Face

-Welcome to the promised land-

N.B. It’s quite possible that this needs a ‘trigger warning’ – I don’t know what the etiquette or process around that is; if anyone who knows reads this and thinks YES THIS NEEDS A TRIGGER WARNING, then please do let me know and I’ll change this N.B. to “TRIGGER WARNING.” Thanks.

I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was thirteen. Things had been funky for a while – I ‘hit puberty’ too early – half way between my ninth and tenth birthdays, and it seems I transformed excessively in a short period of time. By the time I was diagnosed I had reached the height that I am now, twelve years later. 

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which is a dickhead way of saying I’ve got chunks of persistent random shit around my ovaries that mess with my hormones and, in turn, my fertility. Oh, and in extreme cases, they can get so big that they can strangle your ovaries, such that they begin to rot inside your body, possibly rupture, cause internal bleeding, and ruin your day.

The random searing pain, weight gain and potential infertility weren’t my main concerns as a kid. My main issue was the sprouting of hairs that other girls my age weren’t getting. Even the ones who eventually went through puberty didn’t seem to have the same problem as me. 

At first, my mum used to wrap the issue in cuteness: “Don’t worry about it, you look like a cute fuzzy bear!” 

Anyone who has spent more than ten seconds with a ten year old knows that that won’t fly in a group of kids at school. It’s hard to say how much of the stigma I constructed in my head and how much of it was from other kids making comments. However, my nickname was definitely not Fuzzy Bear.

By age 11 my mum was helping me use depilatory cream on the majority of my skin. She was trying to help, but the more we used it, the worse it got. “When I did this in my twenties it reduced the amount of regrowth; I just don’t understand it.”

She was scared of waxing and plucking, having never done it before, so it didn’t seem to be an option for me – all the hair on her body was thin and fine and barely noticeable. She had never faced this problem before, and though her intentions were in the right place, she was not equipped to help me. 

Now I was covered in coarse, thick hair and embarrassed to look people in the eye. 

The fantasies started around when I was eleven. We had been through a number of different methods, and had set up a fairly regular weekly ritual. I didn’t want my mother near me anymore, because I was sick of her frustration, and I was ashamed enough as it was. I felt that when she looked at me, she was disappointed that I would never be the pretty daughter she hoped for. 

I don’t remember the first time I started thinking it, but I remember a period of a few months when the idea of picking up a knife and peeling off my skin – my neck, my chin and my cheeks – started to invade my thoughts when in a resting state. I would imagine it vividly – imagine getting used to the sensation, and then it being strictly business. I convinced myself that if I could work up enough momentum to do it, it would solve my problems, that the hair wouldn’t grow back because the skin would be grafted or would form scar tissue. I thought I could deal with scars, but I couldn’t deal with feeling repulsed by myself every week. The cycle seemed endless (and it is, by the way.) 

I never did build up to picking up a knife. I cannot say that I’ve stopped think about it – not for the pain – that’s something that I don’t think I fully understand – but because at least that way, I’ll feel like I’ve tried absolutely everything. 

When I turned twelve we had moved back to England from Saudi Arabia. I felt like there were more options here – and by the time I was fifteen, laser hair removal was new and shiny and a permanent solution. Since then, I have never felt such excitement and anticipation. I began saving up money, my mother agreed to pay for half. A six session cycle of treatment cost over £1000. 

I went for a consultation and the Doctor said: “Yes. You’re a perfect candidate, we could have near semi-permanent removal, and extreme reduction in the worst case.”

What I heard was: “Welcome to the Promised Land.”

For the treatment, they insist you don’t wax or pluck – you come in and they shave your face. I cried, utterly humiliated, the first time they did this. The actual process involves a burning hot laser against your skin, essentially burning the hair follicles at the root.

I expected pain – in fact, I was used to it, and I’ve always had a fairly high tolerance to it. I hadn’t listened to the Doctor’s explanation of the process before it went ahead. I was not expecting the burning sensation to be so close to an actual burning sensation. As in, pin-points of flame, in your flesh, on each individual follicle, filling your skull with searing white pain. 

After the first hour-long session, my skin had swollen and my eyes seemed hollowed and pushed back into my saggy, red face. I sat in the bathroom and splashed cold water in the hopes it would help relieve the discomfort, but that served only to wash the aloe ‘cooling cream’ from my skin. It was a sickly hot July, but I carried my trusty lower-face-hiding scarf with me and wrapped myself up and begun the hour and forty five minute journey home on the tube. 

