Delicate thorns: On Being an Ally to the Trans People in Your Lives

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There are people and forces in my life right now that were stitched together with the purest and most ravishing of all the magicks.

They are beyond important to me.

They are necessary if I am to prosper in this world as a trans woman.

I am talking about my allies. My comrades. My friends.  My bb*~dollz*~,’.`;<3

But more specifically, I am speaking of their magick*~ of all those rabbit-less-ly flickering fires in their souls, d’aww*~,’.`;<3—of the kinds of cheek kisses and comforting stares that are always welling up into accidental chandelier shapes and unfurling in streams of colored sands in their chests when I am not paying close enough attention.

I adore them*~,’.`;<3

My mind has never been so flooded with wonder.

And it’s wild. Because the last year should have snapped me like a twiggy little thumb and a twiggy little middle finger.

Like twiggy little toothpicks tied in knots.

It didn’t do that.

Not one bit.

This is because of the mystic, magick peoples who populate my world.

In the last several months, I wiped the tears from a close friend’s cheek while whispering that it would get better. I was similarly held tight as my own tears were wiped away. I both gave and was given the space to shudder; to tremble in the softest mouth sounds of frayed silks and delicate thorns. Of terrible hands and burning eyes. I was given the space to speak until words no longer formed. Until tears no longer flowed. And until the pain no longer twisted in my mind.

For a while at least.

In that moment, I felt as if I was understood in a way that no one has ever understood me in my entire life.

It was like our souls were touching.  

I remember thinking to myself that this is what an ally is—what a friend is, or ought to be; someone who is willing to stand on the front lines of your own mind and ward off the encroaching darkness when you no longer have the strength to lift your arms. An ally is someone who will wait there with you for as long as it takes…

As…

long…

as…

it…

takes…

I could not be more grateful to have such energies in my life.

For trans persons, this kind of release is beyond vital. Because of what we are asked to endure. Because it is most commonly endured alone. Because it is impossible to endure alone.

It occurs to me that this is not the case for most or even many. I believe this is a rare kind of thing. And so there is something that I must tell you. Something very important.

Every trans person I know is struggling in this very second.

Every trans person you know is struggling in this very second.

Every trans person you know needs support in this very second.

And they probably will not ask you for it.

As trans people, the world conditions us differently.  Years or decades of hiding everything about ourselves—of shaming ourselves for each breath that we draw—often teaches us to hide the things that hurt the most from the outside world. And to hate and blame ourselves for their presence in our lives. These are the most important things. And so healing is not quite so simple for us.

 We will often carry on in silence—bleeding and bleeding and bleeding in ways that you probably cannot and will not ever understand. And so you must be selfless. You must cut out your own privilege and toss it away. You must come to realize that a basic level of happiness and peace of mind are things you take for granted. And that if you are not in possession of these things, stacking the trans experience atop your own would trivialize every problem that you thought you had.

This is simply not something that you could possibly grasp without living inside one of our minds for some time. And were that possible, I bet you wouldn't be able to look us in the eyes any longer. I hope you wouldn't be able to. Because it isn't fair. And you cannot truly know this until you know this.

It isn’t fair for you are alive and happy and healthy. Not so long as we are dying en masse. It isn’t fair that those of us who have yet to be murdered or take our own lives are living in an endless battle with ourselves and the world around us. It isn’t fair that we are ostracized so openly and unapologetically. Please do not understand these things that I am saying as mere words and concepts. Take—“to be ostracized” for instance. This is more than a word, do you understand? This is a way of living.

It is a kind of hell that outsiders cannot possibly grasp or fathom. To be told from birth that you are hideous. To hear it so many times--over and over and over--to hear it so many times that it sticks in your heart of hearts. So many times that you believe it to be true. And no matter how strong a trans individual might appear in any given moment, on some level, we are always internalizing the contempt that is thrown at us in every minute, in every hour of every day.

Maybe you will understand when I tell you this once more:

It is not fair for you are alive and happy and healthy.

But I am endlessly glad that you are.

Because you are beautiful. And valid. And wonderful. You stand equipped to say and do the most wondrous of things. On some level, you probably already know this. Because while this world might have tried to strip that knowledge from you, it did not very pointedly and meticulously assault the notion in your mind in each of your waking seconds with every tool at its disposal.

I am a mess right now. In this very second. My makeup is smeared all over my face. All over my pillows. This isn’t just another pretty set of words. I am sick of pretty words.

We have been suffering for far too long.

And so many of us are so very alone. It makes my heart sick. It twists everything inside of me up. It twists it all up and twists it all up and twists it all up. To know that somewhere there is a closeted trans-girl in middle-school who is only just beginning to learn what kind of place this world will be to her. Who will be beaten and raped and made to hate herself. She will most likely attempt or come very close to attempting suicide. If she is not successful, she may very well be murdered. 

But what hurts me the most is knowing what they will successfully trick her into believing that her beautiful, innocent soul with all of its ephemeral trans magick is the most hideous thing there is.   

And so I am pleading with you.

I want more than a promise that you will kiss your trans friends on the cheek every so often and ask how they are doing in casual conversations. I am asking you to lay down your own inner peace. I am asking you to devote your waking life to ensuring that one day we will live in a world where trans people can wake up and make it through a day without contemplating suicide. I am asking for you to throw the kill-switch on your day to day. To redefine what it means to experience compassion.

I am asking you to internalize this:

` ~.*You must never stop reminding the trans people in your lives that they are beautiful. Tell them every day. Every hour if you can. Never let them forget this. Whatever you do—never let them forget this. And know that we will forget. The pressure is quite simply too much for any one person to handle. We need you. Whether we admit it or not. We need you. Even when we are bitter. Even when we push you away. Even when it appears that we are happy. Even when we are laughing alongside you. Do not forget that this is not our world. Do not make us face it alone*.~’

I love you endlessly. Thanks. 


Juliet Awry Irises is a faraway gendered trans grrl whose fingers flick almost continuously through her hair. When she is not writing poetry or painting, she busies herself with splitting the veins of the holy western masculine wide the fuck open, amen.