Letter to a Young Transperson


transphotoDear Me in Past Tense,

There you are, kneeling by the cardboard Barbie house dad made between jobs. You there, picking up the washrag upholstered furniture, aspiring to the talent to make a miniature couch out of packing foam, there are a few things I should tell you.

The first one you already know. That girl sitting next to you pulling the homemade plaid pants off of Barbie in favor of the cowboy dress is not only your sister, but your absolute best friend. You will be tempted to think you are in danger of losing her, but you shouldn’t. She is permanent.

The rest isn’t so clear.  It won’t ever be.  It doesn’t have to be.

You will feel like you are playing by a set of rules no one explained to you – sort of like kindergarten, when you couldn’t make the right handed scissors cut paper. You will correct yourself when someone mentions dressing up and you think of a suit and tie. You will pretend to assume skirt and blouse and then watch what your sisters wear and imitate them. You will – even after you’ve transitioned, gone bald and grown a beard – wish you were prettier. Nobody else will wish you were prettier.

You will, before and after you transition, spend hours trying to be handsome instead. You didn’t need to try that hard. Nobody else wished you were more handsome.

You will adore your sisters and female friends. You will respect and admire women more than you can articulate. You will wonder if a lack of admiration and respect for yourself guided your feeling that you were a man instead.  You will hear others express that sentiment.  It will stay with you. You will feel conflicted. All of your worry will not be necessary. You can be loyal to your female history. It will make you a better man.

You will, at different times in your life, love men and women. You will, at different times in your life, wonder if your gender will change too and you will regret transitioning. None of this matters. You won’t regret it.

None of your ex-girlfriends will be surprised when you tell them you are transitioning. You will find this hilarious.  You will wonder why they didn’t say something before. They will wonder why you didn’t.

Your transition is yours. You will be alone in it. This will feel both freeing and terrifying. You will feel lost, yet you will be expected to explain where you are. You will pretend to know where you are, and this will sometimes help.

You will feel guilty for inflicting your transition on those around you. You will use doctors you don’t trust in order to lighten the financial load on your partner. They will betray you, and you will learn that your partner just wanted you to be safe and happy. This will finally make it possible for you to trust her.

You will simultaneously go through menopause and puberty as your partner goes through menopause and your son goes through puberty. This will seem strangely normal.

You will feel invisible. You are not.

The Barbie house will stay in that house when you move. In your memory, it will remain there forever in the space between the stairs and the door to the attic. No one will have thrown it away.

Love,

Me in Present Tense