This is the sixth in a series of guest posts in a series called “I Would Like You To Know”. In an attempt to create a space for people of all races, religions, creeds, ethnicites, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, and socio-economic statuses I am seeking guest blog posts. If you would like to share your unique background, I would love to hear and share your story. Email me at Rachel[@]deletingtheadjectives.com with your name, a link to your blog, and a brief synopsis of your story with the title “As a _________ I would like you to know” in the subject box. You fill in the blank and the subsequently the gaps in our collective knowledge.
I would like you to know that I enjoy books and television and tea. I work in retail but I dream of working from home. I’m continuously impressed by people who can say “edited it” without getting tongue tied or who can consistently spell “occasionally” right the first time.
Books and television distract me from daily reality and give me characters I relate to on a spiritual level. Actually, I’m not spiritual but I do really like dramatic language. Tea calms me down when I’m having a bad day because we retail workers have to put up with a lot of crap with a smile on our faces. That should be enough to motivate anyone to work from home, but for me it’s more.
I am transgender. I was designated female at birth but am not a woman. I am not a man either, but I cannot leave my house without binding my chest. After a point, it gets painful. It gets hard to breathe. It gets hopeless. I get hopeless. I think about how nice it would be to be able to feel my shirt against my back instead of just the pressure of my ribs growing slowly more deformed. Sometimes I lie about being busy when my friends call because I cannot stand the discomfort of the binder.
I bind the “safe” way, but sometimes I still get raw, bleeding lines on my sides that I trace with ointment and hide with gauze. I wonder when I will get two lines on the front of my chest that will heal and leave behind scars that say “Never again.”
I tell everyone I am a man because it is easier than explaining why I need those scars, because it is easier than trying to tell them everything they learned in biology is wrong, because I am constantly told I am wrong about who I am. I am afraid of the doctor who asks “Do you identify as male?” as if I am at point A and there is only one point B, as if there is a limit to the diversity in nature or humans or the universe.
As it becomes apparent that my existence is not proof enough of my existence, I sink into myself. I stumble over my words because they have not yet been adequate, so what is the point of them? I have a nervous breakdown and lose my job because I am afraid to point out that there are not enough hours for me to get everything they ask done. I am afraid because it is still legal for them to fire me for my gender.
I don’t apply anywhere for ten months because I am still broken and cannot get past the background information. Legally I am female, publicly I am male, but in reality I am neither, so which do I pick? Male. I always pick male. At least when I am interpreted as male, I am not reduced to the biology people constantly want to boil me down to. I barely get past the field where I enter the legal name I fought so hard for and stare at the mandatory field for previous ones. I remind myself that my old name would show up on the background check anyway.
I would like you to know there is a difference between supporting someone and being there for them. I have discovered it in the silence, in the ignored changes, in the way my parents view my transition as the lesser of two evils. How can what made me feel truly good for the first time in years be an evil to those who care for me?
I would like you to know that I am no different than you in the ways that matter. If it were not for things which hold me back that you likely take for granted, my gender alignment would be no more significant a difference between us than my short stature or the color of our hair.
I would like you to know that the people in my community are killed by the hundreds each year and no one is talking about it. I would like you to know that I am afraid of what they will call me when I am dead, which pronouns they will use, how they will dress my body, if I will be another statistic misgendered and sensationalized as a curiosity in a headline hidden beneath the news about people whose lives for some reason have more value than others.
I would like you to know that I did not know my feelings were real because I had been taught that transgender people were all “men” in dresses or gay people who wanted to be straight. I would like you to know that, like you, my gender has nothing to do with who I am attracted to. I would like you to know that I do not blame you if you think these things- because I used to be you. I would like you to know that it is never too late to acknowledge another person’s humanity or to help them up.
Finally, I would like you to know that Earl Grey is the best tea flavor of them all, but it’s alright if you disagree. I embrace and respect our differences, and hope you will too.
Robin Dai is a blogger and an outspoken advocate for trans rights, civil rights, and more videos of kittens being kittens. When not distracted by adorable fuzzy faces, Robin can be found discussing current events and nerdy things in the context of queer and feminist issues at tokentransfriend.com