I went back for three more sessions. I didn’t feel much change in between the treatments and though I had taken industrial strength pain killers the second and third times, I did not have the strength to carry on. I made excuses the whole way there – as if I had forgotten the purpose of the treatment – ‘I can get over this,’ ‘I can accept my body for the way it is,’ ‘It’s a syndrome for fuck’s sake, it’s not your fault!’ – but I made it into the clinic. Before the session I sat in the waiting room, my whole body weighed down with dread. I stood up and walked out. I’m sure they called my name and wondered if they’d imagined me walking in and saying I was there. I couldn’t do it. 

The persistent dreams of picking up the knife came back to me for a brief period then. I don’t know what happened after that – perhaps some more maturity, perhaps I convinced myself with my own posturing – but I learned not to look myself in the eye every week, and it made the whole thing a lot more bearable. While I was at university, my internal world stopped focussing on this particular issue – I just got on with it. 

Now that I’m a bit older, the other symptoms of PCOS have begun to play on my mind – particularly potential infertility. Of course it has; it’s far more important. A few years ago I had a large cyst removed that was cutting off blood to my left ovary. They made two tiny scars – one on my right side and one in my belly button, and swum in to save me with a camera, a blade and a vacuum. It was successful. The cyst was the size of a grapefruit, and was a dermoid cyst – it had little teeth and hairs growing out of it. Don’t ask me, I’m not a doctor – I just produce nightmares with my body. 

Here’s the thing. I know I want kids – I know it’s an issue I’m going to have to face, and fortunately I know I won’t be alone for that. But this thing with the hair, man, it doesn’t go away. It’s an endless cycle, and it’s something that’s incredibly taboo in most cultures. It’s ridiculed universally, and some women who go through menopause then make self deprecating jokes about it. But I’ve been tackling this fun-bag since I was 9. This is one I still haven’t figured out internally. I like myself, a lot. I think I’m a good person, that I’m loving and deserve to be loved, that I’ll have a forever-partner that finds me attractive and loves me. It’s just these moments, once in a while, when you catch your eye in the mirror, and somehow you’re a kid – you’re still Fuzzy Bear. Except, that was never really your nickname. 


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What’s In A Name?

-...enjoy beautiful jelly and ice cream filled tales when the shit is taking a break.-

I get a lot of questions about my name, because it’s an unusual one. My first name, Bisha, was picked off of a flight plan. My grandfather was a pilot in what was once the Royal Indian Air Force under the old empire and then the Pakistani Air Force after partition. He died in a bad landing after a rather mundane, routine flight. His younger brother, who fiddled with planes and eventually worked as a flight engineer, married his widow and became my step-grandfather, and the only grandfather I would know. When I was born, the choice of name was supposed to go to my father, but he wasn’t about, so my grandfather was given the task and since I hail from incredibly creative stock, he looked at his flight plan and picked a ‘feminine sounding’ city.

When I complained that they had nine months to come up with a name, and that their methodology seemed a bit laissez faire, I was always told: “Aah, but Bisha is famed for its dates! Really. I hear they grow delicious dates.”

I’ve never run into much trouble explaining away that part of my name. I’ll just say ‘It’s an Arabic name,” if I’m feeling lazy, or I’ll say, “It’s like being called Paris, or Berlin, or London, but, you know, foreign.” My dad came about in time to give me my middle name, Kanval, which means lotus. So that’s nice.

It’s my last name that fills me with dread. It’s Ali. Three little letters! That’s all. Yet it’s loaded with connotations and a check-list of assumptions. Yes, it’s a Muslim name. And of course I see how easy it is to put that together with my race, and apply a bunch of stereotypes and nuggets of genuine knowledge as a framework for understanding what my life may or may not have been like, and who I may or may not be. I get it. I do it too.

When I was at school, I would confide in my friend Elizabeth about how it felt to balance a clash between my parent’s beliefs about right and wrong with my own, and how and why that colours my interactions and what I’m comfortable talking about and doing. That even by telling her about my misgivings, I felt at risk and exposed. I didn’t have the words for it at the time (and I barely have the right ones now,) but I was trying to express a fear for my well-being if I were honest with those closest to me about who I am, and how I want to live.

