I know things are rough right now. I know that every day carries such an overwhelming feeling of dread and confusion. I know you’re afraid to go to school, that you feel sick every morning and think it’s hopeless, like it’s never going to stop hurting.
I know it seems like the taunts will never stop, the things other students, even teachers, say to you.
Things like “Amazon,” dyke, freak, linebacker, or lezzie. Like they’ll never stop asking you things like, “Why can’t you just stop trying to be different?” or “Why can’t you just fit in?” or “Do you just like pissing people off?” It seems like it will never stop. Like no one sees how sad you are all the time. Or like they do, and just don’t care.
That girl that just spat on you as you walked past the water fountains? The one who likes to slam your locker door against your head when she walks by you? The guy that walks behind you yelling insults and making everyone else laugh? The girls that sneer at you when you walk into the bathroom and then laugh at you? The coach that asked you if you like to check out the other girls in the locker room? The teacher that told you to “work on fitting in” and to “stop going out of your way to be different” when you reported an assault?
None of them know how kind-hearted you are, how much your family loves you, and how much you love them. They don’t know that you’ve known you were different since you were a very small child. They don’t know that you want so badly to be normal, have friends, and be like them.
They don’t know how badly you want to enjoy Friday night football games like they do, and be invited to parties. To walk through the halls smiling and laughing with a group of friends.
They don’t know that you skip lunch and go hungry most days because you’re afraid to sit in the lunchroom with them. Or maybe they do know, and are just that heartless. I don’t want to believe that. I want to believe that deep down they’re decent people who just don’t get it.
These next few years, as hard as they might be for you, will pass quickly. I know you want to end it all right now; I know you feel like it’s the only thing that will stop the pain.
But you have NO idea how wonderful the future is going to be! Not long after you graduate, you’ll move away and find a wonderful community of people who will accept you with open arms. You’ll fit in, you’ll be invited to parties, and you’ll have a big group of friends who’ll laugh with you, not at you.
You will start to recognize yourself in the mirror and know who you are. Sure, you’ll still go through some hard times. But you’ll have so many more good times than bad. You’ll learn you aren’t the only one like you in this world, and that there’s a path to the person you’ve known you were since you were little.
You’ll meet other guys like yourself, and you’ll travel all over the country meeting people like yourself. You’ll become who you were meant to be.
And that little girl you dreamed of when you were little? The one you wished you could meet, and fall in love with? Guess what: she’ll find you. A little later than you liked — but she’ll sweep you off your feet, and you’ll swear you’re caught up in a real life fairy tale.
She’ll bring a whole family with her! You’ll have kids that love and adore you, and make you smile and laugh every day. You’ll have grandkids that you cherish and get to spend so much time with. You’ll be excited for the future, and you’ll look back on these years with a touch of sadness — but more than that, with pride. Pride in yourself for being a survivor, and for not giving up.
You’ll realize that all these things made you stronger. You’ll draw on it for inspiration to help others and educate other people, so that maybe someday, no one else ever needs to write this letter.
You’re going to grow up to be a good man, a very happy man. You’ll inspire others to keep fighting. You’ll be strong enough to stand up and face your detractors and be a leader. You’ll be so thankful that you didn’t allow hate to push you over the edge.
So keep your chin up, Lori. Be proud that you’re being true to yourself instead of trying to fit in. Be proud that you’re finding the strength to be you — the you no one else sees yet. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Because not only will it get better; it will be AMAZING!
From the author: “I knew from the age of about 4 that I was ‘different.’ And while I had a wonderful family and a happy, uneventful early childhood, things changed for me starting in middle school. I was bullied and suicidal all the way through high school.
I began the process of transitioning from female-identifying to male-identifying when I was 28; I am now 51 and living a life I hadn’t thought possible as a young child.
I wrote this letter to show other young people that it does get better. It won’t be easy, and you’ll find pitfalls and challenges along the way. You will have to defend and explain yourself to friends and family. You’ll have to put up with people asking invasive questions, misgendering you, and perhaps even walking away from you. But others are just like you, going through the same thing, and others are waiting to embrace you.“