The Open Letter

An open letter to my extended family, colleagues, and friends.

I’m not even really sure how one goes about writing something like this. Even after a lifetime of living with this, and several years of being out to a handful of the closest in my life, I’m still learning how to say what needs to be said. Nonetheless, I will do my best to be both as succinct as possible, and provide enough foundation to hopefully help you understand. I sincerely wish there was a way I could have told you this face to face, and can only hope that my sincerity comes through in what’s written below.

I am transgender. This is how I have internally experienced myself my entire life. From some of my earliest conscious memories, to this very moment my gender identity has been consistent within myself. I was not made this way by an event, or a person. Nor did I wake up one day and decide that maybe it would be more fun, more exciting, or more interesting to be a girl. I already was one. One does not decide their gender identity; it just is. All one needs to do is look inside themselves to see this is empirically true.

Writing it this way (in just one paragraph) oversimplifies what has been something that I’ve experienced and internally fought against my whole life. Undoubtedly this revelation will come as a surprise to many people who are reading this. I also know how hard it is to understand this, after all, God knows how much energy it took for me to come to terms with it myself. If there were any way I could continue my life without having to face this, please know I would, and I have tried. But I’ve come to realize over the last several years that continuing to live my life in a way that feels inauthentic to me isn’t viable, and unfortunately due to the implications of what I’m about to say, this cannot be a private thing. I am left with no choice but to face my fear head on.

For the majority of my life I thought I was the only person who felt this way; That they were a “girl born into the wrong body”. In some of my earliest memories growing up I experienced this conflict between the gender I knew I was, and the one laid out for me because of my anatomy. Asking my parents for a doll for Christmas (they gently steered me away from that choice), preferring playing with the girls in play groups, and wishing I could wear a dress to church like the other girls. Later when I started elementary school I preferred playing house with the girls and their dolls during recess, but within a few days was told that this wasn’t appropriate for a boy of my age.

In each case parents, and/or other adult mentors gently steered me away from feminine things that felt natural for me. These were probably not major events for the adults in my life at the time, but each small episode built a foundation that made me realize early on that expressing my internal gender was not appropriate. Despite this I did pretty well as a little kid; my imagination helped a lot. When I closed my eyes at night, everything was as it should be.

But as children age, the gender gap widens. Whereas toddlers are given a lot of slack in the way they express themselves, as a child gets older gender expectations become more defined. For me, this incongruence in my gender meant more frequent inner turmoil that I only felt I could express through prayer. And so at a young age I took my struggles to Jesus, and fervently asked daily (sometimes multiple times daily) for my body to be made right, or for me to be born again as a girl. I would close my eyes at night, and with all my heart try and have faith that when I awoke some kind of miracle would take place. Certainly I thought, I had a least a mustard seed’s worth.

As I got older my prayers and internal thought processes evolved. I recognized that my incongruence could be solved by either bringing my body into alignment with my brain, or by bringing my brain into alignment with my body. Soon I was praying for anything that would help me feel normal, and doing my best to force my mind to be a boy mind. Eventually I got to the point where I told God it would be okay with me if I just died (though I have never actively sought suicide) – that way at least the problem would be solved for me, and my parents wouldn’t have to live with the shame of having some kind of freak for a kid.

Puberty brought new challenges as I felt my body move even further away from how I felt and gender roles separate even more. There were several times I was so discouraged I considered reaching out to my parents, a pastor, or other leader, but I never felt that any of them would understand. I was so afraid of what others might say, or that others might judge me. My negative body image made it difficult to stay healthy – a pattern that continued until only recently.

Despite becoming very good at emulating “boy”, I could never make myself feel like one, but I kept trying anyway. I poured myself into work, taking numerous jobs even at a young age. Got involved in school and community activities, joined the band, choir, and other groups. I became super religious. Anything to keep myself occupied. The thing is that none of this really worked; it was just distraction.

But when I was alone, despair crept in. The summers were the worst. When I didn’t have enough activities to keep me busy I found myself depressed. On several occasions my mom found me crying in my room despite my best efforts to hide it from her and my dad. I did much better when I was working – so that’s what I did. I felt better, and nobody worried about me.

And this is how most of you have known and experienced me. As an ambitious and confident young man with many irons in the fire so-to-speak. I don’t mean to suggest through this revelation that this person you knew was a fraud. I still am that person in many ways, with many of the same interests and quality of character. But my running around with too much on my plate was really just me running away from something even more difficult inside myself. The truth is that the challenges I experienced in the outside world paled by comparison to the turmoil I faced inside.

Avoidance and distraction only got me by for so long though. I think early on in life I still held out hope that I could cure myself through sheer willpower, or that God might work a miracle for me and set things right in one way or another. But as I got older I realized that this strategy wasn’t working and I would likely be this way for the rest of my life. I felt like internally I had sincerely tried everything I could imagine to make things right. I was exhausted. Finally, in my mid 20’s I buckled under the pressure of it all. It came to a head when I took a cruise with my then girlfriend (my wife), and my parents. They all noticed that my spirit had shifted to a darker place and said something to me. I took their concern seriously and within a few weeks I went to see a therapist.

Talking to someone about this helped me so much. For the first time in a long time I had hope again that maybe I could live with this. Some weeks later, my girlfriend and I were watching TV when a documentary that showed several people going through transition came on. As my girlfriend watched the documentary, I watched her. I saw compassion in her towards these people, and it gave me courage to come out to her. That happened the following night, when I told her that I felt like the people in the documentary. She accepted me.

At that point (about 8 years ago) I knew I was transgender, but I wasn’t sure that I would need to transition. The process of starting to see a therapist to work through this, and acceptance after coming out to my girlfriend gave me so much hope and renewed energy that I felt I might be able to shape my life in a way that allowed me to live happily. Maybe I could simply allow myself to be a little more gender neutral, maybe develop some new hobbies that made me feel like I was expressing myself in a more gender balanced and healthy way. In any case, I committed to her that I would be completely honest with her, and inclusive in my journey. We promised each other we would each take our lives one day at a time, not take life for granted, and be honest and respectful with each other. It is upon this promise that we got married about 18 months later, and have built a life together.

Over these last eight years I have tried doing just that. I’ve tried to live my life in a way that feels more authentic to my gender identity, while not being public about it. I’ve sincerely researched a variety of claimed treatments for gender incongruence including ECT (shock therapy), hypnosis, and even conversion therapy. All of these have a success rate of near zero, and in many cases actually cause additional psychological damage. I’ve also tried just trying to accept my life as-is, ignoring the issue, or distracting myself from it. But ultimately none of these things work. For my gender incongruence, there is but one treatment that remains- congruence through transition.

Looking back through my life it’s now clear to me that I’ve always sought gender congruence in one way or another. Whether I was a child asking God for it, or wishing on a birthday cake every year, or silent prayer requests in church, or looking to the medical community for help as I am now – from childhood until now I have been deeply affected by having my gender identity at odds with my body.

And so, after a lifetime of consistent cross-gender identity, eight years of sincere soul searching, education, and therapy in both New York and Seattle I have come to realize that I cannot live this way anymore. At the start of this year I began in earnest the process of transitioning from male to female.

Transition has meant that I’ve spent the last year or so learning things that most girls learn at a young age. Among them are how to do my hair, working on training my voice to sound less masculine, and building up a new wardrobe. I found a local transgender support group, which has helped me greatly. I’ve undergone evaluations by both my physician and therapist, and both have declared me in good physical and psychological health for transition. The objective is to transition my body and life to female.

After months of practice, and selecting a female name for myself I finally went full-time around mid-March and even started taking classes part-time at a local community college. My teachers, and classmates here only know me as “Maddie” or “Madelyn” since this is how I introduced myself to them. So far everyone has been supportive, accommodating, and/or respectful.

