Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Best Christmas Present Ever

The weekend before Christmas I received a really nasty surprise when YouTube notified me that my sister had subscribed to my YouTube channel. This was a shock because I wasn't out to my sister and that channel is where I post my various speeches -- you know, the ones where I talk about being transgender and why I'm a queer activist. I'll spare you the long reason why I wasn't out to her; the short reason is that she's Southern Baptist and more than a little Fundamentalist, not to mention being more conservative than liberal, and I was worried she'd take certain Bible verses to heart and condemn me as a deviant sinner... and, of course, out me to the rest of my family.

I've known ever since 2016 that something like this would eventually happen, but I decided that my mission was more important than staying in the closet and so the risk was worth it. That said, I've still taken precautions, such as by blocking family members on Facebook and asking my mother to downplay my involvement in my activism when she talks to friends and family about it, such as by having her say that I "am involved with teaching queer people about guns" rather than saying that I "founded a charity and now run the largest pro-gun queer group in the country if not the world" and by most assuredly not telling them that my professional name is Erin Palette. It also helps that I look sufficiently unlike my birth face that people who weren't looking for me as a girl have walked right past me while looking for me without realizing it was me. (Hi, Gail! Love ya lots!)

Despite these precautions, I was still found out. On the one hand, it's my own fault for not thinking to block my sister from my YouTube channel; on the other hand, it's rather an impossibility to censor all such information because my videos are all over the place and I don't control all those channels (nor do I want to).

Still, it was a bit of a shock and a definite "oh crap" moment, because not only did not know how she'd react, I also didn't know if she'd out me to my family. I tried calling her but the phone went straight to voicemail, which only made me more nervous. I sent a text saying "Hey [sister], if you're awake please give me a call. Thanks!"

No reply.

OK, next step: write her an email using my birth-name account with a subject titled "We should probably talk" and with the body reading "I see you found my YouTube channel. I imagine you have questions. I'm more than happy to talk about it with you."

No reply to that, either. I spent the night planning my exit strategy and went to bed with a nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach, fearing that when I got up the next morning it would be to a house of angry, freaking out people.

Morning came... and nothing happened. No replies from her, but family seemed normal. Okay then, no news was good news.

Then, right before I stepped out the door to walk the dogs, I received this text from her:

As you can see, she agrees with my reasoning for not coming out to mom and dad. I didn't need the justification, but it's always nice to have someone else validate my decision.

Thursday evening we had a great, hour-long discussion. We talked about all sorts of things, such as how she even found me in the first place (mom told her I spoke at GRPC so she searched for it and found the speeches on YouTube. She didn't see my name so I guess she was just listening to it when she heard my voice, looked at the video and went "OH"), how I came to realize I was trans, what my plans were, etc. It was a really awesome, candid discussion and not only did it feel great to be able to tell a family member about myself but I also learned a lot more about my sister based on what she told me!

This has really expanded our relationship in a wonderful way. I didn't really have a way to relate to my sister before this because our interests and lives were so different, but it feels like we bonded over this and now we have a secret that we can share! It's so wonderfully strange... and as I told her when we said goodbye, "So hey, now you have a little brother AND a little sister! One of each!" and we both laughed.

Best Christmas present EVER!


  1. Hey Erin,

    That's awesome when something you been dreading don't transpire and it actually works out. Family is important.. in some cases in small doses.

  2. That must have been a really really anxious 24-or-so hours. Glad it ended well for you, Erin.


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