Dear Pam,

It’s Mother’s Day. This is a day I once felt great pain over, but now I feel indifference. When was the last time we talked on a Mother’s Day? 2003 perhaps? It’s been years. I should have written this letter years ago, but I am not sure I had the maturity, tact, or emotional stability to do so!

You may never read this, and that’s okay. You made the choice, 14 years ago, to cut me from your life. I had just one simple request at the time. Treat my girlfriend and stepson with human decency or don’t bother being a part of my life. From the moment I started dating Ashtyn you were against our relationship. When I sent her letters during our trip to New York, you told me I was foolish because our relationship would never last. When we moved in together, in Michigan, you told her mother they would grow tired of me within a year and kick me out. Instead, I found love and acceptance, something you would not give me, and nearly 15 years later we are still together.

Dominick as a young child, wearing a yellow big bird shirt, and Elton John glasses.

You never truly believed in me, unless it benefited you. You only wanted me to do things, so you could get accolades for what I did. You treated me like a pawn, so you could live vicariously through me. You let MDA pimp me out for profit, because it came with a lot of attention, and I let you, because it gave me attention. It let me perform. I had no idea how harmful it was at the time, because I was a child. You were supposed to protect me, and you didn’t.

When I fell in love with Ashtyn, you told me that because of my disability I shouldn’t worry about love. I should worry about my career. I spent many years believing disabled people didn’t deserve love, or couldn’t have both love and a career because of what you said. The thing is, many humans want love, relationships, and a family. Why couldn’t I have both?

I am sad for you, because I’m a really terrific kid. When Dad died, everything fell apart, but I was the one who made sure we had Christmas. I was the one who held our family together. I am loyal to the ones I love, almost to a fault, but you made me choose between my family, and that’s never a choice anyone should have to make. You told our entire family that my son (stepson) Robert, a child with a disability, was a thief (something you knew was not true, but you were angry because I kicked you out of our house for disrespecting him as a human being). He never stole anything. I don’t care that he played with my empty set of keychains, which I gave him the play with in the first place. He was an autistic eight-year-old. He liked the tactile sensation.

When you told our family he stole your car keys (something you didn’t even HAVE because you were driving MY van and Matt was coming to pick you up to drive you back to Toledo), suddenly he was no longer invited to any of our family functions. I was told that I could come with Ash, but our son was not welcome. You effectively made me choose between my partner and child, and the family who gave birth to me. Your lies created years of tension in our family, and people still won’t talk to me today.

Robert, at the time, was not capable of telling a lie and he cried when he found out you lied about him! Many years later, Willie (my grandfather) remarked how well behaved and kind Robert was. He was surprised because you had painted him as a thief and troublemaker, but in the end, Willie knew the truth. He enjoyed Robert as a person, and I’m grateful he knew the truth before he died.

Dominick wearing clothing that looks like carpet fabric, hugging a streetlamp.

You robbed me of years with family, and today people still believe your lies. I feel sad for you because I’m a terrific person. I am caring, hard-working, and successful. I have had a very hard time for a variety of reasons, but I still managed to make more than one film, go to the White House and mentor at the White House, and speak all across the country. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am, and yet I know you don’t care. I’m not what you wanted me to be, and what I am is never going to be good enough. I’m okay with that. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point. I spent many years asking why the person that was supposed to love me unconditionally no matter what did not truly care about me or accept me as I am. Now I realize, that is your issue, not mine.

The last time we spoke you told me you would never accept me as a transgender person. I think that was around 2008, when I called my grandfather, on the phone, and you answered. You told me I was a liar. You told me, “I wasn’t like the transgender people on Maury, so I couldn’t possibly be transgender.” You have no idea what you’re talking about, and that’s completely offensive to say or think. My older brother went on Twitter and told everybody I was pretending to be a man to steal money from them, money I was raising for hospice in honor of my grandmother.

