I have so many feelings right now as it relates to just being me. I mean a lot has changed in a long, but still relatively short period of time. It’s been six years and 14 days since I got my first shot of Testosterone in Ann Arbor, MI. I will never forget that day. I had been in therapy for a few months and finally received the letter from my therapist recommending that I be able to start hormone replacement therapy. The appointment I had was with an integrated health provider who specialized in gender affirming care. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting but it certainly wasn’t that I was actually going to get my first shot at the first appointment but that’s what happened. My wife was there; I called my really close friend right after to tell him. I couldn’t believe it happened. My journey was really starting. The reality of that was exhilarating beyond belief – I was happy, scared, thrilled, anxious, impatient and validated all at once. And what made it even better was that I felt like I was one step closer to the outside matching the inside.
The reason why I say I have so many feelings just being me right now is because when I think back on that day – it isn’t lost on me what’s at stake for me and for people like me. There’s a lot going on; there are people actively making villains out of Trans people every day. Making villains out of a minority group that makes up a little over 1.5% of the US population – I really need people to get a grip. I just really do. Of course there are bad people in every single group; I’m sure that among us Trans people, there are some really awful, terrible ones but you know what? I cannot remember the last Trans mass shooter. I can’t remember the last Trans church person arrested for assault. I can’t remember the last Trans bomber. I can’t remember the last Trans terrorist, (there could have been someone at Jan. 6, but you can’t be knowing). I can recall, however, that 2022 was the most deadly for Trans people to date. I can recall stories of Trans people being harassed, discriminated against and killed just for existing. I can recall stories of Trans people being outed and put in danger. I’m not (really) trying to compare tragedies but what exactly have we done, as a group, to deserve to be portrayed in this way? I’m waiting. Or is it really ignorance, fear and hate? Or, is it to distract from real issues?
You can’t make someone Trans. You also can’t just walk into a doctor’s office off the street, proclaim that you’re Trans and get hormones and surgery the next day. 8 year olds aren’t being “mutilated” all over the place. That is just not how it works and that isn’t happening. Also, and I can’t say this enough times – Trans people just want to live our lives as who we are; which isn’t how we came out but who we should’ve been. That is the truth. We do not transition to win awards – that is illogical and demeaning to the actual life experience of being Trans. When sports are over, if you’re lucky enough to compete, we’ll still be Trans. We’ll still be transitioning because it’s never over. We did not ask for this. I know I didn’t. It would have been better to come out the way I should have – for the outside to match what’s on the inside. That didn’t happen. Thankfully, there’s doctors and scientists and researchers and mental health professionals who study this. Who know how to help people like me escape the constant turmoil of walking through the world as someone that’s not really you. To feel so disconnected from your body and all of the things that you are supposed to do. To hate the way you look and the things you’re supposed to wear and the way you’re supposed to act.
I’m in a space where I feel like there is a lot to juggle; a lot to be aware of and ready for. For example, instead of being able to focus on regular things that happen to humans trying to survive in the world like family and friends, work, taking care of my house, working on my truck, starting to write a book – it feels like I’m constantly in a state of managing who I am in the moment because of what’s going on in the world. So much of my life is about being Trans but so much of my life is also NOT about being Trans. I just happen to be. Trans people and Trans kids are under attack and it’s outrageous and unbelievable on so many levels. In just regular society and culture, the misinformation and harmful rhetoric alone would be emotionally damaging to anyone and then when you add in the continued unfair, (and unnecessary), debate around sports, it’s a lot to feel and worry about. And on top of that, I’m Black and there <still> exists the over-the-top ridiculous treatment and behavior towards all minority groups. So yes, at times I struggle with how much to step into the conversations because most of the people engaging from “the other side” aren’t there to listen, learn or actually discuss things – they are there to be heard, to yell and shout. And sometimes I don’t feel like being the good guy.
Do I ever consider what it would be like to retreat to a quiet life where nobody *knows* I’m Trans? Of course. But then I look in the mirror and realize that I get to see the face that’s there because somebody before me didn’t retreat to a quiet life where nobody knew they were Trans. Or I remember an email or a comment I’ve received from a younger Trans person telling me that seeing me gave them hope for their future, and I can’t help but wonder what would have happened for me if I had seen someone that looks like me when I was at the height of being disconnected from and disliking myself.
And so, these are some of things in my mind. I’m happy to tell the world I’m Trans, I guess I just think it would be great if it wasn’t a big deal or if it was a big deal, it’s just not the kind of big deal where someone wants to kill you for existing.