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Photo by James Lee on Unsplash of a large rainbow unicorn cake sitting, out of focus, behind several small rainbow-icing-bedecked cupcakes with unlit golden candles.

A Cunt’s 30 Things To Own By 30

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My cohort Kate, author of Girly Juice and producer and co-host of The Dildorks, wrote a neat blog post in the spring about 27 Great Things to Own Before 27, and it made me think about my own 27th birthday in 2017.

My 27th was at a very different point in life, right before I fled my abusive home life with my parents and my abusive spouse for a completely different coast with only my best friend of 17 years as a guaranteed safety net in my real life. Astrology dorks like myself often follow the belief that 27 is a year associated with the “return of Saturn,” a turning point where someone’s life begins to shift and change drastically from the previous 26 years. For me, 27 was a year with a lot of painful and necessary growth.

There are definitely some things I wish I owned before 27, things I’m glad I owned by 27, and things that I think other people from all backgrounds should own before 27. Kate’s list was fun, and reflects her life and interests at that time. It was a wonderfully thought-provoking topic. I began to think about what I wish I owned by 27, and I wanted to share some of my own insights. 

My list is not a fun list, with room for anything monogrammed or bespoke, or casual luxuries. These lists have their place, but those are not things my life has ever allowed resources or room for. There are plenty of places you can find such a list, should you feel the need to customize and adorn your life. I’m not really in a position in life to do such a thing, so you don’t get that from me.Selfie of Sugar in their dining room. They wear a green v-neck wrap dress, and their hair is in two pigtails on the side of their head. They're smiling with their head tilted slightly, wearing red lipstick, gold eyeshadow, and purple mascara. A metal costume jewelry choker with black and clear glass stones in the middle adorns their throat. They wear silver and amethyst stud earrings in their lobes

My list is, instead, a list of basic adulting advice *I* desperately needed much sooner to live a happier and healthier life, because it was not provided to me in my first 27 years.

Since I turned 29 yesterday, and I was homeless from Dec – June and we all know that 1 day of homelessness makes you feel like the fucking Crypt Keeper, I’m going to bump us up to 30.

Here are 30 things from my own life that I suggest you acquire before your big 3-0, as early as 27, and earlier if you’re an overachiever. (Honestly I recommend learning more about these ASAP, but hopefully your life has more stability than mine does, so time won’t be of the essence.)

BONUS EDIT: Since so many people have found this post helpful, I’d like to throw another tool at y’all: https://www.benefitscheckup.org/

This site is geared toward seniors, but you don’t have to be a senior to benefit from it – in fact, it helped me a great deal by giving me information about a ton of programs (some of which I’ve mentioned here, like Pfizer Pathways) in my local area that I’m eligible to apply for.

In your benefits report it will also give you the location of a local social services office that would be willing to help you apply if you aren’t feeling up to doing it all yourself.

You can uncheck anything that gets you mail from the Council on Aging if you have no need for their information, but if you’re already well beyond your 30s, you might be surprised by what they have to offer! As I’m not signed up for their mailing list, I don’t know. You can always unsubscribe from their mailing list if it’s not your speed.