When my friend who I was raising the money for (he was running the hospice drive) told Matt to leave me alone, and that I was, IN FACT, raising $$ for his drive, I never heard from my brother again. I realize that he’s always hated me for being disabled and the attention he thought I got from it. He had the nerve to say that I’m the reason, my disability in particular, that he did not finish college. I’m sorry he didn’t, but that has nothing to do with me. I wish I had a brother that cared about me, but you spent years telling him that my disability was what got in the way, and he eventually started believing it. Who does that to their kids? Now he has no sibling, and what will happen when you are dead? Most of our family is gone, and now Matt and I will not even have each other.

I have been living, happily, as Dominick for over 13 years. No one convinced me to be transgender. I recognized something within myself that I could never put in words for years. I am a transgender man, and I am proud to be a transgender man. I have no regrets. I’m sorry you will never accept that, but my happiness is more important. Your transphobia lost me, but something else has ensured you never ever get me back.

You see, as much as all of this hurt, as much as the abuse (yes, what you did to me was abusive – especially the picking at my skin against my will, because you “wanted me to be beautiful” – you don’t get to determine what is abuse or harmful to me) destroyed me for many years, I could handle it. At the end of the day, I was used to you treating me this way. I was used to not having a parent anymore. What I cannot forget is how you treated my grandfather. What I cannot forget is how you continue to treat his memory.

Everyone in the family knows that Willie’s estate was supposed to be split up between you, Aunt Deb, and Uncle Woody. Willie told this to me, and everyone in our family, before he died. You were supposed to sell the house, a house you still seem to be living in. You were supposed to be the executor who split up his estate. Four years later and you have not sold the house. It is not even on the market. You have not split up the estate. This is NOT what Willie wanted, and you are being selfish and disrespectful.

Dominick at the White House for a forum on LGBT and disability issues wearing a purple button down shirt, a purple and light blue striped tie, and a green Live Event badge, sitting in his black wheelchair.

The fact that you prevented me from going to see my grandfather when he was in hospice, something he didn’t even know you were doing is disgusting. You told everyone he was confused about me being transgender. He wasn’t confused. He was sick. He was dying. In those moments, I don’t care what he called me. I don’t care what the nurses thought about him saying I was his granddaughter or his grandson. He did not care either (BTW, before he got sick he sent me a card to “Dominick” his grandson – at over 90 years old he was willing to accept me, and acknowledge I was transgender). I just wanted to spend time with him before he left this earth because he was the man I loved more than almost any other human being in the world. You didn’t just deny me access to him. You denied him access to a grandchild he practically raised. You threatened family members if they even told me his condition. They were afraid you would prevent them from seeing him as well. So no one would talk to me, until he died. By then, it was too late.

I had to take drastic measures to get a message to let him know I loved him. I am so glad I have friends who made sure he knew how I felt about him, but I will never get those months back when he was dying. You punished him, and I will never forget that. I don’t think there can ever be a reconciliation between us. Not even if you one day start accepting me, because I will never forget what you did to Willie. That was the day you stopped being my mother. In retrospect, I’m not even sure you ever really were.

I am a proud trans person. I am a proud queer transman. I am a proud disabled person. I am exactly the person I was supposed to be. I know I’m not the child you wanted, and that’s okay. You never deserved a child like me, in the first place. I am done letting you hurt me. I am done caring what you think. I am done trying to reach out to family members who are content to believe your lies, and not get to know the real me.

You never got to know or have a terrific transgender son, because all you wanted was to make me your daughter. On this Mother’s Day, I don’t even feel sorry for you. I feel indifference. I don’t wish you ill will, but I hope someday you’ll stop pretending you have a daughter that never existed in the first place. Instead, maybe you need to think about how the transgender son you had was never truly good enough. You are the one who lost me. I am caring. I am loyal. I would’ve been a wonderful son. Sadly for you, that is something you will never know.

Good luck to you, Pam. Go in peace.

Dominick M. Lawniczak Evans