I am alive. Not solely existing or struggling, I thrive.
I wish I could show you the smile I wear when I write these words. How bright it is when I love what I see in the mirror. I feel good in my body and when I'm complimented, I get excited. Body dysphoria no longer causes me to shrink away from kind words. I am as I was always meant to be. I am true.
Best believe I'm doing everything I can to thrive in that truth too! In the last two months since top surgery, I've slept on Caribbean beaches, had my wife push me around on floaties (I couldn't submerge per doctor's orders), hiked mountains (very against doctor's orders), and served as a panelist at a medical conference to improve healthcare for trans*and nonbinary communities. I was published for the second time and now I am dedicating my weekends to finishing my fifth novel. I've found some new digs too. How cute am I in this 80s sweater?
This joy was hard won and I won't allow anyone to carve it out of me. But I also don't want to give the false impression that everything is/went perfect. I got aggressively misgendered ON THE DAY OF my surgery, despite repeated corrections and despite the fact that the hospital was supposed to provide trans-responsive care. I am more than pleased that my depression is in remission (I named that bitch Regina George. She's a mean girl). Yet, I've also had a tough time maintaining energy. My friends told me, 'one week per hour of anesthesia', meaning I needed one week of recovery per every hour I was in surgery. They were not exaggerating. I've never been more tired! Not even when Regina got sassy. Consequently, I had to pull back on my goal of opening a private practice and I'm not sure when I can resume that pursuit. The pain post op was often hard to manage and I definitely got an infection. Some of my scars stretched because I'm stubborn. And all of this went on while I mourned the travesty that is American Dirt , and cried over the regressive, life-threatening bills submitted in my state and across the country.
My happiness exists within larger systems. There's a lot more work to be done. But I am flexing every bit of my optional optimism when I choose to believe things can continue to improve. I have proof it can happen. My 2020 is already vastly better than my 2019. And now that I have greater peace of mind, my resolve to continue advocating for my communities is strengthened. Even when I was worn out and depressed, I changed whole systems to gain access to my surgery. Imagine what I can do now that I've got more spoons.
I thank you for reading this far and for sharing in my journey. The support I've received from loved ones, friends, and strangers has made these victories sweeter. I ask now that you continue to find ways to be an ally to those around you. Keep reading/supporting content created and produced by trans* and nonbinary people, donate to organizations fighting for equality (click on the hyperlinks provided above), write or call your local representatives if anti-trans and anti-queer bills are submitted in your state. Read Luis Alberto Urrea instead of Jeanine Cummins. Address your friends and family with an invitation to dialogue when they veer off into biased actions and language. Do what you can where you are. Because if we all take small steps, soon enough we'll hit full strides together.
"Let us transform together, body, into who we were destined to be."
--D.L. Cordero on April 11th, 2019