Clear as Day

Jerome looked down at his phone as he whispered the phrases “I am handsome. I am worthy. I am man enough. I am beautiful.” He closed his eyes and repeated them once more. As he took a deep breath in, he made sure to fill his lungs with air completely before exhaling and opening his eyes to see his friend Micheal looking up at him. “Jero Ro!” he screamed but stopped once he realized his friend was still doing his morning affirmations. “Oh my bad, are you done?” Michael asked. “Yeah, just about.”

Micheal took a seat next Jerome in the back of the bus; their senior class was going on a trip to New York City for 3 days. “You have to put me on to those affirmations, I'm trying to get lifted you know, find my inner monk,” he said pretending to be in a meditative pose.
Jerome laughed, “Goofy is your middle, you have no sense of seriousness in you man,” he said, knocking Micheal out of his pose and showing him how to do it properly. Jerome put his journal on his head, closed his eyes, crossed his legs in the seat and stuck his tongue out. “This is how real monks meditate,” he said as the journal fell off his head hitting Micheal in the nose.

“See you can't hate on my affirmations bro, that’s karma for saying what you said,” he said trying to hold his laugh. “No really though I'm actually interested in affirmations and meditate. I need some spiritual healing.” He paused and said, “What’s that song that goes Heartbreak on a Full moon, because of you,” Micheal said shaking his head up and down, and doing what looked to be a chicken imitation.

“I’ll put you on, whenever you’re ready. It’s really not that hard just think about what you want for yourself in life and where you want your spirit to be.” Micheal began to take some time to think.

While he waited Jerome thought about what Micheal said before about imitating monks. The thing about meditation and affirmations for Jerome is doing affirmations and meditating in the morning wasn’t about mimicking anyone else, but about finding peace within himself. It wasn’t easy getting to where he is today.

As a child Jerome was Emily.

He lived most of his life trying to please his parents. He never had a sense of identity that was rooted in his own individual spirit. His parents were from Jamaica, they had very old-fashioned views and didn’t really think much about one's individual identity. Life for them wasn’t about self-realization or inner peace; it seemed to be more about just doing things to survive, make money, and repeat the cycle.

He never understood their way of living. True love between them was something he never saw, or maybe he did but it was disguised as a business partnership gone wrong. Despite his home life he still managed to break away and work on himself. Granted he is only 18 at the moment but at 14 he really began to explore himself.

His gender identity was something that was natural. The media and society made it seem like being a person of trans experience was this big newborn gender reveal/ baby shower. And although it somewhat mirrored events like those, it wasn’t something new. That part of an individuals identity is not like a “rebirth”. It’s more a missing piece to a lifelong mosaic. It's not new to the spirit but new to the immediate mind.

Jerome struggled with his confidence when he figured out his gender identity. He tried everything he could to deny who is he because he was afraid of what the world would think. He thought others may think he was making it up.

But he knew he wasn’t happy pretending to be someone he was not. He knew his character was no different than it had been.

He found the courage to tell his best friend Micheal. He wasn’t sure how he would react. He was nervous and terrified that he would dismantle their friendship. But to his surprise, Micheal was extremely accepting and open. He wanted to know how Jerome truly felt, how long he knew, what he was planning on doing to affirm himself. He was the best support system. He was everything Jerome needed to believe in himself.

“Alright I have my goals and spiritual needs,” said Micheal with a big grin on his face.
Jerome looked up and smiled as he listened to him list them.