in your peer group. Being a girl isn’t any of those superficial things. Being a girl is simply being born female. What you choose to do with it from there, is entirely up to you.

But you don’t need to change. You don’t need hormones, and you don’t need surgery. As unhappy as you may be to hear this, it doesn’t get that far. But in the future, you’re happy about that. You have a wonderful daughter, who is just like you in ways that will captivate you and terrify you. But she’s the best thing that ever happens to you, and you will always be grateful that you didn’t transition, because the world would be a duller place without that amazing kid.

Another thing that I want you to know, is that Nanna doesn’t survive the cancer this time. You don’t have long left with her. Go visit her as much as you can. Hug her as many times as she will let you. Ask all of the questions you have for her. Because it will be your last chance. And always remember that she really loves you. She keeps two photos in her purse – her mother, and you. Regardless of whether she is able to understand or accept what you’re going through right now, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love you. She does. She adores you. Let her know you feel the same. Because you’ll still be crying for her loss 15 years on.

Lots and lots of love,
Future You x

My Links

Twitter: @HazelAppleyard_
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3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to my 17-Year-Old Transgender Self

  1. Dear Hazel,
    thank you for that letter. I’m the father of a sixteen year old daughter that recently declared to feel male and disconnected to her birth name. She (can’t help it) would like to change her gender because in her current opinion it has always been that way.
    My wife and I are both working part time in engineering and share our chores, thus trying to set a neutral example. Although our daughter was encouraged to play with and definitely had fun with construction sets, tools and electronic kits, she had a determined “pink phase” during which she collected filly toys (which we as parents refused to buy ourselves but never forbid and accepted as gifts from relatives and friends). So much for always having been male…
    Now she seems to feel better when she is binding herself (which hurts me to see) and waves striped flags, and I try not to think about what she might be talked into when she will be considered adult at 18. I’m torn between calling bullshit and admitting because I don’t want to risk alienating.
    The easiest way out would be if she came to terms with her chromosomal and hormonal biology by herself. I wonder if it would help if I gave her your letter to read. Maybe that purpose is what publishing it was intended for?
    Oh, and by the way, our whole family is slightly autistic, too.

    1. Hello,
      Yes, partly I published this in the hopes that it might help another girl who is going through what I went through.
      Please email me at [email protected], as I have some things I would like to say in regards to how you may choose to go forward with this situation. I also have a video of myself reading this letter, which may be a preferable format for her, it is available on my TikTok @HazelAppleyard, my Substack @HazelAppleyard or my Twitter, @HazelAppleyard_

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