Friday, September 4, 2015

9-4-2015 Entry: An Open Letter to Lila Perry.



Dear Lila,
Hello darling! I don’t know if you will ever read my words but I want you to know you are not alone in this fight against the systemic permissibility of delegitimization of transgender individuals.

First and foremost I want you to know that there are so many of us out in the world who are proud of you and your willingness to stand up for who you are. You should NEVER be forced to use separate accommodations to ease the misplaced fears of bigots and religious fanatics. Your unwillingness to take that “compromise” of a gender neutral bathroom means so much, not only to me, but to others who will follow after you.

I am a transwoman who uses the women’s facilities at my place of employment and out in the world, and I want you to know that I had to fight for that right, just like you are doing. My employer tried to convince me that it might be better for me to travel 10 floors down in my building to use a unisex bathroom rather than use the women's room. I ultimately won my right to use the women's room because I was unwilling to take no for an answer and I was able to appeal to the powers that be to institute a policy of acceptance rather than intolerance. I can promise that you will ultimately win as well.

I can only imagine how painful or upsetting seeing so many students protesting your very existence in their space must have been, but please know that just because there are people who are filled with ignorance, intolerance, and hatred towards transgender people like you and I, there are also so many people filled with love, acceptance, and kindness. I have been fortunate to meet so many of them.

Highschool is so hard already, and to add being openly transgender to the mix makes it even more difficult. I don’t know how you are handling things, but I implore you to keep living, and to keep fighting for your right to be accepted for who you are and your right to self-determine your identity. No one has the right to tell you who you are or aren't, only you can determine that.

So many of our trans youth struggle with depression and often turn to things like drugs, alcohol, or even suicide. I implore you, if you are thinking about turning to any of those things, especially the last, that you stay strong instead. I know it’s easier said than done, but I know a thing or two about turning to those things to deal with the pain of intolerance and the shame people try to use against your gender expression, and they aren’t worth it.

I welcome you to email me to talk any time. I really mean that. That isn't a hollow gesture. I talk with people all around the globe who are transgender or non-binary and have helped so many of them come to better terms with who they are and what they are experiencing. Sometimes you just need someone who understands what it is like, and I can promise that I understand what it’s like to be met with hatred, bigotry, and intolerance for just being who you know yourself to be.

Please stay strong. Please don’t give up. Please don’t allow cowards and bigots to ruin your god-given right to self-determine or to be treated with decency and respect. You matter, you are important, you are brilliant, and you are beautiful, darling. They hate, not because you are wrong or bad, but because they themselves are filled with suffering and fear. Their reaction is a reflection of their own insecurities, not a reflection of your worth. I am proud of you and your resolve to not be treated like a second class citizen.

I hope that my words find you and that you find meaning in them. You are loved and admired, sweetheart, even by those who’ve never met you. Please stay strong and continue to shine!

-Emma

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