Trans mea culpas and the perpetual need to apologise

4 min readApr 23, 2021

Is there a right way of living a trans life? Is it always about the cross that society often violently strings us up on? Are the transgenders a moral and imminent threat to all humanity? If so, answers of a postcard because I would love to know. If there was perfection towards a path of righteousness surely it would come in pink slippers, hooped earrings, and a bank balance bulging with surgical funds. Alas, the road to inner solace is paved with all too good intentions, thorny and very much trailing through a shadowed valley, along which trans folk have to confess any and all perceived sins just to gain a glimpse of sunlight. Apologise or we will set the dogpile on you, or worse.

It is worth repeating ad astra that there is no one way to live, and certainly not one way to be non-cis. Transcending assigned gender is as personal and rebellious as it can get. To turn and light life’s draft in the face of the man is akin to standing at Kent State, breaking down our Berlin Wall to smash our way into no-person’s land in the face of hostile gate keepers. Most of us gain some semblance of the life we hoped for, but there are plenty whose quiet graves bear no memorial next to rendered social structurers.

We are forced to apologise to left and right for any perceived infraction of the perfect way, as if society has any idea of what perfection actually is. Standing up for yourself is facing down a tank column with shopping bags, placing a flower in a gun, holding your gloved fist raised high. The stakes are that stratospheric, for the blood coursing through our veins often runs red on the streets and carpets when their perfection sunders our own. Our lives are not an apology waiting to happen, not a punching bag for their fists, yet all the bruises cannot not be hidden with all the make-up, all the broken bones can only be reset not made anew.

It is the forced mea culpa for simply existing beyond the cis in this gender hinterland that makes life hard. You force us to apologise for being honest with ourselves, for daring to breath the rarefied air of freedom simply because you cannot understand. Shackles are made to bind, barbs are made to wound, and venom spewed is always going to poison. You cast long shadows hoping to guide us back into your light, seeing cis and straight as normal, as if normal is something to be proud of. This is not some Waterloo or Agincourt, where cis pluck and courage can seemingly trounce the dastardly transgender; we are not warriors wielding rainbow flags for some lost cause. We are the destitute, the downtrodden, those in need of hope and open palm, for you consigned us thus.

Ours is not the mea culpa, for the original sin was assuming that we are anathema. We are not aberration of demon fuelled. There is no need for the exorcist here. The plunge was not to cross our personal gender Rubicon, for those steps were made in peace; rather, the plunge came as we stepped into your light. It is called coming out because you perceive cis and het as the city on the hill upon which all must die, in its shadow the hinterland must surely sit. You fail to see the broad swathes of life and joy, only the misery you choose to cause.

Trans is not the mea culpa. Our original sin was not hard baked at birth. We are not some lost tribe begging for scraps at your table. Aqua vitae is the knowledge and joy of being true to ourselves, quenching our thirst for life in all the shades and hues shoved hard in closets. Our moon shot is only necessary because you see us as a mea culpa, see us in need of redemption and salvation. Our testimony falls on deaf ears because you tune out all but the pain and misery you wilfully cause. Yes, we stand on our Kent States and try to swim the Spree to freedom, but only because you force us to.

Is there any one right way to life? Fingers turn many pages and tap many words proclaiming so. Yet to be trans is to know that surely is a lie. To step back from the brink takes more than words, takes recognition that seeing the other as mea culpa was wrong and poisonous. Healing and acceptance starts when we no longer have to apologise for merely existing. It starts when being trans is no longer a societal original sin. It starts with you.