never mine to lose

“how did the whole katie thing turn out?”
(She looks at you, ahead, walking, handsheadbody moving, she is so beautiful. You are coming to the catty-corner crossing on the way to your old elementary school. Your hands tear carelessly at a dark green, narrow bush-leaf; you know her face, her creases, the scars on her legs and the way her hands tell secrets when her mouth doesn’t. You made memories with her and memorized her laugh)
“i told katie i’m not stable enough for a relationship and she told me that i should try to kiss her anyway and i told her no but i was smiling and she doesn’t know that my smiles mean no. so she kissed me”
(I wish I could be hers, but I am not. I know I cannot. I do not say a word)
“and i had an anxiety attack.”
(She texted you, two months and seventeen days ago: she lost her virginity in first grade, to a second-grader named Sarah who was her friend. This was her first kiss)
“you said no. she shouldn’t have done that if you said no, although i guess i can understand why she did what she did because you were smiling. it’s still wrong though, and i’m really sorry she hurt you.”
(But there is a small part of you, regretting: she is not stable enough to be in a relationship; even if she did, she likes Katie, never you. You are only the friend she vents to. And really, she deserves an amazing girl, and you cannot give her that, you have a brain that is fucked up and hands that are clumsy with strings, puppet-strings and red-strings and knots that don’t tangle. You cross the street, and she is beautiful)
I want you to sing at my funeral.



History repeats herself; it is two years later
(i thought i had become better than this)
and her name is Emma and she loves matches and a boy named Lee more than she could ever love me
(we made the same agreement, in texts on a monday night this time instead of walking towards railroad tracks on a friday afternoon. our rube goldberg machine is simple enough; if she goes by gasoline, i will follow her with rope and hands that have finally learned to tie)
We are going up the hill (all the way to a heaven
neither of us believe in
where she can be a god
and i, an angel) and I kiss her cheek, surrounded by the gray concrete of high school walls
and the red-brown brick of hallways
unsure of what to say
we stumble, we separate, clumsily entering different math classes
and while I do calculus I think of her and
(i feel like a crime scene in slow motion, i cannot tear my eyes away from it all)
I think I might love her
(she is breaking, the kindling of her brittle bones crackling as it sparks and catches ablaze, as miles away her parents scream, as i pray instead of integrating equations, and all i can think now is)
please, jesus, not again

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christmas post

[cw: animal rights, scrupulosity, donation requests, mass animal death, veganism]

 

 

This post will be based around a question: How much do animals matter to you?

 

If your answer is “they don’t”, this essay probably isn’t going to do much for you.

 

But I think that most people, on some level, do care about animals. Maybe less than humans–maybe much, much less, even–but they do, in fact, care. And a lot of people care about animals a lot, but they don’t know how to help, or they’re afraid of facing guilt from having not helped before, or they’re in a situation that makes it hard for them to help, or it’s just easier to not do anything.

 

 

Here is the first idea off of which I am operating: There is currently a great moral tragedy occurring. Hundreds of millions of animals are dying daily, at unprecedented rates. Every second, over 4,000 animals die. Each of them has as deep of a life as your pet; each of them has a personality, a love, a way of responding to pain, a schedule of when to wake up and when to go to sleep. Each loved, hated, experienced joy and pain, who ate and slept. Each died a completely, 100% preventable and unneccessary death because of humans.

 

It is not only their deaths. They are living lives of torture–body parts hacked off without anesthetic, cages or crowding so tight they may live their entire lives without ever flying (for birds) or even just turning around (for mammals), injuries and illness left untreated or treated with excessive antibiotics that cause side effects and unnatural growth, left to linger in their own waste and blood. There are billions of them at any given time, numbers so large we do not, can not understand the scale. And we are the reason why–not some ill-defined Other, not even the people who carry out this death sentence, but us, every one of us that has paid for and eaten meat or eggs or dairy and done nothing.

 

To put context to this idea: This is a rate almost 60x higher than the rate of deaths during the holocaust, and it has lasted decades longer–over the past 3 years, working off the most conservative estimates of the dead animals and the highest estimates of people who died in the holocaust, the scale is 7,950x larger than the deaths of the holocaust (a more balanced estimate gives the number 23,900–for every single death from the holocaust, almost 24,000 animals died). You may argue that it is a bad comparison because of how tragic the holocaust was, that you would in a heartbeat trade 24,000 animals for a single human life, so let me give more examples. If you think that humans are 100,000 times more important than animals, you believe that eating meat is equivalent to the Ukranian genocide (also known as the Holodomor). Up that to 1,000,000 times as important, and you get equivalents to the Armenian and Rwandan genocides.

 

Just in the years we have numbers from, there have been over 500 billion deaths (most after extended torture). The human brain cannot process 500 billion; it struggles with thousands. 500 billion is larger than the number of human beings who have been born in the entire history of earth. If you lived just a single second for each death, assuming that the deaths stopped the moment you were born, you would live to be 15,854 years old. Just a single second. There are more deaths per minute than there are words in the english language. Every single one was the death of a being that felt and dreamed and thought. Every single one could have been prevented with small personal sacrifices on the part of humanity, but they weren’t. Unless you value every single human life as thousands of times more important than the life of, say, a pig (before you laugh: pigs are about as smart as 3-year-old children, are as good of companion animals as dogs are, are clean animals capable of empathy, have excellent memories, play video games using a joystick, and live in complex social communities), you agree with me: this is the most pressing moral issue of our time.

 

 

You may try to rationalize this away. You may feel crushing guilt or shame. You may feel sad, or angry, or useless. Don’t flinch. Hold it in your mind, look it in the face, and tell yourself: I will do what I can to help fix this.

 

What you can do might not be very much. That’s okay. It is still something. Something is always better than nothing. I hope this essay helps you. Do not feel pressured, because of this article, to do more than you can handle; put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.

 

What you can do might be, in fact, nothing. In that case, this essay is kind of useless to you, and I am not sure why you are reading it, but I hope you’re enjoying it anyway?

 

In case you haven’t guessed it, the tragedy I am talking about is eating meat. The statistics I am using are from 2003, with a year or two from 2013 added on–it is likely that it has grown since then, and that it will grow in the future if people like you and me do not do something to try and stop it. I will not describe the torture they go through; there are enough graphic descriptions of that on the internet to last a lifetime. If you want to know what they go through, and you can handle it, watch Earthlings. But do know that they do not live idyllic lives before their slaughter; these are animals that can love and learn and play, and they are deprived of that until their death. There are no laws regulating how their lives are lived; while deaths of cows and pigs are regulated, chicken and turkeys are exempt from humane deaths. The regulations that do exist are rarely enforced.

 

With every blink of your eye, their painful lives begin and end. This will likely awake emotions in you. Face them, do not avoid them. Breathe.

 

 

You may rationalize this with your love of humans–humans matter more than animals, that’s just how this works, I shouldn’t prioritize animals.

 

The first objection is clear: we are not discussing a situation where you value one animal over one human. we are discussing a situation where you value thousands and thousands of animals over one human.

However, even if we were, you do not have to stop caring about human lives to help animals. You can support animals and the environment and human rights and hunger and water availability and education and social justice. You can choose the thousands and thousands of animals and the one human instead of choosing between them. You can care about more than one thing at once, and just because you care about something less doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about it at all.