An important part of transition is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which will put my body through a second puberty. Initially I started out on medication that blocks my testosterone, and in April I added Estrogen to my regimen. The objective is to give my body a normal level of hormone for a female. This has been an interesting experience to say the least, and I’ve written about it some in this blog and talked about it in my personal video logs (which I will post on Youtube in the coming weeks). Within the next few days I will legally change my name to Madelyn (I am keeping my middle and last names), but most people seem to be calling me Maddie for short. Those around me who knew me before are still getting used to using my new name, and getting used to using appropriate pronouns of “she” and “her” when referring to me. I know it takes time to get used to this, and it’s okay to mess up. I accept this as part of the process. But it really means a lot to me to see people at least try.

In short, you should know that HRT and living as a female has absolutely resolved my gender incongruence. I feel more ‘myself’ in terms of my body than at any other point in my life previously. It’s a strange and new feeling to be at home in my own body. For the first time I really care about my body and health, and have lost more than 45lbs over the last year or so. While transition has completely addressed my gender identity issues and given me a new hopeful lease on life, it also brings unique challenges to my life and relationships; specifically my marriage to my wife.

Before I say anything else about that I want to say that no single person in this world has been more supportive of me on this than my wife. She has been my single biggest source of strength, and has continually and consistently encouraged me to be true to myself and follow my heart – to this very day. I could not have asked for a more compassionate, and authentic person to have in my life than her. I am grateful every day that she has been with me and that she continues to share a life with me. But transition is perhaps most difficult for a spouse and their marriage. This has been the most difficult part for me so far; feeling like I am taking away my wife’s husband. I know she already feels a sense of loss, and that deeply saddens me. However, neither of us honestly know how things will turn out for us. We do know we both are completely committed to each other’s happiness, and to each of us to being able to live the fulfilling life we feel each was destined for. Even if that ultimately means we must do so separately. Of course it is deeply difficult to fathom going through separation, so for now we are committed to the same promise we made early in our relationship – we take one day at a time, and are grateful for it. She also has her own individual support system, so I feel very confident that if there’s a chance we can survive this, we will. But no matter what happens, we remain committed to each other as human beings, and best friends.

A number of other individuals have been a source of strength, and all have demonstrated patience, understanding, compassion, and authenticity in this process as I have come out to each of them. First is my immediate family, who I feel exceedingly blessed to have been born into. I cannot imagine a finer, more compassionate group of souls to share this life with. I very well may not be here today without them. But there are others; a handful of friends (old and new) and extended family who have shown empathy. The support and compassion I have received so far has moved me more deeply than any other life experience previously.

Lastly I want to express how grateful I am for you. If you are reading this it’s because our life paths cross in some way. I do not take this for granted. I sincerely wish I could have told you this directly in person, but given where I am at in this process it’s just logistically and financially impossible.

For a few of you I know this information may be too much to take in, or you may have some objection to what I’ve said. Please know that I respect your right to your views, and I even understand where some of them come from. I sincerely ask for the same respect from you. I have not forgotten from whence I came, and you should know I struggled deeply with this issue for literally decades. But I cannot deny who I am any longer, the cost is too high. Hard as it may be to believe, I feel healthier both physically and spiritually since embracing this path. I feel more authentically human than at any other time in my life. I can honestly say it’s beautiful to be alive.

In the end, I’m still the same person – I am not going to run away from my past, or forget my past memories with any of you. But I would be remiss to say that transition does not bring some losses. It does, and this certainly represents a new chapter in my life and to a lesser degree the lives of some around me. But it also brings me a sense of hope I have never fully experienced before. Despite the change, I am still the same spirit inside, and so I hope that any sense of loss or sadness will not linger.

No matter your reaction to this please know that I sincerely hope my relationship and friendship with you can continue. Also know that however you choose to respond to this, that I both accept and respect your choice.

Sincerely,

Madelyn

P.S. I’ve complied a list of “Frequently Asked Questions” and “Helpful Definitions” should you be interested in reading more. Should you have additional questions you can also contact me at madelyn@becomingmadelyn.com.

P.S.S. Should you or someone you know experience gender incongruence please be patient and compassionate with them. The average lifespan of a transgender child is only 23 years (of known transgender cases, many end their lives without saying anything at all), and 1 in 3 transgender people choose to end their lives (again, of known cases). This is massively higher than the population at large. No matter where you stand on this issue, compassion and empathy is the single best thing you can do to save lives. Trans people end their lives because they feel they have nobody to talk to, and because they fear the rejection of their family, friends and community. Please don’t let them be afraid to talk to you, don’t let them be afraid of your rejection.

112 thoughts on “The Open Letter”

  1. Sheila M

    Maddie,
    Being a mother is one of the most beautiful experiences one can have and being your mother has only brought happiness into my life. On this day, I cannot adequately express the respect I hold for you as you open up your innermost “true” self to your family and friends. I want you to know that I love that you have the courage and ability to be your authentic self. You have made a self-honoring choice that reflects who you are at your core level. I love that your character is still the same thoughtful, loving person you have always been. I have learned volumes from your intense support of the moral, political and ethical standards you live by. I want to share the following quote, “Being true to ourselves gives us the insight and compassion to see others for who they are, not who we expect them to be. It frees us up from the judgment of ourselves and others and it gives others the freedom to be themselves as well.” ~ Victoria J. Reynolds. I look forward to living the rest of my life loving you as my daughter, Madelyn. With love, Your Mom

  2. Harold M

    Maddie,

    We love and support both you and Samantha. Thank you for trusting us enough to let us be part of your new beginning. It is a little different for Derek and me when you go shopping with the rest of the girls but we will adjust. 🙂 We are so glad that you can finally be yourself. The courage that you have today is, and will be, a help to many other people who feel that they are alone in this world. Luv you Maddie, Dad

  3. Deeanne

    Your authenticity is overwhelming. You are a beautiful person, inside and out. Today is the first day in the rest of your life!

  4. Garret Akerson

    Maddie,
    I will always support you. I’m glad you chose this “death” rather than the other. I hope in re-birth you find continual peace and acceptance. I can’t imagine how difficult this transition is. Your friendship means a lot to me and while you may change you won’t cease being an important part of my life. I look forward to sharing this next chapter in life with you.

  5. Randal Garcia

    Maddie
    As you know I’m your friend and always will be. We don’t choose what we are and all we can do is be honest with ourselves…..That’s what you are doing. So know I’m with you and so is God. Come visit us soon!!
    We love you Maddie
    Your friend Randal Garcia

  6. Tony, Eva & Abby

    We will keep you and Susie in our prayers.
    We want what is best for the both of you and will always Love and Respect you.

  7. Tim Mitchell

    Maddie, your great character shows through all of this. Your willingness to stay with the community of your friends, to share with others so truth will overcome the darkness of ignorance–all this is admirable.

    Not a single one of us is in “mint” creation condition. Each of us has absorbed the distortion that both nature and nurture have given to us. Some of us have lungs or eyes or pancreases that give us trouble. Others, perhaps a “wire” or chemical in our brains that makes us both unusual (even odd!) and wonderful. As science is discovering the source of these things, a lot of unique people like you are going to be kept in warm community because it will be evident that this is indeed how you were made.

    Thanks for being a brilliant, caring, courageous forerunner, so that future generations of children and adults will know that the best love and worship we give to God begins when we are honest and celebrative about who and what we really are.

    We know that your adjustments are going to continue for a while, perhaps a long while. And we will learn with you, and adjust with you.

    May special blessings and smiles be on your household.

    — Tim (for those who don’t know me, I am Lead Pastor at Pacific Union College Church, and friends of Madelyn’s family.)

    1. Anthony Vaughan

      Maddie (Matt)-

      Buddy, and my dear friend, you are such an awesome person and that does not change with this “change.” Your intelligence and witty humor all of the years I spent hanging out with you, becoming your friend, are clearly the same, even as you make the change. Thanks for being my friend, for being honest, and for all the great times. Because we are friends, and real friends stay friends regardless of circumstance, I am your friend!

