Dear Younger Mes,
There’s a lot of you to address, so you’re all going to have to wait your turn (I can’t believe I’m talking to you all like this).
I guess, let’s do this chronologically? I dunno, that seems to make the most sense to me. Okay, let’s go, then.
To my youngest self.
If I’m honest, I don’t really remember you all that well. We certainly haven’t talked in a long while; I’m not sure that we even speak the same language. Anyway, I’m going to do the best I can. We both know this is more for me, anyway.
A lot of people say you came too late, but really, you were born a bit too early. I mean, yes, that is literally true–they cut you out at least a week early. Maybe two or more. But in a more general sense, everyone thinks that you would’ve done better if you had been born in like 1970, perhaps even a decade or three earlier than that. It’s fair to say why: you will grow up with a love for the cars, music, and films of those earlier eras. That said, I can only imagine how much more you would’ve thrived if you had been born in 2000, or even 2010. Anyway, what am I talking to a stupid baby for? No one gets to choose when, where, or how they are born. Just enjoy your ignorance for now–it’s a luxury you learn to miss later on.
To my elementary-aged self.
You know what I said to the last one? That still goes for you. Enjoy the ignorance, it’s about to begin its lifelong slide. Though I guess that’s already started for you, huh?
First of all, it’s okay that you like food toys. It’s okay that you want an Easy-Bake, that you love to play with your grandma’s wooden fruit, and that you sometimes sneak into your sister’s room to play with her Kitchen Littles. It’s also okay that you like Legos. And Hotwheels. And that you hate Tonka trucks. Basically, play with whatever the hell you want to play with.
The other kids at school are going to start calling you “gay”. You don’t know what that means, but they lead you to believe that it’s not good. Two things. One, there’s nothing wrong with being gay. You end up making a lot of gay friends over the years. Actually, there comes a point where the majority of your friends are some kinda gay. Oh, that leads me to the other thing. You actually are gay. Like, not in the way they are starting to make fun of you for, but also, like, really gay. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you just embrace that now. Oh, and there’s nothing wrong with being “girly”. You’ll thank me later for that, too.
But hey, the 90s! So just enjoy that, because you’ll miss their optimism the rest of your life.
Oh, shit, what was that sex ed class in 5th grade about? I guess that leads us to…
To my middle school self.
Oof. Big, big oof. These are the dark ages. You can’t really apologize for someone’s existence, but, well…I’m really sorry.
By now, some storm clouds that started gathering over you in elementary school have grown to some pretty monstrous proportions. Where do I even begin?
Puberty is a bitch. I’m not going to call out all your shame here for the internet to read, but jeez. Okay, first of all, the ways you…”express” your sexuality are normal. Your therapist will tell you as much in like 15 years, even if they aren’t always as “colorful” in their descriptions as you are. But they are pretty strongly indicative of you actually being a transgirl. So, you know, there’s that.
Oh, go ahead and look up the word “transgender”. I’m not sure it actually exists yet, but it’s much, much better than the other words you are starting to find online. Also, it’s not just a porn thing.
Oh, this all reminds me, don’t repress your sexuality. There is nothing wrong with being a sexual person. Also, if you want so badly to be a lesbian, then you probably are one.
That goes double for those often tear-filled prayers you offer up each night. I guess that’s the ultimate irony of your life: you got your wish. You already were waking up as a girl every morning, you just didn’t realize it. And because of that, don’t feel bad when that girl you are crushing on says you looked like a girl standing there the other day. It’s the only way you can stand.
Girl, I could lecture you for ages, but I can see some of the others are getting restless. Maybe I’ll write something just for you one day.
Also, it’s okay that you liked me calling you that. It’ll be our secret, for now.
To my high school self.
I don’t think I have as much to say to you, which feels strange.
Actually, I feel really weird about you in general. You see, I know that you have finally started to see things for how they are, but damn you’re good at hiding it. Anyway, let’s dive in.
First off, I want to say “fuck you” for not saying anything to anyone at this point. I know for a fact that you had already read several times about how much more effective hormones are at your age, relative to mine. You robbed me of my hips, and also I have to shave every day, so I’ll probably never fully forgive you for that.
But I know that’s completely irrational. Who would you have told, anyway? The hard truth of it is, you never had anyone to talk to about this. You know it, and I really know it. So I guess, really, thanks for living a functional life while also keeping your secret so close to your heart. I know it wasn’t easy.
