Ryan C. Daily
The same year I learned a word for it, I watched planes hit the World Trade Center.
That same year, I tried on my mother's clothes for the first time.
The following year, I learned about a way to change it all.
Then the year after, I started the process of changing all I knew.
The day that I came out to my mother was the same day that one of my aunts passed away. She had been battling cancer for a year. In the week of her death, the cancer quickly spread to her body, turning her insides black. After some debate, my family decided to pull the plug. Then around 11 A.M. on April 15, 2015, she died. Four hours later, I told my mother.
I don't know why I told my mom that day. Did a family tragedy hasten my desire for the world to know? Was it the reminder of mortality? Or was it that I just had found the correct order of words to say?
The last wake that I attended was for a cousin that shared my first name.
My name is a dead person's name. Dead name. A name given to a former self.
What do we call the names that we have now? Alive names? Non-dead name?
Do we share the same fate?
Do we erase a self with words, like we do with dirt and time?
Over time, the body accumulates scars on its own. A cut against a knife, a surgery for something, a tattoo on a 29th birthday.
Over time, the body finds a way, despite gender, of imprinting scars on itself. It finds a way to blister and break, only to eventually heal and fail.
Periodically, I visit the doctor to have my blood drawn. They do this to make sure that the hormones are agreeing with my body that my inners aren't revolting in the process that I have put it through.
The needle doesn't bother me so much as watching the blood escape my body. The way it is slow, at first, but then rushes to fill the empty space in the vial with dark red. Despite knowing what the test is for, I wonder where does it go. Where might my blood travel that I have never been?
I never ask.
The last funeral I attended, I wore all male clothes. This isn't uncommon. Most work days, I wear jeans and a t-shirt. I assume co-workers see my breasts as male breasts, developed by fast food and neglect; not diligence and patience.
However, it increasingly feels strange at moment like these. As if I was telling the world, I'm not ready for the worst.
There are the psychical scars from transitioning too. The stretch marks, cosmetic surgery scars, piercing holes and for some tattoos.
Next year, I plan to have my first cosmetic surgery. My first voluntary scar. As part of making my face more feminine, I will opt for a surgery that will lower my hairline. After the surgery, my new hairline will have a jagged scar running through it. One that I hope to hide with a specific hair part and makeup. Revealing it only to one's that I embrace so closely that the scar will blur and become invisible to both our eyes.
I didn't have emotions about these instances until my transition.
As my body adjusted to pills and pronouns, my emotions matured. I became attached to the world. I cried and laughed more. At night, I would think about the fragility of everything. I would think about how one day, probably soon, my father will die, followed by my mother, and lastly me. I don’t like to think about this, but I think about it often. I think about how in the future someone will have to designate a spot for my body, and there I will remain until everything in this world is gone. The stars, the moon, bad TV shows, and good comics.
It as if womanhood brought with it the pain of the world and the understanding of it too.
There is a shared language between dying and transitioning. People speak in generalities. Entering a new stage in life. Preparing for the next step. Other people come up to you and whisper in your ear, if you need anything, let me know. I'm here.
The first time I took the tiny blue pills, I don't know if I had an ah-ha moment. I placed one under my tongue and let the saliva slowly dissolve it. When I opened my mouth, my tongue and teeth had a bluish tint.
Blue, the color of jeans, the sky and my nails.
Blue Monday: a third Monday in January.
Blue auras symbolize calmness and self.
Blood is blue before oxygen hits it.
Blue is my favorite color, or so I say when rushed.
What is death and transitioning but not a gradual accumulation of these scars?
This past father's day, I almost killed my father.
In the routine of feeding him breakfast, he started to choke and gag.
As my father struggled, I tried to remember safety videos from old jobs. Tilt head, use gravity, scoop out hazard with fingers. Call for help. Scream for help.
With his head resting in my hand, morning oatmeal oozed out of his chipped, stained teeth. He gazed up at me. Blankly. My father hasn't spoken a word in over three years, but if he could, I would imagine that he would just say one word. Why?
When a nurse finally came over to me, my father had spit up enough that he lessened his struggle. The nurse wiped his mouth with a washcloth and took him into the other room to change his clothes.
Then, I was left in the dining hall, alone, to think about all that remained left unsaid.