      I am commenting to this change under Tim’s statement as many of my thoughts are summarized in his words, and also because he was my childhood pastor, and like his Christ-like compassion and guidance, I want you to know that the Christ I know, knows precisely what you are going through. He does NOT condemn you, but rather loves you just the same as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. His love will NEVER change, and quite frankly that is the only thing any of us can ever count on staying the same.

      We all change in one way or another during our lives, some of us to more compassionate individuals living up to Christ’s example, and others to more bigoted views and a pretentious nature. I admit I am not perfect so there must be some bigotry and hypocrisy in me, although I do not want any of that to really be true about me. I do fight it, maybe a little bit in the way you have fought against what you viewed as not “you” all your life. Paul in the Bible had a lot to say about fighting against things opposite of what was in his mind to be based on his knowledge of how he knew Christ wanted him to live. I know this change is different in many, many ways from what Paul discusses, but maybe you can gain comfort from what he writes by reflecting on his words and knowing that we are all affected biologically in a regressive way from Adam to now, and that none of us are even remotely perfect in our specimen, and very likely not even close to what God intended for us, so in that way you are no different than I or anyone else.

      I love you dearly, and I will attempt to continue being that same real friend that has debated life with you ever since we have known each other.

      Forgive me in advance for not knowing what to do, or possibly how to react at times, I know you will also be figuring out how to handle this change over time as well, so if the ball gets dropped or explanations are not sufficient, I will rest and trust in our friendship to rescue my stupidity.

      Your bud,
      Anthony

  8. Julie Garcia

    Maddie,
    My heart goes out to you for all the pain you have suffered through the years. You have always been an awesome person in my book and that will never change! You and your family always have my love and support!
    Love your friend, Julie Garcia

  9. Holly Dale

    You’ve lived under unimaginable pressure your entire life – the kind that would’ve crumpled most people. I’m in awe of your strength and courage. I’m honored to have you for a friend.

    Much love and support to you, Maddie. You are truly beautiful!

  10. Linda Dale

    Dear, dear Maddie! You know we love you and support you in everyway there is available on this lovely blue orb!!! I kept thinking that relating without gender bias was how I related to people until you shared with us what you were discovering in your life. Then I got to go on an inward adventure and see that there truly was a ‘gender filter’ that I viewed life and people through. What an amazing thing that you are a brave enough ‘man’ to clarify who you really are gender-wise. You are truly all you ever were, and now, even more so! I know that this has been a difficult journey for you, and for Samantha. It brings to mind this quote that I have hung on to for many years-don’t know who to attribute it to, though- ‘A crisis doesn’t make you who you are, it reveals who you are.’ I think the beauty of yours and Sam’s characters have been revealed in all their splendor, and I love what I see!!!! One day at a time as we journey with measured step on into the glorious divine!!! We have locked arms with you two and your family. Not ever letting you go…!!!

  11. Ernst

    Maddie; I don’t know you that well, we only met once or twice. Just wanted to voice my support for this journey and complement you on your courage to get to this point.
    Most of us carry some dark secrets, and let that secret overwhelm us in our daily live. I know from personal experience when we have the courage to let go of those secrets; how liberating that can be. I wish for you that feeling of liberation and accomplishment, you are so entitled to.
    Take care. Ernst

  12. Nate

    We worked together for a few years but didn’t truly know each other very well. Just wanted to voice my support for what you’re doing and wish you the best in this journey.

    keep well,

    nate

  13. Brenda Watson

    I have always admired you and still do. You are a wonderful person, full of many amazing talents. It is heartbreaking to hear of the silent nightmare you have been living. You will be in my thoughts and prayers as you enter this new phase of your life. May you find the peace and fulfillment you have always dreamed about.

  14. Derek Monteverdi

    Wow! I’m not surprised by this revelation, but I am blown away by the honesty of your message and the bravery with which you’ve lived your life so far. Although we only worked together for a few months ~4 years ago, I’m glad that we’ve become friends via Facebook. Thank you for sharing your story with me and I wish you nothing but peace of mind and happiness.

  15. Daneen Akers

    I am in awe of your courage, your authenticity, and your journey. Thank you for sharing with us in such an open and meaningful way. I feel blessed to call you a friend, and I appreciate you teaching us and being gentle with us as we do our best to support you in your transition. You are a beautiful soul. When I first heard your story, a favorite quote from Carl Jung immediately came to mind, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

    Thank you, thank you for including us on your journey.

  16. Tommie

    I loved you Then and I love you Now. What you have been through has made you who you are and I’m enormously proud of you. This can only serve to help others in the same situation. I’m proud to be your “mom”.

  17. Aubyn Fulton

    Maddie…
    I thought maybe I would post a note of support here – but instead this is a note of thanks. Your honesty and insight and compassion and maturity are deeply inspiring. We all are challenged to take each day as it comes, trying our best to become the person God made us to be, and this is not an easy process. I am very happy for you as you continue your journey, and proud that we are fellow alumni. I hope your path takes you back to Angwin soon for a visit, and that we can spend a little time together.

  18. Paula

    Bless you for your courage and strength — and Samantha’s too! I look forward to reading more as you go through this journey.

  19. Larry Geraty

    Maddie: I don’t know you but Daneen Akers shared it with me, knowing, of course, that I would be appreciative and understanding. I found your letter to be extraordinarily moving as well as thought-provoking. Just this very morning I met another transgender individual who moved in the opposite direction and is now dean of a local college. So I offer his experience as an example of someone who has succeeded publicly. I offer my thanks for what your experience is teaching us as Adventists. There is more to His Creation than learning the arguments against evolution! May God continue to bless you with courage, strength, wisdom, health, and fullness of joy.

  20. Mark Trumble

    Maddie,
    “You are an especially gifted and talented person no matter your gender. You have my love, support and respect in your transition. Congratulations on overcoming what must have been a huge fear. “To Thine Own self Be True!”
    Love,
    Uncle Mark

  21. Pat Arrabito

    Maddie – thank you for sharing this journey of yours so honestly and openly. I wish you all the very best, and God go with you!

  22. alia

    I’m all teared up. I know you don’t need my love and support– your family has so eloquently expressed themselves, anything I write sounds dry and crumbly. But you have my best wishes and earnest hope that both you and Samantha ultimately gain more than you lose through this journey.

  23. Jason Trumble

    Maddie,

    WOW! I’m completely blown away by your courage. You’re the only person who has to walk in your shoes. May those who are intolerant be forced to walk a mile in your shoes (uphill, in a blizzard) someday. I pray that you feel liberation and comfort as you near the end of what sounds like a VERY long journey. Congrats to you for having the ability to recognize your true inner self, and for having the ENORMOUS strength to take control of your life and fix something you’ve always felt was wrong (no matter how much it goes against the societal grain). You were born into this world to make an impact, and I’d say you’re off to a pretty good start. 😉 I stand behind you all the way.

    Samantha is an incredible woman for staying at your side through this all. You truly are blessed. Best wishes to you, and we’ll be in touch soon.

    Love,
    Jason

  24. Anni (Ponder) Hisey

    My dear Maddie,

    As I read your beautiful letter, I couldn’t help but think back to all the times your lovely family cared for me as a child, and I remember in particular how you were always kind to me, and how I loved you so very dearly. That has not changed, and though I wish we could go back in time and be girlfriends and share secrets — and then it wouldn’t have been so awkward for me because maybe I wouldn’t have had such a big crush on you if you had been Maddie then 🙂 — we can only move forward and I want to add my voice to the choir, and tell you that I still love you, and I am honored to be included in your epic journey. Thank you, and thank you Samantha for being the woman you are to support Maddie in this process. I imagine this must be extremely difficult as you weave your way through what must seem like completely uncharted territory. My prayers and love are with you both, and your families as well, and I would like to add that we don’t live so far from you, and our doors are ALWAYS open to you. If you’re ever near Wenatchee, we will be completely insulted if you don’t stop over for at least a night or two!

