Embracing my identity as a woman has been an ultimate act of self love. It has been a long and difficult path of avoiding aspects of myself out of shame and embarrassment, but it has been one that has led me to happiness that I never realized was possible. It is my sincere hope that all of my trans brothers and sisters can one day embrace their identity and love themselves as I have—not just in spite of the fact that they are trans, but in part because they are trans. This isn’t to put me on a pedestal as a shining example; I’m far from it. There are many days when it’s hard to love myself: an unfortunate glance in the mirror, itching razor burn along my legs, having to redo my eyeliner for the third time—all things that can crumble this new sense of self-worth. But you’d better believe that every time the tide comes to wash it away, I’m there to rebuild. It’s a constant battle, but it is one that can be won more often than not. Maybe I’m just stubborn in that regard. I don’t see any other choice I can make. Beauty isn’t so much that final image at the end of the road; it’s the culmination of the entire journey, of the struggles and sweat and tears we put in to get that far. There is beauty in our trials, of our ability to become something more. 

It’s easy for me to say all this for the sake of making a blog post, for the sake of giving motivation to others like me. What isn’t quite as easy is actually believing it all. The reality is that outside forces will constantly make you question and doubt. It’s easy to stay within a supportive circle, crafting an armor of reassurances and self-love to protect the fragile core underneath. There will always be people who search for any chink in that armor, any way to get a knife at your exposed self. Sometimes these people are easily dealt with without much damage incurred. It’s when the knife comes from within your circle, unexpected, that can leave you feeling like you’re bleeding out and the world is crumbling down. 

This weekend a knife came to me from within my circle. It wasn’t the first time and it will not be the last; I guarantee you the last will hurt as much as the first. This was a person, a dear friend, who called me mentally unstable, wrong in my beliefs regarding my identity, and claimed that they would rather me be miserable in the “right” way than be happy in the “wrong” way. I should have been furious with them, and yet I found their attacks on my character worthy of pity. This was an individual who came from a place of ignorance they had, ultimately, sewn their concern for my own well being into. They thought that something was missing from my life without understanding that I had found it when I made my decision to transition.

I find moments like these opportunities for education and enlightenment. The root of hatred is ignorance; people fear what they do not understand, and hate what they fear. Only by educating can we solve hatred. But what happens when these people refuse to listen and choose ignorance? This person told me, “It’s not that if I had more time I’d come around. I just know that you’re wrong. That’s it. There’s no religion, no science, no mass perception, no fruit of the cosmos that justifies your position.”

I don’t have the answer to this question. To just leave someone like this, especially someone I have considered a friend, and write it off as a losing battle goes against my most treasured belief that everyone possesses the capacity for change. Every fiber of my being wants to reach them and make them understand myself. Maybe it’s enough to learn to let these people go. Maybe it’s enough to just worry about yourself and thread the wound from the knife they stuck in your back. Maybe it’s enough to know sometimes love won’t be enough to save people. 

Maybe our paths will cross again someday. Maybe you’ll see the person I have become, the light that has flooded my life, and realize that you were wrong. I hope that one day you can reject ignorance. At the end of the day though, I don’t think that it’s my responsibility to educate others. It isn’t any of our responsibility except for that person’s own. Even though I choose to educate where I can, and to share my experiences through this blog, it is not any trans person’s responsibility to educate others. There is a wealth of information out there if people can be bothered to look. Don’t do what I do and try to devote time and resources to people who likely will choose ignorance every time. 

 Maybe I’m just stubborn in that regard.

Life and Death and Life Again

My family doesn’t own very traditional pets. I have a brother who is allergic to cats and dogs and he has asthma on top of it, compounding the issues he could face from those allergies. Instead we have chickens; a small flock of spunky twats who will wait for you in the morning from the windows and follow you into the garage because they know the treats are stored in there.

On June 21st one of our little egg layers, Mable, passed away. She was an old bird and her death received more fanfare probably than that of most chickens, but these chickens are really the only pets my family has really ever known. A few days later, we picked up six baby chicks. Needless to say, my hands have been full caring for these new additions to our family and overcoming the feelings of loss of Mable. 

All of these events have had me thinking about life and death lately. I’m not a religious person, nor do I find myself particularly distressed regarding the concept of death and the finality of all things. What I have been thinking about, however, is how for many people in my life, especially my family, my transition is viewed as the death of the person they knew; a slow death as I come to work with them, make dinner for them and write awful short-stories about people living in the woods. And it’s a death that they don’t get to say goodbye to. There isn’t a funeral for the person I was, for that person in the photographs. There are no flowers. No sympathy cards. It’s a death that hardly anybody can relate to, because most people don’t even know they’ve ever met someone who is transgender. There’s a saying about death that discusses the death of your body and the death of your memory, how you die once when you stop breathing and a second time when somebody says your name for the last time. For people like my family, they have to deal with that death in reverse; grappling with the death of my memory while my body lives on, pleading for them to stop saying my deadname and let me go. 

I wish I knew what to say to these people, or had the superpower to just make things easier. But I don’t think it’s fair for trans people like me to absorb this grief; I think that positions the trans person as being “at fault” for who they are. I think a better step for those grieving in this way would be to reframe their feelings over a trans person’s transition. The person that they’re mourning is a projection of someone who didn’t really exist in the first place, and that person who is writing those awful short-stories about people living in the woods is finally taking the steps they need to be happy. For us, transitioning is a rebirth into the person we are on the inside. Let’s celebrate the birth of that person instead of mourning who came before them. 

I don’t have much more to say that won’t resort into ramblings, so I’m going to end this post with a quote by Alan Watts so it can go out on that meaningful note. 

“Nothing is more creative than death, since it is the whole secret of life. It means the past must be abandoned, that the unknown cannot be avoided, that ‘I’ cannot continue, and that nothing can be ultimately fixed. When a man knows this, he lives for the first time in his life. By holding his breath, he loses it. By letting go he finds it.”