A Letter to Myself As a Trans Teenager

I knew from the age of about 4 that I was 'different'. I had a wonderful family, and early childhood but went through a tremendous amount of bullying in middle and high school. I was suicidal throughout much of high school, and actually survived a suicide attempt at the age of 18. I began the process of transitioning when I was 28 years old, and I am now 45 and living a life I hadn't thought possible. I wrote this letter to show other young people that it truly does get better, and for those who may be on the bully side of things, to see that their behavior affects real people -- good people. I want to live to see an end to people being mistreated because of who they are, and for kids to be able to go to school and feel safe and accepted, and for diversity to be celebrated.

Dear Lori,

I know things are terribly rough right now. I feel so bad for you, that every weekday right now carries such an overwhelming feeling of dread and confusion for you. I know you're afraid to go to school, I know you feel sick every morning and you think it's hopeless, like it's never going to stop hurting to face each new day. I know it seems like the taunts will never stop...the things other students, even teachers say to you; "amazon," "dyke," "freak," "linebacker," "lezzy," "why do you look like a lezbo?", "why can't you just stop trying to be different, and try to fit in?", "do you just like pissing people off?" It seems like it will never stop and that no one sees how sad you are all the time -- or that they do and just don't care.

That girl that just spit on you as you walked past the water fountains, the one who likes to slam your locker door against your head when she walks by you, the guy that walks behind you every time he sees you, yelling insults at you and making everyone else laugh, the girls that sneer at you when you walk into the bathroom and then laugh at you, the coach that asked you if you like to check out the other girls in the locker room, the teacher that told you when you reported a physical assault, to "work on fitting in and to stop going out of your way to be different" -- none of them know how kind-hearted you are. None of them know how much your family loves you, and how much you love them. They don't know that you've known you were different since you were a very small child. They don't know that you want so badly to be normal. To have friends, to be like them. They don't know how badly you want to be able to enjoy Friday night football games, and be invited to parties. To walk through the halls smiling and laughing with a group of friends. They don't know that you skip lunch and go hungry most days because you're afraid to sit in the lunchroom with them. Or maybe they do know, and are just that heartless. I don't want to believe it's that though. I want to believe that deep down they're decent people, who just don't get it.

These next few years, as hard as they might be for you, will pass quickly. I know you want to end it all right now; I know you feel like it's the only thing that will stop the pain. But you have NO idea how wonderful the future is going to be! Not long after you graduate, you'll move away and find a wonderful community of people who will accept you with open arms. You'll fit in, you'll be invited to parties, and you'll have a big group of friends who'll laugh with you, not at you. You will start to recognize yourself in the mirror and know who you are. Sure, you're still going to go through some hard times, but you're going to have so many more good times than bad. You'll learn that you aren't the only one like you in this world, and that there is a path to the person you've known you were since you were so little. You'll meet other guys like yourself and you'll travel all over the country meeting people like yourself and you'll become who you were meant to be. And that little girl you dreamed of when you were little, the one you wished you could meet, and fall in love with... guess what? She'll find you, a little later than you would have liked, but she'll sweep you off your feet and you'll swear you're caught up in a real life fairy tale. And she'll bring a whole family with her! You'll have kids that love and adore you, and make you smile and laugh every day. You'll be excited for the future, you'll feel like a king, and you'll look back on these years with a touch of sadness, but more than that, with pride. Pride in yourself for being a survivor, and for not giving up. You'll realize that these things made you stronger, and that you'll draw on it for inspiration to help others, and to educate other people, so that maybe someday, no one else ever needs to write this letter. You're going to grow up to be a good man, a very happy man. You're going to inspire others to keep fighting, and you'll be strong enough to stand up and face your detractors and be a leader. You're going to be so thankful that you didn't allow hate to push you over the edge. So hang in there, keep your chin up and be proud that you're being true to yourself and not trying to fit in. Be proud that you're finding the strength to be you -- the you no one else sees yet. Whatever you do -- don't let them win, don't give up the fight. Because not only will it get better... it will be AMAZING!