What I hadn’t factored in was a response along the lines of “Your parents are just strict and can’t let go — when you get older they’ll get more used to it and it will be fine. All parents are like that. It’s all a bit childish that you’re not being honest, you should just do what you want. Plus you don’t cover your hair so they can’t be that strict.” Not surprisingly, I talked about these experiences — the compromises, the white lies and the rules I’ve had to bend to make living easier — a lot less as I came up against this thinking more and more.

Actively coming out as a non-believer when you’ve been raised in an environment like the one I was raised in is heart breaking at best and incredibly dangerous at worst. And the fun part is, you never know where on that spectrum you sit until it’s too late. Some people in that situation know from a very young age that if they want to be happy, at some point they will have to destroy the relationships that were all they knew for most of their lives. As a kid, it’s hard to explain to your peers that participating, dressing and hanging out in a way that’s ‘normal’ to them, is a gut-twisting, guilt-ridden and terrifying juggling act to you. It feels embarrassing and painful to express it as an adult.

I was amazed when my second cousin came to visit one day. She wore skirts with tights (something I’ve only been able to ‘get away with’ out of school uniform in my twenties,) and sleeveless tops — I still don’t wear sleeveless tops. In fact, I’ve only once worn one outside of my bedroom. It’s so ingrained in me now, I have no idea how I’d feel comfortable leaving the house in one. I’ve also never worn a skirt with my legs uncovered, again, aside from a school uniform. There she was, in a skirt and tights and a sleeveless top. And yet I had always been taught to revere her and her immediate family for being of a more elite caste than ours — and therefore, shouldn’t they be more pious and religious than us? Shouldn’t her family be more strict, more demanding and more traditional? I had so many questions that I didn’t dare to ask. I wasn’t able to process the discrepancy, and in my childish eyes, the absolute injustice of it — why didn’t she have to ‘suffer’ too?

I didn’t have the tools to understand that we didn’t share the same ‘culture’ or ‘traditions’ or ‘religion,’ and that these are just blanket labels for ease of discussion. It feels like it’s just too much work to dig deeper than those terms, but here we are, sharing a name, a race, a culture, a religion, and a rather charming one-sided dimple, with incredibly divergent narratives.

I will never know what it’s like to be an individual black man, or what it’s like to be an individual white woman, or to be a second generation immigrant from Spain, or a Lebanese fortune teller, or a man-with-a-van, or a dude who works at McDonald’s his whole life and one day dies in the drive-thru booth, uttering “Can I take your order,” one last time before passing into sweet, sweet oblivion. I can read personal accounts, read history, read context, I can sympathise with all my heart, but I will never be able to experience one other individual’s struggle and story.

I know I have a load of assumptions in my head but I’m working on flushing them out and listening, rather than nodding my head knowingly, or telling a story about a guy I knew who worked at KFC one time, and you guys must be totally alike right? I’m doing my best to stop thinking ‘Oh, I got it.” Because I haven’t, I haven’t got your story. But I want to know it, and I want to be with you in your shittiness and say “I hear you dude, that sucks. Let’s talk about it.”

I guess what I’m trying terribly hard to express is that, regardless of colour or creed or lack thereof, we all suffer our individual little shitty tales — and hopefully enjoy beautiful jelly and ice cream filled tales when the shit is taking a break. So maybe let’s not be lazy and assume they’re all the same and clumped together, and every brown person is gonna have an arranged marriage, and every person with the second name Ali shares the same beliefs as a boxing legend, or had to go through x parameters and types of shit. Because my shit is at least a little bit different from yours, and yours is a little different from everyone else’s — and there’s something kinda magical about that.

Originally posted on Medium.

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First Impressions

-I knew I was trying too hard- (1)

When I was 15 I lied to my parents and told them that on Valentine’s Day the ‘girls’ and I were doing an anti-valentine’s-day party. Instead, I told not a living soul, and I met up with a guy off the internet for a non-date, that was definitely a ‘date’ in my book. This was before the age of Tinder and eHarmony. I met this guy on a video gaming forum (I didn’t play that many video games,) and we chatted for hours on MSN. Or was it AOL Instant Messenger? I don’t recall.

