To My Beloved Support Network;

Stories of transition often times have many beginnings.  The first time I was able to articulate my understanding of “who I am” was actually a culmination of many experiences building up to my “coming out” moment. Coming out was just the tipping point at which it became more unbearable to live with my secret than it was to face my fears and finally confront the truth. 

The mind can do incredible things to protect itself from a perceived threat. From a young age I internalized the rhetoric that being transgender would make me unlovable, undesirable, and unsafe. My brain’s desire to suppress the truth about its experience led me to some dark places; I am fortunate to have survived them. 

I share my story to honor my younger self- a child whose adolescence was a series of avoidable disasters spiraling towards existential crisis. It wasn’t the fact that I am transgender that caused me so much suffering but the conditioning and stigma associated with transgender people that brought me to the edge of suicide. 

To some, the idea of being transgender is inflammatory 

They believe we are at war with God for the soul of humanity 

As if 

to embrace my path as a man 

is to reject what is holy & righteous. 

As if they themselves are qualified to be the Judge. 

When I was a teenager coming to terms with it all, before I had the courage to tell you who I was, I wondered if and how I was going to make it through to my twenties.  I thought about killing my self daily, but the truth is that I desperately wanted to LIVE. So I told myself that if I couldn’t figure out how to be happy by the time that I was twenty-five, I would take my own life as to spare myself from having to sustain such a miserable existence. 

when I remembered that transition was my destiny, I began to see that the stigma that we assign to people like me is at its best

uninformed

and at its worst

violent & hateful. 

To some we are only a punch line, 

Our humanity lost in the debate for our dignity. 

Still, as I began to search my own head & heart for the truth, I found that I didn’t hate myself for being transgender. I hated myself because I had internalized our collective misunderstanding of people like me. Nobody told me that human beings like me have existed since the beginning of time. Nobody told me that the likenesses of "transgender people" are celebrated in other cultures and parts of the world. I didn’t know that this is something that I could be reverent of, that I didn’t have to be ashamed. I didn’t know that transgender people had a legacy beyond the violence and trauma we’ve experienced. 

Before I had the language and capacity to accept myself as a man, I lived as if I believed that I wasn’t worthy of being alive. 

I believed this because I didn’t know better 

I didn’t know better because nobody taught me 

And I’d like to think that if we knew better, we’d do better 

So, to my beloved support network; 

Here I am at twenty-five. I’ve made it through the hardest part, and I’m honored to be one of many examples of what life can look like after transition. 

As I reimagine what’s next for me, I’ve decided to take a step back to be able to fully realize how I can best serve my community. 

Thank you for reading, listening, supporting, and loving me through it all. 

I’ll be back in full power, soon. 

Much Love Until Then, 

Gentle Ben 

 

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