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Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash

What is it about trans bodies that makes people feel like we deserve their unsolicited evaluations?

I hadn’t even started hormone replacement therapy when I started getting them. “Are you doing this to get your ex back?” was one of the earliest, followed shortly thereafter by “You’re going to be the best of both worlds.”

The comments aren’t consistent enough for me to build up a good defensive shell. Often, they come from people I know. …

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Photo by Lucas George Wendt on Unsplash

I hadn’t thought about the letter in years, but I knew what it was as soon as I saw it — a note from someone I don’t know anymore to a person who doesn’t exist.

Maybe someone else could have left it alone. I couldn’t. I pulled at the edge of the red envelope, freeing it from a small stack of similar letters. Some were cards. Some were on stationary. Some had beads. Others, stickers. Many “sealed with a lick ’cause a kiss won’t stick.”

I sat next to the box full of buried memories and I started to read.

I’m not going to tell you what any of the letters said. I would say they are for me, but I’m not even so sure of that anymore. They were to the person I was, the man my love saw and wanted to be with. …

Being half-undressed, half-entangled with a friend isn’t the most convenient time to realize you’re demisexual

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Photo by Riz Mooney on Unsplash

Being half-undressed, half-entangled with a friend isn’t the most convenient time to realize you’re demisexual. The moment was an appropriate time, to be sure. But as I reclined against the couch, with jeans next on the list of things to come off, I didn’t expect to starkly realize why I wasn’t feeling all that turned on.

I was familiar with the numbness. That was part of why it had been so easy to ignore that persistent pinging at the back of my mind, the little beacon repeating “Do we really want this?” …

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Being cisgender isn’t normal. It’s simply not. No matter how you turn it, feeling hunky dory with the gender you were given at birth and grew up with isn’t the way things necessarily ought to be.

Of course I’m playing with language here. (Got your attention, though, didn’t I?) “Normal” is really only useful for thing like keeping your car’s temperature within specified limits. It’s a pretty damn useless concept for people, especially because my Normal isn’t going to match yours any more than one country’s or one century’s Normal won’t be like any other.

And yet. And yet, as a society, we keep running into this idea that being cisgender is the default, the standard, the measure of everything. And that’s a fundamental flaw that even some of we transgender people sometimes fall for. …

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Photo by Arseny Togulev on Unsplash

“Do you want to get pregnant?”

For a split second, I thought about responding “Buy a girl a drink first!” I almost wish I had. Instead, assuming that the nurse meant “Do you want to preserve your gametes so that someone can have your biological child at some point?”, I said “No.” And over the few minutes of my bottom surgery consultation that followed, I’d say “No” to the same question a few more times.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I started to video call with the people who — if all went well — might be turning my current set of bits into shapes better matching my gender identity. I knew I’d be asked about therapist’s letters and laser hair removal (yow), but there isn’t exactly a guidebook for talking to a surgeon about vaginoplasty. I tried to be informed and to have some questions ready, but I was still a bundle of nerves as I ran through the initial questionnaire. …

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Photo by Laura Nyhuis on Unsplash

Fifty seven streaming services and nothing on.

I know, that’s not quite fair. One way or another almost every film ever spliced together is available somewhere, and there’s more every day. But as I aimlessly scrolled through the offerings of Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and, yes, even Tubi the other night, I just wasn’t finding anything that clicked.

I wanted to watch a story about someone like me.

Now, as we all know, it’s important to be specific with wishes. Not just any transgender tale would do. I wanted to see the kind of big, cheesy spectacle I so loved growing up — the big budget pulp stuff like Indiana Jones and Godzilla — but with a trans person in the story. …

Change has guided the last two years of my life, but when will I feel ok with how I am today?

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I wasn’t expecting to see her this morning.

Most of the time I’m just stumbling through my daily routine. Shower. Dry. Shave (laser hair removal doesn’t get rid of those pesky white hairs). Deodorant. Eyeliner. It’s become something of a little dance, my girlfriend and I shuffling around and tilting mirrors to get ready for 9AM without accidentally toppling each other.

The process involves a lot of looking without really seeing. Each step is rote by now. But this morning, as I shook my hair out, I caught a little something in the mirror. I saw myself.

“Hey lady,” I said to the reflection. …

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Photo by Aaron Lee on Unsplash

When was the last time I heard my girlfriend’s heartbeat?

We were sitting in our well-worn spots on the couch, both looking at our devices, when I leaned over to rest my head against her left side. I wanted to be close, to be warm, to stop trawling Twitter in the hopes of one thing to make me smile and instead appreciate that my love was right there.

I heard a little thump through her ribs. I tilted and angled my ear, trying to hear it louder. thump. But I couldn’t quite get it. “What are you doing?” …

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

We’re all still waiting for the results of the 2020 election to be announced, which means there’s a yawning gap that analysts and pundits are all-too-happy to fill. “Now is not the time to stop reading,” as the WaPo Twitter ad proclaimed, as if many of us haven’t been embroiled in the “I can’t look. Maybe just a peek…” anxiety cycle with our phones.

A favorite topic during our thumb-twiddling time is what happened to the Blue Wave. The election was supposed to be a strong repudiation of Trump and the conservative platform. …

Despite my fears, “I’ll just move to Canada” doesn’t resonate with me

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Photo by NASA on Unsplash

“Maybe I’ll just move to Canada.”

The sentiment isn’t new. I remember being in college, when George W. Bush seemed like the worst thing to ever happen to American politics, and hearing the same. “If he gets elected again, I’m going to move to Canada.”

Oh, what sweet summer children we were then.

Now, as we bite our nails, pet our dogs, drink too much, and otherwise cope with the stress of the election, the option seems more attractive than ever. Even if Trump loses — please, please… — the tight electoral race has highlighted what’s been apparent for some time, namely that America is suffering from racism, science denial, and a whole litany of social ills that makes me look at my neighbors like “Really?” …


Riley Black

Distant cousin of T. rex. Author of Skeleton Keys, My Beloved Brontosaurus, and more. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Laelaps.

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