There’s one less Jay in the South Pacific. These past few days – well, months, I guess – I have been wrangling with my identity, and I struggled with it. After all, we live in a society right now that is cruel and dangerous for anyone who doesn’t conform.
Here are the stats. In my state alone, California,
- 70% of LGBTQ+ youth said they had experienced discrimination
- 62% said they were not able to access mental health care
- 54% of trans and non-binary youth between the ages of 13 and 24 (I’m 24!) considered suicide and 19% made an attempt
Source: The Guardian (December 2022)
It seems like we can never go a single day without a news story involving the discrimination or persecution of trans people, either in the United States or elsewhere. From Zooey Zephyr being silenced to Missouri banning even trans adults from seeking gender-affirming care to nutjobs like JK Rowling spewing their hatred, it is essentially impossible for any trans person to live in this world today. It’s survival.
I had all of this on my mind these past few months when thinking about my gender identity. And so, I have never felt any lower than I have ever been when it comes to my mental health, despite living in a state – California – that has done more for trans people than almost any US state or country in this world. So, why would I ever come out of my egg in a society where there are those who would sexually assault or murder me for being trans?
Well, that’s just it, though. I have rarely gone a day without fighting over something or arguing until the bitter end. Deep down, I have always been a fighter. Suicide was never an option, and hiding never was either. Am I afraid? Yes, how can I not, knowing that people like me are out there in places like Missouri or the UK whose rights and freedoms are actively under attack? Their mere existence is under attack, and it could only be a matter of time before mine is, even in California, if the federal government is weaponized against trans people.
Fuck…that. Twenty years ago, 57% of Americans opposed same-sex marriage (Pew). One year ago, 71% of Americans supported same-sex marriage (Gallup). If that’s any indication, twenty years from now, trans people will see the same level of acceptance from society that LGB people enjoy today. I’m not gonna hide, I’m gonna fight, and if I’m going down, I’m going down fighting. My existence is non-negotiable.
I’m not Jay anymore. That’s a nickname of a RL name that I no longer have an attachment to anymore. Despite that, I still love blue jays. I might even get a tattoo of one for my love of the animal and what it represents to me as a chapter in my life. I recently learned what my name would have been if I was born a girl, and I love it. It’s a name with Norse roots and one whose meaning makes me feel whole. And so, conveniently enough, I have a new letter for a nickname now, and that is Em.
More than two years ago, I came out as bi, but I later revised that to pansexual. But, I am more than that. I am one of the 1.6 million people in the United States who are transgender, and I am done pretending to be someone that I’m not. And that starts here, in NS, where I have never felt more safe in saying this.