    Thank you again for sharing this with me, Maddie. And thank you for who you are, who you’ve always been, the deep and enduring kindness you have always shown me, the moral strength you possess, and your commitment to truth.

    I love you!
    Anni

  25. Kelly Dale Sr.

    What a great experience to wake up from my morning sleep and open up this email ….. Feels very much like a child who still believes in the majic of Christmas waking up in expectation of a beautifully adorned tree, covering so many brightly wrapped gifts …. and not being dissapointed! After your completely satisfying letter of explination (the “tree”), the individual responses(the brightly wrapped packages) and finally the “gift” contained within each response (the authentic friendship of other children of the Gods) …. I feel we have all certainly been blessed by this celebration of reality and loving support! And for those of us who believe in, and practice intention and visualization, the way this event is unfolding is like Dejavu (sp?) ….
    Thank you Madelyn and Samantha for blessing us all!! Now … on with the celebration! Do you mind if we all show up at your house for potluck??
    🙂

  26. Tom Solon

    Maddie,

    You are probably one of the most amazing people I know on this mote of dust we call home. You saved me. You and Sam. When I was at my lowest. I will always cherish your friendship when we were in NY together. I am really full of JOY to be privileged to be your friend. I am supportive of you and Sam during your “new” life.

    I am so moved by Sagan’s quote on earth, when he saw earth on a photograph that Voyager 1 took when it was like 4 billion miles away from earth:

    Look again at that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

    I am with you 100% and I look forward to all the progress to come. Hope to see you soon, too!

    Now, my dearest friend (plane nerd alert): may your skies be VFR all the time and when it becomes IMC, know that beyond and above the cloud bank, it’s always going to be clear.

    With much love, respect and awe,
    Tom!

  27. Samir Selmanovic

    Dear Maddie (Matt),

    First, congratulations!

    Second, thank you. I hope you keep on writing and leaving the post signs to help those who come after you.

    Third, enjoy the new peace. It has been too long.

    I hope you come and visit New York City, your old stomping ground soon and visit with your friends. We moved to Harlem and would love to have you stay with us.

    And fourth, much love to Sam!

    Samir

  28. Amy Bauer Heald

    Praise for your courage, strength for your journey, and joy in your new beginning, Maddie! I ache to think of how you were struggling when we were friends back in the Prep days. I have always associated you with the words action, friendliness and conviction, and now I realize how you have lived up to these ideals in more ways than I ever imagined. I’ve shared your letter with Geoff, and we’d love to take you and Samantha out for dinner next time we’re in Seattle–we’re over ever few months. It will be a pleasure to create memories with you as Madelyn.

  29. Annie Klein

    Dear Maddie,

    Thank you for including Ken and me in your open letter. The decision to transition has, without a doubt, taken a tremendous amount of courage and I’m so happy that you have chosen to live life the way you have felt it all along. It’s impossible to imagine how dissonant and distressing your gender conflict must have been during the years leading up to this time. As you have said, you are so, so blessed to have had the support needed, especially from Samantha and your immediate family, to move ahead with this process of aligning body, mind and emotions. God is good! So good! Would love to see you and Samantha after we return from our travels of the summer. With love, Annie

  30. Tim Kubrock

    Hey Maddie,
    I have always been a big fan of yours and will continue to be one. Thanks for your honesty and courage. I wish you nothing but the best. I’ve always considered you a good friend and that will not change. Stay in touch and don’t be a stranger.
    All the best, with love to you and your family
    Tim Kubrock

  31. michael tucker

    i hope maybe that you can be a positive example for others that may be experiencing similar life struggles. by the responses it looks like you have a good support system!!

  32. Carly Smoker

    Maddie,
    Since you were a upperclassman and I was a measly freshman your kindness and acceptance plus just all the plain ole fun we had in Drama at Prep means that in my book we will always be friends. You may be trangender but I am transoceanic and if you were ever able to get over that hurdle between us I would feel honored to have you and your family as my guest in Australia.
    I will send you prayers and I wish for you all the peace you are seeking.

    Carly Smoker

  33. brenda toton

    Maddie, you have always been an inspiration to others, as your aunt I must say that I hold the greatest respect and love for you and always will, I can only wish you the very best life has to offer, and thank you for coming forward, you will continue to be an inspiration to others, may God be with you and Samantha and hold you both in the palm of his hand, Love you, Aunt Brenda

  34. Jan G-M

    Maddie –

    We love you now, then, and always. I celebrate the strength of character and abundance of strength that you have now and have always had. You are loved by us, before, now and into the future. You have accepted changes from others in the same way that we accept them for you. Love does not put qualifiers on those we love. Love is acceptance (with open and welcoming arms). I am so proud of you for so many things. Know that the love of family is not now, or ever, something that will ask you to be anything but your true self.

    Love always,

    Aunt Jan

  35. Nathan Garcia

    Hey Maddie,

    I’ve always appreciated having you as a friend, and I always will. I think it’s great and incredibly courageous that you’re being real with yourself, your family and friends. Much love and respect.

    Nathan

  36. Terry Shultz

    Dearest Maddie~

    My heart is so full at the moment that I really am struggling to find the words to express it. You are such a vast and beautiful soul that in some ways, even discussing the limitations of gender identification hinder one from seeing the truth of you. Yet, I personally know how challenging it is to live in such a dualistic dimension as this one. Experiencing such a dichotomy must have been particularly painful and treacherous for you. I am so filled with joy and wonder at the courage of your soul to go through this journey and come out so triumphant. Your courage and commitment to self and Samantha is so beautiful and inspiring to me that I feel so honored and humbled to be a witness to this process. Thank you for the blessings I receive by supporting you and by your presence in my life…I truly would be at a loss without you in this world with me. All my love to you and to Samantha. I look forward with great anticipation into your future, now that your energy can have more focused direction amplified by self-love.

  37. Judy Montrose

    Dear Maddie,

    I am so proud of you! Your letter displays so beautifully the agony you have experienced as well as the joy that is just beginning in your life. Change is not easy, but it certainly can be well worth the difficulties along the way. Although I have not met Samantha (would love to, though!), I am proud of her as well. Being true to yourself is so important in life. I, too, am learning that lesson. I am so happy you are learning it now, when you are still very young and have a lot of years in which to grow and blossom. My love to you and always, my friendship with you will be there and will also include Samantha. God bless you always.

  38. Corla

    Dearest Maddie! WHAT a courageous person you are! I can’t begin to express (and you know I pride myself in my facility with words!) how proud I am of you for being this open and honest about your whole experience.

    I wish there had been some way I could’ve been of more help in those difficult teen years, and I’m glad that, although you still have a lot of struggles before you, so much is BEHIND you. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you and Samantha continue to find your way. LOVE, “Auntie Corla”

  39. Troy Logan

    Maddie,

    I am glad you are finding yourself comfortable in your skin. Life is so complicated already – I am glad you are finding a way to make sense of this world and your place in it. Your background and mine have similar veins. – I am hopeful that you find peace and fulfillment. Life is short – make the most of it – living life for the moments of joy that it, and the relationships we have, have to offer is the only way to live – waiting for nirvana might be too late. – my thoughts and my prayers are with you my dear cousin! – take care. Troy

  40. Samantha

    What can I say except that I am glad that you have finally embraced yourself and chosen to be authentic to who you are. You are my best friend, and it’s nice to see how relaxed and comfortable you are in your own skin.

    I am grateful to see all the overwhelming support for you, and I know that more is out there whether it has been shared with you or not. But by you posting this and sharing this part of you publicly, you are showing support to those who may need it right now. There’s always someone out there who needs to know that they are not alone, and you have done and will continue to do this through your words on this page.

    No matter what the past, present or future holds, I love and support you.

  41. CJ Toton

    Wow! It takes some serious cajones to do something like this. That being said, you go girl!