  1. An understanding of your available healthcare options, whether that is limited to free clinics, group therapy programs, Medicaid providers, or a popular insurance company.
    • If you don’t live in the US, this is hopefully much more simple for you! You might even be lucky enough to get to see a doctor when you need to, which is more than most of us Americans can ask for lately.
  2. A counselor or therapist, if aforementioned healthcare options exist in a way that’s accessible to you. Sometimes you just need an unbiased person to unload on, even if you don’t feel like you have huge life crises. Don’t assume that you’re too “normal” or “well-adjusted” or “not struggling enough” to improve your life with therapy! Building a relationship with a therapist BEFORE you’re in crisis means that you’ll have a professional on-hand who knows what your life looks like when it’s stable.
    • A trained counselor can be that person and knows how to ask questions to lead you to your own conclusions about a topic. And if one type of therapy doesn’t work for you, that’s okay – you always have the right to ask for a referral to another provider for any reason, even if it’s just that you just don’t click with your current therapist.
    • There are a number of different therapeutic techniques beyond Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – there are other popular options such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Schema Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Family Systems Therapy, Mentalization Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which is rapidly gaining popularity as a treatment option for people with both complex and acute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 
    • Not every therapeutic approach is right for everyone, and that’s okay. You may have to try several providers to figure out what a good style of therapy is for you. You also need to find a practice that works with your lifestyle. CBT, for example, takes consistent work over a span of time for many people to see optimal improvement with it, and a more engaged therapist who is available to help you when you’re struggling outside your appointments can be a valuable ally as you work through your issues. 
    • Many practitioners may use a blend of techniques from various practices, so you needn’t necessarily choose a single kind of therapy. Some therapists may give you “homework” such as journaling or behavior logging, art therapy assignments, mindfulness or meditation practice. 
    • The name “homework” understandably has negative associations for some, but the point of many types of therapy is that you are learning coping and regulation skills independently, and homework is a way to practice these techniques and gather more data outside the 45-60 minutes your therapist may have allotted to speak with you.
  3. Clear understanding of what abusive and toxic behavior look like, especially emotional abuse, of what gaslighting is, and how to identify them in others, to others, as well as admitting them to yourself.
    • Sometimes you’re the one perpetuating this behavior, and then you have to quit that shit. I’ve been embroiled in codependence, gaslighting, enabling my abusers, and mutual toxicity plenty in my past; my life is better for shedding those habits and staying away from people who perpetuate them now. Give it a try – your 20s are ending, don’t start your third decade as an asshole.
  4. Information about local and national domestic violence hotlines and homeless shelters in case of emergency in every place you move to, as well as knowledge about DIY Cybersecurity in a high-surveillance situation. When I fled my abuse vortex I had local DV numbers in my phone in case something escalated.
    • A couple popular domestic violence hotlines with TTY/TDD options: 
      1. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) – 800-656-4673 (HOPE)
      2. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)
        • NCADV TTY Hotline: 1-800-787-3224
        • NCADV’s website, which you can reach by clicking the link provided above, has a “quick exit” button in the bottom right corner in case you need to hide what you’re researching. If you don’t get much privacy, as I didn’t, it may be helpful for you.
  5. A prepackaged first aid kit that you supplement with things that match your own medical needs – you know you have IBS, you carry Imodium and Pepto in the kit too. You get the gist, probably, but here’s what mine looks like:
    • Non-latex band-aids of various sizes
    • Gauze pads
    • Antibacterial ointment such as Neosporin
    • Alcohol wipes or a bottle of isoproyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
    • An NSAID that’s most effective for you, if you can take them (popular OTC NSAIDs are Ibuprofen and Alieve/Naproxen Sodium – I find Naproxen vastly more effective than Ibuprofen for my needs, personally)
    • Acetaminophen (aka Tylenol)
    • Loperamide (aka Imodium) for anti-diarrheal purposes
    • Ranitidine (aka Zantac) for GERD life
    • Calcium chews (like TUMS) for GERD backup
    • An antihistamine (like Benadryl) because allergies are the pits, to say nothing of breaking out into hives
    • If you’ve got an allergy serious enough to merit an Epi-Pen, I’d definitely say aim to keep one with your first aid kit if you can access it. I realize they’re prohibitively expensive, and since I don’t have an allergy that necessitates one, I can’t have one in my kit, but I wish I did, because it’s an important and potentially life-saving thing to have on-hand. Which leads me to my next point…
  6. Information on how to get affordable prescription medications and medical supplies.
    • GoodRx was the first program like this that helped me a lot when I was uninsured back in WNC. Some doctor’s offices have their discount card at the front desk or can provide you with one, or you can get one from their website, as well as information on which pharmacy near you has the cheapest prices on the drugs you need.
    • I haven’t tried FamilyWize’s prescription discount program, but it appears to work similarly to GoodRx’s.
    • And a third medication discount card that works with some of the most common large pharmacies like Wal-Mart, CVS, and Walgreens: SingleCare.
    • Rx Outreach is a fully-licensed nonprofit mail-order pharmacy that offers discounts on over 400 prescription drugs if your household income is at or below 400% of US Federal Poverty Level. 
      • According to their FAQ, this means a single-person household cannot exceed a yearly income of $49,960, and a four-person household cannot exceed an income of $103,000. 
