Frances Rose.

Rose in progress.

Rose in progress.

“It started to go downhill in 4th grade. I was sitting on the bus and spied a “couple” in the class and I had this real, plain, sad moment that whatever it was that I was seeing for the first time, this was never going to be mine. Whatever that was, would never be mine. I think I had some notion that I was looking at the dominant concept of love and relationships. And I felt out of that world. Whatever was going on with me was so far away. That made me so sad.

In high school, I was reeling from the wicked truth of being a self-identified lesbian in the world. And thinking and believing and looking like a man. This made me untouchable. Untouchable. I felt so untouchable to those I felt the strongest attraction to.

Years later, I was with my long-term girlfriend at the time, and she was sitting across the room, when the realization settled in me. I said to her, “I think I’m a woman,” and she said, “That makes sense.” At the time, it wasn’t as clear to me. We were living in San Francisco and the trans community there I found very sexualized. Fetishised. I found myself hanging out in the Tenderloin- one of the places to go for crack or prostitutes, or good Indian food! I was going down there just to spend time with transwomen, because there was nowhere else to go. I didn’t make many friends out there. It was difficult. When I came back to New York, it was a revelation. I found the word ‘transition’. I wasn’t destined for SRS [Sexual Reassignment Surgery] and spending a lot of time with New York transwomen was genius for me. That’s when I started hormones, on and off, going slowly and more seriously each time.

Long before my transition, I had come out to my family as gay, which was true to some extent. I was at least in tuned to being a queer boy. It’s been rough with my family, but the last year of my father’s life included many great strides. They said, “Why couldn’t you just be gay still? Because then at least you’d be a boy! Why do you have to make life so hard for yourself? Get a good job, get a good wage, be trans behind closed doors!” But they don’t realize, that my life isn’t hard. I feel like all universal resistance has dissolved in the face of Frances Rose. Surely they were saying, ‘This is harder for us, this makes us uncomfortable’. But they also worry. There is a Trans Day of Remembrance. Trans people get dead.

There are so many dangers. Being ‘queer’ muddies it even further. There are all kinds of violence that is classically aligned against women, but of course not exclusive to women. Nothing scares me more than a pack of high school boys. I can turn on a good bit of fierceness if I need to, but I recognize that a pack of high school boys are the most immune to my kind of fierceness and they are the most possible to descend into something that cannot access reason or shared experience. Just blind, internal rage.

I’m on hormones now. It feels awesome. I was expecting to feel them a lot more bluntly and for awhile I thought, ‘This isn’t doing anything, this isn’t doing anything…’ Then all of the sudden its like, I’m suddenly more comfortable. I feel different as a girl. The way I carry myself. It seems like a more natural expression. I’m seeing my confidence unfold. If I am anything, I hope I’m a paradox. I don’t want to be a one-liner. I’m a rose. I love being a woman. This journey is a gift. It’s taken me so long to see it and feel it. And I feel like the luckiest person on the planet to have found it.”

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