    Really though, as a kid my mom would tell me stories about your accomplishments through high school and the recent years. I’ve always looked up to you as a role model. Whether you were creating music videos for your graduating class, learning to play the harmonica or becoming a pilot, you have been an inspiration. You continue to inspire me through your strength and courage.

    Good luck on your newest and greatest journey.
    Your Cousin,
    CJ

  42. Craig Philpott

    Maddie, your story has brought tears to my eyes, I am moved and honored to know you. I wish I could give you a hug across all these miles. And a hug for Samantha too. I have known you since you were in high school and you are one of the most honorable and true people I know. And now to see and know that you can truly be true and honest and out, praise the Lord. Be real, be true. Your contentment with your decisions, large and small, comes thru with such power. Live true, you are surrounded by friends.

  43. Irv Logan

    “Maddie”,you’ve just put me through a whole “semester” in sensitivity training. Without giving details, with several close family members having gone through difficult sexual experiences in childhood, I have felt justified in condemming any behavior that had even the slightest hint of sexual aberrancy. Even as I read this back to myself it seems insensitive, but it’s not meant to be. I appreciate you helping me to better understand what you’ve been going through (and why your Facebook postings have taken the direction they have). I didn’t have a clue and I apologize for a couple of insensitive remarks I made on Facebook. May God give you and Samantha peace and direction in your lives. Love, Uncle Irv

  44. Leticia Russell

    Dearest Madelyn:

    While others have said here with more grace what I struggle to express, I feel I need to write to say:
    • Thank you for honoring us with the opportunity to witness your journey.
    • Today is a beautiful day to be alive.
    • What amazing possibilities you created by giving us the gift of believing in the very best of each of us.
    With much love, Leticia

  45. Tammy Rainey

    To all Maddie’s family, friends, and supporters here,

    I know this is a thread of (well deserved!!) congratulations to Maddie, but i want to interrupt for just a moment.

    None of you know me, but I’ve become very fond of my friend Maddie via of Facebook and it is because of this that I find myself reading this thread. What I want you all to know is that your love, kindness, and Christian compassion shines throughout this thread in an exceptional way. If you had seen the things that we have seen, the stories of pain we have heard told, you would recognize what a rare and precious thing it is that Maddie has such support. I am extremely blessed to see this true love in action. Among all transsexual people, relatively few enjoy that sort of reaction.

    Also, this goes double for Samantha. I have never interacted with this precious woman but I know from my own experience and those of many of my acquaintances that the path she has chosen is the road rarely taken. So often we are disowned by spouses, children, parents, and friends and face a life lived largely isolated from those we love. It warms my heart to know that thanks to Samantha, and all of you, I know at least one who won’t face that future.

  46. Robyn Bundy

    Maddie, this is rather funny as I was just thinking to myself that I don’t know any transgendered people. Now I do. I’m amazed at your courage and I hope your transition goes well. I’m happy that you have so much excellent support 🙂

  47. Chris Weller

    Maddie:

    When I knew you here in NY, one of the things I noticed about you was that you never seemed at ease.

    I’m very glad to hear that you’ve taken this step. I wish you and Samantha nothing but the best in your lives.

    -cw

  48. Bria Johnson

    Maddie,
    I think the number of supportive and loving people you have in your life is a testament to the lives you have touched and the kindness you’ve always shown others. Like everyone who has commented, I support you and I commend you for your courage to live your life to the fullest…in the body it’s meant to be lived in.

    To everyone else,
    I am awestruck by the amount of positive and loving support everyone is showing. I feel proud to be connected (in a small way) to so many wonderful people.

  49. Rosemary Sutton

    Dear Maddie:
    I have always loved and admired your strong will. In whatever your plans in life were, nothing could ever change that. This situation only exemplifies your courage, honesty, love, and deep concern for others.
    I love you,
    Grandma Rosemary Trumble-Sutton
    Grandma (Trumble) Sutton.

  50. Wesley Sutton

    Dear Maddie:
    I quess I could be called your step-grandfather. I have read your letter with Rosemary. All I can say is I am very impressed with your struggle, honesty, and determination. What you have been through seems overwhelming and I cannot dare to say I understand, because I have never been through such a tremendous struggle like you describe. But I can say this. I appreciate your honesty in dealing both with yourself and the existing world view. The honesty, values, concern for others, and determination you have shown in your trouble has got to be respected. I admire you and pray for the best in your new life!
    Sincerely yours,
    Wesley Sutton

  51. Mendy Fontaine

    Maddie,
    You have always been an inspiration to me…even as children..You were the closest to my age in the large number of cousins. I want you to know that I love and support you in whatever you do. You are a special person and you deserve the right to be true to yourself and be happy! Your letter was truly beautiful and I know how hard it must have been! God gives us what he feels we can handle and I know at times how overwhelming it can be. Keep you head held high!!!!!

    Mendy

  52. Kristi

    Maddie,
    I am awed by your courage and the outpouring of love written above by your friends and family. I am so happy that you will finally be able to be your true self and live to your fullest potential. We all support you 100%. You always did and always will have my full respect. Despite your struggles through school you were an example of the best kind of person to strive to be. I am just sorry we could not have helped you even as you helped all of us. Take care during the long process you have ahead. I hope our paths will cross again some day!
    Kristi (Gregory)

  53. Lana Rockwell Brauer

    Dear Maddie,

    I have know you for a long time and I have always admired the person you are. You have embraced your whole self by sharing your journey with us. I support you whole heartedly and thank you for your honestly. You have always been a beautiful person and you will go forward in that beauty with the ability to fully share yourself with us as friends and family. What tremendous courage you have shown in sharing your painful journey of discovery. Your respect for yourself, your friends and your family shows what a wonderful person you are.

    I have always treasured the friendship we have had and I continue to treasure you as you embrace your journey from this point forward. It is rare to be able to share such a wonderful transformation with another and I thank you.

    I will lift you up in prayer and hold you in my heart as you and Samantha walk together day by day. With such a support system you are truly blessed.

    With Love,
    Lana

  54. Bryan Ness

    Dear Maddie,

    Not much I need to say after reading many of the supportive comments above. Can’t guarantee I will remember the name change, but you chose well, as it is close enough to your old name that I might actually remember (I’m terrible with names).

    Just want to say that I have known a number of transgender individuals, most of them post transition, and the ones that seem to do best are the ones who are open about who they really are and are unafraid to openly share that. I can’t see any reason to see you as a different person as a result of your choice, so don’t worry yourself there. I wish you God’s blessings and strength to follow your path.

    Bryan

  55. AJ

    Dear Maddie,

    I was overwhelmed by your open letter. I was deeply saddened to read of your struggles over the years but am now overjoyed by your re-birth and the enormous amount of support you now have. Your courage and commitment to being true to yourself is truly inspirational. It goes without saying that you have my unwavering support. Please let us know if you need anything. Big hug!

    AJ

  56. Daniel Akers

    Maddie,
    I can only say that I have always experienced you as a genuine and authentic person, a rare and creative soul who has blessed my life in all our experiences. I know that will never change–even though I will now interact with you as a lovely lady rather than a great guy. Thanks for having patience with those of us who live sheltered lives and think in stereotypes–for whatever you are, Maddie, you’re no stereotype! Thank you for your incredible honesty, openness and your friendship. I pray that you will continue to find joy and peace in your journey, even when you encounter the inevitable misunderstanding and hostility from some quarters and from some individuals who haven’t yet understood how great and loving is our God—who created us all in His image.
    Blessings,
    Dan Akers

  57. Shannon Tucker

    I need to echo what Tammy has said.

    After the young transwoman who adopted me as her mom when her parents disowned her, Maddie is my very best friend. I had my own anxieties for Maddie coming up to this. We lose so much. I lost my family; my kids, Christian pastors both, don’t talk to me.

