A transsexual friend asked me,
“Will they love me when she’s gone?
Will all the hugs, the smiles, the tears,
the shared embraces, the mutual care,
burn away like fog?
Was all they loved who they thought I was?
Am I more than my birth name, my assigned gender,
the mask I wore to appease the voices in my head
that tell me I’m a monster and always will be?”
He broke down then, weeping into his hands,
“What if they curse and spit my real name?
What if they only see me as a news article,
a mutated hashtag,
a buzzword to inflame those who only care about the attention—
and not the tear-streaked face behind the revelation
that you are now even more separated from the rest of society than you thought you were?”
I tried to lift his head, but he fell backwards with a trembling cry.
“What if their condemnation is right? What if my real self, my real identity,
is nothing but the product of fighting oppression, abuse, prejudice, and neglect my entire life?
What if it really is just a mental illness?”
I knelt down, scooting forward enough to rest my forehead against his.
I whispered his name as a kiss against his forehead and he melted into the touch, leaning forward and cuddling against my chest as I wrapped my arms around him.
“What if they don’t see me?” he whispered in a thick, quavering voice.
“But what if they do?” I replied.
Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/grayscale-photograph-of-person-naked-922437