October 4, 2016. This was the day I came out of the botanical closet, a deep dark abyss I’ve been trapped in all my life. I always felt like I was living a lie, like I didn’t recognize my reflection in the mirror. But on that day, I finally stepped out into the light, and began converting sunshine into chemical energy.
I decided to identify as a plant.
Growing up, I remember seeing plants in pictures and on TV and thinking, “That’s me. I’m like that.” When I was a kid, my parents tried to dress me in boy’s clothes and get me to play with action figures. But me? I wanted to run around in nothing but fern leaves and hit other children with tree branches. I feel like I knew even then, at such an early age, that the plant life was my life. But, as Kermit the Frog says, “It ain’t easy being green” — so I hid my true self from the world around me.
As a teenager, when all my friends were starting to date and grow into their adult identities, I spent my time gazing out the window and yearning to self-pollinate.
Recently, like so many others, my university mandated new guidelines to respect the personal identities of their students. I finally found the courage to come out for what I really was: a northern green alder. I printed out a badge directing people to call me by my preferred pronoun, “tree.” My university and professors had to accommodate me in every way, assigning me a dedicated arborist to meet my special and specific needs. I do all my classes outside, where I can comfortably photosynthesize. I also no longer take exams, because it is against my nature.
A group of social justice-minded students came up to me in the quad last week and angrily told me to stop pretending to be a tree, because they felt that I was mocking people who truly feel uncomfortable and discriminated against in their bodies. I politely asked them to “respect my journey.” It’s sad and disheartening that such intolerance still exists.
I like to think I’ve been an inspiration to others. This vegan girl in my chem class joined me yesterday. Without a word, she stripped off her clothes, dug a hole, and took root beside me. She hasn’t moved for 48 hours. I haven’t seen her eat or drink anything in all that time either.
Now, I may be a tree, but I’m not a moron. You still need to fucking eat, lady. What an idiot..
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