Dear Mom,

Leslie McMurrayFirst of all, I want to tell you how much I miss you and love you. You have been gone now for 23 years, and when you passed away you left a hole that can never be filled.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve wished I could pick up the phone and hear your voice, or walk through your door and be greeted like I was the most important person on earth.

Whether you understood it, you were responsible for so much of who I became and who I am still becoming. You accepted me and whatever I was doing, 100 percent. You encouraged me. You believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

Mom, the more I live in this world, the more I realize just how lucky I was to have you as my mom. So many people I know have been rejected by their families, or grew up in an atmosphere of indifference or worse, violence.

I grew up knowing I was loved and that there was nothing I could say or do that would make you stop loving me.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a hugger. That’s due to you and Dad, who were always there with a warm hug. I want to share those with the people I care about.

In later years, I remember you questioning things you did in raising my brother and me. Please let me assure you that you were the best mom any kid could ask for.

You sacrificed for us, loved us and taught us values, respect and discipline. You showed me the value of friendship. You and Dad set a wonderful example for a life well lived.

It was little wonder that my friends all wanted to come over to our house to play; I heard countless times, “Your parents are so cool.” How rare is that?

You gave us everything we needed to succeed in life. I sometimes wish I’d have asked more questions or paid closer attention.

The question that haunts me, Mom, is ‘Why?’ When you were so loving, so accepting of everything I was and everything I did, why couldn’t I tell you about me before you died?

You said on more than one occasion that you wished you had a daughter. You were a wonderful grandma to my two daughters, but I never found the words to tell you that you did have a daughter all along.

Perhaps I didn’t have the heart to take away your first-born son. I know how much you loved him.

Sometimes that thought tortures me, Mom. I kept so much from you, but part of me thinks you may have suspected, especially if you added things up — my wanting to wear a dress to play when I was little, asking you what my girl name would have been (I carry that name today and always will).

I remember you coming in the bathroom when I was taking a bath one day. I had soap all over my legs and was pretending to shave them with a “popsicle stick” razor. The signs were there. You knew how sensitive and pensive I was.

What you didn’t know was that I lay in bed at night praying that God would change my body and make things right. I hated my body and wanted it fixed to the point of pondering “do-it-yourself” remedies at a young age.

You never knew that I cried at night during puberty as my changing body betrayed me in all sorts of ways. I just wished it would stop. But I never said anything. I just couldn’t bear to hurt or disappoint you.

I know you would have supported me and accepted me. There is no doubt, because you would have set your feelings aside — the disappointment, the potential embarrassment (this was the 1960s and ’70s remember), and the crushing sense of loss you may have felt.

You would have done it for me; I have no doubt.

I didn’t want to let you down.

Today, my life is very different from what you envisioned for me. I wish I could introduce you to your daughter. You would love her. I know you would have tons of great advice, a hot cup of coffee and a hug.

Always a hug.

I love you mom. Happy Mother’s Day. I miss you so much.
Your daughter,

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at