I wore heels for the first (and last) time, I brushed my hair (which I was never allowed to wear down — from age 0 — 16, my hair was in a braid, every, single, day.) I arrived at the station, a brown snowball on four inch heels, wearing a pair of jeans (my first pair of jeans!) and an ugly leather jacket I bought on the school trip to Barcelona. Even I knew I was trying too hard.

We said we’d meet under the clock at Waterloo station, and I said I’d be wearing my leather jacket and a black scarf. I got there an hour and a half early, and read on a bench under the clock. The hour went by. Nothing. I started worrying, then, about people off the internet — they’re weird, right? But how weird could he be? I’m a person off the internet. I’m normal.

We had ‘flirted,’ I think, before we met that day. There was tension here. I had decided there was tension. A sexy tension. That’s what the winky smiley face is for.

Half an hour late, he is here, I think. He’s walking towards me, in a brown suede jacket over jeans, his hair is dark, like it is in the picture, he has a kind face, I think I thought. He’s looking for someone and I immediately know he’s hoping the someone he’s looking for is not me. Realising it’s too late to turn back, he nods at me and sticks out his hand.

I am chatty and effervescent and am full of bubbles and kindness. He’s not on board. I felt my resolve to make this a positive experience crumble. He may be repulsed by me, but at least he isn’t an old gross dude, I thought. At least he’s vaguely my age.

He’s come in from Colchester. He said this was a date, this morning, on MSN (or AOLIM) so I asked him if he has anything planned.

“Nope.”

“Well, what do you like to do?”

I know London. I’m a Londoner! I can show him things. I’ll show him that this is my world. This is my London. I know he likes music. I know where there are places. Places with music! He’ll be impressed with all the things I know and then he’ll want to kiss me. But I won’t want to kiss him, because I have decided, based on his immediate reaction to me, that I am far too cool and important for him. Now it’s a battle of who has most worth. I can win this. Easy.

“I don’t know, I don’t have a lot of money.” He seems resistant. He has enough money to come to London from Colchester, but he didn’t bring money to do anything? Bullshit.

“Well, why don’t we go for a walk first and then make a plan?” I love plans.

I didn’t really want to walk. My feet don’t belong in heels. I found out two years later that my left foot is smaller than my right foot, which is why my feet always hurt and one foot always cramped — my shoes never fit. Now I buy a size up and the world is a less brutal place.

“Yeah, OK.”

I take him along my favourite path down the South Bank, past the blue-fairylit trees. We talk about bands he likes. I tell him I’m going to go see Green Day with the Sarah and the twins and he is unmoved, even though I know they’re his favourite band. I don’t know what’s put him off me for sure, but I’m convinced it’s that I’m fatter than he thought.

“Want to stop in a pub for a drink?”

“No, I don’t have any money.”

“I’ll buy you a drink.”

“No, that’s OK.”

I know what it is. He took one look at my fat, fat face and wanted to turn around. His Englishness compelled him to stay. The silence between us grows and grows until it’s heaving and wheezing. I imagine the silence is a massive pile of my cellulite, jiggling grotesquely under fluorescent lights. He is uncomfortable and won’t look at it but soldiers on. We make it up to the Tate Modern. The river is beautiful but when I look at it a voice in my head says I should throw my fat fat face and my fat fat body into it and get swallowed up in its inky grossness. I don’t, but I visualise it, and I laugh, to myself. Now he thinks I’m unhinged.

We get to the Tate Modern, and I feel his eyes on me, and I hear a voice in his head saying ’steel yourself and do it you weak piece of shit.’ And he does it. We stop, and with the towers staring down at us, he finally speaks up.

“I should probably head back to Colchester. This has been fun.”

It’s been twenty minutes.

“Yeah, think you can find your own way back to the station?”

“Yup no problem.”

“OK, bye.”

“Bye.”

He turns around and walks back the way we came. He takes my self esteem with him, like a scrap of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of his shoe. I sit down outside the Tate and take off my heels. I stay there, in the cold, for two hours, making a list of all his worst qualities. Have you heard of mints, buddy? They’re refreshing. His brown jacket was suede! What fifteen year old boys of worth are wearing suede? He has a mean spirit, I decided. I waited until the swelling in my right foot subsided, and followed in his footsteps back to Waterloo.

When I got home, I told my parents the party was boring, I just wanted to come home and read. I cried for a few hours with my feet in a scalding hot bath.