      • If you’re covered by Medicare Part D, their FAQ says you are still capable of seeing savings with this! 
    • Pfizer Pathways is a patient assistance program that the pharmaceutical company Pfizer offers to help people afford their drugs. Sure, it’s not as helpful as making it freely available and breaking the capitalist bullshit Big Pharma lobbies to perpetuate, but it CAN help you, dear reader, get the drugs you need, and many people who have Medicare or Medicare’s Prescription Drug Coverage can still be eligible for this assistance. They’ll work with your doctor to determine what your needs are. It has no co-pays and no enrollment fees to apply.
      • Pfizer offers a hotline with Medication Access Counselors to help you pick which program might help you best: 1-844-989-7284
      • I don’t see a TTY line on Pfizer’s “Contact Us” page, so unfortunately I’m not sure if one exists to help Deaf and HOH people access this service.
    • When your doctor prescribes you a prohibitively expensive drug that you can’t avoid taking, ask them if the pharma company that makes it has a patient assistance program you can apply for. 
  7. Information about and experience with using public transportation – if you can’t walk everywhere and don’t have a car, can you navigate the bus and train routes around the place you reside with AND without your phone? What if you have to walk? Being able to read a bus line chart might help, and in Washington it was not nearly as intuitive as I hoped it would be. Don’t wait until you’re high and dry to figure out how this works – learn from my mistakes.
    • How To Read A Bus Schedule
    • How Do You Read A Train Timetable?
    • Your metro area may have its own app for monitoring public transit times, but I hated Seattle’s app for its bus times so I mostly just used Google Maps for that. I was impressed by the amount of info Maps had about the bus timetables in the Sound area.
    • Many states with public transit like WA and OR have discount fare cards for Disabled people and people living in poverty – in WA, all you need to do is be on EBT, or Medicaid, or have a federally-recognized disability to qualify for King County’s discounted ORCALift card.
  8. A reusable water bottle that you actually use. Novel, right? Hey, if we’re in our late 20s we’re “getting up there,” so we probably have a med that gives us dry mouth anyway. You’ll be glad you have it when you least expect it. I recommend a metal one if you can get it, but if you opt for plastic, try to find something BPA-free!
  9. A way to manage your medications and ensure you take them regularly. For some people this is dividing them into time of day boxes, for other people it’s just setting a reminder on an app like Medisafe, but whatever you do, and however many pills you have to take (for me, it’s currently at a low of 12 a day), we have to start taking care of ourselves more seriously than we did before as our bodies start freaking out because our 30s are coming.
  10. Basic knowledge of barriers, STI prevention, symptoms, and treatment, and where you can get tested for free. If you’re in the US, the CDC has a map that lets you select low-cost and free clinics when you’re searching in your area.
  11. A medical masterlist is never a bad idea, especially if you’re chronically ill like I am. Here’s mine so you can see what I keep track of! I removed my family history for their privacy, but otherwise that document is pretty much the exact twin of the one I keep updated in my Gdrive. If you’d like to download it, you can download or copy the template from GDocs, or download it in:
  12. Someone in your life you can trust to keep you safe and take you to the hospital if you need to be admitted or committed for any reason.
    • If you really want to be prepared, make a list for this person of what circumstances you would want to be involuntarily committed, if any, as well as any important medical info they need to know (your medications, allergies, etc.) 
    • If you make a medical masterlist like I mentioned above, give them a copy! If you’ve already established an advance directive (or power of attorney and living will), this person should know you have it. And on that note…
  13. An advance directive. Yes, it may feel morbid for some of you, especially if you’re abled and unfamiliar with your own mortality, to think about your advance directive. It might be scary to think about the end of your life so soon, or to imagine a severe medical situation. However, preparedness is an investment in your health, and peace of mind of your loved ones. There is nothing wrong with having a worst-case-scenario-safety-net in place now.
  14. Someone in your life with a comparable amount of privilege and a genuine dedication to uplifting marginalized people who will call you on your shared privilege, and tell you when you do something fucked-up, so a marginalized person doesn’t have to expend labor or suffer at your hands because of your ignorance.
    • I’ve been incredibly appreciative when marginalized people have been willing to educate me, and their help has been essential in changing me for the better, and their voices and the work they do are essential to our world. 
    • An important part of being an ally to any community is using your privilege to educate other people who share it, so that the onus to educate doesn’t always fall on the shoulders of people we’re oppressing. We need to call other people with our privilege in or out when they screw up, and amplify the voices of the marginalized people who explain why.
    • If you fuck up, the onus is on you to learn further, and you shouldn’t just be taking your privileged pal’s word on everything. Go read the words from people who live that experience every day.
  15. An analog distraction that engages your brain, ideally at least one that is relatively portable. One day, your phone will die and you might not be able to replace it (hahaha I don’t know anything about this! Wait, fuck, yes I do). Or maybe you just won’t be able to charge it for a few hours. Or maybe you need to ignore it because you’re just fueling your anxiety by checking it constantly.
    • Either way, if non-digital distractions are accessible to you, get one. You never know when you’ll end up stuck in a situation where you don’t have ANY digital equipment, and all you have are crossword puzzles, coloring books, journaling, and golf pencils. I learned this during my two stays in the mental hospital last fall-winter, and crossword puzzles are my go-to engaging analog distraction.
    • You might also enjoy fidget spinners, goop, Rubix Cubes, jigsaw puzzles, a pack of cards, or books or magazines to read, including choose-your-own-adventure books.