 

The second objection is less clear, but no less important: causes overlap.

 

Animal agriculture is the single largest user of freshwater resources, accounting for 70% of freshwater use and 93% of freshwater depletion. If you care about people getting enough water to drink, you should support veg*nism.

 

10-25% of greenhouse gas emissions are due to animal agriculture (the lower estimate only counts the amount directly emitted by the animal farming, while the higher estimate also includes the amount emitted by e.g. deforestation to develop the land into a farm). 65% of global nitrous oxide emissions are due to animal agriculture, along with 37% of methane emissions and 9% of carbon dioxide emissions. If you care about climate change, you should support veg*nism.

 

36% of calories from the food we grow goes to animal feed instead of the humans starving. If you care about world hunger, you should support veg*nism.

 

If you care about health, vegan diets have been approved by many organizations as healthy for all stages of life–in fact, they significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases as long as a B12 vitamin is taken or B12-fortified food is eaten (vegetarians need not worry about B12, as it is found in non-meat animal products).

 

Around slaughterhouses, the rates of PTSD are high, the emotional toll of being exposed to constant death and cruelty. The violence they are forced to be a part of plays its own role–domestic violence is also high in these areas. They are frequent in poor rural areas, and many farm workers have no real choice but to work there. If you care about human rights, mental health, women’s rights, poverty, or worker’s rights, you should support veg*nism.

 

These issues do not contradict. We will not starve if we go veg*n or support veg*n causes–quite the opposite: we will have enough food for an additional 4 billion people.

 

 

But there is good news, and a certain joy, that comes with all this evil: things are bad, but you can help. Veg*nism is not just the lesser of a host of evils, it does not prioritize animal lives over human lives. It is just good. It saves animals, it saves humans, it saves the environment and water. Sometimes, things are just good! Tragedies are sometimes completely and utterly preventable, not a necessary evil, not a balancing act, and you can help prevent them.

 

One obvious step is to go vegan or vegetarian, or to take steps towards doing so. There are many resources on the internet to try and help you with this. You can also do meatless mondays, or cut out poultry and farmed fish (if you care a lot about animal suffering and death) or beef and large fish (if you care a lot about world hunger) or beef and lamb (if you care a lot about climate change). You can try to convince others to become veg*n as well, spread awareness, cook or buy more veg*n food for yourself and others, or take other steps towards embracing veg*nism.

 

Another step is to donate. According to Animal Charity Evaluators, you can save 100 animals for every dollar you donate to The Humane League. The least amount of money you can save a human life for is $3,500 with the Against Malaria Foundation–for the price of one human life, you can save 350,000 animals! Not only this, but even very small donations can make a significant impact. For every dollar, 100 animals are saved. That is 100 animals who are not dunked alive in boiling water, who are not cramped together in cages thick with their own filth. 100 animals who are now free. 100 animals who are capable of love and play and feeling the sun on a hot day and grass and dirt beneath their feet and the taste of cold water, each as valuable as any pet cat or dog or snake or rabbit or fish or any other animal.

 

Remember what we talked about before, the lives that blink in and out over a second? For a donation of $40, for a second, all of that stops. 4,000 animals are killed every second, and 4,000 animals will be saved by your donation. Just a moment, just a second–a moment worth 4,000 lifetimes.

 

If you are too poor to donate, too disabled to go veg*n, that’s fine. You should not feel guilty for doing your best. Try to do everything you can do healthily and happily, whether that’s a lot or whether that’s nothing.

 

Remember: There is a massive tragedy going on, of a huge scale, and you (yes, you) can help save its victims. That is not something to be guilty about–you are not the one who caused the tragedy. It is something to celebrate–you can help stop it.

 

 

If you donate to Animal Charity Evaluators or Mercy For Animals before 2017 begins, your donation will be doubled.

 

If you donate to The Humane League before 2017 begins, your donation will be tripled.

 

And not contributing to this tragedy is the best way to help stop it in the long term. Consider going vegan or vegetarian, or taking steps towards veg*nism. Make 2017 a year that is better, not worse, than the one before it.

 

There is an awful, awful, tragedy going on, but instead of being upset, know that you have the power to help stop it.
For the next week, it just takes a single penny to save three lives. Please, consider taking action for animals–however you can. There is no better Christmas gift you can give animals than the gift of freedom and life.

quoigenic

0.

what did this to you?

who did this to you?

All I can give is a helpless shrug. It’s not the right answer.

 

1.

I am not supposed to exist.

Around 1 in 100 people have schizophrenia; only 1 in 40,000–by the highest estimates–have childhood-onset psychosis. Extremely rare, they say.

And multiplicity? Not a thing. Not a study. There’s DID, OSDD, sure, things my therapist shakes her head at. Studies, articles that call my existence a part at best, a dissociative symptom at worse.

I am weird.

I shake, I rock, I flap. I have vague, intangible nightmares when I sleep, and calculated, stabbing fears when I awake. I want things I’m not supposed to want. I always have the wrong emotion. I flinch when anyone raises their voice; I fall to the floor, curling in on myself in a fraction of a second, when an adult goes shh-shh-shh, but not for any “real” reason, “just” a reflex as natural as blinking when I look at the sun. I am confronted with tragedy, and I feel nothing, or worse, laugh. My friend confides her self-destruction and I am positively happy–glee turning to contentedness–, albeit ashamed because I know the feeling is wrong. Or I go to the other extreme, situationally appropriate emotions but inappropriate strength, sobbing and screaming over a tiny inaccuracy.

I see myself as inhuman; otherworldly, yet always tangible. Always embodied, even if it is only through my fluidity–the sharp exhale of air from my lungs, the fingers always grasping for something to touch, the slow trickle of blood down my skin. “Never still,” my therapist described me.

There are holes in my narrative. Always too weird, always too clumsy, too large, too feeling, my life story does not fit without dissection, without surgery done on my memories by someone with an untrembling hand and a clear mind.

If I try my best to make my story fit, to make it seamless, tear and fold and patch and sew back together without the string poking out, it doesn’t work right. It comes out cold and clean, clinical, like the recitation of words in a foreign language; the sounds are right, but there’s no real meaning behind them. I get congratulated for it, but it doesn’t seem right.

Even then, it doesn’t quite work. I can try to blame society, or smiling girls with high ponytails and bouncy two-syllable names, but when it comes down to it I have friends who mirrored my life exactly, attaching to people with similar penchants for cruelty, following queer paths in this society alongside me, and yet most escaped without this strange calamity I call my mind. Even those that did end up with twisted brains got theirs later in life, for the most part, trying to learn to deal with self-harm urges at twice the age I dealt with my own, four times the age my brain first decided to set itself on fire. Still, in most ways my life is idyllic; I have a few friends who love me deeply, the single most Healthy and Functional family I’ve ever come across, no real financial worries. Had it not been for the exquisite strangeness of the brain that sits behind my eyes, I would be right alongside them and my friends. Quirky, of course, but not one of those people.

So attempts to blame my past end up ringing flat for me. While it certainly did affect me, they are not the sole reason for how I am.

In some sense, I just came this way, weird and crazy, all too sensitive and never quite of this world.

 

2.