A few months later, at two am, reading the forums, I received a message, from Phil. It read:

“Sorry bit drunk soooooo sorry in advance but just wanted to say, u r way more indian looking than i expected.”

Oh. That was it.

Originally posted on Medium

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Tipping Point

-I did what I pledged I would never do.-

I write this eight days after the inciting incident. I sat at my usual petrol station. I’d just bought a pack of wine gums, and I wanted to put them in my mouth as quickly as possible. In the kiosk, as I am used to at this, my local station, the gentleman at the till remarked on my appearance. My driver’s license happened to be on show — he kindly pointed out how pretty I was and asked ‘just how old is this photo?’

I didn’t care — I had wine gums. I get back to my car, glad that this time the other guy wasn’t at the till — the guy who usually asks me if I’m still unmarried. I wonder if he asked any of the four other customers with penises the same question.

The forecourt isn’t busy, traffic is light, no one’s behind me. Plenty of time to have a wine gum or two, put my seatbelt on and continue my quest across London to a gig. A car pulls up beside me, with two young men, who immediately begin leering at me, smiling, waving, staring, shouting out. I can’t make out what they’re hearing — I’m playing Rufus Wainwright too loudly and it’s entertaining watching them mime along. I give them a dismissive look, that in my head says “fuck off,” but in their heads says “please shout and stare some more.” I turn away, hoping they’ve stopped, suddenly self conscious about my goddamn wine gums. I notice that they continue. And continue. And continue.

Usually, I would drive away, shake my head, be a little mad, feel unsettled, then get on with my day. I’m a woman. I can take it like a woman, damn it. Then I remembered the gig I did last year at a rowdy lesbian club in Soho. Man, it was a good gig. I had crazy fun. It was one of those lovely moments in performing when the audience is on board with you, they get what you’re about, they understand the core of where your humour is coming from and want to hear more. These are rare. It was awesome. I stuck around til the end of the night, and a gentleman from the audience struck up a conversation. The MC had mentioned that I was in the final of a comedy competition, and he brought it up, without provocation.

“You know, you’re good, but you’re never gonna win.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, you’re not conventional enough. Your material, who you are, how you look.”

“OK.”

“I mean, you don’t look bad, you’re just not conventionally attractive. You’re not good looking in a mainstream way. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would. I definitely would. And I noticed you have a great ass. But that ass won’t win you the competition.”

“OK.”

I went to leave. There were a bunch of audience members who had come up and said nice, non-invasive things that didn’t make my skin crawl. Some invited me outside for some smokes, and one asked me, politely, with clarity and restraint, if I found her attractive, and if I would be up for coming back to her place for sex and gear. It’s not really my thing, but the exchange felt non-aggressive, non-predatory, genuine, and one borne of some kind of weird respect. When I turned her down and said she seemed lovely, but I’m not really sexually attracted to women, and also, what is gear; (cocaine, naive young girl at comedy club, cocaine,) she explained what she meant, was kind, thanked me again for the performance, introduced me to her friends, we all chatted, it was lovely.

I went back inside to say good night to the promoters and thank them for having me on. My ass-fan was still there. He came up to say thanks again, good night, and as I turned to leave, grabbed the afore mentioned ass. I was embarrassed and shocked, and left, quickly. Doing well at a gig makes you feel buzzy and yummy about yourself, but this one, solitary human managed to smack that feeling right out of my asshole.

Anyway, that was then, this is now. These boys are still leering at me over a petrol pump. I roll down my window, and in my head I’m still asking myself “Why am I doing this?”

Then I remember that one time a few months ago I was driving back from my other half’s place. I was alone, at midnight, trundling along in my mini in Peckham, my windows down because my air conditioning is a vicious piece of shit. I sat at a red light, jamming to Boston, when a man turns the corner on his bicycle, rides up to my car, grabs the door frame, leans in close and blows a smooch into my face. His lips don’t make contact with my skin, all I got was the caress of his breath. He drove on. I rolled up my windows with desperate fury and made my way home in the cloying heat.

A few weeks later, on the same journey home, this time around one am and nearer to where I live, two men in a car were driving incredibly dangerously. They tailgated me, overtook me and broke hard, forcing me to break and change direction. There was little place else to go. Eventually they forced me into the side of the road, pulled up beside me and shouted “Pull over properly so we can teach you a lesson.” They laughed like Disney villains and one of them stuck his tongue out in a way that implied they meant more than a quick lesson in quantum physics. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a great driver, pulled out quick and lost them by the time I got to my door.

