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By Bobbi Joy Meilen.

Photo by Alex Kacha. (Second model is Annalisa.)

Dear Deadname,

Sometimes I miss your face. Your long hair, and your wild tendencies. The magnetic draw that we had over people was intoxicating. The attention that was given to us was reason enough to keep you around. For most of my life you were all I knew, so of course I kept you by my side. You were my only option, you were safe, but you were never at home in me. For 20 years you sat and festered like an open wound, rotting my sense of self away. I tried to make myself one with you. After all, you were put upon me at birth, and who was I to say that my parents were wrong in giving you to me. It took me years of discomfort and shame for me to get fed up with you. To let go of the person that everyone wanted me to be. Removing you has given me so much freedom, it has given me the chance to live authentically. Most of the time I can say I do not miss you at all. 

While you inhabited this body you dominated the space while I was curled in the corner, letting you have the reins. You repressed me for years, and when I started to take up space it still took me a long time to rid my body and mind of you. I had to have no mercy for you in order to reclaim my body and brain. I had to be unforgiving and brutal so that I could transition and live a genuine life. 

Now that I have the opportunity to explore myself, I’d like to extend a hand to you. I want to say that I see you. I understand that you weren’t trying to hurt me, you were just pressure from the outside world. You were just a child, unaware of the other options out there. We were called a girl and given your name, but it never felt right to me, so I resented you. We were such a pretty girl, an easily objectified body. That made us more than palatable to most people; it made us desirable. But my insistent gender defying thoughts were constantly a source of guilt and fear. I was so ashamed and afraid of what people might think of me. So I kept myself hidden. I still resent you a little bit, because you are more easily digestible for people. They struggle with me, they cannot swallow that this is who I am, that you were a parasite in my body, sucking me dry. I know it’s not your fault, it’s the world around us that told me you had to be the one that was seen. That I was broken, a mutant, a deviant. 

I still felt hurt by you. I still feel hurt by you. So much of my life was given to you, and I just had to wait my turn, hoping that someday the world would be ready enough for me. I wouldn’t say that they were ready, but I got tired of waiting. I know you were just a little girl in the wrong body and mind. You were probably just as hurt and confused as I was. But it’s my mind and body, and it was given to you. I was done with your facade.

So much of my life was given to you, and I just had to wait my turn, hoping that someday the world would be ready enough for me…. I got tired of waiting.

You embodied this being for so long, and you ran it into the mud. I know it wasn’t completely your fault, you had trauma, a load of mental illness, and substance abuse issues to deal with. You were just trying to find yourself, but you were never really meant to be there. I’m still truly hurt and scarred by those years of self-destruction. You could never accept me, so you tried to drown me out with whatever you could. Whatever substance, sexual partner, or shitty coping mechanism you could get your hands on. Without you I’m taking care of myself. I’m transitioning, taking my meds, I’m sober, and I choose relationships that fulfill me and take care of me. I couldn’t have done those things with you steering the ship. I’m sorry I had to kill you. I know you were innocent, but in order for me to thrive there could only be one of us. The two of us were not fitting well in here, and I couldn’t take any more time being silenced and beaten down. 

These days, now that I’ve medically transitioned, my physicality is much more masculine. I still wear your dresses, skirts, blouses, rompers, and jumpsuits. I revel in what I have left of you. Your feminine energy lives on in me, I keep it close to my heart. I don’t regret doing what I did, but I thought you should know that I still keep a sacred part of you. You’re in a better place now; this wasn’t home for you. Rest easy. 



Bobbi Joy Meilen is a sober, nonbinary model, writer, and community organizer living and working Los Angeles. They create with fellow queer and trans artists, and organize a trans chavurah in LA. They are focused on bringing more bodies and identities along the gender spectrum into media, and creating community for trans folx.