Writing about my gender is harder than I expected. It feels vulnerable, like a fire by the ocean at low tide. Only I am the fire and something else is the ocean. I am not taking my eyes off of that ocean because I am waiting for the day it tries to extinguish me. So I feel that being a small fire is safer.

Only, small fires are weak, easily extinguishable. I am not weak, I am strong, and it is hard to be small, to pretend. So I won’t.

So I am a big fire by the ocean, not raging, but I have it in me to be a big enough fire that the ocean will go somewhere else. So I write today because I am inspired.

Someone who has never met me refers to me as “her” and “she”, that feels good and being called Ruth and Ruthie has become a moment in which my heart beats just a little faster. I come alive. I like that.

I still struggle with facial hair, stuff pisses me off. I shave three ways then put Vaseline under my chin to stop the bleeding twice a day so that even though my skin is dark where hair is still threatening, my skin is smooth. I will bleed for that.

When I couple a smooth face with a 6B pencil I grind into the sink and line my lower eyelid with a faint grey line and practice applying eye shadow in various places to see which one makes me look prettier, despite my dark lip and dusty chin. One day I will rid myself of such problems, until then I face the world as I am because I have no other choice.

It feels like I’m never going to get out of prison. I kind of feel that because when I came out as trans they made me feel like I made a choice to never get out. The ocean roared that day and suddenly I was trying to hide from my past, I might be a threat. As opposed to she is finally being genuinely herself. I take responsibility, completely, for what I did and have received over 800 hours of various forms of counseling, and I am not done.

Because I say I am a woman, suddenly I am a threat. But as long as I am “normal” and a man, I am a small fire that the ocean can extinguish quickly if need be. As a woman I am a threat, as a man I am easy to understand and manipulate. As a woman I am a big fire, as a man I am a small fire. Only, I don’t know why.

Maybe its not such a big deal, maybe the hostility I perceive is only that, perception. Maybe my fire is afraid of the ocean and the ocean only wants to help. Maybe the ocean likes my fire. When it draws near its to admire my fire, not to extinguish me, but to be near it. Maybe. It doesn’t feel like that. It feels like if so many weren’t watching the ocean would have drown me already.

But, Ocean, don’t you know that inside of you lives beauty? Don’t you know that you need a fire on your shores to illuminate your magnificence, your seeming infinence?

No need to extinguish me Ocean. No need. I help make you look pretty.

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With Love
Jeff aka Ruthie Utnage