i’m going to try to express something deeply painful for the first time so please be patient with me. as a brown gender non-conforming transfeminine person, every day when i wake up i have to decide between two unbearable options

1) wear what i want...& inevitably experience relentless harassment & potentially lethal violence at the hands of strangers in public with no support from others or
2) wear clothing associated with masculinity (pants, button down shirts, etc)...and inevitably experience extreme dysphoria & anxiety from being misgendered.

often people tell me that i should just “butch up” in order to experience less violence. this suggests a fundamental dismissal of the severity of gender dysphoria & mental health more broadly. violence isn’t just physical, it’s so much more than that.

i am so saddened by the constant belittling of mental health as always already “less than,” so frustrated by how much language i have to articulate the physical violence that happens to me but not the psychological. due to being constantly misgendered i experience severe anxiety & chronic pain. my body locks up, i feel unable to engage, disassociated. i can’t sleep. i spiral & spiral & spiral and want to disappear.

this is not because i have a *disorder,* this is not because of *my* shortcoming its because of THEIR transphobia, their willful ignorance, their bigotry. so every day we have to confront the reality that there are no safer options for us. and the gravity of that — knowing that there is no escape, no safety that is not temporary, no guaranteed stability...that permeates into every realm of our lives & holds us back from so much.

i want to do so many things but i can’t. i want to be so many things but i can’t. the rhetoric of choice gets flung at us: “well if you choose to look that way you have to accept the consequences”

...but do we have choice? we don’t change our appearances & we get misgendered & we do & we still get misgendered. we don’t change our appearances & we experience incredible pain & we do and we still experience pain. this is the impossibility of gender non-conforming life — that the things that give us life have the potential to give us death.

support the writer