The three-letter word echoes in my head until it sounds foreign. It feels like toxic sludge, slowly seeping through every minute crack in my brain, infecting every centimeter. It’s not real. It makes me feel like I’m not real.
2. “You’re such a dad.”
“My handsome man.”
“I love you, son.”
Affirmations are everywhere, but they’re still not enough. They aren’t strong enough to hold back the weight of society’s resentments. Still, I hold onto them. They keep me afloat when I’m forced to respond to a name I don’t associate with myself. They remind me why I don’t retreat into the darkest recesses of the nearest closet and wish for Narnia to be real. They show me what it is to be myself.
3. Euphoria. It’s a pretty word, isn’t it? The online dictionary defines it as “a state of intense happiness and self-confidence.” “Intense happiness.” I can’t help but scoff at this description. It’s not enough. Euphoria is like being kissed by a goddess. It’s looking in the mirror and crying at your reflection because you’re finally what you’ve hoped to see for 20 years. Have you seen the videos of a horde of puppies attacking someone with kisses or a soldier returning to their family after a long deployment? That’s euphoria. It comes without warning and can make you feel like nothing will ever hurt again. It wipes away all the memories of “she.” It is the best affirmation, but it can’t last.
4. Could you imagine protesting the entire existence of another human being? Could you imagine standing in public, telling someone with thoughts and emotions and friends that they would choose a life that subjects them to being protested? How could you look into someone’s eyes and believe they want to be hated? Can’t you see the pain there? Can’t you see the longing for acceptance? I want to be loved, same as you.
5. I can’t be silenced. I show my blue, pink, and white flag at every opportunity. Four flags are on display in my apartment and two on my laptop. I wear my pronouns proudly on a button. Number one is often replaced with what’s right. Number two provides reinforcements on the battlefield that is my life. Number three gives me hope. Number four reminds me how much harder life is for my trans sisters and to be appreciative of my white male privilege and to speak up for them when they are silenced, and somehow, all of these reminders come together to create pride in who I am and the community I am a part of.
Skylar Bauer is currently a Creative Writing major at Capital University in Ohio and an Intern for Rock the Pigeon. His favorite genre to write is creative nonfiction, but he loves writing in every style and genre. His work is characterized by a unique cynically idealistic voice and some experimental styles of presentation, as well as a focus on mental health and LGBTQ+ issues. For more of his work, check out his portfolio at skylars-portfolio.tumblr.com