Potential trigger warning for vague mentions of suicidal ideation and other possible transphobic violence.
Today’s post is a little bit of a step away from the usual update, and more just some thoughts on the experience of transitioning. The catalyst, however, was a significant marker of change – I was singing along to an old favorite song of mine, “Hero” by Family Of The Year, and realized that it was much easier for me to hit the lower notes. The lead singer has a male voice, and I had always found myself straining a bit to match his range, but today it came much more easily to me to sing along. It was a beautiful moment, and the lyrics in that song are what prompted me to share the rest of this message.
It’s the chorus of “Hero” that has always rung the most true to me, and today it did so more than ever. The lyrics are:
So let me go
I don’t wanna be your hero
I don’t wanna be a big man
I just wanna fight with everyone else
I don’t wanna be a part of your parade
Everyone deserves a chance to
Walk with everyone else
This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot in the context of well-meaning people telling me that I am “brave” for “being myself”. I don’t live in a super accepting area; I’m located in the rural Midwestern suburbs of the United States, and about 95% of the time I leave the house I’m going to be the only visibly queer and/or trans person in sight. As my transition has progressed and I stray farther and farther away from being cis-passing, I have begun to experience more and more hostility, rudeness, and outright discrimination from the people I encounter in everyday life.
When I talk about this experience to people who have not been through something similar, I am often met with some version of the sentiment, “But you are so brave to still go out there and be who you are despite those people”. That’s a really kind thing to say, and I appreciate it, I do- but it doesn’t feel very true. I don’t feel brave for being trans, because I don’t feel like I’m actually choosing to be this way.
The last time I attempted to dress and present as female at a formal event, I had such a terrific meltdown on the car ride there that we were forced to turn around and miss the entire wedding. I know that not every trans/nonbinary person experiences dysphoria, but I very much do. On top of that, I’m autistic, and my sensory needs are a lot different from many other people. Clothes that are designed to be worn by women are more or less torture for me from a sensory perspective. Bras are my worst enemy. Anything with an underwire is bound to make me vomit if I have to wear it for too long, but I can guarantee I will have had a panic attack and ripped it off long before that point. The fabrics, the shape, the seams- everything about “Women’s clothing” is absolute hell to me. When you layer that over already feeling positively miserable and disgusted based on the fact that I appear to be a woman, the entire situation is just completely untenable. If I were required to present as a cis female every day of my life, I simply… Wouldn’t. Couldn’t. I would stay home, in bed, depressed and miserable. And, to be absolutely, 100% frank and honest, I might not choose to continue being alive under those circumstances.
So when I am told that I am brave for expressing my gender the way I do, it feels like I am being praised for simply choosing the lesser of two evils. My very existence is between a rock and a hard place, and as my face is being smashed into the rock I am told how courageous I am for choosing that for myself. It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like I’m just being punished every day for who I am, for who I was born as, and because it hasn’t killed me yet I’m given a gold star in perseverance.
I don’t want to be your hero. I don’t want to be a big man. I just want to live my life without fear of being attacked or killed because of what I look like. I want to go to the store and be greeted by the person standing at the door. I want little kids not to run and hide behind their mothers when they see me in public. I want cashiers to tell me to have a nice day, like they used to when I looked like a girl. I want the world to not be a cold and uninviting place for people like me. I don’t want to be brave anymore. I just want to be human.