Perhaps this is the gift they were talking about when they called me gifted. I knew what they were saying, of course–I was smart, a bright young lady, IQ 130 or higher–yet I was never quite sure of their choice of words. Gifted & Talented; well, I have the talent down, where’s my gift?

So maybe this was my gift, given in fourth grade: a peculiar tendency to self-destruct.

See, I can try to shift the blame fully off myself, spin my story into man vs man, man vs society, man vs nature, man vs the supernatural, but when I look at it I have to admit that there is something in me, even now, that stops to listen to the fairy bargain.

I don’t know why. Maybe it’s curiosity. Maybe it’s the beauty, as strange as myself, I see in pain and torture and tragedy. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, and a writer has to find a good story. Maybe it’s the dysphoria, the body that never fit, everything at the wrong angle. Maybe it’s the way I see the world, senses askew, gagging at the taste of apples, trying to run from my emotions so fast I am not allowed to go on field trips in elementary school (a safety hazard), spending a day smelling everything Bath&Body Works and LUSH and every other store in the mall that makes anything, anything scented. And of course, it is everyone else, it is the glittering girls who hurt me, it is the society that screams at me for my wrongness, it is the ghosts and demons that haunt a brain made of broken glass.

Maybe it’s the way I hate myself, maybe it’s the way I see myself as innately bad. Not just someone who shouldn’t exist, someone in pain, put them to sleep; no. The way I see myself as deserving of the worst tortures, the worst sufferings of this earth. (They say “there are people suffering worse than you,” and I wish I could say, “not if I could help it”–not just because I don’t think others should suffer, but because I think I should.)

Maybe it’s the fact that, given all of this, my impulse still is not to avoid the rabbit hole, but to jump in, headfirst.

I didn’t run away from the big bad wolf, after all; my friends warned me, my parents warned me, and I snuggled closer and closer to her. They begged with me not to eat the pomegranate seeds, and I reached out with both hands for that which I dreamed would send me to hell. I fancy myself a girl among monsters, a monster among girls, an uncanny thing.

The success of these various strategies, of course, changes, but there is always the same premise: since I was eight, I have been trying my damndest to hurt myself. Destruction or strength, tragedy or monsterhood, carving a path for myself with knives and fingernails or else die trying, reaching my hand into the fire to save a fellow person, these are all good as end goals, and certainly I see this as superior to most average lives; but I’d be lying if I claimed those as my true reasons. My true reason is simple enough. I want to hurt myself. I am nothing if not a sadomasochist, hurting and being hurt all in one, a lovely relationship with my own self. As to why I chose my certain ways–other people, sure, and society, read every other post on this blog for the lurid details, but there is also my own need to change myself in ways that are careful, controlled, always acting in and never acting out. A good girl, and a girl in total control over her own life, all in one. The reasons behind it are murky, sure, and the results are icing on the cake, but when it comes down to it, you can give me anything and I will find a way to hurt myself with it. Self-destruction out of a childish sort of macabre curiosity feeds and feeds upon itself (you can’t go halfway, nobody loves someone who’s damaged) until you have no self left to destroy, and then you are left with an empty sense of satisfaction and the knowledge that it is time either for you to blink out of existence utterly or for you to start building everything you just tore down. And they see you, a tiny thing in the midst of the wreckage of your life, and they wonder who did that to you. And the answer, simply, is: I did. My reasons are external in a way, not a part of my soul and selfhood, but when it comes down to it, I am the arsonist, the murderer.

But why do I have this peculiar penchant for destroying myself? I can discuss my own brain until I pass out, and still no solid answers, no reason that sits on my collarbone or between my thighs or in the curve of my spine. Surely there are other weird girls out there who did not make it their life’s mission to destroy themselves.

Her and I would have lived very different lives. She, too, was not supposed to exist; but perhaps she did not take this as instruction, as gospel. She would be a very different person; a different past, a different present, a different future, all the tearstains shed at 3am disappeared, the bloodstains on my bed and the bathroom carpeting missing. Perhaps she can live at war with the rest of the world without also having to declare war on herself. Perhaps her body does not burn with the same hurts, bear the same scars; the ache of the back, the sharpness of an infected blister, the feverish heat of the gag reflex, the bright silver of the blade. Perhaps she does not doodle on her homework nooses and pills and razors and deep water. Perhaps she did not ever walk towards quiet train tracks, or walk across the street without looking both ways, or send naked pictures to men twice her age. Perhaps her life never looks like ashes no matter how hard you squint. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Is she the true version of me, of us? The tidy narrative, the unstained child, the manic pixie dream girl, the weird one, the psycho who is still an undanger to herself and others. Is she even me at all, really, or is she fundamentally someone else? Where along the line did our selves diverge? Is there a sense that, with every cut and tear and scream, with everything I did to try and unravel me, I made myself?

Only questions. No answers. But this is what I know: to live as I lived is to be a paradox. Your self comes from your ability to destroy yourself. Eventually the whole thing crumbles. And then, you pick up the crumbs and you build yourselves anew.

 

3.

who made you this way, strange girl, so unlike everything else i have ever seen?

who created you, for you cannot have simply arisen this way, such an unnatural child?

who filled your soft brain tissue with razor wire and the echoes of distant screams?

 

4.

i don’t know.

i don’t know.

i don’t know.

 

5.

maybe that’s okay.

damaged kids club

Controversial opinion: children are humans, with everything that entails.

 

 

That may seem uncontroversial. Everyone agrees with that!

 

But it’s not true. Everyone says they agree with that, but they don’t, not really.

 

Here is what I mean: children do not have to be sheltered from pain, because they have experienced it. children are not some sort of ultra-pure and special kind of human being; children can be abusers. children do not have to be shielded from knowledge of sexuality, because the knowledge alone cannot harm them–and if they’ve been harmed by sexuality, the knowledge will not further traumatize them, but help them articulate what happened. children can be kind, or intelligent, or cruel, or all of the above. children can be mentally ill. children can be gay. children can be disabled, and it’s not just “normal childhood stuff”, nor does it make them extra-innocent and fragile. children are not ultra-pure creatures that need protected from reality. children deserve to be listened to and respected. children are human fucking beings.

 

children do not have to be sheltered from the “real world”: they already live in it.

 

 

“what happens to all your teen angst when you’re 20… like where does it go”

“they diagnose it as anxiety”

 

 

I have a love/hate relationship with the word “bullying”. On the one hand, it’s the only consistent word I have that can be readily understood by basically everyone. On the other hand: it treats abuse by children as a unique, special thing that everyone grows out of when they turn 18.

 

In reality, that’s not the way it works. Do you know why It Gets Better? It’s not because the bullies stop. All that happens is that, when you turn 18, “my girlfriend insults, ridicules, publicly humiliates, isolates, and sometimes physically harms me” magically transforms from ‘bullying’ to ‘abuse’, and you’re given the capacity to move away from them instead of being forced to go to the same school as them every day. Isn’t it weird how that works?

 

Bullying is a fancy word for an ugly thing, coined because nobody wants to believe that an 8-year-old can abuse another child until they want to die. Children are pure, powerless; how could they be abusers?

 

 

I can trace my sexuality back from when I was 4, my kinks from when I was 5. I am told that I should not be allowed to talk about these things, that knowledge is dangerous, that only 18+ are allowed to have Dirty Thoughts, and I think back to my 7th grade teacher, who risked her job to teach her class how to have safe sex under abstinence-only laws that claimed to be for the sake of Protecting The Children.

