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Luana is a revolutionary transgender Albanian woman, passionate and inspiring as a leader in the cause. She is equipped with the real weapons of spiritual revolution: art, literature, and music. She is the personification of the stars that comprise her zodiac, all coalescing into an incredibly strong character. She is the founder of the Ylberofilia (rainbowphilia) movement, a movement that aims not only to provide education around LGBTI multiculturalism but also to promote the human, artistic, and professional values of the community. She dreams and hopes that one day it will be a strong point of support and help for her community and beyond.

Leah Whitman-Salkin is an editor and researcher.

1 essay
by Luana

translated by Leah Whitman-Salkin

Dearest Ersild

24 April 2021

Dearest Ersild,

 

I’m writing because it’s been some time since I no longer feel you. First, please don’t worry if you think you didn’t do things correctly. There are so many things I never told you and I want you to know that I am very proud of you; proud of how you dared, failed, and lived at the same time. You have been surrounded by many unknowns, most of which you did not even want to know, because they looked at you with disdain and contempt, but those inner demons did not have the slightest influence over you.

 

You were lucky enough to grow up in a family where you were given a lot of love and devotion, as the youngest son with two grown sisters who cared so much for you. I dearly remember how you brought me to life and how you met Luana. It was precisely the period of adolescence, a period when the bathroom of the house turns into an art laboratory, where autoeroticism is experimented with. But that bathroom of yours resembled a morgue antechamber and your autoerotic rituals were of a different sort, judged widely by others. To you they resembled a suicidal autopsy of the self. It was this very mass of people who viewed sex as a mechanical method for ejaculating lust and breeding “herds.”

 

One hundred dilemmas unfolded, the light and shadows of innocent passions, those that make you understand Kafka’s metamorphosis, a metamorphosis that was happening to you—as a person.

 

But now that Luana has materialized in your body I think everything has probably taken direction, and now you can be free.

 

I want you to know that at the beginning I also had endless difficulties. I remember the most challenging part: after an accident I needed medical care from those who are meant to be the guardians of life, but among them it felt as if I was receiving mortal care by nocturnal gravediggers. Everyone abandoned me: where I should have received the care promised in the Hippocratic Oath, instead the hypocritical oath served me; the white coats that give hope turned into black shirts, plucking out cannulas and saline drips from my arm as if they were pruning the branches of a diseased tree.

 

These are definitely not the only problems of being T    . Curiosity but also ignorance—and ignorance always leads to uncomfortable questions. Without fail I am asked how we have sex and what “equipment” we are “working with” under our belts.

 

Still, being T     here is uncomfortable because everyone becomes uncomfortable when they are around me. Even people who support me and others like me often feel afraid of saying something wrong. The feeling of being ashamed to ask usually stops them from learning more about our world and what it means to be us.

An annoying part of going out in public and in everyday life as T     is that people don’t even want to know what to say. When someone comes out as G   , people know the primary meaning of the word, but when someone comes out as T    , you have to face all the misunderstandings that influence people’s perception of us.

 

Do you remember the moment when you told mom… she was completely understanding, but when you were talking to her about the physical transition, she was alarmed. Poor thing, who is to blame her? There are dozens of surgeries to affirm one’s gender—facial feminization, breasts—and transform the masculine physique, up until the final surgery.

 

Many T     people complete only one procedure in their lives because they don’t feel like doing more, and also because they are expensive, as health insurance doesn’t cover such needs.

 

However, I’m a white T     F       who is a bit privileged; I can only imagine how hard it is for nonbinary people, T     men, and T     people of color.

 

Often, my dear, the first step for a person wanting to physically transition is hormone replacement therapy, where, in short, a second puberty is experienced. And the moment a person defines their gender as T    , others must also respect their new gender or their new pronouns.

 

Do not get me started about public bathrooms… Ha. When I began using women’s public toilets, confused and critical looks began to haunt me; and perversity was saved for moments when I was using men’s toilets… Ehhh. Dearest Ersild… I inherited from you a temple of a body, in which all my prayers were fulfilled, where I was reborn as the self of my inner consciousness, which did not need psychotherapy in order to emerge, and for this I am very grateful.

 

My love, lastly, I’ve wanted to share something hopeful that I recently read, which we can both use as an inspirational refrain: “There is no eternal happiness on earth, there are only fragments of it. Live differently tomorrow than today and start to live differently than yesterday. Love yourself, the earth you tread, the wind that caresses you; communicate with all living forms of nature and feel the extraordinary energy of the cosmos. Read and nurture yourself gently and always have confidence in yourself. Go calmly on the path of life with the belief that you will get where you desire.”

 

Thank you, Ersild, for everything. I will remember and love you forever.

With love,

 

Your Luana