Imagine being a kid. Your favorite toy is a remote control dump truck, and even though your sister tries tirelessly to bribe you into playing Barbie’s, you gravitate towards the huge diverse bin of legos. Your birthday party involves Thomas the Train, and your mom whispers in your ear “I know you won’t really like it, but when you open the square-shaped one over there, pretend like you’re thrilled.” This is not a new phenomenon. You nod, acquiesce, and make sure to profusely thank the parent that gave you a deluxe little-kid hair accessory set. You also begin plans to shoot the hair bands at your sibling from afar. By grade five, you’ve already assumed the characters of Abraham Lincoln and some other important dead guy for school projects and ignore your mother’s polite requests to embody more feminine figures; after all, you came, you saw, and you conquered elementary school.
You’ve realized, by then, that you’re atypical. But it’s elementary school… not that big of a deal, right? So what does being different mean when you grow up?
It means getting a cold, clammy, rush of epinephrine every time you even think about applying for a job. School dances? Public bathrooms? Forget it.
It means hearing “on your mark, ladies” echo louder than the .22 caliber pistol at the starting line of a race, or putting on rank, sweat-stained clothes and muddy, worn-out shoes every day, knowing that you’ve been running for 20 years and there’s absolutely no getting away from this problem.
It means going to a trans group and knowing that at least half of the people in there have tried to take their own lives, and others have made 2 am calls to the suicide hotline. You see people that may as well be orphans because their family is dead to them. Or rather, they are dead to their family. You see a person whose arms are so trashed with white-hot remnants of self-mutilation that you don’t even want to imagine what it’s like on the other side of zir eyes. You notice on each person’s face a shadow of a constant fight with demons. On the rest of the world – an expression of ignorance transmitting the all-too-clear message that people simply don’t care.
It means waking up, looking in the mirror, and seeing hips the size of Alaska, even when they’re probably just the size of Colorado, and hating your voice not for the load of shite it normally carries, but for the utterly wrong frequency of energy that rolls off your tongue. You wonder why a bunch of adipose tissue and hyaline cartilage in the wrong places can cause your neural pathways and lacrimal glands to go haywire.
It means tasting the salt on your face at night, and wishing all the next day that your contacts didn’t sting so badly. It means being upset and then getting more upset about being upset and trying in vain to hold it all in because Boys Don’t Cry. It means knowing that you have to live like that every day for at least the next two and a half years, until some therapist deems you not crazy (or maybe crazy enough) to shoot yourself up with some man.
It means being called by anything from he/she, it, tranny… and recognizing the rest of the world can tell you what you look like, sound like, feel like, and even smell like, but they will never be able to tell you who you are because that part of you just is.