When I get high I let go, not to get away from reality, but to drop back into it.

Samantha Jacobson

I’m 33 now and didn’t know I was trans until I was 28. I mean, I knew something was up, but I didn’t know what it was except that the more visible it got, and I got, the more people hurt me. Through all that abuse, I learned really early on that something about me is bad, and even though I had to for my own safety, I couldn’t actually stop it. To cope, I broke away from it, isolating the hatred I felt into distinct realities I could splinter off and set adrift like icebergs.

Like, when I was in fourth grade, my teacher called a parent/student/teacher conference to talk about my lower-than-expected academic performance, and then listed a series of feminine behaviors that were also somehow linked to my bad grades. It was like I wasn’t paying enough attention to being male and was doing it wrong, just like with my math homework. He picked a few boys out for me and told me he’d keep lowering my marks until I stopped spending lunch with this new girl who was my only friend. I needed to be around boys to be better at being one, and therefore more grounded and more effective as a person.

Of course, I wasn’t actually doing anything wrong. I was in the throes of my first gay crush, and nobody else mattered except the girl with the pretty brown hair who laughed at my dad jokes. I wanted to spend every minute with her and found myself obsessing over it instead of my schoolwork. A lot of people have this experience as a kid, but the conflation of my teacher’s transphobia with his homophobia made it seem impossible that that was what was going on. Even though, in any of my cis-male classmates, it probably would have been celebrated, I had lost touch with reality and needed to be reeled back in.

When I sat down next to Reza at lunch the next day, as instructed, it was like I broke in half. Part of me started flirting with this cute kid and believing this was what I needed to be doing. And the other half that knew what was true — that I had been in the…

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