 

Children do not need your paternalistic “protection” that claims to know better than them what’s right for their lives. Children need you to listen to their questions, their requests. Children need you to answer them with the truth instead of hiding things from them.

 

 

It’s no secret that not taking kids seriously harms kids. All you’d have to do is ask them–there is no shortage of suffering kids, mentally ill and traumatized kids, screaming as loud as they can for help, screaming about the injustice they’re facing, but not being taken seriously because they’re kids.


 

Here are some stories:

 

A child doesn’t want to hug their relative. Their parent says, “come on, you have to hug them.” The child, reluctantly, agrees.

 

A child is happy, and wants to talk about it–and maybe they stutter, or talk “too much”, or maybe they want to flap their hands or write or draw instead of talking. And they are shut up and shut down, made to feel ashamed of themselves.

 

The child grows up, and doesn’t know how to say “no” or “yes”, because they were taught all of their life that their feelings, desires, boundaries, communication, doesn’t count. That their voices can and should be overwritten by other people.

 

Or maybe the child is still a child, and maybe the child is hurt by an adult. And they don’t say anything, because they think it’s normal to have their desires overwritten. Maybe they allow it, because they were taught all their life to agree with adults, to comply.

Or maybe the child is hurt by another child, and the adults dismiss it, because they’re just kids being kids, playing around. No big deal. After all, kids hurt each other all the time, right? But it’s not serious, because kids can’t actually hurt each other.

 

 

I look at things like Murphy’s Law–taking away all right to confidentiality and privacy, which should be basic human rights, from mentally ill minors–and I want to scream and cry. I look at laws that tell me that keeping my friend at my house for a week against the wishes of her abusive parents is kidnapping and I want to fight. I want to ask the people who fought against this, at what point do we become human beings to you?

 

 

The way to be a good child is to be silent. Don’t talk, don’t cause trouble. Don’t scream or throw a tantrum. Don’t show your pain, don’t be mean where we can see it, don’t communicate. They want an honest child, but they’re going to punish you every time you’re honest, and so by teenage years everyone is quiet, grunting, reclusive, liars, and they wonder what possibly could have gone wrong. Be quiet, stop bothering the adults, we’re trying to talk here.

 

Tell an adult if you experience bullying, they said. I did. They asked her for her side of the story, and concluded that I was lying/exaggerating/actually the mean one. It did not stop. It got worse.

 

There was a “bully box” at my old school, where people were supposed to drop in papers describing the abuse they dealt with. The guidance counselors threw them out at the end of every day.

 

My friend had pain in her ankle from the time she was in 3rd grade. Everyone dismissed it as her making a big deal out of nothing, as exaggerating. She got put in physical therapy last year; they say it will never fully heal.

 

 

I asked my mom for Wintergirls in 7th grade, when I was going through the worst time in my life. I was actively suicidal, self-harming, eating disordered; I got less than 4 hours of sleep a night. I consider it a miracle that I survived that year.

 

“I think that book is a little too… mature for you,” my mom said, putting it back on the shelf.

 

I stole it from the school library, read it at night by flashlight.

 

 

There are countries where children have difficulty accessing education, and they go to huge lengths to get it. Kindergartners enter school excited, full of questions, ready to learn. In places where voluntary schooling has been tried, children do, in fact, choose to go to school! On a basic, fundamental level, most people want to learn.

 

And then you get to high school, and everyone skips class, and I can’t count the number of hospital visits me and my friends have taken on both of my hands, and I treasure learning on my own with books or a computer but have panic attacks at the idea of classrooms and homework, and when a teacher tries to start discussion he is met with 20 dead pairs of eyes and not a single question.

 

I was punished, in pre-school, for being able to read, for wanting to read instead of naptime or cartoons. I, and my friends, have been given bad grades for using shortcuts, doing things in more advanced ways, doing things in unconventional ways that work for our brain better than the “normal” way. I’ve been accused of cheating or plagiarism multiple times because I used “large words”, so now I make sure to write more simply. When I do poorly, they don’t motivate me to understand; they just make me feel stupid for not already understanding it, and so instead of trying I just cheat.

 

This is broken.

 

 

I’m going to be honest: I don’t actually see much of a difference between most instances of “kids shouldn’t [do x harmless but weird/inappropriate-for-their-age thing], so i’m going to [abuse them, take away their rights, harass them, try to ban them from doing the thing, basically just insert any punishment here]”. I really, really don’t.

 

Kids are going to do whatever it is you’re trying to forbid anyway. Abusing them for it will only make them hide it out of fear or shame or both.

 

Why is putting a total ban on something suddenly an Effective Method, and not a shaming tactic that will do nothing but make people more unsafe (and here I’m thinking of abortion, and drugs, and prohibition, and sex work–and all of those apply to minors as much as adults), when you’re dealing with kids?

 

 

When abled people see a disabled person, they don’t see us as people. They take over our autonomy, try to force us into normality, abuse and abuse and abuse us, and then turn around and tell us it’s our fault for not telling them. And we tell them, and we get punished for it. They say they want us to speak honestly, but really they just want us to tell them what they want to hear, and not admit that it’s a lie, so they can hold us up as proof: look! they liked it! they’re fine! they’re better, they’re fixed!

(of course, they don’t acknowledge that the only reason we thought we were broken was because of them.)

 

And when you’re a kid, you don’t know enough to tell them that they’re wrong, and you can’t escape them, and everyone you trust is telling you that they’re right.

 

When they look at suffering kids, they rationalize it away. Kids don’t suffer. Kids don’t feel pain, right? Only adults feel real pain, not just tantrums and angst. Kids can’t feel pain, and they can’t inflict it. After all, they shouldn’t even know what pain is. After all, childhood isn’t the “real world”. After all, everything they’re complaining about is just for their protection and/or for their education and/or for their development of thicker skin. They’ll understand and be grateful when they’re older. Right?

 

 

We’re forced into the closet, punished for being ourselves, over and over and over again. And we’re told it’s for our own good.

 

 

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

I did.

 

The real question: “Why did nobody listen?”
The answer: Because they didn’t think my voice mattered.

in defense of immaturity

There are so, so many amazing and beautiful things I could say about tumblr youth culture today, but here is a thing in it that has hurt me:

unironically feeling things is practically a crime. if you let yourself unironically feel things, you are immature.

especially unironically liking fiction, because stories are the height of immaturity (or maybe honesty and truth, but to be honest you have to be serious and to be truthful you have to be vulnerable).

 

being angry at the human race makes you an edgelord; liking something means you’re mock-worthy; being incredibly sad means you’re romanticizing mental illness; making one mistake means that you’re scum. making jokes about self-loathing, or about your “trashy” interests, these are ok, but being genuine about your feelings? that makes you a target.

 

and you know who this targets, mostly? mentally ill people, and children.

