Just because I value different things now than when I first started out in the workforce, doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my dreams.
I still want to write a memoir. I’ve got it outlined and ready to go, but my own fear and doubt keep me from moving forward. I’m not perfect and my life certainly isn’t.
Sometimes, because my dreams and values have changed over time, I feel like I’m not doing enough for my community anymore. How can I be more involved? How can I give of my time and my resources? I’ll never stop trying to make the world a better place for my LGBT family. I didn’t know a single non-heterosexual, non-cisgender person until I went to college. And suddenly, there were lesbians everywhere! I was in heaven. But I don’t want that experience for other young people. I don’t want them to feel alone.
When I think that I’m not doing enough anymore, as I’ve settled into this comfortable place, I remember that my existence is radical and my happiness — that’s revolutionary.
When 27% of trans young people have attempted to commit suicide and 89% have thought about it, it is revolutionary to be alive and trans. When 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT, in part because of an unsupportive and unhealthy family environment, it is revolutionary to have a good relationship with your family and be trans. When 29% of trans people are living in poverty, and the statistics are significantly worse for trans people of color, it is revolutionary to make a good salary as a trans person. When LGBT people are less likely to be homeowners than cisgender heterosexual people of comparable demographics, and for LGBT people who want to be homeowners but worry they’ll be discriminated against in the buying process, it is revolutionary to own a home and be trans. It is revolutionary to be happy while trans.
Yet here I am.
My happiness looks like watching our two puppies running around our property. It’s a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning on the couch with my wife while watching “This Old House.” It’s preparing a meal for my family. Happiness is fixing up our house. What does your version of happiness look like?
I’m still learning that I don’t need to be the best or the brightest or earn the most money to be worthy of love. I learned that when I lost my job. I’m still learning that my worth as a human is not intrinsically tied to my salary or my ability to be a productive member of society.
I’m still learning that it’s OK to not be liked by everyone.
I’m still learning that just existing as a human who is trans is radical — just going about my daily life, the grocery store, paying bills, having friends, being open about my identity — this is radical. In a world that’s not made for us, that tells us we don’t want you in our restrooms, we don’t want you in our workplace, we don’t want you playing sports, we don’t want you succeeding — I’m a happy trans person, which is the biggest F you I can think of to our society. We exist and it is revolutionary.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel like you aren’t doing enough, you aren’t successful enough, you aren’t worthy, or you don’t deserve a beautiful life. You are worthy. You are deserving. You are beautiful. Being happy about your existence is the best form of advocacy I can think of.
Atticus Ranck (he/him/his pronouns) works in the Education and Training Program of the AIDS Institute for the New York State Department of Health. Atticus identifies as a trans man and he is married to a trans woman. Together, they are raising two puppies and a cat and happily live in rural upstate NY. Previously, he was the Director of Transgender Services at SunServe in Wilton Manors.