Author's Note: We were told to write a dystopian short story for my AP English class. I know that this is an extremely unpopular opinion. Please judge this work on the merits of its writing, regardless of whether or not you agree with the premise. This work is not intended to offend. If you are triggered by it, please do not read. It deals with the concept of whether or not you have to experience dysphoria to be trans/gender non-conforming.
I used to stare into the mirror and cry. My body curved in ways that felt uncomfortable. Clothes may not be gendered, but bodies were. I could wear whatever I pleased but at the end of day, I always found myself at the same mirror, staring at the same body. I hated it. It was a joke, to me. Anyone who wanted to claim they were anything other than cis-gender without having dysphoria. It was just absurd. But my opinion was an unpopular one, so I kept it close to my heart, silently berating those who dared to make a joke of the struggles that people like me face every day. Others were not so prudent. Their opinions spread across the networks, ringing true for a few, but attracting the attention of a much more dangerous crowd.
It started with a rallying cry. Transmedicalists, they called us. Truscum gatekeepers. It spread like wildfire across the internet, igniting shallow. needy souls into some cruel facsimile of passion. It was just words, for a while. But the tides were shifting and we were too slow to notice, thinking that this wave of misinformed, maligned, and trigger-happy humanity would pass in time, that we would come back to our senses and that social norms would re-equilibrate this senseless murmuring. How naive we were, back then.
Females bared their breasts to the public, daring onlookers to call them anything but male. Of course it didn’t affect them, their brains were perfectly content with their female anatomy. The very idea of going out in public in such a fashion, not making any attempt towards androgyny, prickled at me in an uncomfortable way. I always pulled the collar of my shirt up a little further, hoping no one could see my binder, hoping that no one called my identity into question. Their aggression was discomforting. Everyone, even others in the trans community, mistook identities. Everyone used the wrong pronouns. If they didn’t bother trying to present themselves a certain way, then how could they expect people to just know what it was they were? I would always shake my head and hurry past. ‘It’s okay,’ I told myself. ‘It’ll pass.’
But it didn’t.
They came after free-speech first. This wave of anger, this new generation of humanity, they cut it down in the name of tolerance, in the name of peace, in the name of everything that they thought they fought for. Those of us who proudly wore our opinion, that transgenders and enby people had to have dysphoria to be properly labeled as ‘trans’, across our chests were cut down first. The rest of us, who kept our opinions quiet, for fear of this new generation’s anger, were slowly ferreted out, like mice flushed out of tunnels. Then came the re-education.
Freedom of thought was deemed more dangerous than freedom of speech. Those of us who could still question the absurdity of the usage of xe, xem, xyr or ze, hir, hir, or fae, faer, faer for people who were just playing at being transgender, were considered public menaces. It was, however, the generation before ours suffered the most. They were beaten over the incorrect usage of preferred pronouns, under the guise that mistaking someone’s gender orientation was a form of violence and oppression, in and of itself. Torn away from their families, they were sent to re-education camps, just like this one.
There is an elderly gentlemen sitting next to me now. His hands are bloody from the oozing wound on the side of his face. It’s an ugly gash, open and raw, like a gaping mistake. His eyes are closed, but his shoulders are shaking. I think he’s crying. Each silent, shuddering sob seems to echo a thundering roar through my head of wrong, wrong wrong. I lay a hand on his shoulder, hoping to pass some meager comfort. He flinches away, his milky eyes staring at nothing and everything. He sees all that is wrong with the world, but he, like I, am just one against the tide. In the changes time, what good could either of us do?
They sit us in classrooms. Long tables, each with seven to eight chairs. Every chair is filled. An uncomfortable silence fills the room, punctuated only by the creaking of wood or the rattling cough of the old woman from the far corner of the room. A room full of truants, full of old people who can barely walk and twenty-somethings who know nothing of the world yet. We are informed that the LGBTQ movement is no longer inclusive enough. The movement is now entitled LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer, Curious, Asexual, Pansexual, Gender-non-conforming, Genderfluid, Nonbinary, and Asexual). I shake my head, marveling at the absurdity of the lengths we are now going to for inclusion. A person must be terribly insecure to require this amount of validation, I think to myself. My back arches and I grab at my chest, heart thundering, as my vision snaps white to black.
I sag back into my seat. There’s no more fight in me. It was gone, taken from the moment I was pushed into this godforsaken facility. I’m not insane, my brain whispers to me. I ignore it. ‘I will be good,’ I tell myself. The fear of punishment keeps my mind elastic and prepared. I memorize the lists of gender identities. I memorize the lists of preferred pronouns. I always was an excellent student.
“Thinking,” says the instructor as he stalks in front of the room, his breasts barely covered by the low-slung uniform, “is oppressive. People can be whatever they like, and we don’t have a right to tell them not to be. Until you understand this, you will remain here.” His finger hovers above the punishing button on the remote in xer hand. We shudder, a collective movement that ripples across the room. He smiles.
My name is Wish Isby Allskye. I identify as a nonbinary firegender sensualromantic aegosexual, but I am more frequently found in a state of gendervex. My preferred pronouns are e/em/eir/eirs/eirself and I believe that anyone can be anything they want. I believe that gender can be influenced from anything from the people around to outer space to music to kinship with animals.
This is tolerance, and I am a peacekeeper.