Dear Transphobes

Content Warning: Transphobia (obviously) including current events, mentions of depression and suicide, mentions of child abuse and sexual abuse, probably some other stuff that I can’t even think of right now. Also, if you’re new to my site, this post is pretty SFW but the rest of my blog isn’t, including some internal links, so be aware.

Dear Transphobes,

Of course, I doubt you’ll be the ones reading this, if I ever post it anywhere. The title of my site is enough to make you dismiss anything I have to say. You believe I’m a groomer, a deviant, subhuman. Maybe a threat. I don’t know. I might just be writing this to get it out.

But it’s the middle of the night, and I can’t sleep, and I’m tired and scared and angry and sad—not so much for myself as for other trans people, but also maybe for myself. And if you are reading this, for some reason—maybe you stumbled upon it while hate-Googling, maybe someone sent it to you, I don’t know—I want you to take a breath for a second, and maybe learn a little about me.

I love when I bite into a glazed donut, and I can feel the sugar cracking under my teeth. Do you like that, too? I really like a glazed cruller. The textures are so good, and they aren’t usually too sweet. When I was a kid I didn’t understand how my mom could find things “too sweet,” and then I grew into my adult tastebuds and I’m the same way, so joke’s on me. My favorite candy bar is a Caramello, which you’d think would be too sweet for me, but apparently it’s fine. I used to really like Reese’s, too, but apparently I’m allergic to nuts. My partner found some cups that use sunflower butter instead of peanut butter at Fresh Market and they’re great. My favorite part of biting into those is the contrast between the firm chocolate with the sharp, defined, serrated edges from the paper, and the soft, creamy, slightly salty interior. Actually, funny thing—the other day I had one, forgot they had the paper wrapping, and took a bite. Turns out the waxed paper doesn’t taste as good as the candy.

I think most of you think of trans people as an abstract concept. We’re here to threaten your children—whether we’re predators, putting on costumes to get close to them, or we’re wickedly recruiting them to our cause. We’re here to threaten you, too, somehow, and I’m still not sure why that is. I have theories, but I might never know the truth. But it doesn’t really matter. We’re a threat, and we’re here, and so you hate and fear everything related to us. We’re a threat—so you bring guns to the library where drag queens are reading to children. We’re a threat, so you’re denying us healthcare despite every single psychological resource saying that we are who we say we are. We’re a threat, so in Florida you’re threatening to take away our children. We’re a threat, so you’re calling for our “eradication” and then claiming it’s not genocide. (It is genocide, by the way, even if you haven’t rounded us up and murdered us yet. Genocide comes in stages. Genocide Watch lists them in detail. They can be stopped at any time; generously, in the US, we’re at 3 and 4, but plenty of you are floating happily around 5, 6, and 7. Does that make you feel good? I can’t think of a single time when someone performing genocide was “the good guy” but maybe you are this time, right? Because unlike all those OTHER times, we’re actually Bad. Right.)

You think of us as abstract because it’s easier, I guess. But I don’t want it to be easy. I won’t let it be easy.

Before I got up to write this, the thoughts were swirling around in my head. The loathing in your words. I try not to read the comments, but it’s hard not to sometimes, you know? And then they just stick in my head, when I should be sleeping (I have errands to run in the morning, and I’m getting oral surgery on Monday, I need my rest) and I can’t seem to get them out.

Before I got up to write this, I was listening to my partner snore. A few years ago, they had cancer. Every couple of weeks we’d go to the chemo center. It smelled of antiseptic. There was a balcony, or a terrace (I’m not really sure the difference, are you?) where chemo patients could go for a walk, but we never remembered to. We’d sit, and sometimes Damien would draw, but usually they’d play on their phone, and so did I, just sitting and waiting for it to be done, but glad to be together. Whenever we went for a visit to the cancer center, we would stop in the little shop they had to get a pastry and a soda. Damien still has regular screenings every six months, and whenever we go to the cancer center I crave a Cherry Coke, because it was such a regular habit.

They don’t have cancer now. Still, I lie awake at night, and it’s not always because of you. If I can’t hear them breathe, I hold my breath until I can hear them stir. Sometimes I reach out to touch them, but I hate waking them up. “You should wake me up if you’re anxious,” they tell me, all the time, but I hate to bother them, because honestly, I’m always anxious. I love when they snore—it’s not a loud snore, just a faint, quiet, steady sound. My own white noise machine. I know they’re safe, and they’re there, and usually, that’s enough for me.

Here’s what I need you to know. We are people. We are not props for you to play hero against in a giant playground game. We aren’t just the unrighteous unelect for you to measure yourselves against when you’re trying to prove to your community that you’re a good Christian who follows the rules. We aren’t faceless, nameless boogeymen who are out to hurt your children. You love your children, or I hope you do, and I get that you want what’s best for them, or I hope you do. But I hope you realize that when you dehumanize queer people, you are making it very clear to your children: You must be what I want you to be, or I won’t love you anymore. I only love the version of you that exists in my expectations. I hope you don’t feel that way. I think a lot of you do.

