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Photo by Diana Ruseva on Unsplash

I like it when friends ask me questions that I don’t immediately know how to respond to. “Do you feel pressure to be perfect, as a woman?”

Now here’s something I can sink my teeth into.

I came out as trans a little more than two years ago. Back then, every iota of hope I had was matched by fear. There were so many choices to make and so many maybes. Every time I tried to visualize what my real self would look like when she finally emerged, I tried to shake the image out of my head. …


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Photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash

Utah HB302 is like a bad penny — it’s the same transphobic bigotry that keeps turning up.

So far, 20 states have brought the copy/paste bill to session this year, legislation written by the hate group Alliance Defending Freedom and pushed by conservative politicians who use fear about trans people to rile up their political base. The argument, they say, is about fairness and protecting women in sports, using the same framework as the discriminatory bathroom bills that were in vogue several years ago.

Supporters of these bills aren’t shy about hiding their transphobia and misogyny. It’s a heady mix…


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Photo by Maryna Yazbeck on Unsplash

“Deep breath in.”

I knew what was coming. I inhaled before a long, slow exhale, my focus on blowing air out, even as that breath became a bit of a yelp as the piercer’s needle slid through my left nipple. But my time the acute pain sizzled through my neurons, it was already over. My left nipple finally matched my right one, giving me a bit of balance despite my love of asymmetry.

I picked purple for both barbells, and I’ve loved my nipple piercings every day since.

People can get weird about piercings. Where piercings go and what they…


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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.


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…


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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…


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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…


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…

Riley Black

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

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