To the Trans Kids Reading This – Keep Glowing

Full audio recording, by the author of the essay.

Dear trans kid,

If you are reading this, please know that you are enough and perfect in this very moment. You have survived (or almost) another school year in a society full of more obstacles you should have to encounter. Despite this, you are so loved by folks who have never met you but are rooting for you and thinking of you every single day. I know this to be true because I am one of those people.

It is hard to keep track of the amount of transphobic legislation being introduced, debated, and passed around the country (and to be honest – who wants to?). I use the word transphobic instead of anti-trans because I know it is fear that undergirds their hatred of folks like you – like us. Maybe conservative lawmakers like Kim “Fairness = Transphobia” Reynolds, Cheryl “Not My Bathroom” Helmer, and Greg “Give a Snitch a Cookie” Abbott are not afraid of the beautiful 11-year-old trans girl living her best life in Texas, but they are afraid of what we represent. You (we) are the living embodiment of a future of expansive, defiant possibility beyond the rules that make them feel safe and confident in this world. When your hair dangles and your heels clack down the street past them, they scoff in fear of what this world might become if everyone was allowed to shape-shift, to breathe, to strut proudly. Behind their hatred is a fear so ingrained within them that it might be years, decades, or even a lifetime before they are able to name and acknowledge it. Some will never be able to. You are eons beyond what those folks will ever imagine being possible. You are glorious, abundant, light personified.

I know their fear well because I, too, was once afraid. I could tell you about my high school days – when I scoffed at the kids going into Gay-Straight Alliance meetings. When I spoke out against same-sex marriage in class and at lunch. When I came out of the closet only to go back in after my first “girlfriend” broke my heart. When I was so afraid of who I might be, I hated those who dared be and love themselves out loud.

I could tell you about how I tried for years to be “femme” so that people would not think I was one of those lesbians – too masculine, too different, too threatening. I could tell you about the rage I felt when a colleague told me she liked “butches like me.” I AM NOT BUTCH, I yelled until that one day my girlfriend (now wife) asked me why it bothered me so much and I went silent until I cried. I could tell you about how my heart pounded, my skin crawled when a bearded person on T ordered a drink at the bar from behind me. When my fierce childhood friend twirled in his floor-length skirt upon arriving at our lunch date. When I imagined what my life could be if I just let go.

I am one of the lucky ones. I eventually learned to let go. Each day, I am a little freer than the one before. Along the way, I learned that trans kids grow up to be trans adults. I learned that trans adults grow into trans elders. I learned that this world makes too many of us ancestors before we are ready — but on earth, we are brilliant, beautiful, magical, defiant, fierce, joyful, complicated, and ever-expanding. On earth, our existence is resistance.

And yes – you (we) are still here.
You (we) are still here despite fierce transphobia, hatred, and violence.
You (we) are still here despite their best-laid plans for us not to be.

When they take your books, know that our stories and ideas are still there. Kacen, Torrey, Candice, Niko, and Aiden are still writing. Dean, Imara, and Alok are still thinking. We are writing and telling our stories every day.

When they try to stop you from competing, know that we have been and always will be athletes. Schuyler swam and Lia swims. Cece runs. Layshia hoops. Laurel lifts. Chelsea rides. Jaiyah scores.

When they take away your access to care and resources, know that there are people like Chase, Bamby, Jennicet, Raquel, Quentin, and so many others, fighting every single day to get it back. And we will get it back.

When they say you do not belong in schools, know that you belong any and everywhere you want to be. Ki thinks so. So do Owen, Skye, and Ryse. In fact, there’s a whole network of teachers who are there too – fighting and existing alongside you.

If they dim your light, get online and borrow some from Indya and Chella. Throw on Mykki Blanco or Michaela Jae and dance away your sorrows until they become sunrays. Find your why in Anjimile’s voice, because you my dear, are a true maker in this world.

Your people are out there. We are (not) on hormones. We have (not) had gender-affirming surgeries. We are (not) out. We are (not always) comfortable in our skin. We love ourselves fiercely (or at least we are damn sure working on it).

Your people are out there. We are always rooting for you. Always thinking of you. Always wishing you sunshine, fields of lilacs, and cold lemonade on a warm day. We are cheering loudly, pushing you along, lending your bits of bedazzled courage along the way.

Keep going and glowing, trans kid.
We got you.

shea (and the rest of us too)

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shea wesley martin

shea martin (they/them/theirs) is a brilliant, queer, gender-expansive writer raised at the intersection of gospel and go-go (shout out to the DMV). With southern roots and Black queer magic, shea writes nonfiction, fiction, and poetry that smells like your grandmama’s kitchen and sounds like a deep blues moan. Find them dreaming on Twitter.

shea has written 30 articles for us.


  1. if this was years ago, i’d want to print this out and leave a thousand copies at every place kids and teens and grownups occupy // if i were more tech savvy i’d make like a lil qr code in soft trans flag colors (so it’s perhaps only seen by those who need it most? i don’t know how to make them safe) that leads to this letter and put stickers of it all over the place, this is very needed and thank you and just thank you very much

  2. I love this idea of trans kids and adults being the vanguard of new possibilities, of being the future. My grandmother used to speak about their being a third gender in the future, and I see no limits at all. And hope for the acceptance of such.

  3. Shea! This is incredible. I showed this to my two trans kids, after I finished crying. Thank you, thank you. Your writing is helping trans kids. It’s vital. Thank you for this.

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