Hello, father.

My first coming-out letter to you and mom never got to you on time. A year later, you passed away. Twenty years later, I am writing this letter to you in full.

Father, imagine being a man and being told that you are a woman all your life? That you fall in love with women, because you are a man (as men are supposed to), but you are labelled as a lesbian? That you finally embark on a transition consisting of a lifelong hormone replacement therapy and surgeries to change your outside to match your inside, and that you’re finally, finally living in your body?

Of course, I never wrote to you all this because I never had information that this was possible, well within the reach. Had I known this, instead of trying to commit a suicide at the age of twelve, my first attempt, I would have embarked on my transition to stop my puberty or to start my hormone replacement therapy.

Of course, at the time of my first letter, I still did not know that this was possible. All I knew then was people like me, born in a female body, but who never lived in their bodies because it was so alien, were called lesbians because that’s what was known then. People didn’t know the concept of transgenderism, neither did they listen when I shared what exactly I felt about my body. Because I was female-bodied and attracted to women, I was told I was a lesbian. I thought it true.

The biggest misconception of my life, father, that went on till I was 28 was all lesbians hated their bodies as intensely as I did.

I often think of what could have been had I gone somewhere else, had my queer community there accepted trans people, had they not made fun of, now I realise, the other trans man in our midst. B. was called, behind his back, “a man wanna-be, enemy in the lesbian rights revolution” and sniggered upon. Had I gone somewhere else with better information and less cissexism, I dream I would’ve finished my transition a long time ago. Had I known all that I know now, I wouldn’t have found myself in deep shock over falling in love with an effeminate man.

Albeit, it was not my life path: I was taken to the spaces and places where I was at least loved by amazing women, me someone who never loved himself in any way. And it was this love from women I wrote about in my first coming-out letter. Mom got it, hid it, and had a stroke a month later. And a year after, you passed away.

I mourned your death deeply. A stubborn child was growing into an even stubborner and introverted adolescent, and you couldn’t stand me since I was eleven, twelve. You thought you would beat it all out of me. There I was, struggling my every traumatic minute with the changes that my body was going through, and I had to start dealing with your violence. I hated you, for many years. I was scared of you. Of your eyes. Of your sudden rage that would bring you hurtling towards me, knocking me out. Scared of you trampling my head. And so I found myself confused so badly when I heard you had passed: I should have been glad that the tyrant I hated was dead. Instead, I myself felt dead. I was grieving and thinking furiously for a month while back home. And then it hit me: my existence, my life became defined by my hatred towards you, and so with the source of much hatred gone, of course, I felt like I was dead myself. But I have forgiven you, father, many years ago.

Do you remember you and mom always said “We only have daughters. But this one is better than some boys”, shaking your head towards me? Because I was mulish? Because I was strong and didn’t complain about having to lift heavy things for a long time? Because I would take the hammer every time there was a need around the house, more than you ever did? Because I would endure your beatings? And worst of all, because I was just like you: obstinate, righteous, and unwilling to compromise on the right things?

You did have a son, father. I was a boy in a girl’s body from the age of three when I was beating up other boys so they would never tease me, from six onwards that I was locked at home and not allowed outside because I was always beating other boys up, from the time I began spending more time alone with colours and play-dough than with other kids, from the time when all I was interested in for a year was international politics, from the time I played theatre and a director at school at ten, putting on Cinderella for the New Year and gave myself the role of a prince. You never had a chance to know this. You never had a chance to see that the boy you had was also peculiar in whom he liked: there were only beautiful, girly boys for him, and only fairy-tale-like boyish girls for him.

I miss you. Had you been around still, I believe you would have taken it hard at the beginning, worse than mom, maybe. But by now, you would’ve come to see me as your reflection, because I am, and you would’ve cried “My son.” As long as you are alive, there are always ways to correct one’s mistakes, and for a long time, I have been living consciously not to leave any mistakes behind. I am still trying.

Your son.