I hope I am not overstepping. I am just concerned that you might not be aware of how incredible you are. That once upon a time you truly loved yourself, but as you’ve walked through the world you’ve slowly succumbed to the belief that you are inadequate, or less-than, simply because you are trans. Perhaps you have learned to love yourself in spite of your transness. Or perhaps, in all of your brilliant resilience, you have managed to nurture a love for your transness, but you doubt that anyone else ever will. Well, I am writing this letter to set the record straight. Trans is beautiful. Trans is sexy. Trans is badass. Trans is punk rock as fuck. And you, my fellow trans, are so worthy of love. Let me count the ways.
At some point in your journey, you realized that you were not what everyone said you were. The people that birthed you, named you, raised you, praised you, loved and encouraged you, punished and rewarded you, saw you as one thing, and despite their insistence, you saw something else. Maybe you always knew who you were. Maybe it took years, or even decades, to figure it out. But at some point you discovered your truth, and in the face of pushback, repulsion, condemnation, and even abandonment, you stood firmly in it. When I think about you coming out to your parents, or stepping foot in the barber shop or nail salon for the first time, or approaching the right dressing room to try on the right clothes, dizzy with excitement and fear, I’m overwhelmed with pride and awe and love for you. And that you do this over and over again, day after day, for months or years, haters be damned, because you know who you are, inspires me to be a better person: to be true to myself and strive for authenticity in all aspects of my life, whatever the cost.
And I know that it has come at a cost. I will never forget how you sounded that night on the phone when your partner left you because the true you is not what they’d signed up for. Or the night I picked you up from the airport, after your visit home did not go as you’d hoped, and you spent the week being misgendered and gaslighted by family members, and how you sobbed the entire car ride back to your apartment. Or the days you spent in bed after you learned your surgery was being indefinitely postponed. I will never forget the day you slammed your key down and walked out of your job, not willing to endure the abuse for one more minute, bravely choosing your dignity over your paycheck. Those first couple of years of your transition were relentless, and watching you be crushed like this, ground down like this, was at times almost too much to bear. But every time I thought you didn’t have another fight in you, I was wrong. You always got back up. And you always won. The scorecards might not exist anymore, but your own existence is proof. You are undefeated. Do you have any idea what a turn on that is?
I hope that you never let anyone shame you for your tears, for those moments when you are openly scared or hurting. This level of vulnerability is rare; it is a gift. I know there have been times when you tried to dispose of this gift, on the premise that “real men don’t cry” or “real women don’t assert themselves.” But even when your own survival required you to play by those rules, you never stopped questioning them, deconstructing them, the way you did your gender, and the way you have had to do so much of your experience. You are somehow bold and gentle, stubborn and adaptable, firm and fluid, all at once. In mind, body, and spirit: you contain multitudes. I love this about you, and I hope you never change it.
They say that you can’t love someone until you love yourself. Do you have any idea how much self love it takes to be you—and therefore how much love you have to offer others? I have experienced this love first hand, all of the times you showed up for me, and for others in our community, without hesitation. You are generous with your time, your energy, and above all, your love. Like you, your love contains multitudes. It has and will continue to support and sustain in those times when no one else will.
So if no one else tells you this today, I love you. I cherish you. I truly do.
From the bottom of my big trans heart,
P.S. I made you a playlist (below).
P.P.S Thanks to all of the transgender Kentuckians who contributed to this list of transition “theme songs.”