You’re going to be sad one day that you were robbed the experiences of a cis girl at your age. Really sad. But then, cis girls don’t get to see things from your eyes, either. Try and hold onto that when the time comes.
Oh, and don’t feel bad about preferring to play female characters on EQ, WoW, or any other MMO, even if other people try to make you feel that way.
But seriously, there’s another guy on the Cross Country team that shaves his legs. Just freaking do it. God, it feels good.
To my undergraduate self.
Can you feel it? Things are starting to really germinate, even if you’re still too much of a coward to do anything about it.
First, the good. Thank you for taking the first opportunity you got to grow your hair out. Social pressure will eventually make you consider chopping it off. Don’t do it. I did, but you shouldn’t. Just learn how to actually take care of it, and don’t be afraid to tie it back.
For the love of God, don’t be afraid to be a freak when you finally get to dress up for Rocky Horror. It’s sort of a rite of passage for a lot of transfolk, anyway. I went as a confused 12 year old girl, which seems fitting, but you can go as slutty as you want. Happy shopping!
Yup, I am pretty sure you slip up at least once in college. I’m not too sure they remember later, though, so don’t sweat it.
You act like you hate Reddit, but that’s only because you don’t want anyone else to know that you’ve only ever used it to look up trans things. Get over it, edgelord.
There is one critical moment in college where a person you are enrolled with in the Chinese program disappears. Rumors start to swirl that they are trans, and are starting to present as female. You feel…oddly envious of this. At least, initially.
You see, there is an older girl in the program that you see as being very progressive. You’re okay friends with her, and respect her opinion. It catches you off guard, therefore, when she begins to talk derisively of the aforementioned transgirl you both had classes with. For one, they were friends, so that seemed weird. But those words she says next will literally set you back years: “he just played too many video games and watched too much anime”. She spit them with anger. She hated that her old friend wanted to share her gender.
Don’t listen to that garbage. Don’t. You don’t want to be a girl because you like video games and anime. You want to be a girl because you are one. But do take heed to this lesson:
Just because someone identifies as “liberal”, it doesn’t mean they are always actually “progressive”. Even otherwise good people can harbor ugly prejudices.
Boy, this is a long letter. I hadn’t originally intended to end here, but…
No. I at least have to address you, Arizona Nameless.
You face realer darkness than even Middle School Nameless did. Jesus, are you staring into the abyss.
I had a lot of opportunity to do things earlier than I did. Maybe not in high school, maybe not even in undergrad, but damn you. I could’ve done something in Arizona.
Don’t do what I did. I don’t care if you do things the “right way” and seek out a therapist, of if you decide to actually order those slightly-illegal hormones you’ve been staring at online. Who gives a shit. You are 23. Do something now. Please!
You could’ve found help. You could’ve sought out other transfolk. You could’ve done so many things.
But you didn’t. You just wallowed in your own depression, stared into the mirror with dead eyes each morning, and drove like an idiot up a mountain. Oh, and you expanded on your Sega collection. So, congrats?
Jesus, you live 24 hours away from everyone you know. Yeah, that sucks. But it could’ve also been something amazing, and you squandered it.
But then…I don’t know why I’m yelling at you. We might’ve become more nihilist with each passing year, but we both know that we’re actually fatalists, deep down. And Arizona wasn’t yet time.
If you had done what I wanted you to, then I would’ve never met the woman who saved our lives. I’m really the bad guy here, because I selfishly used her to try and deny what I am–what we are. But had I not done that, I would never have been as successful in transitioning as I have been so far. Boy, is that a sad story, but I think it will have a happy ending.
The timing was never right. Not until I turned 28. And yes, I think I will always regret not starting my transition sooner, but realistically, this is the only good way my story could’ve gone. So yes, youngest self, if I can bend your ear one last time, I am sad you didn’t come a few decades later. But then, I wouldn’t be here now, and I’m so happy to be here now. Because of you, I can maybe help make a better tomorrow for people like us. And that is a purpose I can be very proud of.
So, to address the audience: I’m sorry you had to go through so much, but thanks for surviving through it. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you, and I’ve gotten to be pretty fond of me. We make a pretty awesome team.
You and Me
The image in this post is a comic that was published right around the time I started coming out, but before I started HRT. It made me cry ugly tears every time I read it then, and I still can’t get through it without crying now. It served as the inspiration for this special post, and can be found in its entirety here (original post here).
Happy new year 🙂