If, somehow, you don’t know about Leelah’s Letter yet, this is me needing to untangle some feelings about that, basically. It seems belittling to just call it that, but blah, I’m all tangled up still and out of eloquence.
I’ve always had issue with the “it gets better” answer. Because Leelah is right- it doesn’t just “get better”. Time doesn’t magically make the problems go away.
What time does for you, especially you young people, is gives you options and resources you just don’t have as a minor. Yes, it doesn’t undo what you’ve already lost, but there is a power in being your own free agent that you simply can’t wrap your mind around until you have it.
I still struggle, almost daily, with the fact that my body simply isn’t what my mind and soul need it to be. I am neither a boy or a girl, I’m not gay or straight or bi or trans or any other tidy label I’ve ever heard of. Some days, I can’t face the idea of opening my closet because there’s nothing in there that will magically make me comfortable in my own skin. Some days, I can’t touch my girlfriend, because all I do is curl up in a ball and sob about the experiences I can tangibly feel with my mind, but never actually perform. Some days, I feel sassy as fuck in a pair of skinny jeans and boots, or a sun dress, or a flannel shirt and boxers. There is no solution to this fluidity.
But some days, my girlfriend’s skin is the most magical thing in the universe, and her voice is the sweetest sound there is, and nothing else matters. Some days, I am so overwhelmingly stoked to be me, just because I’m me, and I think I rock damnit.
Some days, I serious consider reassignment surgery. I’ve had honest “what-if” conversations with my girlfriend (who supports me no matter what I choose, thank everything good for that). Some days, I think my mother actually understands the words I’m saying when I try to explain “spectrum slide”. Some days, she proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she doesn’t get it and never will, but loves me the best she can anyways.
None of this is “better” than high school. If anything, as I’ve grown up and gotten to know myself, it’s “worse”, because I see just how much is “wrong”, how much I can’t “fix”, how far from the person I am inside that my physical body is.
But it’s better because of other things, things that have nothing to do with my body/identity. Raeven the Writer doesn’t have to be male/female/other. Raeven the loving, supporting S.O. doesn’t have to be a boyfriend or a girlfriend. I don’t have to have a penis to buy a house, adopt a dog, make amazing hollandaise sauce or learn how to poach an egg. My little sister doesn’t give a fuck that two girls are sleeping in the same bed when she visits for Christmas, she’s just happy to see me. My ass looks fabulous in a pair of jeans, whether I’m packing today or not. Libriomancer and Good Omens were awesome books, independent of my biological sex. (yes, I related to the V relationship in LM a bit differently because of my own experiences, but it’s still a good book).
I’m rambling, this is my biggest weakness, but the point is:
You can’t have any of that after you’re dead.
When I was a teenager, I used to bargain with myself. Kill yourself tomorrow, I’d say. If you make it through the weekend and you still can’t bear the thought of another Monday, kill yourself then. Wait until summer break. If you literally just can’t stand it one more second, your heart will stop for you, problem solved. But if it keeps beating, wait until you go away for college. Wait until something -actually changes—, and if that doesn’t fix anything, reevaluate.
I always used to tell myself I was just being a coward, that if I was really brave, I’d just end it. That there was no way anything was ever going to get any better.
And it hasn’t. My mom still doesn’t understand. My body still haven’t learned how to grow parts at will to fit my daily slides. I still read about children killing themselves, because there are still people who refuse to see the world outside of their safe little boxes. Everything about being non cis het is still awful.
But being me, just me, has more perks than it used to. Life, in general getting better, because I have the power to make it better now, one little thing at a time. The world, in general, is getting better, because more people like me are growing up and taking charge of the world, and more people like Leelah’s parents are being told they can’t act like that anymore.
It gets better, if people like us can stick around to make it better.
Please hang on one more day. Please do what you can to survive right now, until you have the power to make your world a better place. Please fight, so that those that come after you don’t have to fight as hard, are born into a better place. It’s too late to shape yesterday, but you can’t shape tomorrow if you throw away today. Tomorrow becomes someone else’s yesterday.
I understand that it hurts. I understand that there are those whose hurts are far greater than mine. I understand some burdens crush those that must carry them.
I also understand that a burden shared become lighter.
Know that I am carrying this pain with you. Know that there are countless people shouldering this load with you, who also want to make “It gets better” into “It IS better”.
Know that you are loved. Know that strangers you’ll never meet still love you, and wish they could ease your pain, simply because pain is shitty and good hearts wish to make it less. Know that there are people out there like you, and not like you, that WILL accept you, and will do their best to empathize and sympathize, and even though no one can know what it’s like to walk in your shoes exactly, there are people that want to try. People that will want to love you, that will do everything they can to love you, even if they don’t understand completely.
If you can hang on long enough to find them.
Be honest with yourself. Allow yourself to dream about a better world. Figure out what it is about yourself you wish other people could understand. Store up hopes for a better tomorrow, so that when it comes, you can share the color of your “better” with someone else, and together, you can build something grand.
Wrap your chrysalis around you now. Sleep, and dream of a better tomorrow. Rest up, and wait. Be strong for when the time comes to fly.