      Photo of a page in the Game of Thrones coloring book, featuring Cersei and an owl. Cersei and the owl are stippled, but much of the background has yet to be colored in
    • Some of my favorite coloring books:
  16. Some way to keep track of your days, thoughts, and experiences. You’re probably forgetting more as you get older, or as you accrue more trauma (or both, like me). A lot of people don’t get into journaling traditionally, we often feel weird, like, “what should I write? I have nothing to say.” The start of regular journaling for me had a lot of pages that were just short updates on what I’d been doing that day, or emotion dumps. You might not prefer a traditional journal at all, and that’s okay – not everyone is into writing as much as I am, and even if you ARE big into writing, not every writer likes to log things the same way, either. 
    • You don’t need a lined notebook like I have. There are many phone and computer apps specifically geared for daily journaling of various types. If you like hand-writing as I do, then bullet journaling, special planners, sketchbook, “workbook” -type journals like Wreck This Journal, and other books that give prompts or at least check in on your well-being are all similar, useful options.
    • Why am I so into journaling? Not just because I like to write, or because I can mine my journals for content, but because journaling immediately after an upsetting incident can help prevent me from being gaslit by toxic people because I have my full recollection of what happened written down somewhere. Gaslighting can literally affect your brain and your memory. Journaling helps me be sure I’m less susceptible to that. It also is an effective coping skill for me sometimes, just writing out all the nastiness in my head instead of letting it steep or taking it out on another person.
    • If you don’t know what to write about, here’s hella writing prompts I’ve bookmarked.
  17. A full understanding of the fact that your intent does not ultimately matter more than your impact, and when your intent constantly mismatches your impact, you may be doing harm or communicating poorly. 
    • This is an important component of allyship and activism. It’s important for us to consider how much space we’re taking up, if we’re dominating the conversation or alienating other people, and modify our approach accordingly. 
    • When your partner’s intent constantly mismatches their impact on you, they may be doing you harm, and creeping normalcy or gaslighting may be making you write off each behavior.
  18. A support system of friends (not just romantic partners, I’m serious) who genuinely express compassion, love, and care for you, and show up for you, and who you trust to communicate with you if they see your partner/s being toxic.
    • Bonus points if you’re lucky enough to have a community that shows up for you, especially if the place in it is yours alone, instead of one you share with your partner. Having your support system cut off puts you hugely at risk for toxic and abusive behaviors, and if your partner is running everyone out of your life, especially these people, you should probably run your partner out instead.
  19. An understanding of where your personal choice for your behaviors begin and end, so you know when you need to stop beating yourself up unnecessarily because you’ve been told bootstraps were the solution to your problem.
    • As somebody with a small brochure’s worth of mental illnesses, including Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and Panic Disorder, I often struggle sometimes with identifying my own behaviors, but once I do (sometimes by checking with my reliable support system), I can either choose to let my friends and partners know that I’m struggling, or continue to isolate further and give in to my mental illnesses. And the latter really sucks – it makes me push people away and puts me at a higher risk for suicide the further internally I go.
    • I can choose to tell someone when I’m feeling suicidal and need to be watched, but I can’t just magically choose not to be suicidal, as convenient as that would be. Usually when my suicidality or depression or anxiety push me to isolate, to “take care of myself”, not to trouble others, or to operate under the assumption that no one cares about me, I have to push myself to choose to reach out to my loved ones, because they *do* care. THAT is a behavior I can control! THAT is what I can do to help myself cope. “Just stop being suicidal” is not realistic or helpful advice because I can’t control that, so why would I hold myself to that standard?
    • Photomanipulation featuring Michael Cera running in a coat, jeans, and red hat. He has been photoshopped into the corner of the image to appear to be running down the road, pursued by a large, disembodied version of his head with his mouth open. The manipulation is captioned, "Trying to run away from my problems only to realize that I am my problems."
  20. The motto, “Progress, not perfection.”

