Guest blog post written by Andy Sun

I just had my first haircut.

As a woman.

When I look into the mirror, the world can finally see the woman I’ve become, the woman I always knew existed inside of my heart.  The woman I love - myself. 

A haircut may seem like a regular thing for most people. But to me it’s a powerful, beautiful moment in my journey of socially transitioning from male to female.

I used to be so scared of leaving the house wearing women’s clothing. I was afraid of what people might think, of what some people might do to me - even though I knew wearing this clothing was what I needed as a woman. When I’m in a skirt, a dress, or other clothes traditionally seen as “feminine,” I feel peace, comfort, and happiness. I feel at home.

But I know this is a dangerous time for transgender people like me.

A year ago in Buffalo, Mo., two counties over from where I live, Aly Lee Steinfield was stabbed by her roommate multiple times, her eyes gouged out and genitals mutilated.  They burned her body afterward.

Two months ago, a Springfield woman was stabbed multiple times by someone she had met over a dating app.  Thankfully, she survived. She is seeking to leave town now.

The two are both transgender women. The people who hurt them knew --  before they met -- that they were transgender women.

We’re being targeted, harassed, and killed.  That’s what it’s like to be a transgender person in today’s society and especially in rural Missouri.

In our state, I lack legal protections. If I am attacked for being me, prosecutors will pursue a hate crime charge, but I have no protection if my boss fires me.  If I lived in an apartment, I could be kicked out at any time for being trans.

While this ever-present danger makes me feel afraid, I don’t believe in living in fear anymore.

I don’t even believe in “coming out” anymore. 

I just “am.”

What if gender was something that was in your control, everyone’s control?   What if every story we had about being a man or a woman wasn’t as important as the story of us simply being human? For some, I believe it is a frightening thought.

Recently, I was intimate with the man I love. I watched as he worked through layers of shame because even though he loves me, he’s been taught to hate me, to fear me.

Today, I am celebrating finally being able to see the “me” I always knew existed in my own heart. Before today, I had to have faith that she was there. 

With this haircut, I’ve seen her in the mirror for the first time. She is radiant. She is lovely. She is beautiful.

I am a full, real, whole person. No better – and no less – than any other.

If I hid myself in my house for fear of my life, if I hid myself in clothing that suffocated my gender identity, I would be missing out on these and other beautiful moments.

Now, whenever I leave the house I realize the truth:  I’ve won.  I am joyous.

I am just like you.  I want to be loved, just like you.  I want to be seen and understood, just like you.

I love you. I love me.

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