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For people of all genders, discovering who we are is an act of creation. When we begin to divorce our expectations of ourselves from cisnormative demands, that’s where the real magic happens.

Trans folks often spend years contorting ourselves to fit into a model of what we’re told we should be.

Illustration by The FairyBeam. Available in the Trans is Creation Sticker Pack.

As a young child, I remember falling asleep at night wishing I would wake up a girl. By the time I was a teenager, however, The Others had thoroughly convinced me this wasn’t possible. So instead, I began wishing I would wake up feeling comfortable in the “boy” skin I’d been assigned. With the passing of each day, I grew ever more aware but in denial that I never would. 

So I hid—contorted myself into a cocoon of tears and hid from the world. I began angrily writhing against the prison I’d built for myself, embittered at The Others who had cursed me to this existence. 

I convinced myself I didn’t hate it. Worse still, I grew used to it. The walls weren’t so bad—sure, they kept me in, but they also kept The Others away. The divide meant I couldn’t be touched. It meant no one could ever get close enough to hurt me.

Cat Chrysalis
Illustration by The FairyBeam. Available in Trans Is Creation sticker pack.

My world became small. The Others could not get close enough to hurt me, so they also could not get close enough to care for me, to know me, to love me. I iced out anyone and everyone who tried, too terrified they would see through my walls and break me out. Breaking out was too scary, too risky in a world that told me in no uncertain terms that butterflies weren’t real. 

As I grew, I felt the walls closing in. I felt myself suffocating, my lungs restricted, tearing, wheezing, barely drawing enough air to keep my heart beating. The drumbeat weakened and I was scared, so scared, because I knew I could not live like this forever. But what was the alternative?

I grew larger, began to outgrow the cocoon; the fabric began to tear as my appendages grew too long to be confined by such a flimsy creation. As they burst through, those nearest to me began to notice, began to pry, “is everything alright?” “No, it is not,” I wanted to say, but this I could hardly muster.

One day, suddenly, this thing inside me became too powerful, too large to hold back; I burst through layers of fabric and sinew and blood with an angry jolt, too loud to go unnoticed, too violent to go unaddressed. 

These were the darkest hours. After the initial tear, The Others, now an angry mob, came out in droves with fire and fury to fight against this mythical creature that should not exist, had no right to exist. I was too vulnerable, too weak to fly away with wings I had just myself started to notice, wings that were too drenched, too raw, too tattered to even think to flap.

The first flap felt like an insurmountable obstacle. I first had to trust that my wings were even real, then that they wouldn’t tear, then that they were powerful enough to hold me up, even if just for long enough to flee. And how could I even consider flapping my wings when I knew the moment I did, The Others might shoot me down?

Then one day, I flapped. I was taken aback—did that really just happen? I had to try again just to be sure—so I did. I flapped again. And again—I flapped a hundred times until my wings dried off and I finally began to take flight. 

Just as I did, a gust of wind welled up from nowhere and everywhere all at once. I felt as my body was torn from the sky, violently catapulted backward and downward, slamming with a jolt through tree branches and layers of brush. 

My wings were torn. My wings! I had wings! They were real, but they were torn. If they weren’t real, then they couldn’t be torn. This now I know. 

I realized The Others must know it, too, for they have been so afraid, so fearful for so long. And if there’s one thing certain, it’s that fear runs the deepest when you know something exists but wish it did not.

So butterflies were real. I knew it, and they knew it, too. But what good are wings if I’m unable to soar?

As I lay there, the wind grew cold and harsh and above all, relentless. For years, I didn’t dare take flight lest I be torn from the sky. I repaired my wings in secret, hiding them beneath the very fabric that had once been my prison. I bided my time, carefully and patiently. 

Until one day, I decided to wander east. Tiptoeing at first, then with leaps and bounds large enough my wings caught air. I skittered to a halt as I remembered the prison walls I’d built and left behind, but there was no place for those where I was going. I did not need them anymore. Those walls were my crutch, but I did not need a crutch, for now I had wings. 

Cat-butterfly Hybrid
Illustration by The FairyBeam. Available in Trans Is Creation Sticker Pack.

I suddenly noticed I could not hear the wind. How long had it been since I could hear the wind? How far had I gone? The sound had dissipated while my attention was elsewhere, my attention was forward, upward and onward and the wind was behind. 

But where was I now? I looked to my left, and my right, and then for the first time since leaving I allowed myself to look down. Oh my goodness, where was the ground? 

It was so far below, and I was so high up. Up here it was serene. Up here I found peace among a gentle wind that caressed my wings with rushes of love. The landscape below had transformed into amorphous hills of green and blue as I rose miles above it all. 

How could I have gotten so high up without noticing? I may never know, but I know now I will live here forever.

And so I do. I leave my prison behind and rise above the pain and anguish I had once believed I was condemned to for life. I rise above The Others; I rise above the naysayers, the angry mob, the “butterflies-aren’t-real”-ers, the “you’re a sin”-ers, and the windmakers and I soar.

I take flight. And I never once, not even for a second, think to look back down.

A butterfly with flowers growing out of it.
Illustration by Alyse Ruriani. Available in Trans Is Creation Sticker Pack.

Trans is creation. We make and mold and build ourselves in the vision of who we know ourselves to be. We draw power and knowledge from our transcestors, building networks of care and community support; for we know we are not meant to create in isolation. 

Alone, we are powerful; together, we are an unstoppable tide rising above our oppressors to shape the world, to create better futures where young people of all genders can simply be. Together, we build cathedrals of creation atop the broken ruins of patriarchy. We forge palaces of hope where tomorrow’s youth can simply create, where the love and support of community is not something they fight for, but something they feel and know from the moment they’re born.

Purchase an item from the Trans is Creation collection today. Available exclusively on Trans & Caffeinated.

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