I have a bad habit of reading news story comments when browsing online. Bad idea: I get called all sorts of names—pervert, etc. Not me specifically, but trans people. The nicer people say confused. But the ones that really bother me are the ones who say, maliciously or not, that I’m mentally ill.

What does it mean to be mentally ill? That’s what I get at. It seems to be that the criteria for this are not being a part of the majority mentality. I’m different. I want to change my body a bit. Why does that make me confused or mentally ill?

So here’s the deal, people who would call me mentally ill for being trans:

  • You may not know what this feels like, but I’ve never been comfortable in my own body. It does not make me mentally ill to feel that way. We have the means to change much about ourselves. Mine is simply one where my gender expression changes. If you haven’t felt this about yourself, don’t tell me about what I’m feeling. Would that be cisplaining?
  • I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. Really. I will do everything I can to not be bothered by your reactions or staring or comments. I will in turn answer your questions however you phrase them. This all means, though, that I exist. That I’m a human being with dignity.
  • The way I look is not a sign of mental illness. In fact, I look quite good. I look like me. Just because I don’t live and reflect the way you do does not mean there’s a problem with me. It means you and I are different.
  • It is the height of self-centered to say that someone different from you is mentally ill. So fuck you if you call me that.

You know what? I have dealt with mental illness. I’ve had depression and suicide issues since I was 19. I’m actually better now. The contradictions in my mind are being resolved. I am a trans woman. I am non-binary. I am me. That doesn’t make me mentally ill. That means you haven’t walked in my shoes.