She is living her best life. I am living mine. It is as though we released each other.
Watching them sweat from my spa on the sidelines, I’d thank my body. On the one hand, so humiliating; on the other, its own defense mechanism against the wretchedness of exercise.
The more I allowed myself to want, the more I realized I wanted. The more I leaned in to my desires, the clearer they became.
I got sober alone, in a village about an hour north of Kampala, Uganda. I had moved there for a job opportunity, naively confident I, as an openly queer person with a mental illness, could flit across the globe like a moth. By the time I quit my job and scheduled an emergency move back to the United States, my drinking was threatening my life.
Listening to a song your crush recommends is a low-stakes window into their identity. It’s a way to get closer to someone, away from them. And isn’t that what a crush is all about? A solitary experience that has everything to do with the other person and at the same time nothing at all?
I decided to meet Syd in Oakland to celebrate my newly healed chest. We hiked out into the Happy Boulders, selected our first climb and immediately took off our shirts. It was glorious, but also terrifying and vulnerable.
“When I first matched with the “Goodbye Horses” fans and asked them about it one said, “that buffalo bill scene is classic” and the other said, “I LOVE the song.” Then they both ghosted.”
“When it first came out I loved the show for its humor, for its raw portrayal of depression and grief, and because, like any rational person, I’m deeply in love with Phoebe Waller-Bridge. But it wasn’t until about a year into my transition that the show started consuming my thoughts.”
In the mirror, I saw a scrawny, hollow-eyed girl dressed in ill-fitting boys’ clothes, a parody of a parody of masculinity. But in the screen, I saw myself made strong, confident, fearless, perfect.
“Towards the end of the night you fall and tear the skin on your knee. But you pop back up and keep skating. You’re relieved. Now that you’ve fallen once you know you’ll be okay.”
Middle school is weird. It was awkward as hell when I was a hormonal, monstrous, uncertain twelve-year-old, and only slightly less so when I went back to teach English. So when I found myself, a 23-year-old rookie teacher, standing in a cafeteria fielding a question about how lesbian sex works from a seventh grader, I can’t say I had any right to be surprised.
“I wanted to be single so I could explore my sexuality. Instead I was exploring other people’s.”
“She would have loved to carry our child. Would have met the body changes with joy. That she was physically barred from being pregnant did not make the situation easier. She hid it well. But now I understood why she looked forward to the birth with such clear-eyed intensity.”
Melanie was born on August 5, 1982. I know this because I fell in love with her in fifth grade.
“Maybe I could teach you how to do that and you could teach me a couple of things I’ve been wonderin’,” I told her. She shook my hand. It was a deal.
Transitioning is stigmatized as betraying our assigned gender. Sometimes, though, it takes two betrayals to get where we need to be.
“Why would I be gentle with myself when I was very clearly doing this thing — like so many other things in my life — wrong? No, I didn’t need gentleness. I needed more self-discipline, more conviction, more toughness. I needed to get my fucking shit together.”
I was only pregnant for seven and a half weeks before my miscarriage. There was no body, no breath; there was no measurable part of a lifetime spent together. I’d only known there was life inside my body for three and half weeks, and yet the experience seems to still have a heartbeat.
We published so much good work this year, and here is a fraction of it we think you will particularly enjoy reading back through!
“We’re in Lancaster County at Erin’s family’s house, surrounded by plastic Bible quiz trophies adorned with gold crosses and family portraits taken at national parks. My bewildered partner comes to me, face slack, and tells me I need to call my mother.”