I remember the night I told my mom I wasn’t exactly a girl. I was so worried about telling her. I can’t talk to my parents about regular things much less something this close to my heart. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. I considered not telling her. I considered running back to my room, living in the dark for the rest of my life. I have some stress issues, which helpfully decided to show up; my body felt like it was locking up. I was feigning tears. I finally brought up enough courage, or stupidity, to tell her. I blurted out my question, “Would you still love me if I were a boy?”
I seriously almost cried right then. I almost let the powerful waterfall of sadness consume me. Time seemed to freeze. She said she would love me no matter who I was, and we left the conversation at that. The next night we had a little follow‐up talk. I don’t remember what was said, but I do remember crying. But that night I felt peaceful; peace seemed to flow over me. But at the same time, brewing behind that sense of peace, there was also fear.
The second time I told somebody was in a test essay in fifth grade. I wrote about how life is a maze and everybody has their own challenges. I put my “challenge” at the end. What made me nervous about the essay was that one of my classmates had to proofread my essay. After my classmate finished reading, he got a kind of panicked look on his face, told me my essay was fine, and almost ran off.
Later that day my teacher, Ms. Dufour, came up to me while we were walking on the track and said, “You can come talk to me if you ever need any help.” I was very grateful for these words, and she was the first person to call me brave.
I realize some people are hated for being transgender or gay or anything else. Other people are afraid to tell their own parents these things about themselves. And when I hear about people being hated for something they cannot control, it makes me furious.
Nelson Mandela once said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
I don’t know how many people have had to grow up different from the norm, oppressed like grass under a heavy snowfall. But grass will spring back up, stronger, smarter, and kinder. I don’t know how many people have been hurt or died because of something about themselves that they could not control. But I do know that I am fortunate to grow up with people who love me with no end, no matter who I am. For what I am some have been called horrible slurs, but I have been called brave. I do not think I am brave. The oppressed are brave; they rise again like grass after you step on them. Why can’t we be at peace? Why can’t the world be at peace?