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An Open Letter to Florida
I Still Love You. . .
Dear State of Florida,
I write you this letter knowing very well that you may never read it. Even if it was placed in front of every citizen, many of you would have to get past the fact that it was written by a transgender person. I still feel the need to write you. I speak from the depths of my transgender heart, hoping to shed some light on the experiences and feelings that once built a loving relationship between me and your lovely shores.
My first experience standing on your fertile soil was when I was five years old. I landed with a deep sadness in my heart and your warm sun sustained me as I said goodbye to my mother and father. Tampa, Florida was there for me as a child to mend my heart after a separation from my family. I’ll never forget the colors of the bright green lizards climbing the palm trees in the early morning, or counting the daily thunderstorms that passed through.
Later in life, my wife and I built a yearly tradition of watching the New Year's Eve shoe drop in Key West. When Sushi the drag queen, sat in a high heel shoe as someone physically lowered her with a rope and pulley on Duval Street. I felt accepted there as a child and as an adult. This was the place I fell in love with my future wife.
These moments will always be a part of me, etched in my soul. They helped make me the fully actualized queer that I am today.
Looking back at these memories, I’m forced to contend with the reality that with each passing day, it’s becoming more and more dangerous for me to be there. The place that helped make me who I am no longer exists. It has been replaced by a state filled with bigotry and a growing belief that hatred, intolerance, and government fascism will somehow create peace. It reminds me of the struggles I’ve had with my family–many who currently live in Florida.
It saddens me to admit that I feel a sense of hopelessness when I think of Florida. How can we change the mind of an entire state, when I can’t even change the minds of my family? People who once loved me, deeply. The same people who pretended I had died when I came out as trans. But just like my relationship with my family, I have to believe that change can happen. Is it so unreasonable to accept that people exist that are different than you? That you can’t simply erase people you don’t agree with? I have to believe that people can change. Acceptance can occur.
Florida, I beg you to consider the consequences of denying transgender people their fundamental human rights. It’s not just trans people who suffer–it’s the state itself that loses so much more. Being openly transgender is a declaration of liberation and authenticity. Our existence is proof that we all can live freely and happily while fully loving ourselves and expressing that joy to others. Isn’t the goal of a free country to allow citizens to live this way?
By building an environment of inclusivity, acceptance, and respect–Florida can be the beacon of progress and compassion I experienced it to be in my lifetime. Outlawing people based on their differences, hoarding guns and ammunition, and limiting education, are actions motivated by fear. Florida has an opportunity to course correct. To lead by example. It’s still possible to stop acting based on fear and move towards actions of compassion—the path of courage.
It is my deepest wish that the residents of Florida can see that their state is becoming something it is not. That the people of Florida decide that their leaders have gone too far into a path of extreme oppression of its citizens. Other government entities have gone down this path in the past and it has always ended horribly. Please don’t let this happen to the state that I love. It’s not too late to save Florida.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter–whether you’re a Florida resident or not. I hope these words have encouraged you to either embolden your beliefs of equity for all people or pushed you to reconsider any feelings of hatred and fear you may have.
Florida can’t exist without the transgender community. It can only become something lesser than it has been.
With sincere hope,