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Hello again everyone…I sincerely apologize for posting something here about another problem I am dealing with but, like the previous post concerning trying to find a place to live (My girlfriend and I are still looking), another very serious problem has come up this week and I honestly did not know who else to turn to except the community here.
However before I get into the specific legal questions I have for any attorneys/lawyers who might be here seeing this, please allow me to give you a brief background history of myself so that you might better understand what I need to ask about.
As I’ve mentioned before, my name is Sheila…I am 58 years old and a M-to-F transgender who has been living full-time as a woman for over 25 years…My family are all located in Virginia and I moved to Atlanta Georgia in the early 1990’s because at the time I believed that it was the nearest big city that would have the best resources for me to begin my transition…My wife had just recently divorced me because of my decision (even though she knew all about my feelings before we were married.) and this only added to how suddenly scared I was feeling in a new city alone…But to make things absolutely even worse, I had written a separate, individual and very detailed letter about who I was and how I had always felt like I should have been born a woman to both of my parents, my brother, 2 sisters and my ex-girlfriend with whom I had a daughter with (My wife and I met years later after I had separated from my daughters mother.)…I knew once I dropped those letters in the mailbox that there was no turning back.
Unfortunately I come from one of those families you hear about that could not accept the truth about me and the reactions were what I expected…My mother (I heard) cried for days while my father completed clammed up with everyone and refused to have even my name mentioned around him. (He was in the Military/Navy for over 30 years and, to find out his first born son was a transsexual was just not something he wanted to deal with.) My younger brother Scott (who is the definition of a redneck) reacted the way I thought he would in that he too like my Dad wanted nothing further to do with me…My 2 sisters Angela and Ruth were a bit divided…Angela reacted like my father and brother but Ruth was at first trying to understand what was going on…I corresponded and occasionally talked on the phone with Ruth and my mother as, after she had had time to think about it, she too tried to understand but, after only about a year or so, they both seemed to just not want to deal with it anymore and I gradually lost touch with them…My ex-girlfriend reacted extremely negative with sheer hatred, and I found out recently that she never referred to me around my daughter as a he or she but just as an “it” and basically just pretended I didn’t exist.
The first point I would like to make here in all of this was the fact that I was suddenly all alone with no family, friends or support from anyone to get started in my transition…But I was determined to be who I really felt I was on the inside and live my life as my true self and, once I finally decided to do this, I just accepted the fact that I would have to go through it by myself…I found a local support group to find out how to get started and then got a job driving a taxi (which I practically lived in) to start saving up the money to begin my electrolysis, buy new clothes, make-up, sessions with a psychologist/therapist to get my endocrinology letter to begin my hormone treatments, etc…After a couple of years I was ready to have my first surgery and I had my nose and breast-augmentation done at the same time and on the same day…(I had to get another cab driver I knew to pretend to be good friends with me so that my surgeon would think I wasn’t going home alone after surgery.)…I will admit that having 2 major surgeries done at the same time and then being alone in my apartment with no one else besides my cat to keep me company was rough but I got through it and have kept going ever since.
Over the years, I had assumed (or just hoped) that my family would eventually come around and just accept me for who I am but they never did and, even though all of them knew where I was this whole time, not one of them has made any effort to contact me…So I have just had to accept the fact that I was going to live the rest of my life without them.
Okay so fast-forward to now and why I suddenly need advice from a lawyer…My daughter (Krystal) has known my e-mail address for quite awhile, and over the years we would occasionally exchange greetings, briefly chat, she would wish me happy birthday, etc…I kept sending her my Skype address and let her know that I was here when she was ready to talk to me but I never pushed and knew I had to be patient…Considering how she was raised by her hateful mother, I could understand how confused she must have been without me there and also to find out her father was now living as a woman…Well, a few days ago she finally popped up on my Skype while I was sitting here at my computer and we started talking…The next day she called me on the phone and I was so happy to hear that she had finally accepted me for who I was and wanted to be a part of my life from this point on.
But the happiness I felt in finally talking to her again was soon mixed with some very bad news that she shared with me…She told me that both of my parents had died and just assumed that my brother and 2 sisters had contacted me about it…Obviously they didn’t and I suddenly realized that not only did my mother AND my father pass away, but I was never told, never given the choice of attending their funerals, nothing…As if I was never part of our family…From what Krystal told me, both my mother and father had become disabled and eventually sold their house and moved in with my sister Angela who she also heard that my parents had given her power of attorney over their affairs just in case anything happened to either of them…Apparently my mother died first, then my father soon after and after he died, my daughter Krystal got a call from Angela telling her she was faxing a paper she needed to sign saying she was my next of kin…Krystal says she remembers that she really didn’t understand what it was for at the time but found out later that when it came time to read the wills left by my parents, my brother and both of my 2 sisters told the lawyer that they didn’t know where I was and assumed I was dead too.
I know for a fact that my mother had been telling all 4 of us since we were little kids that she had a life insurance policy and that it was her intention to leave all of us something someday if something ever happened to her…I also know that even though she didn’t really understand what I had decided to do with my life, that she still loved me and would never write me out of her will…And my father too because apparently he had some life insurance with the Navy that went on after he had retired after 30 years…Plus add all of this with the fact that they had sold their house and not used any of that money towards buying a new house because they had moved in with my sister…Not to mention all of the many things that were in the house they owned that they had acquired being married for more than 60 years.
My questions are these; Didn’t my sister Angela who had power of attorney break some law in telling the attorney at the reading of both wills that I was missing or dead so that my brother and 2 sisters could split everything my parents had left us 3 ways instead of 4?…And did my brother and other sister break the same law by staying silent and going along with it?…Just because my sister refuses to accept the fact that her brother is a transsexual, that doesn’t give her the right to lie to an attorney and basically steal my share of our parents inheritance right?…I mean it’s bad enough to find out both of my parents are now dead and that I was never given even the option of attending their funerals, but to also find out that both of my sisters and my brother would betray me like this…As I have already said, I understand that both of my parents did not really understand or accept my decision, but I also know that this is not what they would have wanted, and would never have written me out of their wills.
(I am not exactly sure how much in total was left to all of us when you add up everything but my daughter did tell me that she heard that my brother had quit his past job and suddenly had enough money to open up his own comic-book store.)
Some other questions I have about this are; Is there anything I can legally do about this now?…Does it matter that all of my sisters and brother live in Virginia while I am in Georgia?…I mean would I have to find a LGBT-friendly attorney in Virginia to represent me if there is something I can do about this?…Also, does it matter that my parents passed away a few years ago?…I read somewhere that there is a time limit in some cases for a person to contest a will but since both of my sisters and brother deliberately lied to everyone involved and never told me that my parents had died, would there be an exception to this?
I would really appreciate it if there are any attorneys/lawyers here reading this or, if anyone knows of someone they can pass on my story to who can help me…I sincerely need some help and advice on what to do, or find out for sure if there is anything at all I can do about this situation…This past week has been so much for me to deal with, and at the moment I am just devastated, confused, and so overwhelmed that I just don’t know what to do…It just seems to me right now that my brother and sisters all lied out of greed and took advantage of our situation, and ALL of them profited more than they should have from the tragedy of our parents deaths…I’m just sitting here thinking that I don’t even know the days or years my mom and dad died, exactly where they are buried, or if they were cremated or anything…I am completely in the dark about all of this.
I do however feel very thankful that I have the love of my current girlfriend Gayle and now my daughter Krystal back in my life or I would be totally lost right now.
Thank you for listening and I’ll be hoping to hear from anyone who might be able to help me with some advice on what I can do…Take care everyone…Sincerely Sheila
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