Life after all, my dear, is a gift if nothing else. Someone (probably my grandmother or great aunt) used to tell me that when I was young, much too young for me to understand what they meant. But I do now, as a 22 year old trans man and I have some thoughts.

Dear friends, what a terrible gift to receive some days. Some days I’m too depressed to leave bed, even when I have work. Some days I’m too anxious to go to the store, even when we desperately need something. Some days I don’t know what would happen if I was accidentally outed, and some days I know all too well what would. A gift? A gag gift mayhaps, one that makes you embarrassed and chuckle all at once. One that you place in your house so you can remember the person who gifted you it fondly. But here I stand today and tell you that life is not a gift.

I once wrote a poem comparing Emily Dickinson’s Hope is the Thing with Feathers with my own observations that Experience is the Thing with Bones, and I’ve been too scared to share it with the world. Why? If life was a gift, wouldn’t I feel free to share what I create, what I breathe life into? But I don’t. I have no feathers, Emily Dickinson, but I have Life. It is not a gift but it is an Experience, and I wish I had understood that sooner.

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