On November 12th, 2014, I nearly became a name on the list- the list of trans people killed in the last year, the core of Transgender Day of Remembrance - read out eight days later. Sometimes I wonder what the world would look like if I had - would it be different? I certainly hope so- I hope my life has made a difference in the nearly ten years since.
I’d only been out for a year or two then, and I’d not even approached my doctor to be referred anywhere. Back then, I lived in Wales, at uni, and at the time you had to be referred to a psychiatrist before being referred to Charing Cross GIC - a journey that would have taken something like 8 hours one way. I couldn’t even fathom going through all that, knowing that the waiting times for all of it would have seen me back home long before I got my first appointment- which I did finally have in Nottingham in early 2020. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The first person I came out to was my best friend, when we were 17. She passed away not long after, and in dealing with my grief I shoved myself back into that closet. It took going to uni, meeting people who knew what my first forays into ‘I’m not a girl, but I’m not a boy’ might mean. I was 19 when I first learned the term non-binary.
I was 20 when my life felt too much to bear. A series of things had happened- as they always do. My girlfriend and I had broken up. My childhood pet rabbit and the hamster I had at uni passed away. I felt alone, and completely isolated, because there were things about me that were wrong and I felt so inescapably lonely in that. Some people used the pronouns I begged them to - most didn’t. I was constantly reminded of the fact that my name back then, Kaii, wasn’t the name I’d registered at uni with because my dad thought that it was a fad. He wasn’t right in the end- I used Kaii for over ten years - and I regret listening to him then.
I wonder if I’d come out to everyone when I came out to Clare - using clunky language that I couldn’t explain properly and she didn’t understand - whether that night would have happened, whether my mum’s frantic drive across the country would have happened or whether we would have met up the next week like we’d planned. I wonder if my discomfort with being ‘one of the girls’ had been noticed earlier, maybe I would have been referred as a kid (and now be one of the transphobic statistics on child mutilation).
Whatever would have happened, I won’t ever know. We only get this one go - this one life, and we can change ourselves and what we do going forward but we can’t change who we were, what we did. That’s part of why I didn’t try to hide who I was when I started being active in the party again. I could have - as far as I know, 3 people remember me well from back then - but Kaii was a part of me who mattered just as much as Cade does now.
I’m glad Kaii wasn’t on that list in 2014. I’m sad at how many names were on that list, and sadder still at how many there are this year. I know that now, just as nine years ago, just as twenty four years ago, the list isn’t as long as it would be if we actually knew all the closeted trans kids (and adults) who couldn’t bear the weight of their secrets- and maybe if no one had to bear that weight, the list wouldn’t exist at all.
So today, on this Trans Day of Remembrance, I’m saying loud and clear- I’ll share that weight. If you are looking at this year's list thinking you’ll be on next year’s, I will listen to you and I will help you carry whatever burdens sit on your shoulders. We are a community, and no one should be alone.