    I have cried and sobbed at how wonderful love and support you have all poured out without stinting on Maddie. It is beyond rare in our community. Beyond rare. it has been a time when I have had just a glimpse of what Poppa, my God, must feel when “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

    Loving Maddie has been something you did for the least of these and Poppa will remember.

    1. Harold M

      Shannon,
      Your comments touch me deeply. Thank you for being a friend to Maddie. I hope we can meet sometime.

      1. Shannon Tucker

        Mr. M, it would be a great honor to meet you. You and your whole family have been my thoughts and prayers and in my praises through all of this. It would be a great honor indeed.

  58. Maracie Wilson

    Maddie,
    I hope all these beautiful comments left by your friends and loved ones assure you that you are loved and mean so much to those whose lives you have touched. May you have peace and feel the love and support of those all around you. Stay true to who God made you to be and continue to fulfill your life’s true callings.
    Your Prep friend from olden days.
    Maracie

  59. maria chavez

    Maddie,
    Live your life to the fullest, you are who you are. For those who may not want to accept you, simply pray for them.

  60. Candice Sweet

    Maddie,
    Again, I am in awe of your ability to chronicle your journey.
    As was said before by Shannon, I too have lost almost completely my prior relationships – the most painful is losing my Son’s. I am “dead” to them. I wish I were able to come out as graceful as you, I may have been able to retain those relationships. It is truly the only thing my new life lacks.
    Thank God I have found God and Jesus, and that my life long best friend has unconditionally accepted Candice, and my Mother is amazing!
    “Becoming Madelyn” has made you a gift not only to the “T” community but makes this world better for you being here.
    If you never write another word (which I pray will never happen) you have helped countless (as well as yourself) on their journey.
    Hugs, Candice

  61. Julie

    Beloved Maddie,

    You have for a long time been beloved by me, and you always will be. Perhaps the timing of your public coming out has been a God Thing. Right now my husband and I are working with a young transgender friend, and your pathway will help us as we love and support her through this same journey. She, like you, has grown up as a male, and is working through the issues to become female. These waters are not familiar to us, and you are helping us to know how to answer some of her questions.

    God bless you, Maddie. I have been so encouraged by the words of love and support that have been expressed on your behalf by all I know who know you, and by all those I don’t know who know you! I can truly say that they are all examples of God’s unconditional love. It is indeed heartwarming.

    With much love and many prayers to both you and Samantha,

    Julie Lloyd Roth

  62. Meesh Schubert

    Maddie,

    I remember the day you told me that you liked to put on a dress sometimes. That it felt good. And I remember the fear in your expression as you waited for me to respond…
    Actually I feel sorry that my response was probably in-congruent with your apprehension. Honestly it didn’t phase me at all. Well, based on what I just said, you probably noticed.
    Self-awareness is a ‘gift’, if you want to call it that, which few people are able to express through the actions, ambitions, and opinions which shape our impressions of them.
    I think most of us find it easier and more prudent to align ourselves with accepted truths, and to create the perception through our actions that those truths define what we believe.
    In a paradigm where free will and creativity are the ‘bottom line’ on the spreadsheet of virtue and progress the ceo’s would probably all be wearing dresses. In many ways, especially in terms of comfort and ventilation it’s simply a superior garment.
    In spite of myself I acknowledge that appearance plays a role in the search for meaning. And, by the way, I am not suggesting that the differences between men and women are superficial.
    What it boils down to is that I am glad you are feeling more ‘beautiful.’ Inside and out. And I am glad that your journey is connecting you with so many open-minded people.

    Best Regards to you and Samantha, and your families…

    Thanks for including me in your ‘journey.’

  63. Kami Hawks

    Madelyn,
    Writing your name for the first time made me smile. I have always liked that name, and have always had warm memories of you and a soft spot for you in my heart – I am glad the beautiful person I knew finally found her true name and is working to be true to herself. We don’t know each other in our present realities, but some things about a person never change; so please believe my sincerity when I express my deep care, support and concern for you, as the person I knew then, and as the person you are now. God give you and your special wife the strength and courage you need. Love from afar,
    Kami

  64. AnoutherTransWoman

    I want to direct my coments to the friends and family of Maddie…

    You wonderful support and guidance of Maddie durring this time of her life when she needs it the most is an awesome sight to behold.
    You have all statisticaly reduced Maddies chances of suicide from 1 in 3 down to the normal risk level of society at large.
    I hope you all can see how big of a thing that is. Maddie has a real chance at a good life now and she has all of you to thank for this.
    Not all of us Trans people have this level of support and I hope Maddie is smart and doesn’t squander it.

    Signed,
    anouther trans woman

  65. Tyler Deckard

    Maddie,
    I am in awe of the support expressed here in these comments. I want to add my support and hope that you will always feel support from your friends and community.

    Tyler

  66. JR

    Madelyn,

    Having only know you as your female self, I can say that you look completely happy and at ease with who you are. I think your biggest strength was that you accepted who you were, let the particulars evolve naturally, and were always honest to the ones you loved, particularly your wife. Even though you and I walk a different path in the ever so challenging realm of gender, I want you to know that I fully support you and wouldn’t hesitate to help you out if the need ever arises. Take care!

  67. Margaret Roy

    Hurray for love! I believe that God rejoices over every expression of love and reading these messages gives me more hope for the human race. Maddy, you are in a position to help transgenders that struggle but do not have your gift of expressing your heart. Your letter touched me. Thank you for being you.

  68. Winter Sigh

    You are a blessing just by sharing your story. I support you Maddie and Samantha, wholeheartedly, just like I did at your wedding in Central Park (by the by the most quietly simple beautiful wedding and day in my favorite park ever) Thank you for including me on that special day and thank you for inviting me into your support system today. I’ll be praying for you both. God grant you serenity and love and joy! 🙂

  69. Tana (Brinckerhoff) White

    Maddie,
    When I opened your letter I was overwhelmed. It was not the thought of you being a transgender, though I was saddened that I didn’t know that about you sooner. I was overwhelmed with the trust you put in your friends and family by sharing so openly. The tears started flowing when I got to the part of the letter where you described Samantha’s support for you. In Spain I knew her as a thoughtful and kind person, but I hope she realizes the power of her heart. Her heart is radiating out and changing people, not just you but those you are sharing your story with. Maddie, you are truly a special person. I immediately had to go look at Spain pictures after finishing your letter. Fun memories! I don’t know how our paths will cross again, but I look forward to new memories with…well, not the new you, but I’ll say the renovated you with all the beauty that was already there exposed. I love you as the person you have always been!

    Tana

  70. Julie Narducci

    Oh, Maddie, I’m so sorry you have had to struggle so hard for your whole life just to be you! I wish I could have helped more when you were in Elementary School. Living life is not easy, making decisions, trying to follow where God leads, interacting with people— I can’t imagine also adding what you have had to deal with your whole life. You have my utmost respect and support as you move into this new phase of life, discovering and becoming who you are truly meant to be. With love from your “old” music teacher, ~Mrs. Narducci (As I get used to calling you Maddie, how about you get used to calling me Julie!)

  71. Teri Fredrickson

    I’m seeing this amazing circle of life happening on these pages… who you are, and the investment you’ve made in others throughout your life, now coming back to you in such a powerful way. The respect and admiration I have always had for you and your entire family just grows and grows. (You know, this is starting to feel like one big birthday party… and I’m thinking there should be cake!)

  72. Melissa Wolff

    Maddie with a “D”,

    You were, are and will continue to be one of my favorite and most trusted colleagues.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with such remarkable candor and clarity. Like the skill and finesse you display in your professional life, you have managed to articulate a deeply complex issue as a story we can understand. No doubt, it will take time to adjust to the new you, but I know your signature style, grace, intellect, compassion and humor will live on in Maddie.

    I am happy to join your chorus of well-wishers and hope that others who face similar challenges garner the same levels of support and love exhibited here.

    You have my unconditional support and I’m honored to witness your transition / transformation.

