To my elementary school teachers: I’m sorry for crying all the time. I cried so much that, in second year, my school report read that I “burst into tears at the first sign of trouble”. It’s because I was going through childhood totally confused, of course, but it can’t have been fun for you to deal with as educators.
I’m also sorry that when our school portraits were delivered, I scrawled all over my face with a marker pen and got you in trouble for not stopping me. I still defend my decision to obscure my image, but regret that I didn’t speak up and explain that you couldn’t have known I’d taken the Sharpie from your desk.
To my middle school teachers: Um, yeah, I’m sorry for crying with you guys, too. I really didn’t get on top of the crying thing for a good long while. My bad.
To my classmates at the all-boys high school I attended for two years: I don’t owe you any apologies. In fact, you probably owe me a “sorry” or two for making my life a daily struggle against taunts, pranks, and beatings.
I understand why you did it, though. A single-sex school is a difficult place to be during the early stages of puberty, and you guys needed an outlet for your aggression. It was easy to tell that I was different from the rest of you, that there was something “off” about me, and I don’t bear a grudge. Okay, I bear a small grudge. But if I met any of you in person now, I would probably not bring up the time you trapped me in a locker over lunch break.
To my little sister: I’m sorry for trying on your clothes when I was alone in the house as a teenager. I did it a whole bunch of times, and I probably stretched out your jeans and a few of your shirts. And maybe even a bra or two, when I stuffed far too many bunched-up socks in there to try and compensate for my lack of curves in other areas. I was very lucky to have a sibling only a year younger than I was, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to experiment with cross-dressing in clothes close enough to my size to work.
In hindsight, we had a relationship that was friendly and understanding, and maybe I could have been upfront with you about the whole deal, and about everything I was going through. But to be honest, I wasn’t even being upfront with myself.
To my teachers at my second high school: I’m sorry I didn’t respect you. By the time I got to you (after transferring from the all-boys place because the only other alternative I felt I had was suicide), I’d lost all respect for teaching staff. They couldn’t stop the bullying, they couldn’t keep me interested during lessons, and they couldn’t explain to me why I felt so, so sad all the time. So I acted out, and probably made lessons much harder than they had to be.
Also, I stole a projector from one of your classrooms. I’m sure someone got in trouble for that. I still use it, though, if that makes it better? The tech department probably would have junked it by now, so maybe I’m kind of a hero for prolonging its life?
To my friends from that same high school: I’m sorry I acted like such an weirdo. I was in a mixed-up place, and treated people badly because I didn’t know how to deal. I’m sorry I wouldn’t shut up about my unicycle, and I’m sorry that I tried to do a trick off of one of the common-room tables and ended up hitting Jacob in the face with the wheel.
I’m also sorry I didn’t take the time to seek you out and explain the whole “transgender” thing when I started transitioning a year after we all went to our respective universities. My lack of communication meant you faced the situation with ignorance, and cut me out of your lives. I like to think we’d still be friends if I hadn’t abandoned you to the small-town thinking you were working with. Except Jacob, probably.
To the girl I lost my virginity to: I’m sorry I never let you go down on me. I know that you wanted to, and that it worried you that I was seemingly the one guy in the entire world who didn’t want a blowjob.
To my classmates in college: I’m sorry for subjecting you to my experimentation when I was convinced I was “just” a transvestite. Thank you for being kind enough to not straight-up ditch me when I would turn up to hang-outs in a pink mohair sweater and lip gloss. I’m sorry we got so many side-eyes from Subway sandwich artists who definitely did not sign up for making a turkey sub for the weird dude with painted fingernails and a visible bra under his men’s Family Guy t-shirt.
To my writing teacher at that same college: I’m sorry everyone laughed at you when you called me by my old name a day after I’d sent the email to my classmates letting them know about the changeover. You had no idea what was going on, and you didn’t deserve to be made the fool. I think it was just that everybody was feeling weird about the whole situation, and they needed some kind of release, and you provided an opportunity. I’m sorry I didn’t keep you as informed as I did everyone else. Also, I’m sorry I made fun of the way you would pronounce “genre”. In fairness, though, there’s no letter D in that word, and it’s kind-of weird that you’d put one in there.
To my bosses at the supermarket I worked at for four years: I’m sorry that when I came out as transgender I became so difficult about wearing a regular women’s uniform. I was incredibly boy-shaped because I was still a year away from receiving hormones, and the oversized, padded bras I wore were the only things indicating any femininity about me at all. The baggy shirts that were the standard ladies tops covered up my “breasts” and made me feel like I might as well be wearing my old men’s outfit, and I freaked out.
You guys could have been way worse about my transition (it’s not like the law protected me all that well), but instead you were supportive and let me wear my own clothes for a while. But as soon as you, very reasonably, put your foot down and said, “you need to wear a uniform like everyone else,” I stopped coming into work. I didn’t even call to officially quit. I still feel bad that I threw away four years of work (and friendships with my colleagues) over a little body anxiety.
To my older sister: I’m sorry for acting like a real jerk about your wedding. It wasn’t as big a deal as I made it out to be that you didn’t want me to be a bridesmaid. In fact, that decision was probably for the best, as I didn’t even want to be in the family picture that was taken at the end of the ceremony, demuring as the photographer tried to coax me out of my seat. I’m sorry I wore that awful wig to your special day, and that you had to deal with anxiety about how your new husband’s family would react to me. But, I mean, you’re the one who married into a family from a Catholic country, so maybe we can split the blame on that one?
To my mother: I’m sorry for taking another son away from you. I owe you more apologies than that, but you owe me some, too, so let’s just let those cancel each other out and leave this one by itself.
To myself: I’m sorry for for the anger I feel towards you. I’m sorry for all the times I could’ve spoken up about how I felt and ended up starting transition earlier. I’m sorry I let them give you testosterone to start puberty when the doctors realized you weren’t growing. I’m sorry for every bad decision I’ve made for you. I’m sorry I didn’t write this earlier. I’m just sorry.
Avery Edison is a comedian from London, England. Her humor writing has been featured on McSweeney's, Slacktory, and the Bygone Bureau. She makes jokes on Twitter for you every single day.