I knew you were completely different from the moment you first saw my exposed chest. We were laying down and I remember catching my breath as my cutoff t-shirt slid down and exposed half of my chest.

You crept your hand up to rest on my collar bone and inside I was terrified of what you might think about my scars. The second your hand trailed down to the long scar on the left side of my chest I thought that was game over, I thought for sure it would send you running.

I was expecting something, anything, but instead, you just traced my battle wounds and without saying a word, leaned in to kiss me, leaving me speechless and breathless.

Being transgender, the thought is always at the forefront of my mind and a sense of anxiety follows me wherever I go.  When I’m in public I feel as if it is stamped on my forehead and everybody can tell.

I act so confidently, but my deepest secret is that being trans is actually my biggest insecurity. Every day I wake up and feel the need to prove to myself as well as the rest of the world that I am man enough, it gets so exhausting.

When I first came to terms with myself as a trans man I accepted the fact that there was a huge chance that I would never find love. How could anyone voluntarily be with someone like me who comes with so many strings attached?

How would they explain that to their parents and family? Would they approve? Not to mention the hate and ridicule they would also be prone to just being guilty by association.

I just felt like too much of an obstacle, too much of a burden, so dating was always the last thing on my mind. But then you came along, you took every doubt I’ve ever had about myself and threw it right out of the window.

I’ll never forget how you shut down the coward with the random number that first texted you reminding you that I was a “tranny freak” or how you were afraid to tell me because you didn’t want to see the hurt in my eyes.

Remember your first Warped Tour? Remember how excruciatingly hot it was? I kept my tank top on for as long as I could before exposing my bare chest for everyone and their mother to see my scars, and I only kept it on in fear of making you have to be seen with the ever so obvious trans guy.

I was a fool—I don’t know why I ever let that thought take up space in my mind because, since the day I met you, you’ve made me feel like such a man. I was so embarrassed the first time you watched me take my shot, knowing that’s what made me a man. I felt artificial and fake, I didn’t want you to think that too. Instead of cringing or looking away, you put your hand on my shoulder because you know my hatred of needles. In an instant, one simple touch, the anxiety, and nerves were gone.

There will never be a day that comes where I don’t feel like a burden on your life, making you prone to that kind of hate all because of what I am. I make you such an easy target but you never let that show. When I am with you, I completely forget about being trans. You never let it hold any ground in our relationship. Being with you is like coming up for fresh air and you bring me such a sense of relief, you feel like home.

I’ve only ever felt that same sensation once before in my life, and that was waking up post-top-surgery to my new chest. Whenever I doubt myself you’re always the first to put me right in my place, even and especially when I don’t know I need it most. “You came in, ripped up all the weeds, and planted a garden. You fixed what everyone else broke and you did it with a smile.”

I can conquer the world with one hand as long as you’re holding the other. I don’t have the slightest clue where this crazy life will take me but one thing is for certain… And it’s that I want you right there with me. There are no words strong enough to express what or how much you mean to me. I could spend the rest of my days telling you how thankful I am to have you in my life as my partner but it still would never be enough. Thank you for showing me what it’s like to feel wanted, thank you for filling a void and making me feel whole, thank you for making me feel like a man every second of every day, and thank you for loving me when I didn’t and couldn’t love myself. You are my greatest gift, chief.