24 hours in the life of a trans writer

05:30 — I’m an early riser, and sometimes I even beat my alarm clock. How much of that is just heightened anxiety and existential dread, I’ll probably never know. The sun hasn’t even risen, but it’s when I do my best work.

05:41 — I’ve brewed my coffee and opened my email. The first message says I should be “interned” at an asylum. I write back, saying I’m flattered he has such confidence in my abilities that I’d qualify for an internship at a psychiatric hospital. It’s a facetious response. The content of his email clearly indicates he meant “interred.” He doesn’t seem to know that interrogating my own sanity has become a daily ritual thanks to a culture of persistent, sustained, and uncoordinated gaslighting directed at people like me. I consider sending him the history of psychiatry’s abuses with trans people and how none of that torture stopped us from being trans. He doesn’t care. He’ll unknowingly comment on another piece of my work under a handle similar to his email, saying the exact same thing.

He isn’t wishing for my health. He’s wishing for my disappearance.

06:24 — I see the Daily Mail has accused me of being a “gender fascist.” Well, not me specifically, but if the Daily Mail was in the habit of dealing in specifics it wouldn’t be in business at all. Whatever. It’s a fact-free hit piece, not that the consumers care. They’re just paying for another pundit to foam at the mouth over some nebulous spectre of slavering trans fuckbeasts.

07:09 — I’m coming out of the shower and squinting at the vestige of my mustache. It’s a stubborn organ, and an excruciatingly painful one to terminate permanently. The nerves in your upper lip are unfathomably sensitive. Try to imagine being electrocuted, burned, and stabbed at the same time, in a location that amplifies the pain tenfold. That’s electrolysis. And it only works one hair follicle at a time. A trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) sends me a message chastising me for removing it because she interprets this as conforming to femininity. A man sends me a message saying that unless I remove it I’ll always look a man.

Neither of them asked if I wanted their opinion in the first place. The opinions are offered anyways.

08:19 — I’m reading the news on my phone during my commute. Another State legislator thinks I’m a sexual predator and that cis students need to be protected from me. “Won’t you think of the needs of the majority?”

Nobody stops to think what “the majority” has done to me. I look at the shank scar a boy gave me on my arm. But I’m the dangerous one. I have to recall some cognitive behavioural therapy to make sure I’m not starting to believe it.

9:55 — I take a moment to realize how absurdly fortunate I am that my only complaint about work is a coworker who eschews lunch in favour of a never-ending conveyor belt of extremely loud and crunchy snacks. I imagine myself snapping like a twig if my day job contributed to my stressors to the same degree that my “me-job” in writing does.

10:15 — I check my messages during my coffee break. In response to a thoroughly researched piece on Bill C-16 that took the sum of maybe 10 hours of work, another man has wanked onto his keyboard via my email in the space of a few seconds: “You’re just crazy. That’s a fact.”

Well done. 130 years of research interrupted briefly by the Nazis has got nothing on you, Dr. PhD in Common Sense.

I take brief consolation knowing only one of us was compensated for their work.

11:37 — The person taking my lunch order misgenders me. I quietly wish people would stop insisting on gendered honorifics to begin with. At this point, I mostly sigh with resignation. She might mean to be polite but she is still trying to force a square through a round hole. Just give me my damn chili.

13:45 — I’m on my second coffee break. One of my writing colleagues sends me a screencap of a tweet. It’s a TERF who, right after saying trans women were a threat to public safety, publicly declared her intention to shoot women like me if we entered the same bathroom as her. I start to wonder if MichFest spent its entire ill-advised existence offering the surgical removal of irony to its attendees.

I don’t live anywhere near this Twitter TERF. I try not to think about what it would be like if I did.

14:17:07 — Coworker: Crunch crunch crunch. 

14:17:12 — Coworker: Crunch crunch crunch crunch.

14:17:16 — Breathe in. Breathe out.

15:02 — My supervisor visits me for the first time in the day. She compliments my outfit. To this day compliments cause an internal Blue Screen of Death in me. “Does not compute.” I assume it’s meant to be an insult since everything else hurled at me is meant to be an insult. That assumption has to be intercepted with more cognitive behavioural therapy. Again, my supervisor is not being a dick, but it’s hard not to interpret everything through that lens when it’s the only thing you know.

16:34 — My friend sends me a text saying Canadian white ethno-nationalists are planning a hate rally. The local Pride centre and the local BLM chapter are teaming up to counter protest. I do a bit of homework on the hate rally and find that they ostensibly are holding it in favour of human rights, which they perceive to be threatened by “Islamization.” I ask them their opinion on Bill C-16, a law that would grant me human rights. They’re against it.

Seems their definition of “human” is a bit narrower than mine.

