I can't open up my news feed right now without seeing article after article about trans rights in the united states. I can't escape it. At precisely the same moment it feels like all eyes are both on my trans siblings and I... and yet also entirely seeing through us. It's a new and horrifying experience for me to find myself talked about by Others as if I wasn't even there.
If there's ever an existential horror movie I think I'd find too uncomfortable to ever watch, it'd be about people debating your right to even exist.
I mention this to perhaps explain, at least a little bit, the emotional state I was in when I walked in on my housemate watching the Doctor Who episode "Deep Breath", Peter Capaldi's first episode as The Doctor.
I arrived to see the final ten minutes of the episode - an episode I'd seen numerous times before, albeit pre-transition.
Clara is scared of this strange and erratic old man who replaced her best friend and travelling companion. Gone is the young, brilliant idiot with the grin who she clearly had a bit of a crush on. Replaced by someone with his memories, his abilities... but little else the same.
At the end of the episode as she's at her most nervous she receives a phone call, folded through time, from The Doctor - her Doctor. Her friend. Not the new one. He delivers a monologue. He explains how scared the new Doctor will be. That he needs her help.
This new Doctor, the nervous man in the entirely new body, shuffles out of the TARDIS as she finishes the phone call.
He says, "You can't see me, can you? You look at me, and you can't see me. Have you any idea what that's like? I'm not on the phone, I'm right here, standing in front of you. Please, just, just see me."
At that point I began crying.
I am the same person I have always been. I have much the same interests, fears and desires (plus some new ones, of course) but I am fundamentally the same person, no matter how different I look, or even act.
Yet somehow I can't escape this confusion I sometimes feel.
From people I've known for years as they try to reconcile the bitter bearded guy they'd known for years and the girl getting excited about a new shade of lipstick she's about to buy.
From myself as I walk into a room and years of training have told me to expect one reaction and I get quite another. People talking over me. Staring at my cleavage. A bartender mansplaining why my choice of whiskey was wrong.
The entire world became hundreds of times more scary and confusing, in a time span so short it feels like like it was overnight.
I don't know what it's like to have a close friend transition. That's one experience I so far lack. All my trans friends are people I've only ever known as trans people, even if I got to see them go through hormone therapy.
So I can't imagine what they go through now. I can only know what it feels like to have my world upended so very fast and in such a strange way.
Our lives are so often defined by the way we are treated. It affects our reactions and our perceptions of the world. It IS the world to us.
So now I can't escape the feeling that the whole world has changed.
It may be me who's changed, and in ways I can't really see because I am the one who's changed, but from my perspective? It's the world that has changed.
And when eyes settle on me differently - when everything seems to shift - I am left wondering why so many people can't seem to quite see me the same any more.
Gender plays a far bigger role in our view of the world and in the way the world reacts to us than I'd ever imagined.
So that line will keep repeating in my head every time I feel something different: "Please, just see me."
I'm still here, even if it may not seem like it.