    ~Melissa

  73. judy vazquez

    Maddie, i am so proud of u and proud to have u as a friend. I know that it must have been difficult for u growing up and i can only say that it takes courage to do and go thru what u r going thru. I will always b ur friend and will b here for u. One onlt needs lots of love and support and u haveboth and lots of it!!!!! I love u and will keep u close to my heart always!!!!!! 🙂

  74. Carolyn Weir

    Dear Maddie:
    I am the “older transcriptionist” that worked in Radiology, retired three years ago. All I can say is anytime you gave me computer help, it was superb. Extreme patience and extended help got me through many sticklers. A ready smile brought sunshine into my little cubicle. Thank you for being a true gentleman on the surface even though it was not how you truly were feeling on the inside (but I know your gentle spirit will not change). I admire you greatly for this honest opening of your heart and life.
    May God bless you as you serve Him in a new role for whatever time we have left in this life on earth. May He come soon.

  75. Danny Hopgood

    Maddie,

    I am so proud of you. Your strength and courage is inspiring and so is this outpouring of affirmation by people who love you. I wish many good things for you. I know God will continue to bless others through you.

    Warm Regards,

    Danny

  76. Cherie

    Maddie,
    I am in awe of your courage and am so proud of you for having the strength to face this head on. I am very happy that you have someone like Samantha in your life as well, and hope you know that you are surrounded by love and support. God Bless.
    Cherie

  77. Noemi

    I heard your voice before I had the chance to meet you. And from that moment you became special to me. I was a young girl in a foreign country not understanding too much and many times unable to make myself understood. But there you were keeping my company making me feel I was not alone.

    Then I met you. I remember you asked me how I did imagine you when I listened you on the radio; I said that you seem to me very kind because you transmitted sweetness. Then you said, “What did you think I was like?” I didn’t know what to say, I guess I had never thought about that.

    I know that I had not the pleasure to share much time with you, I could only shared some moths. I may not know many details from your daily life but I know enough to keep you in my heart all these fifteen years without seeing you, enough to be bound to you and your family for the rest of my life.

    What I know about you is so special that can’t be changed by any physical change you may do. And these qualities would not change because they have grown deep inside you.

    So be whoever you want to be, don’t be afraid to be free. Fly as high as you can, don’t let anyone cut your wings. Feel good with yourself, proud of yourself. Do all the changes you need to do to feel good with yourself, because you deserve it.

    The people who know you well will always love you.

    Noemi Romero

  78. Leeanne Patterson

    Maddie – you are an amazing inspiration and picture of true courage and authenticity. Thank you for sharing and for your willingness to be open and vulnerable. The love and support from your family and friends is a beautiful thing to behold. We wish for you only the very best and a life full of joy and many blessings! “There is no purpose for your life greater than to recognize your own beauty, power, and worth, and to share it.” ~ Alan Cohen Much love to you!! Leeanne and family

  79. Eden

    Maddie,

    We only were put in touch with each other when you (and Samantha) had reached out to us in looking to support your own community. I’m blessed to say that your talents for writing and communication has let me witness your transition, and get a better understanding of the community I work with on a daily basis. Your way with words is simply phenomenal, and I can only assume that you will become quite an inspiration and resource to your new community, as well as the one you have built around yourself. I only wish you the very best in your transition, and I extend my full support to Samantha; it’s a tough row to hoe sometimes to explore, recognize and accept a loved one transgendered identity, and Samantha and yourself are doing it in a humble fashion that can only be compared to a true loving friendship.

    I’m honored to be able to call you ‘Maddie’.

  80. Meryl Elian

    Maddie,

    I just read your blog and it was unbelievably touching. Congratulations on allowing yourself to be. I can’t imagine how difficult the waiting, and the decisions, have been. I hope that all the parts of your life that you want to remain the same do, and that all the things you’ve wanted to be different turn out just as you’d hoped.

    Thank you for sharing – you are an inspiration.

    Good luck!!

  81. Jessica Richmond

    Maddie,
    I am proud of many things… proud to know you (and Sam), proud of the faith community we belong to (and their Jesus response), and proud of you for being honest (even with the reality that some may not embrace truth).
    Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, there’s still work to be done on this ol’ earth. Love you both,

  82. victoria mukerji

    Dear Maddie/Matt,
    God bless you and Samantha always and in every way. I remember the two of you as a solid pair possessing intelligence, compassion and an amazing work ethic– building blocks of character which I could see would lead you to difficult places to make them better, less difficult, for those involved. Like so many of the people responding to this letter, I only wish I had known of the internal battles going on, for in your cheerful, helpful and seemingly happy personalities, I couldn’t discern any shadow at the time. You never took Gender Issues from me, but perhaps if you had, we might have talked… In the maelstrom of the themes of higher education, in platonic deliberation, we are supposed to find avenues of discourse for these things, but we didn’t, and I am sorry I let you down. Professors are supposed to be mentors, stewards, safe people who don’t judge. But we are useless if we are blind. I take your amazing story as a cautionary tale and thank you for reminding me of the layers of human existence which are hidden, buried from view. I stand chastened. Thank you, Matt/Madelyn and Samantha.

  83. Molly

    Maddie,
    your honesty, sincerity & courage are overwhelming. I am so very proud to know/have known you, (however briefly).
    May God bless & keep you always.

  84. Laura Camacho

    So this explains the gorgeous woman recently posting comments on your sister’s Facebook! You two look so similar, I thought maybe Madelyn was a cousin I hadn’t seen before. 🙂

    You are beautiful, inside and out. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

  85. Ginny Frost

    Dear Maddie,

    I don’t spend much time with FB so I have been clueless as to what’s been happening in your life until yesterday, when I just sort of stumbled upon your post about your name change. When I got home last night I started reading your blog on “Becoming Madelyn”. I did not stop until I had read just about everything on the site, including most of the links. I just want to let you know that I am amazed by your courage and your honesty in expressing your feelings for all of us to see. You are so blessed to have loving family and friends to support you. I always thought you were a great kid and now you are a great adult. Thanks for opening your heart and sharing with us to help us better understand what it may be like for some in our midst who feel out of place in their own bodies. We often have no idea of what another person may be feeling because we are too scared to share some parts of ourselves or feel like we not “normal” (whatever that is) and others will think less of us. I am also in awe of Samantha for the way she has supported you through your journey. She is definitely a special woman. I know that in some ways this is just the beginning for you and I pray that you both will find peace and contentment in your future.

    Your friend (and former neighbor),
    Ginny Frost

  86. Karen Lickey-Struntz-Boon

    Dear Maddie, the friend of my dear daughter Heidi. I just finished reading your journey and all the love notes sent to you by your friends and precious family. You may not know it, but I went to Cedar Lake Academy with your dad and uncle. They worked in the girls dorm, where I also worked, and I would chase them around, being boys in the girls dorm…just goofing around with them..they were younger than me. I also was your sisters first grade teacher..and then you were my Heidi’s friend. I was on my facebook this am and saw a comment by Karen Buller Grimes so I went to your facebook page and then to this site. What a journey for all of us to read your beautifully written letter, allowing all of us into your heart. Heidi is not on Facebook, but I wish she was so that she could go on this journey with you. I will see what I can do so she can read it. I wish you and Samantha all the love and understanding that you will need as you travel through your new life…so glad you are happy! I wish no person a tortured life. Welcome to contentment.

  87. Doug Logan

    Madelyn,
    It is hard to fathom the inner turmoil that has been your lot throughout life so far. I had no idea. Thank you for sharing your story. I am still proud to call you my cousin.
    Doug

  88. Heidi Rootvik

    Madelyn,
    Reading this made me cry, I am so proud of you for being you. The honesty, sincerity, and love shared in your letter is really moving. I know it’s been over ten years since Spain, and I didn’t even know you that well then, but I am so proud of you and so moved by your spirit. You are truly an inspiration. So thank you. Sending you – and Samantha – lots of love.
    -Heidi

  89. Abby A.

    Dear Maddie,

    Samantha gave me the link to your open letter, and I read it through with amazement, tears, and absolute respect.