I have back pain, pretty much all the time. I have seasonal allergies like crazy; even as I write this, my nose feels pinched and my throat hurts and my mouth is dry, because the pollen count outside is wild. You ever walk outside in a Southern spring? Our parking lot is literally tinged a sickly green-yellow from the pollen. The other day I went out to take photos for my doll collecting hobby; I was out for like ten minutes and my screen had a thin layer of pollen dust on it. Like. What even is that? You want a threat? Pollen is the threat, turn against that.

I have depression and anxiety and dysthymia, which my therapist described as a low-level depression that persists even when my more intense depression is gone. I went to therapy to try to get better from these things, you see, to try to cope in this aching world, to try to survive. It’s funny because I guess you wish I hadn’t.

I’m a survivor of child abuse. I’m a survivor of sexual abuse. I’m survivor of my own brain and the “call of the void.” I’ve experienced the grooming you accuse my trans brethren of and trust me, it didn’t look the way you think it does. I’ve survived to 35, clawing my way there sometimes, and you wish I hadn’t. Incredible.

I was reading hateful comments the other day, which I shouldn’t have done, but maybe I wanted to know the threat or maybe it’s a redirected form of self-harm or maybe it’s just hard to avoid them sometimes. It was about the drag queens reading hour, specifically. Drag queens aren’t (usually) trans people, but y’all didn’t really care about them until trans people became more visible, so you’re legislating against them, too. (An aside to cis gays: this is why you need to care about trans people, by the way. I mean, you should care about other people anyway, but please know that when the transphobes are targeting us, they don’t care if they hit you. In fact, for a lot of them, that’s an added bonus, since you’re the next target.) And one of the comments said something like, “Why do these men want to be around children anyway, if they aren’t predators? Seems suspicious to me.”

That was such an odd thing to say. Why does anyone want to be around children? I don’t have kids, and I don’t want kids, and in the world you’re building, I’m especially grateful I never had kids. I hardly interact with children. But I still wave to babies in the grocery store. I send books and craft kits to my sister’s children. If a kid comes up to me in the store and offers me a toy phone, you’re damned right I’m gonna answer that thing. Isn’t it a normal thing, in a society where it “takes a village,” to want to do right for the next generation? To offer them kindness and laughter and joy in a world that they’re rapidly going to find can be cruel and sorrowful and angry? Do you question why daycare workers want to be around children? Why youth pastors—no, sorry, bad example. Youth pastors are in a position of authority where child abuse is only too easy, demonstrably by history, unlike a drag queen reading a storybook in a corner of the library, surrounded by the kids’ parents and attentive librarians. My bad.

Of course, a lot of kids already know that the world is cruel. Some of it is because of you. You’re denying them the right to be themselves, whatever that “self” might be. No one wants to perform irreversible surgery on ten-year-olds, my guy, despite what some of your scare tactics proclaim. (Hell, do you know how hard it is to get surgery as an adult, even before you put down more restrictions? You can’t just check in and get a la carte genitals.) But I guess you’re okay with that; you don’t care about actual children, you care about the concept of a child, someone who is “innocent” in a way that you can mold into your beliefs. Except children are also people; they have their own minds, and thoughts, and feelings, and identities. They don’t always understand any of those, which is why their adults can guide and help them, but they are still themselves, and their feelings matter. Even if they change. Even if they don’t match yours.

I was a child once, too, by the way. I wasn’t born with the name Ollie, and I didn’t know I was nonbinary, but I was a child. I remember getting hit in the face with a ball in gym class in kindergarten or first grade, and it hurt, and I cried, and I was told I was too old to cry and they didn’t see the ball hit me. I remember playing in the sandbox at my grandparents, made from an old tractor tire, sitting in the sand and digging out what I thought was the cap of a marker only to discover a huge, long beetle that scared the hell out of me. I remember hanging out with my friends at the mall for hours, and buying bracelets because they were cheap, and buying fries and a soda at the food court. (A pop, actually. I might live in the South now, but I was a Minnesotan, I drank pop.)

The thing that’s really funny is that I don’t look like a threat. I’m five foot two and a half. My sister is like three quarters of an inch taller than me, which is a source of joking contention between us. I’m chubby. Sometimes I wear button-downs and slacks. Sometimes I wear skirts. Sometimes I struggle to regulate my volume so I make puns too loudly in the grocery store and I laugh like an idiot. And you might not even perceive me as a threat, because you think I’m just a misguided girl who got caught up in a trend. Because you think I’m just a concept, a blank slate with no thoughts of their own.

