I’ve been called brave a lot in my life. I’ve been called brave lately for starting T, starting medical transition because I am a trans man.
Other reasons i’ve been called brave: I was born with VACteRL Association (It’s an acronym, there is a reason it’s capitalized like that) aka i’m a medical mess. I even got shit wrong with me that don’t fit into vacterl. I was born disabled and in chronic pain and I will die that way. I do not know what a minute without pain is like or what it’s like to be abled.
I’m bisexual and a nonbinary trans man surrounded by people who think that’s a sin, living in a world that wants people like me dead. In particular the trans part.
I’m also surrounded by people who think me being Wiccan is demonic.
I had to recently stop talking to my dad because he refuses to accept me as Tyler, his son.
I’m autistic and have adhd and did not know this until my 30s. I also have anxiety, depression, and ptsd (for multiple reasons, both simple and complex).
I’ve been abused from multiple people. I’ve been used. I’ve been raped. I’ve been in situations where I should be dead.
Hell that last part is my entire life. I was born with vacterl association because of lead where my mom worked, a glass factory, when she was pregnant with me. They tested their employees lead levels once a year (i’m 34 so this was the 80s btw) and it came up when she was 2-3 months pregnant with me. The doctors tested hers and mine. They said she should have been dead or at least a vegetable, and I, or the fetus that became me, should have been a miscarriage. Logically, it makes no sense that I am here. My mom quit working there immediately upon learning that. But it didn’t stop there. There are other situations in my life where I shouldn’t be alive ranging from an abusive boyfriend to a house fire I was in. I was saved by my neighbor with a ladder.
Statistically, people like me often unalive themselves, and i’ve had thoughts of doing just that for over 20 years now. Physically disabled, neurodivergent, queer and trans, mental health issues … I wonder what the statistics would say about me.
Prior to starting T just last month I know that’s where I was headed. I realized I had 2 options. 1 Attempt to be myself, transition, try to live as a trans man, as who I am or 2 suicide. This is me trying to live.
I became a widow in my early 30s. Jan 17th, 2021 my mommom died, during a time me and my husband were moving into our own home and I was also learning i’m autistic, and we moved in late January and February 16th, my husband died. My husband and my mommom were the 2 people in my life who I knew loved me and accepted me as I am. I don’t think my mommom “got” it, but she accepted me. She called me Tyler. I had come out as nonbinary at 30 and socially asked people to use my name Tyler. I talked to my husband about wanting to transition (but medical reasons and disability delayed me starting) and he supported me. Now … I just started a month ago and he’s not here with me. As excited as I am about transitioning … it’s bittersweet. I really, really wish he was here with me. I know he’d be proud of me. I know he’d want me to be happy.
So … after that brief story of my life … how do I feel about being called brave?
Well, I finally know it’s true. I am brave. To go through all that, and to continue to, every single day. To still be here, to still breathe, to exist. Just existing as someone like me is brave. It shouldn’t be, but it is.
I know it’s true. And I appreciate that it’s seen by people. That all this bravery isn’t invisible. Because it’s fucking hard and it hurts. So yea, I know it’s true and I appreciate it when people call me brave … but … yes, there’s a but. But I shouldn’t have to be. I shouldn’t have to be this brave. I shouldn’t have to be brave just to exist. It’s exhausting and it’s painful and no one should have to be brave like this, just to exist as themselves, as myself. Brave just to breathe. I should have a right to exist peacefully as me.
I know i’m far from alone in this. Having to be brave just to exist. If you relate to having to be brave just to exist, you aren’t alone. You shouldn’t have to go through this. This world is deeply fucked up, and I will never fully wrap my head around why. I like to believe I see a glimmer of hope for the future though…
So no, i’m not offended, I know i’m brave and I appreciate it, but what other choice do I have? It’s be brave … or die.
And I don’t want to die without at least trying to be myself. I’d seriously regret not even trying.
I don’t want to die before legally changing my name (i’m currently working on it).
I don’t want to die without trying to actually live.
You can say i’m brave, but i’ll just think, “Yes, but what other choice do I have?”