Those are some of the reasons why I did what I did at the inciting incident. Reader, I said something. With my actual mouth.

As the window went down, my confidence grew. It’s the middle of the day, there’s a petrol pump between us, my foot’s on the accelerator, I am Bonnie, I am Clyde.

“Hey! What do you want?” I asked.

“What’s your name sweetheart?”

“Why are you asking me?”

“Come on just wanna get to know you.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean?”

“WHY? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?”

“Hey we just wanna make friends.”

“There are a bunch of people here on this forecourt. I’m the only woman, by myself. Why are you doing this?”

I thought, if I force them into introspection, they might change. They might not leer at women by themselves, or in groups, or in general. They might think, ‘hey, that’s another human being, just like me! Man would it suck if two random people came over and kept staring at us, shouting at us, and didn’t stop what they were doing even though we made it clear that their attention was making us uncomfortable.’

Alas, I had not made my point. In a moment of reactionary frustration, I did what I pledged I would never do.

“If I was your mother, and two guys did what you two are doing, what would you think?”

“Don’t talk about my mother!”

Uh oh. I hit a soft spot. A woman he actually respects and cares about. It’s not his fault, this kid can’t make logical extrapolations!

“Why don’t you just think about how you treat people?”

His response set off a flame in me that was particularly dangerous at a petrol station. He asked, with genuine hurt, confusion and anger:

“Why are you being so rude?”

My brain exploded. For a moment, I was outside of my body, and I was hysterical and I screamed in his face. Not words, a growl of hysteria. They were laughing, but so was I, from outside of my body. There I was, Rufus in the background, screaming noises in frustration. I didn’t realise I was so upset until then.

Today I told my mum about what happened. I said I have to speak up for myself more, when it’s safe, because who else is going to stand up for me? And because I can, when so many people — men and women — suffer similar and much worse, but can’t stand up for themselves. So I have to do it a little bit every time, so that I don’t feel like a piece of shit after these little exchanges.

She disagreed. This made me more mad.

“Bisha, when you were really young, I got my first ever new car. Your Dad and me were so proud of it. I had always wanted a new car. For some stupid reason, it meant something to us. When we were working terrible, soulless jobs, when we were close to the bread-line, when we were supporting our parents for years, we always thought we’d be finished struggling on the day we could get a new car.

“The day I bought it, I took you for a drive. It was summer, beautiful sunshine, dry weather, we rode with the windows down. At a traffic light, just on the Great West Road, a woman with her family pulled up beside us. She looked over at us, spat in our car, shouted “Paki family!” and drove off. I was ashamed. Ashamed of my colour, ashamed of her spit on the corner of the flower-print dress I had sewn for you, ashamed that I couldn’t say anything back, ashamed that I was powerless, ashamed of the car we had dreamed of. I felt her hate inside me and I still feel it now — and that’s my fault. You have to let the hate and cruelty of others go. If you hold onto it, you’ll be telling your daughter these stories when you’re 60, and those people’s hate will sit heavy on you, like it still sits on me.”

We argued for a while, back and forth, because I still believe that silence or brushing it off, while it feels like the only option, will hinder and not help. We shouldn’t have to say anything. It sucks that we gotta tell people “Hey man, don’t touch my ass unless I say you can touch my ass,” but if I could go back to that moment, I would ask him why he felt entitled to grab my ass.

My stories are a tiny fleck of shit in the oceanic sewers of abuse that people are on the receiving end of. The inciting incident was the tipping point for me — it’s made me understand that if I’m gonna get through life and stuff, I have to speak up for myself. Mostly, cause it feels good. It feels good to say “Don’t do that, it makes humans feel sad,” and it feels good to say “I don’t like when you treat me differently because I don’t have the same genitals as you.” It partly alleviates the crushing smallness that is the result of this behaviour.

I wish my mum could experience speaking up for herself. I wish that years of negativity and an environment that left her voiceless hadn’t stopped her from saying, “Hey, you have a beautiful family that deserves respect. We’re humans too,” or, you know, in my own words: “Leave my family alone ya racist asshole.”

Originally posted on Medium.

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