Why you should care

Because blood, as it should be, is thicker than water.

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Karen Barnes had wonderful twin daughters. Both were born healthy, with the right number of fingers and toes. But one of the twins, Erica, struggled to hit her stride — until, that is, she announced that she was transitioning. Erica was becoming Dylan.

Being a supportive parent was one thing. But getting loved ones to understand Dylan’s needs was quite another. Karen struggled with how to tell her larger family because she wanted Dylan to be treated well by them — to be loved and accepted. So she put pen to paper, sending her family a heartfelt letter. And to her great surprise, the extended family responded with loving support. The relatives, in fact, seemed to treat Dylan better than ever before.

dylan and mom 1

Karen wrote: “Life is so much more peaceful and joyous with this child who’s always been with me.”

Source Karen Barnes

Dylan was fortunate. He had overcome school bullying and depression to journey through his transition and find acceptance. But Karen was heartbroken to learn that so many in the trans community do not have such family acceptance. She decided she wanted to help other families embrace their transgender loved ones.

 

So she shared the letter she wrote to her nephews with OZY, explaining how Dylan had always been there — and how she and others just hadn’t seen him before. Acceptance, Karen reckoned, had a lot to do with fear. “It’s as if they’re afraid to accept him, or are fearful that acceptance reflects something about them. It hurts me to see judgments and discomfort in others,” she wrote. “I’m sad because it’s the way that humans choose to build walls between ourselves.”

Karen closed the letter in an upbeat note, explaining that “life is so much more peaceful and joyous with this child who’s always been with me. I never saw as clearly as I do now. I hope that one day everyone can be kind to Dylan and others like him.”

Revisiting their story for OZY Confidential, Karen and Dylan dig deep into what it means to be assigned the wrong body and share Dylan’s journey to feeling whole.

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