The Way of Nature

Photo by Charlie Davies

By Charlie Davies

I wrote this text as a celebration of change. 

In nature, I see so many examples of change. Birds molt, caterpillars metamorphose, water shifts its state, even some rocks transform into others. Some natural phenomena seem almost artificial, like bioluminescence in fireflies or comb jellies. I have always felt a special connection with nature ever since I was a child, and when I began to question my gender as a teenager, the outdoors provided a place for me to exist without being perceived as a girl or a boy, just as another natural being. Taking photos in nature is my way of connecting with and celebrating the world. 

In August of 2018, I made a very significant change; I started testosterone. This was something I fought very hard to accomplish, since I was 17 at the time, and getting on testosterone as a minor is full of roadblocks such as gender counseling, therapy, and obtaining parental permission. It was what I needed at the time, and it felt natural to see my body change as months went by. 

In fall of 2019, as I was getting ready for my upcoming top surgery in December, I read a text for class called Performing Trans Rage by author Susan Stryker. In it, Stryker celebrates the artificiality of the trans body and takes power in how it is, in her opinion, against nature. Before reading this, I had never thought of my body as unnatural. Stryker considers this a positive thing, but I didn’t. It distressed me to think of my body as opposed to the natural world that I love so much. 

Eventually I came to realize that change and transformation are everywhere in nature. In the same way that Stryker is empowered by how she sees herself as artificial, I am empowered by what I have in common with other natural beings around me, regardless of how my body changes. 

Some time after I had come to peace with this conclusion, my gender identity has started changing once again. I’ve begun to feel less identified with being male and more with being non-binary. A few weeks ago, I made the decision to stop testosterone. I’ve also been experimenting with my gender expression; growing my hair out and occasionally wearing dresses for the first time since I was thirteen. 

Making these changes were incredibly difficult for me to come to terms with. I initially felt like they invalidated my choices to go on testosterone and get top surgery, somehow rendered them less natural, or made me “less trans.” 

But my conception that the trans body is not artificial has strengthened me as I navigate this new stage of my life, because I understand that change and growth is the most natural thing there is. No matter how my body continues to change, it will always be at one with nature. 

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