The new year always makes me think of the previous, and this last year was a big one for me, and for trans visibility. I came out as trans to three people the December before, and set the tone for what 2014 would be for me. A little over a year later, I wore a dress in front of my entire family. So what happened in between?
In January, I got laid off from a job I’d had for a year. I’d already shaved my beard and started to grow my hair. I found a new job after about a month – a temp overnight job that lasted two months. And I met my girlfriend there. I started to dress more feminine and wear my hair in pigtails, and rumors about my trans status began to circulate, even though I never told anyone. I guess it wasn’t hard to figure out. I wrote makeup pretty regularly by then, too. And then I got the job I’m at now, and stayed on there as a night job. Ironically, the first job is the only place in my life right now where I’m not out, and the first place where customers who didn’t know me started calling me “miss” every so often.
I came out to my brother and a few more people along the way, and started dropping hints and publishing trans news pieces on Facebook. And then I worked and waited. I slowly started adding more feminine clothes to my wardrobe, and taking small steps toward my goal. Small steps, and never losing ground. That’s what 2014 was for me, in a sentence.
I came out semi-publicly on July 4, two days after I started taking hormones.
In August I wrote a skirt in public. At midnight, but still in public.
I came out at work a few months later, and started paperwork for my name change not long after.
And then at Christmas I debuted as a girl in front of my whole extended family.
I went from *male name* to Natalie in just over a year. He to she. Single to in a relationship, when I was convinced (and coming to terms with the idea) that I’d never have another relationship again until I get bottom surgery. Unemployed to twice employed, to possibly on the verge of having my main workplace close in the coming months. That other kid is starting to become a ghost, someone I used to know in the past, and Natalie is getting less blurry around the edges by the day.
Life is still hard. Really hard. And I’m still sad and frustrated a lot of the time. But I also have moments where I’m really happy and content, and I never really remember having those for a long time. I look on the mirror every once in awhile and see who I want to see. It happens more often as I go, too.
I worry a lot about what next year will bring – will I have a job? Will I be able to get a new job of I need to? Will I be able to stay on hormones? Will I start to pass better? Will I ever manage to have a convincing voice?
But I’m excited, too. To meet new people who only ever knew me as Natalie. To get a chance to finally start living in a way I’m more comfortable with and that’s real. To getting my beard lasered off so that that shadow isn’t the only thing I see when I’m not wearing makeup.
And so as we go into 2015, whatever you struggle with, keep struggling. There will be tough times. There will be times that straight up suck this year. But you can’t get to the good parts if you don’t keep fighting like a grrrl.
But now I have to say something about Leelah Alcorn. Leelah. NOT Josh. This 17-year-old trans girl walked into an oncoming truck on the highway earlier this week because her parents, therapists, and community treated her terribly. They told her she was selfish, and that God doesn’t make mistakes. Shut her out from the world for 5 months. And then when she killed herself, her parents called it an accident, refused to acknowledge her gender, buried her in a suit, got her age wrong in their Facebook post, and put her male name on her tombstone. They’re presenting her as the son they wanted to have, and not the daughter they made miserable. Every time I think about this story for too long it makes me want to cry. I did cry the morning I read it for the first time. Rumor is they’re trying to take her suicide note down, too. But the trans community won’t let that happen, and is already spreading copies all over the web. And I urge you to read it if you haven’t. It is heartbreaking. And honest. And moving. And important. “Parents” like this should be put on trial for abuse. Doctors like this should be sued for malpractice. But at least in the trans community, her (HER) death will be remembered for what is was. Not an accident, but another suicide showing how hard it is to be trans in this country.
Rest in peace, Leelah.