 

people with difficulty concealing and changing their feelings. autistic people who get unironically excited about their “problematic, trashy” interests. people with speech disorders who can’t keep up with the ever-changing vocabulary. abuse survivors who identify with fictional depictions of abuse and get told by the same people who dismiss it as ‘manpain’ that it should trigger them instead. borderlines who go into rage spirals and get told that they’re a 12-year-old edgelord. depressed people who identify with black-and-white weheartit pictures with sad quotes on them who get told that they’re not really depressed. trans teens who identify with the “born in the wrong body” narrative and get told that they’re not allowed to because it’s transphobic. questioning people who search for labels that fit them, for pronouns that don’t make their skin crawl, who get made fun of as “mogai tumblr”. gay kids who identify with stories where the lesbians die at the end.

 

and children. children who don’t know much yet, who are learning about the world, who need room to grow and learn and feel and make mistakes instead of being forced into yet another structure of social norms.

 

 

Here is another issue, and a related one: we are often not allowed to define our own experiences, our own narratives, in social justice communities or out of it. They take away our agency. They tell ace people who were raped in an attempt to change their sexuality that they can’t call it “acephobia” or “corrective rape”, that really we know better than you do and we know that it wasn’t that. They erase trans people who don’t fit into gender roles, or who fit into them too well. They call out isolated people who use slurs because they don’t know any other vocabulary. They tell disabled women who feel safer around disabled men than abled women that we’re derailing. They silence all of the people who try to talk about different experiences than the politically convenient. They take away our autonomy, and they tell us that they’re doing it for our own good.

I ran from bigoted people, who don’t take my experiences seriously because they’re politically inconvenient, into the safe embrace of social justice tumblr, where… my experiences still aren’t taken seriously because they’re politically inconvenient.

 

I want to ask: who decided which experiences are politically convenient? more to the point, why do we care more about politics and convenience than we do about humanity and truth and empathy and genuine communication?

To tie this into the rest of the essay: Why do we care more, when bullying children, if something is problematic, than if it has helped them, made them happy, saved their lives? Why do we force them into the narrative of embarrassing and gross and bad, instead of letting them tell us their feelings?

 

 

my friends told me that i was being super insensitive by talking about a game i loved (i was really excited because it was a game that realistically shows oppression and mental illness but they got upset and like “well idk it might help nts/cishets understand better but ew, why would i want to play that, that’s super triggering to people who went through it”, and, you know, i went through it thank you very much)

 

i really liked the game?? but i felt really bad now bc they didnt like it and i just. i feel weird bc there’s this idea that i Cannot Enjoy Fiction that i relate to bc it should trigger me, i should want escapism and fantasy instead of you play till the strings or your fingernails break and i wasn’t born good and things that i can relate to. i tried to say that this is my escapism, far more than a lot of stories i like, because i get to watch stories where the people like me get to have happy endings where they don’t get fixed, they get to be weird and queer and monstrous and happy because of it and not just in spite of it, but they told me that it doesn’t sound like they can enjoy it because it portrays oppression and abuse. they told me that i wasn’t allowed to reclaim it because i’m cis (and ignored the fact that there are two cis lesbians in the story AND the fact that, y’know, kit is also a person that exists and is currently co-fronting)

 

nobody said that we’re “not really oppressed” but the undercurrent was there in the whole conversation when they said “why would anyone want to relive the worst parts of their life in a video game tho” and “well i guess i can see why nts/cishets like it??” in that weird dismissive way that says-without-saying (like how you don’t have to touch someone to touch someone, you know?) that their response to this is the correct response and that anyone who reacts differently is clearly just a Neurotypical Cishet Who Doesn’t Understand Us Except Through Video Games, instead of a Crazy Traumatized Gay Who Understands Life Through Stories

 

 

i like stories that are about people like me who live in this world with all of the pain that entails, i like stories with happy endings but i also like stories with complex and sad and honest middles and there is this idea that i should not like stories at all (and that if I do, i at least shouldn’t be genuine about it, or unashamed, and they should be uncomplicated stories that don’t have the messiness of real life), and i am a writer and i am a person and i cannot live in this world without stories

 

i think there’s a quote about it that describes it well: “when reading stories, some people look for windows; other people look for mirrors.”

 

stop telling me that i look for mirrors because i like what i see in them: i don’t.

but even more than that: stop telling me that, when i look for mirrors, i shouldn’t like what i see in them.

 

 

i watch skins! i play video games with characters who are explicitly gay and trans and mentally ill and in christian conversion camp! i watch musicals where everyone dies at the end! i like stories with suicide and pain and trauma and survival!! i am not a neurotypical cishet trying to understand you! as a system, we are not cis, het, OR neurotypical! we understand ourselves through fiction and stories! they are very important to me! please do not imply that if we were ”really in pain” that we’d want to avoid it instead of trying to find people who are in similar pain that we can relate to! stories are very important and for us they are at their most important when they are stories of abuse and hallucinations and dysfunction and pain and confusion and friendship that somehow has a happy ending, instead of just cotton candy “we are so happy together all the time and we are strong 24/7 because we are a role model for young children” representation. i like RENT more than i like steven universe! i like hannibal because it is the story of psychiatric abuse and peer abuse and mental illness trauma, and all of the “ahaha look at the white dudes having Manpain” will never fucking take that away from me!

 

 

I don’t know. Maybe I’m being overdramatic. Maybe I’m making inappropriate comparisons. Maybe I’m trivializing oppression. Maybe I’m doing something wrong by pointing out that, hey, this is supposed to be better, but this doesn’t actually feel any different, you’re still laughing at vulnerable people you see as Acceptable Targets. Maybe I’m just saying this because I can’t read this without thinking of seventh grade, wondering if I’m stupid and embarrassing, wondering if I deserve to die because other people have it worse, and clinging as hard as I can to stories because they were the only thing keeping me going and reassuring me that I’m not alone. Maybe I’m just saying this because I can’t write this without feeling like I’m back in fourth grade, running away at full-speed from the cruel laughter of my classmates, tears stinging my eyes.

 

 

no matter how much people look condescendingly down onto 12-year-old superwholocks, the fact remains that I refuse to be ashamed and embarrassed of the fact that my love of superwholock saved my life when I was twelve.

 

It has taken me years to say that, because it is social suicide, because it goes against everything about hating unironic, immature, genuine love of problematic things. But it is true.

 

But here is the truth: I loved superwholock. I was twelve. I am not embarrassed.

 

It saved my life; it made me happy; it made me feel things; it gave me a mirror of fictional people who are dysfunctional and surviving. I refuse to be ashamed of that.

 

No matter how many posts get made to mock 14 year olds who say “i’m a superwholock and i’m not embarrassed”, to harass them for years, to stalk and search for them after they’ve done everything they can to get away from this, no matter how many times this gets reblogged as a joke instead of bullying and abuse, no matter how long I had to make fun of my superwholock friend until she didn’t like it either just so that I wouldn’t be the next target, I will not be ashamed of being a child and liking things and surviving. I am still a child; I still like things; I am still not ashamed.

 

I like things. I get angry. I get sad. I see myself, and define myself, in stories. I talk on the internet, and I scream, and I cry, and sometimes I write 4-page essays on google drive defending this because I’m insecure and fragile, and then I post them on my blog and try not to brace myself for the backlash. I feel things, and I like stories, and I talk about it, and I am a disabled girl, and I am not ashamed.

