To all the queer and trans teens out there, just trying to navigate this world:

Hey you,

Things are scary and infuriating right now. I imagine there are a lot of places and moments where you feel like you need to hide or maybe even abandon parts of yourself to stay safe. At this stage, the word ‘safe’ might feel hollowed out and completely devoid of meaning. What does it mean to feel safe in this world, in your body, when there is so much active harm being done? The adults are supposed to protect you, but we’re not doing a great job right now. Some adults are working their hardest to do the very opposite. It is understandable if you’re feeling terrified, angry, or confused. There is space for all of these emotions. And also, even during the worst times, you deserve to feel love and connection. I want to take a moment to let you know how loved you are, and how good it is that you are here.

I love your creativity. You’ve been told there are only so many ways you’re allowed to be and look and love, and you know that it is one of the greatest lies ever told. So you find another way, a way that feels more genuine. You become proof that there are infinite possibilities when it comes to being human, ad the world is more vibrant because you exist. How magical! I urge you to keep inventing and trailblazing and excavating.

I love your boldness, your defiance. I love it when you bend the rules of gender and sexuality. The rules are dumb and weren’t made with your humanity in mind. It’s okay to break them. I admire the moments when you are loud about who you are, and the moments when you dare someone to tell you to be otherwise. I urge you to never apologize for existing.

I also love your quiet moments, the moments when you aren’t fully certain about who you are. There is too much pressure to be one hundred percent certain all the time, and that’s not really how it works. We are fluid, and the world is ever-changing. It’s okay if you’re still asking questions or don’t know all the terms. It’s okay if your labels change. To be honest, there aren’t actually enough words to speak to the expansiveness of who you are. Language can’t always capture how we feel in our bodies or how we love or who we understand ourselves to be. I urge you to keep exploring and to stay curious.

I love when you take up space in the classroom, on the soccer field, and in the streets. You deserve to move safely and freely through the world. You deserve to not think twice about going to the bathroom in a public space. You deserve to run on the track or the court with your peers. You deserve to read books and watch shows that include you and your experiences. You deserve to be called by your name. You deserve to just be. I know that these things aren’t always possible. I promise to keep fighting for them to be possible. And while we fight, I urge you to keep yourself safe and take up space whenever you get the chance.

I love your joy. It is one of my absolute favorite things to witness. It is so bright and warm and full. It makes everything feel possible again. Whether you are feeling determined or defeated (or both) by current events, I want to lovingly urge you to also allow yourself to revel in moments of joy. It is imperative for your health and the health of our community. What are some things that bring you joy right now? What helps you to feel good in your body? What delights you? Pay attention to the moments when joy shows up. Allow it to seep into your bones. Let it wash over you and remind you that you are a triumph, a miracle, and a gift.

These are just a few of the many things that I love about you. And also, I love you just because. You do not have to do or be anything to deserve love. You’re so freaking cool! I wish I could show you just how cool you are.

Once again, I know the world isn’t the most welcoming place right now (nor has it ever been, if we’re being honest). It is full of sharp edges, intentional misunderstanding, and absurd policies. It can be hard to feel like we belong when some of our fellow humans are doing their utmost to deny our existence. But you do exist! It is good that you exist. And some of our fellow humans (myself included) are committed to finding ways to keep you safe and thriving. In the moments when things feel extra bleak, or when you question whether or not you should stay, please remember that you are wanted, you belong, and you deserve to take up space.

I am so delighted that you are here.