On Your Island, from Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed, adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos

Letter Writer #3. Dear Sugar,

I’m thirty-four years old and I’m transgender.

I was born female, but I knew I was meant to be male for as long as I can remember. I had the usual painful childhood and adolescence in a smallish town because I was different-picked on by other kids, misunderstood by my family.

Seven years ago I told my mom and dad I intended to have gender confirmation surgery.** They were furious. They said the worst things you can imagine anyone saying to another human being, especially if that human being is your child. In response, I cut off ties with them, moved away, and made a new life living as a man. I have friends and romance in my life. I love my job. I’m happy with who I’ve become and the life I’ve made.

After years of no contact, I got an email from my parents that blew my mind. They apologized. They were sorry they never understood and now they do. They said they miss me and they love me. Sugar, they want me back.

I cried like crazy and that surprised me. I believed I didn’t love my parents anymore.

I have made it without them. I’ve created an island far away and safe from my past. I made it because I’m tough. Do I forgive them and get back in touch, or do I ignore their email and stay safe on my island? What do I do?

Signed,

Orphan

**The original letter read “a sex change.” The language has been updated in this post to reflect how the current vocabulary surrounding medical transition has evolved.**

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