[Ed. Note — This open letter to trans youth comes courtesy of a group of transgender and allied adults, some of whom live in or have connections to Charlotte. Written in response to news of Blake Brockington’s passing, the writers of this letter wanted a way to speak to the youth of this community without the focus being shifted to the authors as individuals. The newspaper does not usually publish works by those who seek to do so anonymously; however, after speaking to the authors, we have made an exception in this case. The newspaper staff hopes this letter will bring a message of support and encouragement to transgender youth in our area.]

To the trans and gender-creative youth of Charlotte (and beyond),

We believe you. We know the names you use for yourselves are the right names. You are exactly whom you know yourselves to be, and we are grateful to share this world with every part of you. We are listening to you and learning from you.

We see your strength and power and insight. Those of you who are sorting out your names and truths know yourselves far better than most of us ever will. Your willingness to learn about yourselves at such depths is remarkable. To all of you who have recognized your true selves, no matter how privately or publicly, we recognize you, too. There may not even be words that capture all that you are, but we believe that you know yourselves far better than language could ever describe anything, anyway.

Each of you is more beautiful and real than some of the world can even imagine. Your realness scares people who are not ready to know themselves the way that you know yourselves. But your realness inspires the rest of us to know ourselves better.

Whether you live quietly or loudly, our lives are better because you exist. The world is better because you know yourself. Because you want to know yourself. Because you are real. We are grateful for your realness, and we thank you for existing; we thank you for being.

It is not okay that people’s fear of knowing themselves affects you. And we know it affects you. We know it hurts you. We know it holds you down sometimes. And we know it hurts your friends and your champions, too.

We are promising this: the voices of the fearful will no longer be louder than the voices of the grateful. You have long deserved for us to speak loudly. And we are starting today. Today and every day after, we will be shouting: You are more than enough. You are real. We believe you. We love you. We thank you. : :