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A Love Letter to My Body

MEGAN ZEREZ: The transgender experience is different for everyone. And for some, gender confirmation surgery is a major step in the transition.

In this piece from our commentary series, Fei Lu writes a love letter to her body, weeks before her operation date.

FEI LU: Ever since I can remember, Britney Spears’ “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” has always been my FAVORITE song. It’s a coming-of-age ballad. I remember being a teenager, alone in the bathroom, belting out the lyrics FULLY feeling the fantasy.

“I’m not a girl, not yet a woman, all I need is time, a moment that is mine, while I’m in between” .

For three minutes and fifty four seconds, behind closed eyes, my choppy short hair became 24 inches of glossy black locks straight from a shampoo commercial. My muddy sneakers became a pair of Monolo Blahnik pumps from Carrie Bradshaw’s closet. And in the far distance, a judge walked towards me, sash and crown in hand, ready to deem me Miss America.

Then, the song would wrap, I’d open my eyes, and in the mirror, a pimply teenage boy loathing everything he saw would stare back.

The fact is… I wasn’t born biologically female.

I’ll never forget the day when I found out what being “transgender” was. I was watching makeup tutorials on Youtube, ….when a video recommendation popped up: A beautiful woman was talking about being transgender. My eyes widened. My palms got sweaty. My heart rate increased. “That’s what I am!”

Fast forward twelve years, and I’ve become that woman I transformed into in the bathroom -- minus the Miss America sash and crown. And in less than 30 days, I’ll be undergoing gender confirmation surgery. And for the first time ever, I finally see my body for what it is: a body that did it’s best with the tools life gave it.

I’m not saying that certain body parts define one’s gender identity, but for me, a certain aspect of my physiological makeup has never made sense. I’ve referred to it as a biological mistake, bodily glitch, and even just as it.

But all that was before I got my surgery authorization letter.

In less than 30 days, I’ll be rolled into a sterile operation room, close my eyes, and wake up whole in womanhood. I’ll finally be complete -- physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

A few days ago, my Taiwanese American friend who does tarot readings told me that before my operation, I should really take care of my body. For example, I should wearing green jade to metaphysically strengthen myself. In Chinese culture, jade bangles are believed to protect women from harm, breaking or chipping when their wearers are in danger.

I ordered two jade rings. One was probably enough, but I want extra protection.

I want to walk into this new chapter with a type of love I’ve hesitated to show my body. I was so distracted by the pain and frustration it prevented me from even considering loving it. And that’s why I’m dedicating this love letter to my body.

I love that you’ve kept me strong all the years to get me here today.

I love that you’ve tried your best to make me feel complete.

And most importantly, I love the time we’ve spent together.

People may think I hate my body, but I don’t. It’s just that for 27 years, we were never on the same page.

I’m excited to wake up from surgery, in the same body, just in a new form. I already have a post-surgery playlist ready. Yes, It’s full of Britney. And the next time I sing that song that got me through all these years, I’ll be singing it with my eyes open.

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