Delivery! We have love letters, written just for you, from people who love you, purely because you’re you. The holidays can be some of the hardest times of the year for trans people. We hope these love letters from Autostraddle readers and friends help you feel less alone. Some of the letters have accompanying recordings, so you can hear the love through each person’s voice.
If you were touched by these letters, join us in writing a letter of your own—or recording one—and sending it to a trans person you love. Read the rest of the series here.
You have chosen, in the face of isolation and punishment, to be free.
For Black trans people,
Holidays can be lonely. Whatever your flavor of lonely may be: sitting quiet in a house full of people that love you, but call you by the wrong name. Maybe the house is empty. Maybe lonely is a broken heart, and unfulfilled promises. Maybe it’s a country that criminalizes your existence. Maybe it’s something you can’t name yet. I’m familiar with loneliness.
My birthday is in December, so is my brother’s as well as half of my family. I share birthdays with a few cousins, so I grew up with December being full. I’m an immigrant now, so that holiday table was going to get smaller regardless, but that isn’t the reason my family isn’t at my table.
This time of year, the bright lights and sounds of people connecting remind me how disconnected I feel. Even worse, my pain during the holidays feels like proof that I somehow deserve to be alone.
It’s hard to tell the difference between holidays and a fight sometimes.
If loneliness is what greets you right now, please be gentle with yourself. Tell yourself the whole truth. I was told that people didn’t treat me the way they did because of me. In some ways that’s right; people’s response to me is about them. Here’s the truth: I’m Black and trans, and a host of other things that 100 percent, do affect the way that people treat me. And you. But that doesn’t mean you deserve it. It’s hard not to internalize this treatment as your fault if you don’t see it for what it is. If you feel like your life is a brawl, one you didn’t ask for, and can’t retreat from, that’s because it is. I wish I could say different but the way we are treated in this world is not an accident.
If what greets you this holiday is loneliness, understand that you haven’t been left with nothing. You have been left with yourself, and that is a whole lot more than nothing. You have chosen, in the face of isolation and punishment, to be free. You know what your freedom is worth. What you are worth. That scares people. They make freedom dangerous. You did not choose the danger.
Do not let people too afraid to show themselves convince you that you’re nothing. That’s a narrative they have to believe, because then they feel like they aren’t losing anything.
If it feels unfair, it’s because it is. If it feels painful, it’s because it is. Do not downplay the pain.
Allow yourself to hurt. Allow your grief to well until it escapes you in heaving, or shaking limbs, or stillness. Allow it. Read, write, watch, listen. Make space for your community’s hurt, and in turn your own. Do not let hurt close you off. There is a kind of apathy that comes from hopelessness. Resist that. Move towards yourself instead. Right now, when it’s hurting too much to do any of that, just be. That is enough.
For most of us, safety is an illusion. If that makes you angry, good. Anger is also love. Be angry for your community, and yourself. Be angry because it matters that we are hurting. Anger is energy so use it to resist. Use it to love.
It gets less lonely when we learn to make space for other people and ourselves. It gets less lonely when we center ourselves in what connects us: love. Let hurt tender your heart. Refuse to become the thing that cuts off someone else’s being. Recognizing the ways we’ve been hurt helps keep us from repeating it. That’s the spell, the magic. That’s what keeps us.
If all of this is too much, too big to feel right now, then don’t. Trust yourself to know what you need, because you’ve gotten you this far. Trust is a powerful thing. I wrote this letter to tell you what I have trust in: You deserve love, especially your own, because you exist. If that’s true for you, it’s true for me too.
If we both believe, then neither of us are really alone.
Listen to Chinelo’s Letter:
Trust yourself to know what you need, because you’ve gotten you this far.