I am a writer and a trans woman. That’s why I won’t stop telling our stories.

Across the country, bigoted legislators are trying to deny transgender people access to health care, to deprive transgender children of their loving parents, to make us second-class citizens. They are trying to erase the reality of our existence in schools and ban books by and about LGBTQ Americans. Meanwhile, some of the country’s biggest media outlets are spreading lies about transgender people and the queer community, fueling a wave of hate crimes. And we are not the only targets; Black, brown, Native, and Asian Americans are targeted, as are Muslim Americans, people with disabilities, and others.

I.e What for I am writing this, but Not which I’m going to write about.

Instead, I will tell you about mirrors.

At the beginning of a wonderful Spanish drama “Veneno the trans protagonist Valeria looks at her body in the mirror, looking at her flat chest and square torso with confusion. Two episodes later, loved and accepted, and after the transition, she looks in the mirror again, this time with quiet satisfaction.

The scene is so personal, so personal, not a spectacle, not something to look at – just a young woman letting go of her past and breathing freely. Finally she can see herself.

I recently watchedVeneno” with a large group of other trans women and every episode we cried. It was cathartic, restorative—not just for a grand fantasy, a brutal injury, or hard-won triumphs, but for small moments: a family of trans women cooking paella, flipping through old photo albums, laughing at private jokes. .

It is a revelation: a story that shows us who we are, rather than distorting us, a mirror that tells the truth we have denied for a long time.

I grew up without this mirror. I never saw myself in stories; sometimes there were strange, twisted parodies of me that appeared as horrific doubles, but each one left me more and more isolated.

Growing up without stories is like slowly drowning all alone. You think you are the only, lonely monster with no hope of survival, destined to be destroyed and impossible to love, because what you are doesn’t even count as fully human.

Many of you cannot imagine the incredible poverty of never seeing yourself in a story. You have no idea how lucky you are, or how I was rejected. If you want to understand, imagine that your favorite story does not exist – or the second favorite, or the 50th – or anything. While I was struggling, young and alone and scared, I would pay any price to read about people who struggled like me, who lived the way I needed to live.

Many years ago, my late friend Shannon Andrews gave me what I needed. At the time, she was suing her friend Alina Boyden v. Wisconsin for flagrant medical discrimination (jury later rewarded them almost a million dollars in compensation). Alina, Shannon told me, was a writer, like me.

“Read her story,” Shannon said. – You just have to.

“PrinceeSS was an unpublished youth novel about a transgender girl on the run who longed to return home but feared being reunited with a family that despised and hurt her for daring to be a daughter instead of a son. It destroyed me. I’ve never seen myself in such a mirror, and I’m not used to the horror, hope, and vulnerability that comes with life. visible. It changed my life. I started writing again to raise the mirror of our lives and open us to ourselves.

I see our worlds in the mirror, and each in some magical way restores me, reviving the lost parts of my soul.

Books by transgender women are vanishingly few even now. It’s hard to break through as a trans woman. There are almost no mentors to guide you along the way, so you work hard and hone your craft without really understanding what it means to be good enough or how to navigate the publishing industry as a trans woman, and when you see that your peers succeed, they ridicule, insult, persecute, despise, bully. It’s a terrifying prospect, and that’s partly why I’m one of two or three trans women with debut Big Five novels coming out this year.

But our stories are precious treasures. When I read them, I look into a restored mirror and see us as we really are, without the lies and distortions of our enemies.

We are strange and dreamy, sad and joyful, as in the magical musical-historical novel of Jeanne Thornton.Summer fun”; we are tragic, feline and corrupted in Torrey Peters’ satire.”Detransition, baby”; we are brutal, vulnerable, frightened, pulsating with life in a post-apocalyptic novel by Gretchen Völker-Martin”Hunting”; we’re sad and tender and confused in Casey Plett’s family drama.”Little fish”; we are fun, lyrical and whimsical in Roar Aoki’s musical space opera.”Light of unusual stars»; we are scared, hurt and determined in April Daniels.”Dreadnought” and Charlie Jane Anders”More victory than death; we are violent, and heroic, and resourceful in Alina Boyden “Stolen Thunder”; and yes, we are epic, dark and gorgeous in my own.”Goddess of Wrath sings“.

We take our chance and do something magical. We’ve been told that we’re broken and we don’t matter, people whose stories have been hidden, but we matter and won’t be hidden from ourselves anymore, especially from ourselves.

If you want to see and know us, greet us and love us, read our stories. You just have to.

Maya is the writer of William Morrow’s upcoming song “Wrath Goddess Sing”, which is due out on June 7th.

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