I am not an ~edgy twelve-year-old superwholock~ anymore, but when I was, I would’ve found it a lot easier to survive as one if everyone had stopped telling me that I shouldn’t care about my only sources of joy and happiness and hope. There is nothing wrong with being a mentally ill kid who likes things unironically. There is not even anything wrong with being a neurotypical adult who likes things unironically! There is nothing wrong with liking things, liking things is good, it makes you happy. You’re allowed to like things, even if people say that they’re bad things to like. If you like it, then it’s good.
Even more importantly: you’re allowed to feel things, even if people say they’re bad things to feel. you’re allowed to talk about what you feel. don’t let people silence you.

texts i sent to my friends, and their meanings

i. hey, i wrote a new thing on my blog, want to read it?

 

This was not the essay I set out to write today. It was supposed to be about reality and illusion, theory of mind and loneliness and the unknowable. It’s not about any of that. But this one? It’s still important. It’s a collection of words that are two years overdue.

Out of all of the posts on this site, this is the essay that truly bares my heart. It’s about victimhood and villainy, the problems with social justice and the problems with anti-social justice, and above all it is about silence and invisibility and living a story that has no space for you in it. But it’s also about visibility, because writing this is an inherently visible act. I am refusing to be silent, I am sharing, I am making myself visible, I am taking the narrative they gave me and tearing a hole in it wide enough to give me space to live happily. I am not lashing out or self-destructing. I am not staying quiet. I am sharing. I am communicating, in a way you can understand.

Will you listen?

 

 

ii. because she was the victim and i  was the villain

 

I used to like fantasy books. They followed a specific formula: Girl discovers she has magic powers, girl befriends unicorn (or finds a family heirloom or goes on a quest with her best friend), saves the world. And it was easy enough to see myself as the girl. I had straight mouse-brown hair, glasses, and was very studious; I was mostly a loner but I had a few friends; in other words, I seemed to myself to be a good candidate for an elementary school fantasy plotline. I waited impatiently for my magic story to come along. I was careful to follow all of the fairytale logic that abounded in these stories: be kind and selfless, stop and help strangers, help animals, because you never know who is going to pledge a life debt to you or reveal your powers or curse you if you aren’t kind to them.

And then I met a girl, and for a long time I thought I had come across my magic story at last. She revealed stories in secret, of my magic, of cats and fairies. Her eyes were deep brown and earnest.

And then she hurt me, and I found out she was lying, and I stopped believing in magic. The stories I had once loved twisted themselves around, became blackened and cruel versions. If I had done everything right, then why was I being punished while she bloomed? So I came to the only logical conclusion: I must not have done everything right. When you believe that life is fair and that bad things happen to evil people while the heroes get happy endings, it is easy to see yourself as a villain if bad things happen to you. I couldn’t understand why she would hurt me if I was nice to her, so I must have been mean. I couldn’t understand why I was the one hurting if I was the good one, so I must have been the bad one. All I had to do was follow the rules: be kind and selfless, be a good little girl, nod and smile, be small and quiet, be graceful, don’t impose, be polite, let everyone do whatever they want, and always apologize. And I realized, when I looked close enough, that I was so very, very bad at the rules.

I stopped reading fantasy. My favorite book for years was Wintergirls, a story of an 18-year-old anorexic girl, who seemed to be trapped in the same borderland I lived in, the same liminal world–torn apart by guilt, haunted by ghosts, floating through life, trapped in a world where wishes come true, lost in the forest of her life, abiding by fairy rules in the human world–because it was a fairytale but it was also real, stripped of magic powers and curses and unicorns and all of those things that weren’t true. I took strides farther and farther away from fantasy as I hurtled towards adolescence, and often I didn’t read at all except for internet postings. Still, I could not shed the fantasy mindset, no matter how much I hated it. I hated the notions of bravery, kindness, self-sacrifice that led me to punish myself daily, self-flagellation for rulebreaking: a cut for interrupted someone in conversation, a cut for talked without being talked to first, a cut for accepted help I didn’t need or deserve.

Sometimes they’ll still try to tell me that she was the victim, that I was the villain. I am too well-trained, most of the time, too good at selflessness even now, struggling under self-imposed bondage made from past scars. I see a positivity post telling me that all girls are kind and that female friendships are so much safer than friendships with boys, and I want to say something, but accusations of derailing and misogyny flash before my eyes, and years of training myself–a cut for talking out of turn, a stab of self-hatred for not agreeing with someone else–tie my hands down. I am immobile, speechless. I scroll past the post. I am involved in internet activist culture that tells me that harm can be measured through the tallying of respective privilege and oppression points, and she wins (Jewish, parental abuse victim, bi girl, depressed). So that means that she can’t be a predator, it means that she has to be a victim. And if she’s the victim, then I have to be the villian. So I keep quiet.

(But not being able to talk is not the same as not having anything to say.)

 

 

iii. I know I know i know, ive been trying and trying

 

They say that invisibility is a privilege. I wonder if the people who say that have ever been invisible. Because I have, and it is not privilege, it is work.

Working to be invisible is weird. You don’t get recognition for your work. Your work is, by definition, invisible.

Here is the work that is involved in making yourself invisible: have a mental breakdown in school, ask with shaking hands to go to the bathroom, loiter in the bathroom until it is empty, bang your head against the wall over and over, cry until snot runs down your face, and then clean yourself up and go back to class. Know that, with your long bathroom trip and your bloodshot eyes, your teacher probably thinks you got high, so make sure to sniffle and sneeze, ask for a tissue, work extra-hard in class and make sure that each and every one of your sentences is razor-sharp, full of logic and calmness, but stay quiet, off the radar, unimposing. Smile and smile and smile. By the time you get home you’ll be exhausted, but saying anything would make you visible, would make your mom freak out over you and ask a million questions and never leave you alone in a room, and not doing your work would get you yelled at, so you do that. Get in the shower and vomit and don’t tell anyone, and you’re not even sure why not, just that it’s better not to talk. Let everyone walk over you, and smile and be polite and jump through all of the hoops. If you happened to get into a debate about why you deserve to live, be sure to smile and stay rational so that you don’t hurt anybody’s feelings, but it’s much better to just avoid the debate altogether by agreeing with them or just staying quiet and out of the way.

When you get angry, don’t tell anyone. Let your anger fester and then turn it back on yourself, when you’re alone, so that nobody knows.

When you want something, don’t tell anyone. Want it until your body aches with longing, cry, get suicidal, sure. As long as you do it out of the way. As long as nobody finds out. See, that would prove that you are alive, that you have needs and wants, preferences and desires and necessities, and you are doing your best to be seen as much as a ghost. When somebody else gets what you wanted, tell them you’re happy for them, and smile with your eyes as well as your mouth, to seem genuine. Hoard your envy like a secret.

I’m not supposed to want to be visible. I’m supposed to want to be invisible, because then they don’t even have to do anything, then I’ll do all the work myself. I’m supposed to want to be invisible, because then I won’t be inconvenient, I won’t want things or have opinions or lash out, I won’t be violent or militant or hurt anybody’s feelings. Everyone tells me that, really, being invisible is good, being invisible is better than the alternative, I should be happy that I’m invisible, I should want and work to be invisible, I shouldn’t want to be visible.

I know. I know. I’ve been trying my hardest to be invisible, I promise. I’m sorry that I can’t always want it.

