Oh love, if only you knew what you know now. If I could give you a glimpse into the future, I promise you life would be so much better. You would breathe easier. You would make smarter choices. You would know that everything, everything, is going to be okay. You would know that you would grow up to be a creative, talented, confident person and that you dream big and work hard to achieve all of your dreams.
You would know that your parents never ever stop loving you and eventually, not only do they help pay for your wedding to the woman of your dreams, but they show up too. I know you still believe that if someone asked you right now if your parents would be at your wedding, your first answer would be no. I’m here to tell you that they are. I have pictures to prove it.
Right now, you’re still working towards achieving your dreams, but you’re working hard. If you have a chance to go to school, just do it. It sucks and it’s hard and your math classes won’t be easy, but one of the things you wish you had right now was a degree. Don’t worry though. You’re doing just fine without one.
And remember that woman of your dreams I was telling you about? She’s amazing. Her name is Britany and my god she checks every box off your list. Let me let you in on a little secret though. There’s one box she doesn’t check and it’s the reason you two work so well. I’ll give you a hint: she’s not younger than you. Trust me though. It’s a good thing. You two were made for each other. It’s not always perfect or pretty but the fact that you two have made it through what you have made it through is a huge thing.
And let me tell you something, my sweet Rachel. You will not love your name forever. And that is okay. You don’t like the nicknames everyone is giving you now because they are too girly, too feminine. And you know that your name isn’t the right one either, but it’s your name so you stick with it. But I promise you, someone finally gives you a nickname that sticks. You hold onto it and it becomes you. It makes you stand up a little straighter and lift your chin a little higher. Because the moment someone calls you Ray for the first time, something shifts in you and you allow yourself to sink into the person you are a little bit more and your happiness grows each and every time someone uses it.
But I want to talk to you today about that piece inside of you that you have buried away so deep that you don’t even realize it’s there. That little voice in the back of your head telling you that something is wrong. You know it. You know something isn’t right, but you don’t have the word yet. And when you hear it for the first time, you ignore it. I know. It isn’t the only time you ignore it. You ignore it the second time, and the third time and the hundredth time. You ignore it because gender is a scary thing for you.
I get it, dear Rachel. Gender is still a scary thing for you. Right now, as you write this to yourself, you think how confused you are. You don’t fully understand it. You don’t have all the answers to all your questions. You don’t have all the answers to everyone else’s questions. You are afraid to tell people because you’re now coming out again, all over again. Coming out as gay was one thing. Coming out as non-binary is completely different and even more terrifying.
Maybe it’s because you’ve been through this process. You’ve felt the backlash. You’ve lost people you loved. You’ve been hurt and you don’t want to be hurt again. But let me tell you something, Rachel. It’s going to be okay. The ones who love you? They don’t care. They support you 110%. They do their best to use the right pronouns. They go to the bathroom with you. They stand up for you when people make comments or give you weird looks. You’re not alone in this. You’re never alone in this.
Rachel, you were born in a female presenting body, but you have never fully felt female. You have felt your body betray you over and over and over. When your chest grew. When your period started. Each betrayal hurt more and more and yet here you are, standing strong and learning to love yourself again.
Rachel, you are non-binary. And that’s okay. You don’t fit into a box, you never have. You are still an amazing person, who loves with all their heart, who dreams big (and I mean big), who has the cutest dog in the world, and who is still learning to accept the skin that they’re in. You’re not a boy, you know that. You’ve never wanted to be a boy and you still don’t want to be one. But you’re not a girl either. And it’s okay. You are you. You are exactly who you are and no one can take that away from you. Your wife has been using they/them pronouns for a while now and every time you hear her use them, your heart swells.
Life may be more difficult now. You may get more weird looks. You may lose a few people in your life. You may have people question you with questions you don’t know the answer to. But this is who you are and you have finally accepted that as a fact. It is time to live your true and authentic self.
Rachel, life is going to be okay. Keep your head up and keep moving forward. You’re going to be okay. I promise you. How can I make that promise? Well, because I am you.
Ray Long (they/them/theirs) is just your average, every day lesbian with a ton of ideas floating around in their head. They have done many interesting things in their life including, but not limited to, performed off-Broadway in #LifeLines: Queer Stories of Survival with The TMI Project and Trevor Project, spoken at Trevor Live in LA and NY, designed and ran lights for (Wo)men Rule Broadway, has their own YouTube channel and is the lesbian presence on Gayme On, a podcast about gaming and geek culture from a queer perspective. They are married and has 4 fur babies.