I’m just a person. I’m just a person. I’m trans, and queer, and kinky, and polyamorous on paper if not in practice, and I write about sex for a living. Any of these are probably reasons you’ll write me off as someone not to listen to, of course—if you’ve even read this far. All of these are part of me. None of these are all of me, and none of them are a threat to you. I use they/them pronouns but I probably won’t even correct you if you get it wrong in person, because I’m shy. My partner uses they/them pronouns and I might correct you there. We’re just here. We aren’t recruiting. We aren’t kidding ourselves. We just want to live the lives that make us comfortably ourselves, comfortably together.

You don’t want us to do that. You don’t want us to live, or if we’re being generous, you want us to live but by your rules, and that’s not living. I struggle enough to convince myself to stay alive some days, and for a while, it became so much easier. I love the life I’ve built. I love my partner so much. I love my cats. I love that some of the cashiers in the grocery store recognize me and my partner, and we chat about how our roses are blooming. I love that we have yellow roses. I love wearing clothes that make me look like me, I love dyeing my hair fun colors, I love my fat body and the fact that it can take me places, that I can taste things and touch things and experience things. But you’re trying to legislate people like me, and people like my friends, out of existence, and that’s turning everything into ash. Do you know how hard it is to fight depression when the world is actively wishing you and your friends were dead?

I’m just a mortal person. I will die someday. I hope it’s not for a long time. I hope I get a chance to grow old with my partner, to keep having dumb inside jokes when I’m 90 and they’re 99. Sometimes it seems like I might never die. Sometimes it seems like it’s going to happen at any minute, and I lie awake in the dark, listening to my partner snore.

You’re going to die someday, and it’s not going to be from us. Maybe you’re one of those Christians who looks forward to it, who thinks that life on Earth is meant to be suffering so that you can earn a reward in heaven. I just don’t understand why you feel the need to make everyone else suffer harder.

Death is unfair, but it happens. I miss the people and pets that I’ve lost. Some were gone far, far too soon, but it’s always too soon. You’re never done loving people just because they’re gone, but now there’s nowhere for that love to go, just an ache that you learn to live with.

You hate trans people, but you don’t think we’re people. You don’t realize that we, like you, have a rich inner life, that we can think endlessly about some dumb TV show or a philosophical question. You don’t realize that we touch and taste and love and hurt. I want to think you don’t realize it, anyway. I can’t imagine someone realizing that other people are people and still wanting to hurt them.

When I die—whatever the reason—people are going to mourn. My partner, my friends, my sister, her kids. That’s the real reason I stay alive. I love to experience the world, but most of all, I don’t want to hurt the people around me, if I can help it.

The people you’re hurting have people who love them, too, you know. All of them. The weird ones, the ones who don’t pass, the ones who use weird pronouns, all of them are loved. Just like you love your people, I hope. And when people mourn trans deaths, it’s not about how they’ve lost another member of their trans army or whatever. It’s about a book with a receipt in the pages to mark where they’d left off, not knowing they’d never return. It’s about a specific order in a restaurant that won’t ever be placed again. It’s about the echoes, laughter that once rang out late into the night, fueled by love and joy and being together, and now that laughter is silenced.

You silenced that laughter.

You are killing people.

Maybe you aren’t pulling the trigger yourself. But your rhetoric, your “thought experiments” and “just asking questions,” has made people think it’s just and fair to end lives.

You are making it so that states feel safe and comfortable outlawing us. Taking away our families. Taking away our senses of selves.

Trans suicide rates are already high, and you’re making them higher. YOU are doing this. Every single time a teenager, an actual child rather than the concept of a child, kills themselves because they can’t cope in a world that hates them—you did that. You may as well have sold them the rope. And for the record? If kids don’t know the words “trans” or “gay,” they will still know that there’s something different, and if they don’t know those words, they’ll think there’s something wrong with them, and that won’t do them any good either.

They are dying, we are dying, and the worst part is that you don’t care. You don’t care. Because you don’t think we’re people.

I’m Ollie. And I’m writing this because I am a person, I am alive, I exist. I love baked potatoes to a ridiculous degree. I love 80s and 90s sci fi, and I love trashy romance novels, and the sound of a chocolate bar being snapped. When my cat Percy died I was devastated and I still cry sometimes when I think about him. Sometimes I’m afraid of the dark, and the things that might lurk in it. Sometimes I’m afraid of the day, and you. I love going for drives with my partner, and I love staying in and rewatching familiar movies. I send pictures of my cats to my sister because her kids love to see my cats. I make bad jokes, and sometimes I’m extremely cranky and unpleasant to be around, and sometimes I laugh so hard I pee myself. I’m like you, and I’m not like you, just as you aren’t like anyone else. I’m a person, I am alive, and I exist.

You can try to deny my humanity, but here it is, laid out before you. If you refuse to see it, that’s on you. I’ve done what I could. If you “eradicate” me, or people like me, at least there’s a record. We are here. I am here.

Yours very sincerely,


A white nonbinary person in a flannel, holding a cat and smiling at the camera. The house behind them is a little messy.
Ollie (human) & Jinx (kitty)

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