I finally put this project to rest. The last weeks were arduous, in trying to get a friend, and the world to understand gender identity. These were the fruits of my labor, and I hope that you can empathize, and appreciate, because i know there are other trans women out there with the boldness and force of Cleopatra, the pride and power of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the attributes of a goddess. I dedicate this to all my sisters.
A Letter to you!
Yes you, whose eyes dance over these words. I was a child once, my mother’s child. strong of will, of heart and soul, but I too cried those many nights when I went to sleep hungry or when my school teacher discovered the purple and yellow bruise going down my leg, like a body of water, deep of color, and complicated. I had a colorful imagination, and I went with what came natural to me, and my mom, well she was past the stage of doing what came natural to her. Yes, life can do that. And now I am at this cross roads. I am my mother, but I’m breaking the cycle, I am going to love and live by what comes natural to me.
One day I twirled round and round in little silk red panties, a long red satin cape, and dreamed that I was an Amazonian warrior princess. I twirled until the small, dingy room that we lived in turned into a rain forest, until all I could see was green, and my reflection on the patches of water, showing me a beauty, with fair skin and curly brown hair. But that world soon escaped me, when I slowed down and stumbled. The bunk bed, the makeshift table, and the clutter of two kids and a mother were the only thing surrounding me. The silence of the forest was replaced with the sound of my mother’s angry voice ordering me to take my costume off. Later, I was found crying, as I was forced to walk out into the world in a dark navy suit, a crispy white button down, and a little sailor hat to match. My tears would not stop rolling down my cheeks even when my mother gave me a red lollipop, that just hung from my lip, the sweetness barely soothing the bitterness of rejection.
I came into this world as a little boy, but I carried a secret with me for many years, and it is this I want to share with you today. In hopes that when you see me in the street or live in the same home as me, you can smile, love me, respect me, and hold me in your arms when I cry and whisper in my ear that I am beautiful as I am.
Like Prometheus I was bound with shackles to gender binaries and expectations, but I stole nothing from the gods, I only showed them what freedom looked like to live as one wishes, dancing in pretty frocks of black lace unafraid. Proud to wear ornaments like a queen. I did this, and will continue to do so until the withered hand of mortality comes and takes my hand, but know that I will leave this earth, smiling.
Many nights under the stars I found myself pondering on my life as I do now, but this time I hope to leave a beautiful vision in your mind of who I am. The third gender, trans, two spirits, they are my people. Their experiences, their journey, and their pain are mine and my pain and joy of my life will be yours. I am not “the other,” or any different from you.
I am the woman slouched over white marble, in pain, alone, trying to chase a dragon fly.
I defied gender roles and expectations. It was a battle for freedom of thought and expression.
I was the woman sitting alone at La Scala after the audience was long gone.
I swam in the Mediterranean Sea, and I am the beauty that entertains, charms, and controls the room with a flutter of an eyelash, but it is only the façade of an aesthetic that I learned so early in life. Behind the honey brown eyes there was a war taking place. The thoughts of a depressed mind battling the child and the woman. The memory stains of friends lost to HIV, funerals, missed opportunities to shout words of love and gratitude, and maybe a missed opportunity to love myself.
The marks and the scars of my restraints you will find up and down my arms. But being as I am, a beauty reminiscent of the sleeping beauty, hermaphrodite, found in Rome. I too shatter the male gaze. I make him turn around and look to find the feminine within his masculine armor. I send the stranger running off into the street in indignation and horror, because just as you walk around the marble sculpture of hermaphrodite, the viewer is shocked, and fearful of what they do not know. When you see me, when you run your hands down my body and find a surprise, don’t run away from me, love me.
My secret within these words is transcendence. This is the mystery of my existence, but for this I am persecuted. May this letter serve like an arrow flying across land and piercing the heart. Gender comes from deep down within you. No one can dictate this. These are violent times, where women like me are being brutally murdered, dumped in empty parking lots, set on fire. I call on to you to sound the horn, and change it around, and tell a different story. A story of wisdom and courage.
In the days of hermaphrodite, she too was persecuted, but she was perceived by many as sacred, and she too conquered with her beauty and her mind. She aroused the imagination, but that is nothing compared to my imagination. When I dream I conjure my witches.
My witches – The women before me who laughed at the face of adversity. The women who fought and loved, and suffered but prevailed. Traversing the dream world, I am in love, I am fearless and occasionally I dream of a prince. I am Cleopatra, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Helen of Troy, I am what love stories and myths are made out of. In my dreams I am not the object of sex or possession. In my dreams I am one, and I am complete.