Second Address to Stone Butch Blues’ Jess

You defy laws and wills, Jess. I don’t understand how you survived as long as you did—how you kept winding your clock even when you didn’t know if you could chime again. Does that require faith, strength, or a loss of sanity? My life hasn’t been shaped by the senseless violence yours has. Instead of physical and verbal hate, I’ve instead navigated others’ confusion while holding hands with my own uncertainty and confidence. There have been comments and looks—probably far more than I’ve realized due to my obliviousness and apathy. Not having to be constantly on my guard is a luxury. But since 10 (and before that, until 2), my short hair has confounded strangers. Only my face not broadening and voice not deepening seems to have reduced that. I still feel like a ghost in women’s restrooms and an anomaly in locker rooms.

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