Calliope’s Honoring her Parents.
It’s been over a year now since I started my campaign for trans woman inclusion at Smith College, and I’ve kept silent. I’ve not made any dorky Sherlock jokes or started any conversations about trans equality here, although—in case you’re wondering—I’ve been busy with other activism as part of the SPARKsummit intergenerational, intersectional (international as well) feminist organization. I’m a college sophomore now. The administration at Smith has paid some lip-service to trans inclusion since the campaign and petition, although their current policies are still ridiculous and unrealistic for the majority of trans women. You can read about the recent protest on campus here.
More than a year’s passed since that first letter to you. And life has moved on for me, in a lot of ways.
Me, at the beginning of the Smith Campaign.
Me, 12:40am, 7/21/2014.
I’m a premed-track English major at the UConn Honors program, and I’m both scared and excited about organic chemistry with four English classes next semester. I’ve since realized my gaming snobbery and am finally getting into League of Legends. My hair was, indeed, dark green for a while—now it’s fading into gold-brown, a weird color that somehow feels exactly right to me. The biggest change so far isn’t something that visible, though—having a year to figure out and come to terms and grow into myself has been kind to me.
I’m learning to feel my fear, but not to let it stop me or haunt me or turn me back from what I must do. I’m learning to look after myself, too. For once in my life I am aware that the proverbial Stamina Bar™ above my head isn’t infinite, and that it’s alright to ask for help rather than burning out alone. The past year has shown me that I am a person deserving of my own care, my own shield raised high.
The truth is, it’s exactly my neglecting these lessons that’s prompted me to write this letter. I told myself when I started the first draft of this letter (about half a year ago) that I’d not draw this out more than necessary. It’s difficult, and I’ve been scared to ask for the past year, and I’m scared right now, but I’ve got to ask.
I need your help, everyone, in raising money for bottom surgery—also known as SRS (a somewhat outdated but still-popular term, “sex-reassignment surgery”) or GCS (gender confirmation surgery). I would like to raise $20,000 by August 29th to repay at least the monetary debt I owe to my parents, who have already pledged to fully fund the cost of my bottom surgery. I can only hope that I’ll be able to honor the support and love my parents have given me over many more years.
Of course I’ve been thinking about all the responses I could get for a long time now.
I understand there are many worthy causes you could donate to, and I’m sure that what I ask seems outlandish. The sheer enormity of the amount I am asking for does not escape me—but the simple truth is that I want to repay in at least monetary terms, what my parents have freely given me.
I am wordlessly lucky to be my parents’ daughter. If not for them, there would be no activist Calliope Wong—there would be no campaign for trans equality in admissions at Smith, or any of it. I understand this is a great deal of money I am asking to raise. The timeframe I am looking at—about one month and a week—is also extremely short. But our power, in numbers, is so strong.
I know that not everyone is able to donate, and that is perfectly fine. Share on social media, if you’re able. I only ask that you remember—over 5,000 people signed the petition for my campaign, asking for trans women at Smith. With 5,000 supporters, repaying my monetary debt is also possible.
I write too much, now.
Just to say:
I would like to pay back the two people behind all of my efforts, my parents, so that I can finally put the question of “should I ask” and “did I try hard enough to honor them” to rest. Please, help me to repay this debt of love.
A few dollars from many, many friends will win this. I’m counting on you!
Here’s the donation page.