Fern is a superbly talented, gorgeous artist, nature-enthusiast, thinker, transgender woman, and Work 2 Live graduate. In this post, she shares her story of finding her happiness and living her truth. Don’t forget to read the post she wrote last year: What Does it Mean to Celebrate Pride in 2020?
Trigger warnings in this post for: homophobia, uses of homophobic slurs, suicidal thoughts, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, intense shame (some based in religion), PTSD, child abuse, threats of violence by a parent, mention of murder by a family member, mention of stays on a psychiatric ward, mentions self harm, and mentions of grief.
Why Do I Choose to Celebrate Pride? | A letter from a graduate
I am a young, 23 year old woman, and I am also transgender. I always knew I was one of the girls, and different from all the other boys. I just knew, simple as that. There was a girl inside of me, yet all anyone could see was boy. I just couldn’t understand it! However I knew who I was, and that was enough. Reading books, swimming in the sea pretending to be a mermaid, and adventuring in the forest like a fairy became my safe spaces to express myself, the me inside that no one could see.
When I lived at home with my religious parents, I was taught to feel shame. To love who I wanted to love was a sin, and to express my spirit was an abomination.
I was taught that the Devil was whispering in my ear with every thought of “temptation” that passed through my mind. I was told the only way to eternal happiness was to marry of the opposite sex, have children, and go to church. I know now my parents thought they were trying to protect me from a life they saw as dangerous and sinful. I disagree, but I understand their perspective.
I still remember my mum saying something to me one day “if I ever catch you wearing your sister’s clothing, I’ll castrate you myself.” Little did she know I had been doing that for years, since I was 4 years old. I told her about this one day, and she said she didn’t remember saying it at all. But I did. I remember every time I was called a fag, faggot, ponce, fairy, pervert, and abomination. I remember all the heated arguments we had, the times I had to run away from my dad as he chased me down the street. I remember fearing my family murdering me, I had nightmares for years of being hunted down and killed by my dad.
I remember wanting to kill myself so bad. It was self-consuming. I thought I could never achieve happiness, that I was destined to rot in the ground before my 20th birthday, and that it would be by my own hand. The shame, the self hatred, the rage, the sadness…it was overpowering.
The choice to me was clear: I either stay in the small rural town that didn’t tolerate people like me, and die within the year…or move out to the city and take a risk.
So at 17, I packed up my bags, and left. I was homeless for the first 5 months. I was in a psych ward indefinitely, seeking treatment after attempting suicide for the last time. It was not easy. It was very very difficult. I had so many lessons I had to unlearn, things I had told myself again and again. I had to overcome my fear of the Devil being inside of me. I had to grieve the loss of my family. I struggled with poverty and discrimination, and I struggled against a system that made it hard to become who I am.
I was a child in exile, a self-made orphan, yet I was also a young woman coming into my own.
“I had to heal the hurt and trauma that accompanied my coming out”
It was only through the support of organizations in the city that I was able to survive. I entered into the foster care system, found housing, and began to find my feet. I graduated high school, I went to college and studied languages for a while, and learned to love myself along the way. Thanks to organizations like Zero Ceiling, I was able to get a foot up in life, and find ways to live a life that I loved!
It took me many years to come to a point where I can celebrate who I am, I had to heal the hurt and trauma that accompanied my coming out. Years of therapy, hiking, and healing had to occur before I could even begin to feel some kind of sense of pride.
Now I am a happy, healthy young woman living on a beautiful island in the pacific ocean. I love to hike in the forest and up into the alpine. Identifying trees is a passion of mine, as is picking edible berries and plants. I still love to swim in the ocean and pretend to be a mermaid, and my friends call me a forest nymph often. I have always known who I was and now I am living my best life being who I am! I have grown into an intelligent young lady, with an ever expanding knowledge of the natural world. I have conquered my fear of heights, and can snowboard with confidence. I have healed my relationship with my mother, after years apart. She now calls me Fern, and it means the world to me. Happiness is possible…you have to follow your bliss.
Why do I choose to celebrate pride?
I celebrate pride because it symbolizes the freedom to express my true and authentic self. Who we are is sacred. We should not feel shame for our complexity and beauty! I thank the pioneers who have come thousands of years before us for paving the path for us. Let us remember our trans and gender nonconforming ancestors that are a part of the beautiful tapestry of humanity.
I choose to celebrate pride for all the young people like me who were taught they could never find happiness. You can find happiness, I am the happiest person I know! I celebrate this month because you can still be murdered for being gay. For loving another human. Any time I walk out the door is an act of resistance, and anytime I love another is a blessing for this earth. I celebrate this month because I am one of many colours in the rainbow that make life so beautiful, and so are you. Be you, be free, be happy 🙂
Wishing you a happy solstice season, and a flamboyant pride,