The night before I finally came out as trans, I had a dream...or maybe it was a nightmare.
I "wake" from my bed to find my apartment engulfed in flames. This has been one of my worst fears ever since I was a small child. I panic. I scream. I call out to my roommates. Nothing. All of my possessions, books, clothes, furniture, all of it is feeding the fire. There is no safe way to escape my bedroom. I have no window and the door is blocked. I can either die or try to face the flames. I run for the door with my arms around my face. It is pure agony. Every inch of my flesh screams in pain and my lungs seize as they fill with thick, black smoke. I crash through the crumbling door and am immediately seized by a firefighter, who covers me in a fire blanket and lifts me out of the house. A few seconds later I'm outside, staring at my apartment as it turns to ashes. The firefighter places an oxygen mask around my face and I realize I'm no longer in pain. I glance down at my skin, expecting to see charred flesh and instead my skin is perfect and clear. Then I realized my clothes have burned away and I'm naked, save for the fire blanket. The firefighter bends down to talk to me.
"Ma'am, are you okay? Do you know how the fire got started?"
Ma'am? Why is he calling me ma'am? Surely he could see plain as day that I'm not a woman, he carried my naked body out of there.
"No, I'm sorry. I just woke up and ran for the door."
My voice sounds strange...different. The firefighter leaves me to put out the fire and I'm left alone. I look down at my miraculously intact body and realize it looks very different. Very different. It is right after I realize what has happened that my roommates, Greg and Heather, are led out of the building.
"Have you seen our roommate?" Heather asks as another firefighter puts an oxygen mask on both of them.
"He's short, kind of stocky, brown hair." Greg helps.
"No, I'm sorry. The only other person we've rescued from the building is this young lady." The firefighter answers.
"Oh," Heather says, "Are you okay? Do you live above us?"
"Um," I hesitate, "Yes. I think I'm okay."
It was after this dream that I realized that I was willing to lose everything in order to be myself. In my dream I lost my friends, my identity, my possessions, my home, everything but who I truly was. And I realized that would be enough. The next day I told my roommates. There were plenty of times when I was asked to slow down my transition. Told it was great I was being myself but that I needed to give others time. I needed to be understanding. I told them I would rather die as a woman than live as a man. And I meant it. It sounds dramatic, but honestly, when you're trans it is a life-and-death situation. And there are few things in this life more liberating than staring down death and saying you would prefer it to losing your dignity. That gives you the kind of power and freedom that can never be taken away.