I’m sorry I gave Lands your name. I know it’s something we should have agreed upon first, but Michaela, I didn’t mean to scare him. I didn’t know he would hurt you like that. I had no idea that telling him I was a girl would- I didn’t even know we were going with Michaela. I always thought you would be Nicole. Mom always wanted a Lauren, but I think she wanted to be the one to name her. But I also don’t think I should have such a blatant girl name. I’m not even a girl, I’m just closer to that than any other word you could think to give me. So we’ll call you Michaela, but you’re not the right option for me. You are the woman I never got to be. The person that everyone seems to be scared I’ll become. The girl I can’t commit to becoming. I’ve learned so much from you, but telling him that you exist just proved to me that you don’t. You’re not the final answer. I’m still me, just not the me people think they see. Maybe I’ll find another name, but we can work together to make you a more substantial part of my life. I just need to make sense of all of these people I think I could be and find one concrete person.
You did the thing. You called me the thing. You said the word .. Uhm. You called me han.. Uh. You called me handsome. And that’s not. Uhm. It’s not like a slip up, it’s not an accident.. it’s your opinion. And I know you think it was a compliment but it’s just ..a thing that I can’t hear. I guess I should have brought this up earlier, but I never know how much is too much too soon. You can’t call me that. Look, when I was in college, having what I was calling my sexual revolution, but what I now refer to as .. “college..” I was lonely and making a lot of mistakes and I had this one night stand. This was the year I went through the rainbow in hair dye, so at this point I was blood red, like Little Mermaid red. Me and some guy were having sex, on my bunk bed, and he like put his hand over my hair so he couldn’t see it anymore and he told me “you’re so handsome.” Like, I know people call Angelica Houston handsome and if I really wanted gender equality words wouldn’t have implications of gender, he tried every kind of retort here. But I asked him not to do that and he just kept telling me I was handsome. I was a handsome man. So I get it. You think that’s a compliment. But I’m telling you it’s not.
Dear ..oh I don’t even remember your name.
I’m quite aware that I am the first trans person that a lot of people meet. So, statistically, it makes sense that I’m also the first trans person most of those people date. Which is fine, I don’t mind being different than what you’re used to. What I don’t like is being your training wheels. I like talking about gender and identity, but I’m not a fucking encyclopedia. We sat at lunch for two whole hours talking about my gender. Okay, to be fair you weren’t as bad as the date that literally asked for photo ID. We went over where you work and went to school, but from the second the food came it was Trans 101 and I was Professor Exploited. “When did you know you were different? Do you know Laverne Cox? I heard that hormones are actually really bad for you. Two gay brothers? And you? Ugh, your poor father…” Pretty invasive stuff for someone I just met to be asking me when all I know is that you work in finance. When the check came, I went to the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to pretend to try to pay for my meal. When I came back you said “So, I noticed you came out of the Men’s room,” but all I noticed was that you didn’t pay the check.
Context: Love Letters to Nobody is a solo piece by Maybe Burke. These are standalone monologues that don’t have character names, and pronouns can be malleable. Please reach out to the playwright at maybeburke.com if you’d like to learn more.