Heroes and inspirational people come in many shapes and sizes. They can be anything from a parent to someone who is in, or has served in, the service yet they all have one thing in common and that is the ability to shape who another is without ever realizing it. The one thing about all of them is many never get to see or know what they have done. On a site I use to follow frequently I managed to find a few people who shaped who I was to become. To me they were heroes in the transition realm. They are also regular people and not actors or artists. In a normal realm, these people never know how they help others. Especially a lone person in PA, far away from their inner circle.
I have had the opportunity thank the two largest personal influences in my life outside of my family. I have been able to message them, or get my story to them and this means the world to me. To be able to show appreciation to the ones who have never met me, but changed my life. So I am writing 3 letters today…
I met you through a work related site and though we have never met face to face (can’t wait for October) yet you managed to show me something I had never seen and showed me someone who I never thought I would know. After we became online friends and exchanged pictures so we knew who each other was, I was shocked to remember your face only to realize where I had seen it. Come to find out I had followed your story for a while. I have had the private opportunity to thank you, but this seems more fitting to a person of your caliber.
You have spent many nights messaging me and keeping me on the right path. You have guided me through depression and talked me through many crazy scenarios. I remember you reaching out your hand when you did not know anything about me. You were there when I was shy, timid, and barely there. You helped me through the major stress of changing my name on social media and I will never forget you telling me to “just rip the band-aid off”.
Thank you for your relentless time tolerating me being scared and annoying. For the time you spent when you didn’t really have it to give. Placing you story out there for others to feel they have a chance. Your story has helped many, yet most can not or will not tell you so.
Thank you Zoë, thank you for being there when I was Michael and thank you for helping me to blossom to where I belong. You will never know how much I love you as a friend. Just knowing your there is more than any girl could ever dream of.
Your story has made its mark on many people. I randomly found you on YouTube and seeing your video shocked me into reality. I could not even begin to tell you how many times I watched it and I still remember the inspirational words and stories you told during the video. Showing a story of life and of empowerment. You showed a never give up attitude that I admired and a will to survive that could never be ignored. It also made me realize that everything I had done was not uncommon and you showed me that overcompensation and depression was not just in my head.
You showed that Gender Dysphoria is not just painful, but explain why. You spoke of wanting a “normal life” and thinking that was more important than being true to yourself. Seeing your Trans Am wheels up resonated with me because cars have been a major staple in my will to survive. When I look at your old pictures I see the same thing that I see in my own past life… Emptiness, sorrow, and pain even when you seemed like you had everything.
“It was the real me! Finally I did this for me and not you. It was beautiful” this is what you said in your video. You were not scared anymore and it didn’t matter what anyone said because you felt right. This hit me hard and I remember crying when I watched those words float across my screen. That is when you blew me over, “It wasn’t about passing, it never was”. I realized that I had fallen into a trap of society. I would never be pretty and I would never pass but why did that matter? I am now being the real me with zero regrets. I have you to thank for that. I worried for so long when it just didn’t matter.
Now everyday as I leave my house on my way out into the world I can look in the mirror and smile. I am now who I was always meant to be and not that hollow shell of the person I once was. I now post my story to this page in hopes of helping another just as you have helped me with your video but I doubt I can ever say that I saved a life. You can, and you have.
An open letter to the guys and girls struggling out there,
I have one person in mind to receive this letter but I think it will speak to many.
When we start into this journey we find solace in the last generation and we find people who we can relate to. The above letters are meant not only to thank them, but to show you that any little thing we do matters. I spent many years hiding in the shadows and awash in the Internet trying to find a will or reason to do what I knew I had to. Having children made it much more difficult and being as I love my wife and children deeply I have traveled a very slow road. I have sacrificed because I did not want to hurt anyone but I was also scared, just as I know you are.
I write this to you in the hope that you can find yourself. I also write this to tell you it will be ok. Thanks to others, my road has been easier than theirs and I hope that my journey makes yours easier yet. Don’t worry about looks nor about what others think. Worry about how you feel and what you need because you will find your place just as I have. It may be a month or a year from now but it will come.
Our body is just a vessel but it is who we are that matters most. Be kind, be giving, and do not be afraid of tomorrow as it will always be better than today. A few months ago I would not even wear nail polish for more than a day, yet now I feel naked without it. Capris were once a dream, yet now they are worn at work. Dresses and skirts are now a possibility. I was once a guy named Mike, but now I’m the person I always was inside. You will find her when your ready, or she will find you. One day she may scream out to you until you hear her.
It the end it is not about how you look, but how you feel. I am not pretty, but I have a heart and personality that few can match. I was scared after coming out but after living my life, and after being out at work I can tell you that people can surprise you. I am surprised at the acceptance, the quality of my friendships, and the fact that my family is still whole shows the power of love. You never know until you try and when all the experiences happen to you, all will feel right. Follow your dreams and look to your heroes. Remember that they struggled too and learn from them. They can be your best friends, even if only you know it. What verse will you be in this play of life my friend?
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer: that you are here; that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”
Professor Keating, Dead Poets Society