“There are certain societal beliefs that work for people who like gender,” they told me. “But everyone experiences gender dysphoria.” I nodded, and added: “Like how depression has traits that are universal human experiences, but exhibiting some of those traits doesn’t qualify you for depression.” They looked at me directly, their brown eyes knowing what my words implied, though it was the first time we’d seen each other in years. They wore a yellow crop top and boyfriend jeans. Had bleached just the front of their dark hair. They had emerged from the throes of depression with a sense of security in their gender even most cis people didn’t inhabit, and their words revealed to me the severity of the strain under which we lived and how much of it was self-inflicted. But for a moment that strain lifted as we paused to consider each other’s words. In that moment of mutual understanding there was wholeness. I clung to it.
Brianna Di Monda is an Assistant Managing Editor at MAYDAY. Her debut short story, “White Womb,” has been nominated for the 2021 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers.