What if I had come out as a child?

I just woke up from a nightmare about coming out as trans as a child. In my dream I was going to a private Christian school and having to fight for basic human decency among classmates and school administrators who didn’t believe me. Who didn’t believe that trans people were real.

But as scary as that dream was, it is probably nothing compared to what would have happened if I had come out as trans in my actual childhood.

Let me be clear. My parents have grown a lot in the intervening years since I left home and they genuinely seem to be trying to understanding my experience right now. But I shudder to think what would have happened if I had come out as trans or even queer as a child while they were still in the grasp of the cult. I am fairly confident that I would have been sent to life-threatening conversion therapy that would have made my depression a lot worse and possibly led to suicide.

It was bad enough growing up as a child, confused and afraid because I didn’t know why I was different. Knowing that I had a girl’s brain but not knowing what that meant. Feeling like I was alone in my experience because I didn’t know that transgender people even existed until college.

But it would have been so much worse if I had voiced those feelings as a child and not been believed. If I had been placed into “therapy” to “cure” me from this sin. If I had been told on a daily basis that my lived experience wasn’t real and spiritually beaten over the head because I felt that way.

My heart goes out to all the kids who are still in that situation. Who live among parents, educators, and peers who don’t believe them. Who have to hide who they are because of the explicitly transphobic messages they hear on a daily basis.

When we say “protect trans kids,” we say that because even in a day and age where awareness of transgender people is at an all time high, trans kids have a one in three chance of attempting suicide.

We live in a country where hard won trans rights that we fought for decades to achieve are being taken away from us on a daily basis. Just this week, the protections that we gained in the Affordable Care Act were stripped away. And that wears on trans people mentally and kills us daily through denials of care and service. That permeates our culture and compounds with racism to make trans women of color the most marginalized and murdered group in America. Already this year, 14 trans people have been brutally murdered; the majority of them women of color.

As a white trans adult, my nightmare was largely just that. My life is rarely at risk of anything other than my own depression and suicidal thoughts. But I am one of the lucky ones. I have a supportive spouse and partners, I have a large community of trans people and advocates who stand with me, and I have a low risk of murder because of the color of my skin and where I live.

So when you fight for Black Lives, when you fight for queer lives, when you fight for trans youth, please make sure that your fight is intersectional and intentionally includes the lives of those who bear the burden of all of our collective societal sins. Fight for Black Trans Lives because they matter. And until we stop these murders, we can’t truly mean that Black Lives Matter.

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