This Sunday, a policy memo draft from the Department of Health and Human Services — reported on by the New York Times — presented a binary, antiquated definition of gender that would be based on “immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.”
PAPER Mag published sentiments from 40 trans celebrities, artists and activists in response to the harrowing circumstances that this policy change would create — rolling back the rights and denying the identities of trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people.
Among those who submitted their responses were Kim Petras, who penned a haunting essay that detailed her fears of growing up as a young person assigned the wrong gender at birth and having her trans identity invalidated by peers in school who bullied her and medical professionals who denied her gender.
“Today I remembered feelings I didn’t ever want to feel again,” she begins, before recalling all of the everyday anxieties and traumas of being unable to live her life as a girl, even at an early age.
“I remembered the suicidal kid I once was waking up every morning afraid of growing a beard or an Adam’s apple — afraid of my voice getting deeper. The 5-year-old kid I was, trying to cut off my own genitals with paper scissors — crying when my mom told me when I was old enough, they would do anything in their power to help me live as a girl and for the first time having hope for an attempt at a happy life,” she writes.
Petras opens up about the glimmer of hope she felt at a young age knowing that her family would support her eventual transition, and the feeling of “having hope for an attempt at a happy life.”
“I have dedicated my life to making people understand that being transgender is something that has always existed and will always exist — that it is not a mental illness. Today, I fear for transgender kids all across America. Just know we’ll never stop fighting for you and that the LGBTQ community has your back. Don’t give up.”
Read Petras’ essay in full, and entries from other trans figures, including Aaron Michael, Chella Man, and Caitlyn Jenner here.