Won’t You Celebrate with Me

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

~Lucille Clifton

Two years ago my councilor handed me a note with Lucille Clifton’s famous words. I found them oddly comforting at the time. You see, two years ago I had finally begun to deal with my gender dysphoria in a positive way, taking the very first baby steps towards where I am today. Two years ago I serious began considering transitioning. My name is Korah Alexander, and I am transgender.

As time moved forward the poem my councilor handed me on that day became a source of strength. As friends and family left I recalled those words and did my best to move forward. As my church turned it’s back and locked its doors to me, I held tight to those words. When life threatened to swallow me with sorrow, I clung to those words.

Today I have come fully into the light. The road to this place has been everything but easy. Over the next few weeks I would like to pull the curtain back on my journey, an impossible dream I never thought I could or even should accomplish. Today I look back at where my journey has taken me and I look forward to where it will take me next. Please enjoy.

The Girl With No Name (script)

Once upon a time, there lived a shadow of a girl. She didn’t know where she had come from or why she was here. All she knew was that she wasn’t like the other girls. She had been told these things by The Others, who pointed and laughed whenever she would appear. So, the girl hid herself away from the outside world. She built a wall, tall and mighty around herself, and there she stayed. Alone. Afraid. Covered in shadow. It was better this way she thought. It was better to be alone.

The unknown girl began to disguise herself under layers and layers of rags just to go outside. The Others knew only the costume, but not the terrified girl hidden beneath. Girls like her were not welcome. When the Others grew to close or to curious she would retreat back to her hiding spot. There, afraid of being discovered, she would build another wall. No one could ever know she was there. It was more comfortable to be alone.

The unkept girl saw The Others worshiping a Great Light. She longed to join them in their worship but was too afraid. The Others spoke horrible things about those who didn’t believe like they did, about those who were different. People just like her. She had been taught that she was dirty. Unclean. Unworthy. Girls like her could not know the Great Light. So, she hid her heart away. Ashamed. No one could know the truth. It was safer to be alone.

The lonely girl began to grow restless in her dark room. She longed to be known, to be seen, even if it was just for a second. She wanted someone, anyone, to know that she was real. That she existed. She parted her rags and dropped her guard just for a moment. The Others told her she was sick, that she wasn’t normal, that she was dangerous even. So, the Girl tucked herself deep under her rags intending never to be seen again. It was less painful to be alone.

Once upon a time, there lived a shadow of a girl. Her whole life she had been told she was unwelcome. Unlovable. Unworthy. Unknown. So, she hid herself away from the outside world. She built a tall and mighty labyrinth to keep everybody away. And there she stayed, unable to escape. Unable to see the light of day. Afraid. Alone. Ashamed. Covered in shadow. It was better this way she thought. It was better to be alone.

One day, the hidden girl woke to a ray of light piercing her darkness. A crack had formed in her mighty walls. She tried and tried to repair it, but the crack only grew larger. The light only grew brighter. Then one day, her mighty walls fell and the darkness retreated. Frantic, the girl clutched at her rags eager to hide once more. She stopped as her eyes fell upon the light floating there before her. It spoke to her. It told her that she didn’t have to be alone.

The curious girl tried to chase after the Light but the Others caught her fast by the arm. They demanded to know where she was running off to. They urged her to stay. If only she obeyed, they promised to rebuild her walls just like before. They would love her if only she stayed hidden beneath her rags. The girl slipped from their grasp. She needed to learn the truth about who she really was. She ran after the Light eager to discover what it had to teach her.

The brave girl pursued the Light on a great journey. Through fields, she learned to run and not hide. The edge of the oceans taught her just how small she really was. While The mountains taught her to stand impossibly tall. The stars above showed her to how shine brightly. In the forests she learned to forge her own path even when there was none. For months the girl chased after the Light always reaching for it. Then one day she felt its unexpected and warm touch. Then there was nothing. The Light had disappeared, to where she did not know.

The uncertain girl returned home to pick up the pieces of her life. The Others tried to convince her that what she was doing was wrong. That she should be ashamed of who she was now. The girl had learned much on her journey and though she tried to explain it to the Others, they refused to listen. They wanted her to stay behind her walls, only then would they accept her. She was, in their eyes, a grave disappointment. Even though the girl lived alongside The Others every day, she once again found herself all alone.

The hesitant girl finally began to live her life. Unsure of herself. Uncertain of her great journey and worried about her approaching future. She was no longer hidden but still very much afraid. She knew she was different. Wherever she went, she felt out of place and foreign. Wasn’t there somewhere that she could feel like she belonged? She thought often of the Light and the teachings that had been written on her heart. But when the darkness of night came, so too did her doubts.

The weary girl searched and searched for the light, instead she found a group of friends very much like her, searching for answers they did not know. They did not shun her like The Others did. Instead, they made a place for her with open arms and warm hearts. For the first time, the girl felt like she belonged. The circle of friends quickly grew to become a family. Not one bound by flesh and blood but one bound by love. “At last.” she thought. “I am no longer alone.”

The welcomed girl told her friends of her great journey and of how the Light had disappeared and how she desperately wanted to find it again. Her friends could see plainly what the girl could not. They reached out and touched her heart. The girl felt warmth and peace flowing through her like never before. When she opened her eyes the girl saw the Light all around, illuminating the happy faces of her friends. The Light had been inside of her, all of this time.

No longer just a girl she walked into the full light of day, unafraid to be seen and ready to be known. So, she gave herself a name to call herself by. She learned to be brave and strong, to love, and to laugh. Her despair was replaced with joy, where there was once darkness there is now light. No longer will she hide. No longer will she feel ashamed. She will wear her rags no more. At long last, she will never have to be alone again.