 

 

iv. and now im APOLOGIZING to her and its just like, i shouldnt have to fucking apologize, but i do, over and over, and so do my friends, and its just for being OURSELVES

 

I want to lash out sometimes, but I also don’t. I want to be visible, but I know I shouldn’t want that, I should want invisibility, I should want to disappear, so I tell myself that until I believe it. I tell myself over and over how bad it is, for me to want things, but I cannot believe it.

I should be glad I am neurotypical-passing, glad that nobody knows who I am, glad that I am not a target for violence anymore. I should be grateful. I am privileged. But I am not grateful.

In fourth grade, my best friend abandoned me, and she got everyone else to do the same, and I didn’t have any words for it. It was like this: asking over and over, why won’t you talk to me? what did i do wrong? i’m sorry, i promise, i’m so so sorry, please, i’m sorry, i’ll do anything you want, just talk to me, i don’t know what i did wrong but whatever it is i’m sorry, until your voice grows hoarse with the asking, and still not getting an answer, as she laughs with her new friends and doesn’t even throw a glance in your direction to show that she heard you. Giving up on the asking, because it is useless, because they’ll never hear you. A girl looking past you, as if you are not even there. A boy throwing a ball to his friend, and having to duck out of the way, because nobody noticed you. Spending recess wandering aimlessly along the field, sitting and talking to trees for 15 minutes because they’re a better conversation partner than your friends are. Wanting to lash out, to hit them or scream at them, so that maybe they’d finally notice you, but deciding not to, because that would be mean, that would be selfish, that would take up space and time and thoughts, and you don’t deserve to be noticed anyway. Wondering what you did wrong. Wondering if your existence is the thing that is wrong.

No, wait, that’s wrong. That wasn’t just fourth grade. That was every day of my goddamn life until this year–people talk past me. People talk to Casey. She doesn’t exist. She never did. She’s a mask we put on so we can disappear, so we can stay in the closet. I can count the number of people who talk to me on one hand, I add another hand for knowing I exist, and I am so incredibly grateful for them, for the most taken-for-granted scraps: having people who see you as a person, who know that you exist, who call you by your name, who like you for who you are instead of who you pretend to be. “I” am a superfluous symptom of Casey’s existence, and I exist but nobody sees me. I am still, most of the time, invisible.

People online ask me if I’m out of the closet, or if I’m open about some aspect of myself, and I want to laugh at them, because it’s not that simple, it’s not tell someone once and then you’re done. It’s whispering “call me Sofia” to a friend and bracing myself, but then they ignore me and call me Casey anyway. It’s asking my parents, staring at my food, mumbling, if I can go to a vigil for the Orlando massacre. It’s not saying anything in class when the person next to you talks about how he wishes that it was still socially acceptable to beat up gay people. It’s nervous laughter when people ask you about a crush. You don’t come out once. You come out a thousand times in a thousand moments with a hundred different people, and you stay closeted a million times in a million moments with everyone else.

The hardest thing was coming out of the closet to myself. They never told me, growing up, that this was a way that people could be. I didn’t have the words, the access codes, of gay or mentally ill or aromantic or neurodivergent. I didn’t know. They never taught me. And when I didn’t have words for who I was, I chose my own: broken. selfish. confused. wrong.

But they say that hypervisibility is worse than invisibility, they call passing–staying closeted, staying invisible, blending in, not knowing who you are–a privilege, and I cannot say anything because that would be talking over people with problems worse than mine, and I cannot say anything because I never learned how to say things, because to say things is to be visible.

Invisibility is neglect, and neglect is abuse, and it’s not better because it makes you hurt yourself instead of hurting you. Invisibility is not kind, or privileged, or easier, invisibility is violent.

But they say that visibility is worse, and so I apologize for being invisible. Or they say that trying to be visible is making people uncomfortable, and I apologize. I apologize over and over, because I can’t do anything else.

 

 

v. i have treated wounds that needed stitches with cloth tape and bandaids and kept my mouth shut so that my friends wouldn’t fucking FEEL BAD and i am SO FUCKING DONE with that

 

I am tired of being selfless. I am tired of putting everyone else before myself. I am tired of trying to be the hero. I am tired of being quiet, polite, forgettable.

(I’ve wanted to be vegan since seventh grade but I only told my parents last week, I’ve wanted to go to a pride since sixth grade but I went to my first community event two weeks ago, I told my friends in eighth grade that I existed but I let them get away with acting like I didn’t until this year. I’m here and I’m queer and I’m not going away and I won’t let anyone shove me back into the closet again.)

I am so fucking tired of being invisible.

I exist. I matter, too. And fuck anyone who tries to tell me that I don’t.

Trans Day of Visibility

Today is the trans day of visibility, 2016.

 

Let’s talk about being trans and visible–but let’s also talk about being trans and invisible.

 

Let me talk about being trans–let me be visible–but let me talk about being invisible.

 

 

Like a soul, she is shining like a soul.

 

 

Being alone is hard. Visibility, representation, conversation, these things help.

 

I hope I can help, with this.

 

 

So, today is complicated for me. Last year on this day, I celebrated it.

 

At the time, I had a severe eating disorder. I had posted a selfie out of pride that I had starved myself to the point that, even in a dress, my boobs just weren’t there. I hadn’t cut my hair at the time, so it was longer than it is now, more girly. My body looks all wrong, when I look at the picture now–hair too large, body too small–but at the time it had looked finally, finally acceptable, finally I could look in the mirror and see things other than too much hair and too much chest and too much, too much, too much. I could see myself: not a girl.

 

I sent it to all the friends I had come out to: look! I crowed to them, I can be myself!

 

A stranger reblogged it, tagging #look at kit! #that’s such a great dress #!!! #trans day of visibility

 

A friend replied: yaaaas you go girl

 

I cried.

 

They always tell people with eating disorders “what you see in the mirror is distorted; other people see you better than you see yourself!”

 

What was I supposed to think when my friends–the ones who were supposed to think the best of me–saw me as a girl, the very thing I was trying my hardest to run from?

 

 

Kit: uuuuuuuuuuuuuuugggggggggggggggggh emma just called me ‘herself’

Kit: and ma’am

Kit: whoops she just saw this

Mollie: I’m gonna fight her

Mollie: TELL EMMA IM GOING TO FIGHT HER

Mollie: LET ME AT HER

Emma: i USE MA’AM FOR EVERY FEMININE BEING! Sorry if I’m a more visual person! I try! I FUCKING TRY! Also, Mollie, you can’t take me in a fight. Stop fooling yourself.

Mollie: YOU CANNOT USE MA’AM FOR KIT. THIS IS JUST A FACT.

Mollie: AND DONT CALL KIT A FEMININE BEING. THATS NOT HOW THEY WANNA BE VIEWED. EMMA I WILL FIGHT YOU.

Emma: Does they look like a fucking boy?! I do this visually! I try! I fuckling try!

Emma: Also, she looks like afemale! Not a fucking male! Visual, Mollie! Fucking visual!

 

 

Scene: joking with a friend, testing the waters for coming out, walking down the stairs to our next class.

 

“If we just did our homework then we could be inspiring and motivating ladies.”

“Well, too bad I’m none of those.”

“You’re not a lady? Are you a fucking shemale or something?”

 

 

My ex-girlfriend used my pronouns for a week over text; when we got together in person for a week, she misgendered me 57 times; I tried to correct her, she said “pronouns don’t matter to me!”; I cried; she broke up with me an hour later.

