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Given to Fly: What I Learned From Traveling as a Trans Man

Time has gone back and forth, as time always does in my mind, and so have I.

I have been the aftermath of my very own Hiroshima. I’ve been a phoenix. I’ve been Pikachu at an LGBT* party. The scene existed, and it was pure magic. I was a perfectly timed word, an embrace or a shelter against the cold for someone once.

I was happy, even though I was broken.

I was fleeting. An eternal passenger, uprooting myself from everything and everyone.

So fleeting I became a rover.

My first journey was the dawn after the crippling pain of betrayal. No, it’s not bad poetry. Literally. It was the morning after I found out that the alleged woman of my life was cheating on me with a coworker. As I watched my world crumbling and my concept of love explode like a bottle of beer in a bar brawl, I thought about not going on the trip. Fuck that.

Setting foot on the Island was like returning to the realms of magic. Finding newly sprouted wings where I had shoulders. It has whetted an insatiable thirst. Suddenly the world was huge and I… I was born an explorer. Suddenly I could face my fears. Even if sometimes they still won. I stared them down, letting them know their expiration date was close.

“TRAVELING AS A TRANS MAN BROUGHT ABOUT A WHOLE NEW SET OF DREADS.”

Traveling as a trans man brought about a whole new set of dreads. Airports. Not passing in a situation where I preferred to go stealth. Coming out to the wrong crowd. Hostel bathrooms. Those used to be especially terrifying. Fortunately I have come to realize that the world is far less scary than my imagination. I found nothing but acceptance and respect. I won’t deny it is a privilege. But there are good people out there. Lots of them.

I have done so much I thought I never would. I got drunk in a battered airstrip that ran across a whole island. I loved on a rocky ledge covered by crunchy moss, overlooking the birth of a waterfall. I walked through a volcano. I set with the sun among palm tress. I strolled down the Street of Sighs. I relaxed where the fields become the sea. I backpacked in Europe.

“SO MANY FACES, SO MANY WAYS OF RECOVERING MY FAITH IN MANKIND. SO MANY I CAN’T STOP.”

I met the most unexpected people. Two Brazilian siblings in their sixties who shared a joint with me in Patagonia. He was a passionate naturalist. She’d been the first woman in a motorcycle club. Pure rock and roll. A gaucho from Mendoza, who lived alone and completely cut off in his shack, waking up every morning to the overwhelming Pincheira Castles. A French drug dealer. A Swedish hippie who lived in a cave house. A 7-year-old boy who spoke cockney English and Andalucian Spanish and believed that earthquakes were caused by monsters playing puzzles. A German girl who sang Bob Dylan songs in front of a bonfire. A Chinese man who witnessed my first glimpse of Amsterdam and was extra kind to me, although I had spilled my beer on him (accidentally!). So many faces, so many ways of recovering my faith in mankind. So many I can’t stop. There are so many more out there. So many unlikely connections, so many roads to take. So many fears to beat.

Maybe I am also immature. Maybe I’m afraid of staying. Somewhere, or in someone. Maybe I’d rather be the fleeting smile and not the feet of clay.

But who cares when adventure awaits?

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