For the bulk of my young life, my most vivid memories are of me wanting or waiting to die.
Life’s strange that way.
As a kid, I couldn’t imagine growing up. Yes, I wanted to be bigger, and stronger, and more independent. But as I aged, my body changed in ways I didn’t expect — ways which felt wrong, twisted, and diseased.
This body betrayed me. I had the mind of a boy but the body of a girl.
I gained hips. I gained breasts. Nature didn’t care that I was transgender.
Overnight, boys found me something good to look at while I wanted nothing more than to bury myself six feet down in our neighborhood cemetery. …
I am a straight trans man, and in my 28 years of life, I have never, ever dated someone.
You read that right.
I’m nearly 30 years old, and I’ve never been on a date.
I know this might seem like a red flag to prospective future romantic interests, but I swear, I can explain.
For the longest time, I never knew my reality as a trans man. Growing up in the rural South, I never heard of trans. …
The diagnosis took us all by surprise. My sister, a mother of two in her early thirties, had aggressive multiple sclerosis.
While not completely disabling for all of those diagnosed with the disease, MS in its aggressive form quickly took its grip on Rachell. Her legs grew numb. The numbness spread to her waist and down. Her speech is slurred and her vision blurry.
Rachell cannot drive. She cannot work. She cannot make her own meals, take her own showers, or dress. Within a year, my independent sister is now fully dependent on our mother and me.
Rachell’s dream had always been to work in the medical field. She received her medical assistant degree. Her main job for many months was caring for a dying woman with cancer. The hours were full-time, and she enjoyed the work of being able to help someone. Now it's her who needs the help. …
This morning I woke up to a wonderful email from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, which manages our state’s unemployment benefits.
“On Dec. 4, the U.S. Department of Labor informed the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission that Oklahoma no longer meets the requirements for the State Extended Benefits program, which extended unemployment benefits for up to 13 weeks,” the email read. “The program will end on Saturday, Dec. 12.”
This message came after we were first told benefits would end Dec. 26 — the day after Christmas.
Now myself, and thousands of other Americans across the U.S., …
One of the first things my mother said to me when I came out as trans was, “Can’t you just be a boy on the inside and a girl on the outside?
We were headed down the highway to the closest clinic prescribing hormones. An hour-and-a-half away and across state lines, I figured the drive would be a good time to discuss my transness with her. I would have my first testosterone shot that day and brought her along as support.
“Because I’m not a girl,” I remember saying. “I never was.”
I understood Mom’s worries. I had recently applied for a position at the local college. She feared if my transness became noticeable, I wouldn’t get the job — a job I desperately needed and was qualified for (and one I later didn’t get). …
Around age 14, Mom bought me my first desktop computer. Computers were new to me. I didn’t even own a cellphone yet. I thought my oversized Zune MP3 player was high tech. The idea of a computer — and the Internet — overwhelmed my mid-2000s teenage mind.
I busied my time after school with MySpace and Quizilla. I used YouTube to find new music. I watched Evanescence music videos on repeat to soothe my teenage angst. The computer offered an outlet I couldn’t find in my rural Oklahoma life.
And it is through the Internet I discovered my love for writing. …
I remember the day he died. My heart collapsed. My sister fell to the floor. The world crumbled under our feet and the only thing we could manage to say was, “Are you sure it’s him?”
At the time of my brother Jon’s death in 2016, he had been the first immediate family member to die. We were unfamiliar with death until then.
Mom used to say, “We’re lucky. We haven’t had anyone close to us die yet.” Then Jon died. Then Dad died. Then Grandma died.
In a few years’ time, we went from strangers to intimately familiar with Death and all her workings. …
Pyron watched at first light the latest dumping.
TrashBot 101 upheaved its large truck bed back against the pond edge and vomited out an array of spoiled metals and plastics.
From the base of the windmill, Pyron had perfect sight of today’s landfill haul. There were legs and arms, long rusted. The eyes, most plastic or glass, lay open and staring — forever staring. He could almost imagine life in those eyes again, if what he and others like him could be called alive.
Pyron waited for the final drop before he wandered down into the landfill.
The pond had long dried up years ago. Not long after its drying, the people left too, and with it, they left him: another old, aged, rusting bot at wait for his turn to be dumped. …
Mama says I cain’t play with Josh’s dog cause Josh’s dog is mean.
I don’t like Eli. Eli is almost bigger than me. He chews on my shoes. He ate the leg off my red Power Ranger. Josh even let him eat my grilled cheese last night. I told on him, but Mama said it’s OK and made me another. It wasn’t OK, even if Mama said it is.
It’s not OK ever.
Josh likes to bounce Eli’s balls down the hall when I’m doing homework. …
I remember him well. Mr. Dunn, a regular high school substitute at our small rural public high school, loved to brag about his status as a local church pastor.
Mr. Dunn performed weddings and sermons. He loved to make innocent jokes, and most of the time we laughed, while other times the same joke after years of hearing it grew irritating on the years.
Still, the old white-haired gentleman gave off an air of nice. We liked him. Out of the recurring substitutes, Mr. Dunn topped the list on who you wanted to get.
Until one day, Mr. Dunn turned a regular Home Economics class into a full-out church sermon — with the LGBTQ community its target. …