    And then I read every single other page in your blog, with more tears, and was even more incredibly impressed. With you, as a person, and how you have managed and struggled with this your entire life. With you, as a writer, and how you are able to express yourself and make it real for us readers. With you, as a thinker, and how you have so thoughtfully considered all the aspects of this ongoing “dilemma” in your life. With you, as an educator, by how much you have educated me and so many others on what it means and feels like to live as a transgender person. With you, as a compassionate friend, offering yourself to help others going through what you have gone through.

    And finally with you, as a woman!! It is amazing to hear you finally roar!

    I want you to know that I support you 100% on this process. Even though we haven’t been in touch in recent years, I’ve always remembered both you and Samantha quite fondly from the Astoria days. You always struck me as a very thoughtful, thinking person and that comes through completely in your writings. I know the core of the amazing person you are won’t change, it will just be channeled differently – better, because it will be the real, authentic you!

    I will be following your stories with interest and support and send you a big hug from across the continent!

    With love,
    Abby

  90. Monte Butler

    Maddie,

    Thank you for your thoughtful, informative, compassionate, and gentle letter. Clearly the Maddie you are, was (was in) the same person of old. My support, prayers, and hope are with you, Samantha, and all who support you –especially your wonderful family.

    Monte

  91. Kealani Simpson

    I am blown away, but not surprised, by your open expression of self respect and strength. My memories of you growing up are that you were genuine, charismatic, and (I thought) not afraid to speak your mind.
    Being true to yourself, and loving yourself, is the most important thing to accomplish. In this, we can be true to others, and truly love.
    I look forward to re~connecting, and being a part of this journey with you both. Cannot be coincidence that we live so close, and at this time.

    With love,
    Kealani

  92. Darcy

    Maddie,
    We only worked together a few years at SHH but I have never forgotten you — how could I when you were always willing to help me. You were so kind and patient.

    You are such an amazing person. So honest and sincere. This took such inner strength, courage and love to share your deepest personal thoughts and trials. I wish you the very best in your new life journey and will often say prayers of support for you throughout the coming years.

  93. Andi Galusha

    Maddie,
    Your post has brought me to tears. Thank you so much for putting yourself out there like this. I am so touched by your honesty and compassion. You probably don’t realize that I looked up to you at PUC because you were always so kind to me. I think your eloquent post should be the prologue to a book that could really help a lot of people. I’m sure you get that a lot, but it is true. Thank you for sharing with us. I am so happy you have found peace.
    Much love and respect,
    Andi (Tucker-Brown) Galusha

  94. Jennifer Crow (Toon)

    Maddie,

    Your blog is incredibly touching. You inspire me with your strength, sincerity and courage. Thank you for opening yourself to us and sharing your journey.

    Know that you are loved and respected and that you and Samantha will be in my thoughts…wishing you nothing but contentment and joy in the coming years!

    Jennifer

  95. Kevin Herlihy

    Hey Maddie!
    Greetings from Astoria New York! 😉 This took a ton of guts and faith on both of your parts, it’s nothing short of astounding. May all good things come to you guys… and… good luck on the interviews! Google would be awesome! Have you ever followed through on your HAM radio licensing? We discussed this at FreezePeach way back when. What do you do when all of the cellphones stop working? I thought: ” Wow! This guy (gal) is pretty insightful!” Hello Samantha and Pixel!

    Love and good Luck,

    Kevin

    PS
    The food on your Facebook page always makes me hungry.

  96. Andrew Schoppe

    Dear Maddie:
    The next time I feel fear or uncertainty about myself, I will try to be as brave and authentic as you are.
    Thank you for inspiring me and congratulations on your personal Renaissance.
    Andrew Schoppe

  97. Judy Ness

    I haven’t known you as well, but Bryan often speaks of you and your journey with respect and admiration, and is proud to be amoung your friends. Reading your letters and then reading the responses by so many in our community, I’m really encouraged and uplifted to see the courage and support reflected on this site. What a wonderful and amazing person you are–and what a wonderful, amazing woman you are becoming! I’m delighted to discover who you have cheering you on as you continue your growth. Thank you for sharing your faith and courage!

    Judy Ness

  98. Shirahz Lentz

    Dearest Cousin, or my dear Madelyn,
    Thank you for sharing this very personal part of your life with us. I feel honored to know that you had the courage and vision to be ‘yourself,’ something that many of us have not had.
    I know that Samantha is a wonderfully loving and supportive wife and that you have a strong marriage. Truly if two people love one another and offer unconditional love and acceptance, magical things can happen. This is apparent to me when I see you.

    I love and support you Madelyn and celebrate meeting you in a new a vibrant way.

    With love and respect, your cousin,
    Shirhaz

    1. Bill Price

      Maddie. My heart so goes out to you. Betty and I have some feel of what you have been going through as we traveled a similar journey with Jeremy. Harold, we are soul brothers now. A child with a condition that no one ever prepared us for has become a blessing with out measure. We have grown in so many ways and it has enriched our life. I am so proud of you Harold, for standing by your boy. So many kids get tossed out when they don’t meet the parents expectations and it is tragic. Way to go Maddie. Blaze the way and if Betty and I can ever do anything at all for you please let us know. If you are ever in Walla Walla please look us up. We can share the journey.

      Love, Bill and Betty

  99. Jeff Braimes

    Hi Madelyn & Samantha– what a year you two have had! Wishing you– at this first Christmas– a holiday filled with continued soft landings, good food, and endless hope & blessings for 2012 & beyond.

    Very best,

    Jeff Braimes, Bellingham

  100. Alissa

    I am so pleased to read all these supportive comments. Way to go, Adventists! And all the best to you in your journey, Madelyn.

  101. Fidel

    Maddie,

    Thanks for sharing. Wow! It took lots of courage. I know your story will inspire lots of folks. Not only with gender identity but other changes people must make in life in order to become true to themselves. You are helping many people. God Bless.

  102. Anthony

    Maddie; First of all let me share in all the appreciation of the positive thoughts and comments here. I am so VERY and ULTIMATELY happy that you have the greatest support system. I am equally happy that you reached out and found me on LinkedIn after a few years. I am truly flattered that you and Samantha kept the calligraphy piece that I did for your years ago; it really touched my heart to know that it was as cherishable as it was. Let me say that your story is remarkable and so are YOU! As the previous comment here, you ARE helping many people. You are helping ME! You are more than genuine, courageous, sincere–you are REAL and GIVING. You are REAL here and you are GIVING of a story that will allow others to know that their lives are worthy and that God loves all of us no matter what we become and who we are. And to all of those that wrote on this page, EACH and EVERYONE of them made me smile and brought joyful tears to my eyes. It shows how awesomely special you are! I am sending you peace, light, love, hugs, laughter–give Samantha my best! Living, Loving, Laughing–Anthony!

  103. G

    Maddie, I’m crying bucket loads at the moment. My childhood knowings were a secret to everyone until my mid30s when in a therapy weekend about other challenges in my life so many jigsaw pieces of my life and identity came together so clearly. This is a beautiful part of me, that still is only known to me and a few close friends. And it has affected every area of my life.

    I’ll read your story again and again…

    Your courage and openness in telling your story, and huge courage and massive openness in taking the steps of authenticity in your outer world are mind-blowing and heart-filling.

    You will understand more than my words can express. Thanks.

  104. Garrison Chaffee

    Thank you Maddie for: your courage to fight, bravery to find yourself, transparency & authenticity to share. For your love and acceptance of others like Jesus. I’m sorry life was such a struggle. So glad you are living in freedom.

  105. Kim

    I thought I couldn’t be more impressed with you, but you have proven me wrong. I’m blown away by your candor and strength. What a woman. Just beautiful.

    <3, Kim

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