A Letter to the Cis Person Who Wakes Up Trans

It's Not the Fun It's Cracked Up to Be

Dear Cister,

I know this is hard. It happened to me when I was in my 50s.

Yes, the news is full of stories about children already knowing they're not the gender they were assigned at birth. They have it so easy, pestering their parents to buy them off-gender clothes and toys, and keeping their state legislatures and local school boards from subverting Title IX.

But you? Your binary frame of reference has been exploded mid-course, leading to personal and social fireworks akin to jumping your car battery on a nuclear reactor. Kaboom!

Here's some advice as you prepare to lift yourself out of bed, to face the day.

You Get Stared At. A Lot.

Everywhere you go as a trans person, you'll get stared at. At the moment, you think the goal is to pass as the new gender you woke up with. But see, your body has for years been shaped by hormones that now compromise your self-identity. Clothes aren't cut to fit you. Rings are impossible for your fingers. Shoes will painfully reshape your feet. Makeup, if you choose to use it, will be an acquired talent. Your hair—too much or lack of it? Don't get me started. Your voice will always remind you and everyone in earshot that you ain't right.

And the bulges between your legs or on your chest? What to do, what to do.

You're determined to hold yourself up to the goal of passing muster with every gaze that will alight on your misshapen frame, your out-of-place tone, your at-best presentation being a little off. The Western world has, until quite recently, counted on square pegs fitting in square holes. Men are men, women are women. Ne'er the twain shall meet, except in culturally demanded heterosexual and gender-binary modes. I feel for you, because you must feel like you can't fit anywhere.

No, Really.

Yet, there's hope.

I know you're not feeling it as everyone undresses you with their eyes. As talk halts when you enter the room. As stares linger too long. As conversations with others are suddenly jigs around pronouns. As folks either take a wide berth around the crossdressing elephant in the room or lavishly praise you for your cosmetic and couture choices like they're patronizingly magneting the artwork of a kindergartener to the fridge.

You get to be an adorable abomination!

Where the Hope Comes In

You're still learning to be who you really are, after years of living the role of someone else. You can't expect yourself to master (or mistress) it in a day.

Or ever.

The thing is, Cister, you are who you are.

Everyone wrestles with their true selves. It's just that the world has been set up to camouflage that for the folks who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. I'm not whining—you are! And well you should.

Because it doesn't have to be this way for anyone—trans, cis, or non-binary. Gay, straight, bi-, poly, or asexual.

Some people who think it does, world without end, wield their power with a battering ram. I have to be honest—you will be battered. Every. Single. Day. For the rest of your life.

A Life Sentence

That's not the death sentence it might seem to be. It's your time to step out, to trip the gender-binary fantastic and strut your stuff. Because the stares won't stop. The uncomfortable silences won't suddenly fill with normal chatter. Cister, people want to maintain the illusion that they're normal, and they exact a price on anyone who messes up their sense of order, like Aunt Gertie throws a fit when someone spills wine all over her wedding-chest tablecloth.

None of us is normal. We are who we are—unique, irreplaceable icons of personhood that every single human being in every time, every place, has struggled to attain, chasing some errant idea of fitting in, coming home, being at peace with themselves.

Congratulations. The peace you've come to is that you'll never fit into their illusion.

You're free. To be who you are.

Strut It

So strut those heels you bend your ankles in. Wrap that binder around your chest. Tuck that hot dog halfway up to your adenoids, and all the time know, blatantly, that you ain't got it right.

Nobody gets it right. They just get themselves. One life. One chance.

Though you'll every second remind the world of that, and make others, at the mildest, squirm, and at the worst, seek to obliterate you, they'll never, even if they kill you, wipe away the truth that you have lived as who you are.

Rise, dear child. Rise, and strut it.

You're worth too much to do otherwise.



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