In trying to understand who I am as a teacher I found a misconception I had been holding on to: I thought the pull to teaching was math.
(And I do love math I am grateful to have it as a partner in this endeavor I love its definitiveness and ambiguity
Give me good pattern any day of the week and I’ll be happy Or an algorithm a visualization a comparison a mapping a graph a prediction a puzzle
Math is a language where you can express both more and less than you can with words.
Math carries a precision that syllables and sentences never can Yet fails to articulate the finest points of humanness)
But to say I am tied to teaching because I love math is a knot that will unravel under tension. I would not have ended up here if I had not accompanied a bouquet of trans folks On legs of their expeditions: Through crushing expectations Through meeting themselves Through glimmers of expansive freedom Through letting the world in to meet them.
I teach in order to hold a place for these gender explorers and defiers For these norm breakers For these students looking for someone to see them, to know them.
I stumbled into teaching with my crochet hook and calculator with enormous and hazy and overwhelming dreams To chip away at these walls against which my back is pressed To exist where they said we couldn’t To make space for us.
powerful people Think that it is abuse To let me feel free
They want our existence to be reported Our support systems ripped out from under us
They want us gone Because we make them question every lie they ever told themselves about how they were allowed to exist through the world
We make them confront the terrifying expanse that the universe becomes when you realize it is your right to define yourself boundlessly, to be fully human, fully unique and yet the same, fully perfect and yet never not fully a work in progress
There are people Who Think that it is abuse To help me feel free
But who refuse to see the enormously obvious, heart shatteringly painful reality that is That their words rip open barely healed wounds There will be unthinkable, unforgivable pain because of this There will be lives broken and lost.
I want to hold a message of hope. Of ‘we will prevail’.
But it’s hard to stay positive and be a trans person in a world where your right to exist continues to be questioned in new old ways. I’m tired. I’m in pain.
——- Required afterthought: But we will care for eachother And we will care for ourselves And we will be free
I began to bind my chest when I was 8 years old.
I remember feeling ashamed.
I remember feeling confused.
I remember feeling helpless.
But as it became apparent that my body could not be controlled
I tried even harder to minimize the evidence.
Tight tank tops turned into layers of camisoles
which turned into layers of compression sports bras
each one a size smaller than the last.
Binding made my back ache and ribs bruise.
I couldn’t seem to take a full deep breath.
But without it
the pain was much deeper
much more all consuming.
It wasn’t until the age of 20
that I was able to breathe fully for the first time.
A deep breath filling my chest, allowing it to expand entirely.
And that takes its toll on a person.
12 years of taking shallow breaths
of holding back.
of monitoring every millimeter.
These full lungs make me lightheaded.
There’s too much oxygen,
Too much possibility.