17:17 — My blog gets referrals from a Reddit thread speculating on my involvement in child trafficking. Because trans, apparently. I am accused of being Jewish despite writing for an atheist network. They accuse me of being fat, which I don’t even have a response to, because seriously, they consider that comparable to child sex trafficking? I consider sending the thread to a psychology student I know who is writing a paper on motivated reasoning.

17:26 — One of my hate letters refers to me in the third person using “it.” I mean, it’s one thing to insist against my wishes on the use of he and him. That mostly just signals to me a petty power play in a refusal to observe basic courtesies and an impending torrential downpour of falsehoods I’ve already debunked. But now I am so unworthy of even forced, obligatory manhood that I am reduced to an inanimate object, an “it.” I suppose these are the people who think “lol ur a dude” is an appropriate response to yet another obituary of a murdered black trans woman.

If I dare to express any kind of anger at the performative sadism at work in such a response, it will be screencapped by TERFs to prove how dangerous I, and by extension all, trans women are. So I swallow my pain, despite the twists it creates in my stomach.

17:37 — “You’re genetically a man. That’s a fact.” And here I used to think gender variance was an esoteric topic, but look at all these self-appointed experts coming out of the woodwork. That peer-reviewed study from the Journal of Facts led by Dr. Common Sense is really, really popular. They’ve got nothing on Dr. Norman Spack or Dr. Diane Ehrensaft. Or Nature, for that matter.

17:57 I see the responses to a thoughtful letter from a mother who is supportive of her gender-questioning child. They accuse of her child abuse. I get a nasty punch in my gut knowing family courts have accepted this argument despite the evidence proving how to kill and torture trans people back into the closet is as high as a mountain. Similarly, we have decades of data showing what actually facilitates the health of gender-questioning youth as they mature, regardless of whether or not they are trans. These supportive mothers (and they’re always mothers) who are losing custody are literally following the medical consensus, and being punished by the courts for doing so.

I get a second punch knowing an unsupportive home environment is one of the strongest predictors of suicidality. That is one hell of a gamble these family court verdicts are taking with a gender-questioning kid.

I wonder if any of them know that false claims of abuse are so common that supportive families of trans and gender-questioning kids have to keep something called a “safe file” to ward off children’s services.

18:29 — I know I’ll lose sleep thinking about the system throwing another trans person against the wall and how almost all of my volunteer functions (peer support group and queer homeless shelter) are about cleaning up after the mess it creates. Kittens wearing shark suits while riding a Roomba offer little relief.

18:59 — I get a rather long and convoluted message that attempts to argue trans people are not being discriminated against because we can still access public accommodations in accordance with our assigned sex at birth. In other words, as long as we pretend we don’t exist to accommodate a scientifically illiterate law, we’re fine. No big deal, guys.

19:17 — A Republican tries to argue to me that returning trans people’s access to public accommodations to a “State’s rights” level will “stop the government from telling me where to pee.” This despite the fact that many State legislatures have loudly and proudly told me where to pee, and it was the Obama administration’s guidance on Title IX that told them to knock it off.

I would laugh, if the argument didn’t make my head hurt.

19:49 — While grocery shopping, I use the women’s washroom. I sit on the toilet. I relieve myself. I flush. I wash my hands. I leave.

Nobody cares.

20:31 — I get another message proclaiming “intersexual ideologies” will not be tolerated in school. I am impressed. This exceeds the metrics by which right and wrong are determined. It’s not right, and it’s also not even wrong.

20:55 — I get a message on my dating app saying I’m a “deceptive faggot” and that I have raped her merely by “misleading” her into finding me attractive. I find this development alarming considering it seems to have occurred entirely without my input.

21:22 — A friend from the local trans feminine support group texts me. “Jane hung herself.”

21:29 – 05:30 — I go to bed, but I don’t sleep.



  1. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Shiv – I’m sorry and thank you, both at once. I can’t even say that I hope Jane survived, though I would wish that if I believed it was both possible and reasonably likely that Jane actually recover. I don’t believe it’s impossible for Jane to recover, either. I just…

    And the random e-mails: there was a time when that didn’t keep me off the internet, but now? I worry for you. I want better for you. I hope that you’re stronger than I am, can keep going for longer than I did. While you don’t owe anything to me or any other specific person, we very much do need voices like yours. I won’t ask you to keep going, but I hope that you do, even knowing what it will cost. Is that selfish? Probably.

    There aren’t good words, but you have my empathy and my sympathy.

  2. invivoMark says

    And you’re just doing all this for the attention, right? For all the privilege that you get being a woman?

    Fuck… even snark feels weak after reading all that. My heart goes out to you, and to all trans people.

  3. dangerousbeans says

    ” interrogating my own sanity has become a daily ritual thanks to a culture of persistent, sustained, and uncoordinated gaslighting directed at people like me”
    i feel this so much :(

    hugs (if wanted)