Hey kid, I see you there. I don’t know your name, but I know exactly how you’re feeling right now. Your story is just like my story. You were born into a transgender body just like I was. Every day you wake up to find a stranger in the bathroom mirror your ability to survive is tested.
Maybe you’re lucky enough to have transitioned already, and you’re living life in the gender expression you feel most comfortable with. Even then, it’s likely that you, too, have felt the spurn of your classmates who know you as “that trans kid” and avoid you without even taking the time to get to know you. It’s terrifying, it’s heartbreaking, and the other kids at school never let you forget exactly how much you don’t belong. The last thing you need in your life is one more bully.
If you’re old enough, you may have heard that the government decided this week that it would be best to step back and instead of enforcing the laws that already exist to protect you in your school, let your local states decide whether or not you’re worthy of equal human rights. If you’re feeling alone after hearing this, if you’re feeling like the bullies have won, I have news for you. The bullies haven’t won a damn thing.
We are worth more than the bathrooms we use. We will not allow you to be reduced to where you change clothes or wash your hands.
At this moment, there is entire nation of people who care about you coming together to stand up for you, to get in the faces of these bullies and tell them in no uncertain terms that they will not be allowed to kick us to the curb again. There are millions of us, and we will be heard even if you don’t think you will be. You shouldn’t feel alone, because you aren’t alone.
I happen to know a thing or two about bullies. I’ve spent most of my adult life fighting bullies inside and outside our country’s borders. I will tell you that every single bully I’ve ever seen has the same thing in common with the next… they’re more afraid of you than you are of them.
These people are scared of what they don’t understand. They’ll never make an effort to move beyond their narrow box of understanding to learn something or to be less afraid, and this makes them weak. These people are cowards, and all cowards are the same.
This particular brand of coward has chosen to pick on the easiest targets in the country: you. They choose you because they know that you can’t fight back, and that by targeting queer kids like you under the false banners of “state’s rights” and “safety” that they’ll be allowed to hurt you. I’m here to tell you that they’re wrong.
We are worth more than the bathrooms we use. We will not allow you to be reduced to where you change clothes or wash your hands. You have a basic human right to exist on this Earth, and I and people like me will fight to our last breath to make sure that you can live without fear wherever you are. We will fight, because you are valuable. We want you…we need you in this world. You have a place here and you fill an important role. You are agents of change.
Someday you will grow up, you will get a job and fall in love, and dance, and paint, and you’ll do it all on your terms, living life as your authentic self or I will die fighting for you.
Kids just like you are changing the world, and that’s not easy to do. When I was growing up, there wasn’t a Jazz Jennings or a Gavin Grimm anywhere in sight. I didn’t even know that being trans was a thing you could be. Kids like us disappeared.
Things are different today. For every Leelah Alcorn, there are two Avery Jacksons who will carry on her legacy. For every Sam Traub, there are two Gavin Grimms who won’t be silent or complicit in the injustice forced on them. Someday you will grow up, you will get a job and fall in love, and dance, and paint, and you’ll do it all on your terms, living life as your authentic self or I will die fighting for you.
Every day you survive, stand up and be counted is a mark of defiance that these cringing leaders absolutely hate.
The next four years aren't going to be easy. For as long as these craven, weak leaders are in places of power they will try to make us disappear from public view. But we know that none of these bullies can ever hurt us as much as we’ve already hurt ourselves doing their work for them.
At this point you may be wondering what you can do to fight for yourself. The best thing you can do is to stay alive. Every day you survive, stand up and be counted is a mark of defiance that these cringing leaders absolutely hate. The worst thing you can do to these people is to refuse to be erased. So stand up, be loud, be proud, and know that no matter what these people do, they will never take your dignity or self respect nor will they ever have half the strength and courage that you do.
You are worthy, you are important, and identity is valid.
Image: Emily Crose