 

 

Girl like if silence speaks louder than words then why can’t anyone hear me, like why the fuck does the caged bird sing, it ain’t that fun and they owe no one nothing

Girl like not even a fucking girl

Girl like no one

Not anymore

 

 

Scene: in the car with my mom; I have had the courage to fill out an anonymous survey honestly; she saw it.

 

“So… I flipped through that survey you filled out, and I couldn’t help but notice that you circled ‘other’ instead of ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. You know you’re a girl right?

Like, you’re female. That’s just a biological fact.”

“…Yeah, I know.”

“And why do you use they for people? It’s plural! Don’t you care about grammar?”

“It’s a generational thing, I think. It doesn’t have anything to do with gender, don’t worry. I’m a girl, I know that.”

 

 

I remember when I told Hannah that I was non-binary and multiple: eighth grade. I told her over skype, late at night, confessional. She told me she supported me for who I was; she didn’t use my pronouns until one and a half years later, the night I got into that fateful fight with my ex-girlfriend.

 

 

I made a group for my queer friends. It consisted of “The Sexuali-bees”, “The Romantic Antics”, “The Gender Fears”, “Boring Cis Ppl”, and “Weak Str8s”. No heterosexuals were included–and the “weak str8s” was seen as a joke. People took offence to the “Boring Cis Ppl”. They said, if that’s a joke, why not make you into the joke instead? Haha, my pronouns are God, is that boring? Haha, isn’t it so great how I can make this into a joke that I can just take off when it gets too inconvenient?

 

 

Kit: i mean, hannah’s on the list, sofia’s on the list, its not a personal judgement, its just. if i want to call cis ppl boring i fucking will, they call me a damn girl like 24/7

Kiki: yeah i feel

Kit: like ugh i know this is new to her but

Kiki: …Is she being serious..?

Kit: no

Kit: :////

Kiki: hhhh

Kit: u know what this reminds me of tbh? the time that ‘binging and purging’ was a card played on cards against humanity and i had to listen to the scifi club laugh at that while pretending that my head hadn’t been in the damn toilet a month earlier. bc its like. this isnt a joke. this is real

Kiki: ahh yeah i feel you and im sorry

Kiki: do you still want to vent?

Kit: sort of

Kit: i just

Kiki: dont know how to say it?

Kit: yeah

Kit: and the anger is beginning to fade

Kit: but only starting to

Kit: and tbh i think id rather be angry

Kit: bc when i stop being angry i start being sad

Kiki: yeaahhh

Kit: i just

Kit: it hurts, to be reminded that im a fucking joke to everyone

Kit: and my friend group is where i go to get away from that, for the most part

Kiki: youre not a joke to everyone

Kiki: youre not a joke to the people that fucking matter

Kiki: she’ll will come around

Kiki: she doesnt get it; but she will

Kit: where they dont fucking LAUGH at eating disorders, and trans people, and gay people. where psychotic ppl and multiple personalities can be serious discussions and not just fucking serial killers or JOKES

Kit: and then just this little thing happens

Kit: and from anyone else it would be FINE

Kit: because you know, whatever, im used to it

Kiki: and the safety is ruined?

Kit: i shouldnt be but i AM

Kit: but when its a group specificially for queer ppl

Kit: its supposed to be SAFE

Kiki: yeah

Kiki: ugghhh she will come around but im sorry you had to deal with that

Kit: and now im APOLOGIZING to her and its just like, i shouldnt have to fucking apologize, but i do, over and over, and so do my friends, and its just for being OURSELVES, and the people who make us feel unsafe? they dont have to apologize

Kit: im just

Kit: why couldnt i just have been cis?

Kit: and straight, and neurotypical, and maybe even fucking NORMAL for a change

 

 

In history class, my teacher asks for our pronouns. I sit next to two republicans, one of whom runs an anti-sjw blog, the other who threatened to leave the country when gay marriage was legalized. I heard them to my left, making fun of it: joking about how duh, obviously I’m a boy, what else would I be, a cactus? a tranny?

I have a panic attack, but I do this–

I write down two words: they/them.

I come out.

 

 

So here I am. I get to be the cliche: young, white, teenage, assigned-female, knew since I was six that I was neither girl nor boy. I can’t tell the story for all of us. But I can tell the story for me, and maybe that’s enough.

 

 

My current girlfriend calls me enby and doodles Kit on her hand without care for my birth name.

Emma calls me they even when my mom glares at her for it.

Hannah helps me write this, even the part that’s mean to her (“I was a butt to you,” she says, and we laugh).

I can finally see a future for myself, after years of suicidality and I’ll probably die by the time I’m 16. I read #RealLiveTransAdult stories with a kind of awe.

My friend who called me a shemale now blogs about trans activism and calls me only by nicknames so she has plausible deniability about avoiding my deadname.

Things do, in the end, get better.

They do not get good, not yet. My parents call me “she”. My boobs still, undeniably, exist. I come out to my teacher, and she calls me “they”, but she also calls me “ma’am”. Leelah Alcorn dies, and the president vows to make her death mean something. For every two steps forward, there is one step back. And for all the violence that comes with being visible, the slurs and the laughs and the threats, I will always prefer it to the violence that comes from being invisible–from knowing that you’re wrong, that your body’s wrong, that people call you a girl and it is wrong, it feels wrong, factually, on a deep level, but also those feelings themselves are wrong wrong wrong because of those years of brainwashing by a society that hates people like you. From not even knowing what’s wrong, just that everything’s wrong, and it’s all too much to grasp. And then you find words, you find people, out there, people like you who stopped being invisible, and you know.

We are here. We’ve been invisible for so long, but we are finally, finally becoming visible.

We are winning.

 

 

When I was invisible, I thought I didn’t deserve to be seen. I thought the best I could hope for was a disappearing act: to make myself smaller, quieter, to not bother people with my existence, to cry at night and wear layers so that nobody can see me.

 

But here I am, performing instead an appearing act: after so many years of being invisible, after so many years trying to be unseen, I am claiming myself, my space, my community: my gender.

 

I am not Casey.

I am not she.

I am not a girl, a female, a shemale, a tranny.

 

I am Kit.

I’m trans. I’m visible, for today.

It’s nice to finally meet you.

 

 

Kiki: you know why your life SUCKS ASS?

Kit: im sorry

Kiki: because other peoples do too

Kit: i know

Kiki: no dont apologize

Kit: im sorry

Kiki: thats not what im saying

Kiki: im saying

Kiki: other people have the same issues

Kiki: and you have to stand up for them

Kiki: the ones that are gone

Kit: yes i know i shouldnt be making this all about me im sorry

Kiki: the ones who arent here yet

Kiki: no thats not at all what im saying

Kiki: MAKE IT ABOUT YOU

Kiki: SCREAM ABOUT YOU

Kiki: make other people SCREAM about themselves

Kiki: make them realize its OKAY to be about you!

Kiki: that you dont HAVE to worry about other fucking people all the time!!!

Kiki: make everyone DEMAND equality for themselves by demanding it for yourself first

Kiki: start a fucking movement, because other people sure as hell arent

 

 

Here I am, for the trans day of visibility: loud. visible. trans.

 

I hope other people see me.