I would like to share something with you: I am a transgender woman.
Earlier this month, I visited Brooklyn Civil Court to petition for a name that more closely matches my gender. With a few more months, a couple more forms, and probably a decent amount of waiting in line, my passport will identify me as a woman named Sloane River Veda Ortel just as this website does.
You can probably imagine that putting this out in the open is a relief. I can now look to the future with optimism I had not thought possible.
Though I have known something was different about me for most of my life, I was too scared to say anything until September of last year. The first person I told has been a close friend since I met her in fourth grade, and likely would have responded just as wonderfully at any time between now and then.
It was hating myself that kept me silent.
I believed only the meanest things that people said about others like me, and did everything I could think of to be someone else. I was hollowed out in the process and nearly destroyed entirely.
I spoke up in September because there was nothing else to do, and I’m speaking up here because I will absolutely never take those words back.
My gender is just one part of who I am to my family, friends, and colleagues, but it’s inseparable from the rest of me. It has taken a while to realize these remarkable people have been referring to the whole package when they say that they love or respect me.
Most of us are not so lucky, and I look forward to paying the love I have received forward. I also just can’t wait to see what i’m capable of without a hand tied behind my back.
Thank you for reading, and best wishes in your own journey.
P.S. I wrote about the wonderful reaction that this letter generated here.