    • Good god almighty, I am a certifiable Type A Bitch, and I have to remind myself this constantly. My expectations for myself have been abominably rigid throughout my life, and like many other people who were lauded for academic performance in their youth, I am incredibly easily discouraged when I can’t master something quickly, because nobody ever taught me there was value in doing the work and practice to reach my goals. These standards do not serve me.
    • Things that are helping me now: allowing myself to take time to learn something that doesn’t come easily to me, recognizing that perfectionism hinders my work and my happiness, and giving myself credit and recognition for the work I HAVE done instead of lamenting about “where I should be.”
  21. A start on shedding unhealthy expectations
    • Meme featuring a small brown and white dog sitting back on their hind legs, wearing a ludicrous lobster costume that goes over the top of their head and has claws hanging at their sides. They are photoshopped over a cloudy background with a much lower-opacity, enlarged version of themself over the clouds. The meme is captioned, "Make reasonable life choices."
    • Definitely related to the above point about progress, not perfection, it’s useful to recognize that most of our unhealthy expectations that we internalize only remain in our lives because we enforce them.
    • Doing self-analysis to determine why you hold yourself to those expectations and where they came from is incredibly valuable. I can recognize that a great deal of my own expectations that don’t serve me stem from rhetoric from my parents, who didn’t even live up to the standards they set for me most of the time. Maybe some of these journaling prompts will help you figure this out in your own life!
    • Knowing where these come from, how they affect you (past and present), and being aware that they exist at all can be extremely useful. I beat myself up so much less now that I can recognize my unrealistic expectations for myself were planted and germinated by people who didn’t have my best interests at heart. 
    • When discussing this with one of my partners, she summarized the benefit well: “The deep root [of your expectations] is what you wanna work on, not dabbing on the haters.” She’s right – why live your life on the defensive, trying to justify yourself, when instead, you could dismantle the saboteurs that live in your psyche? 
  22. A strategy to accept compliments
    • Best tip I ever heard for this, which changed my life and has changed the lives of my partners I’ve asked to practice it, was to stop arguing with compliments and just say thank you. It sounds simple, but I bet you’ll struggle with it if you’re someone who dodges or disbelieves compliments. I did at first. Nobody wants to spend five minutes arguing with us to get us to accept a compliment – be a breath of fresh air and just thank them instead. It doesn’t matter if you agree or not.
  23. Something you’re proud of
    • Any accomplishment, great or small, can count here. Are you proud you learned to tie your shoes after years of confusion? (I didn’t figure it out until I was at least 10 and learned to tie a bow thanks to a gift-wrapping book.) Are you proud that your work has been published? Are you proud of your personal growth? Job performance? Your empathy? Your sweet, sweet ass?
    • Tweet by @motheromance: Me after spennding a night out with my friends pretending I'm mentally stable. Image attached is Tobias Funke from Arrested Development bowing and saying, "And scene."
    • You can literally fill in the blank here, you can have more than one thing, but try not to have 0 things. Give yourself credit where credit is due: you’ve likely experienced adversity at some point in your life, but you’re still moving forward. Go you!
    • Some things I’m proud of:
      • Leaving my abuse vortex
      • The 8 years I’ve put into my blog and this community
      • The self-awareness I’ve cultivated in the past few years
      • The efforts I’ve made in my recovery
      • My perseverance
      • Finally asking others for help
      • My body, and how much I deeply love it after decades of seemingly-unstoppable dysphoria, self-hatred, and abuse. This body brought me here. This body gives and receives great pleasure. This body is still going, even after a life of pain, disability, fatigue, isolation, and frustration. And also, this body’s ass is A-plus. 
  24. A bare-minimum-self-care checklist for when you’re running on empty. You ever have brain fog days where you know you aren’t gonna get much done and you definitely can’t remember most of the things you could do to take care of yourself even though what you need is a shitton of self-care? If not, great! If so, this checklist is doubly important for you. Here’s mine:
    • Tell your nesting partner you aren’t doing well and need help
    • Drink a glass of water
    • Take a warm shower
    • Use your heating pad if you hurt
    • Eat food
    • Take morning meds
    • Take midday meds
    • Take bedtime meds
  25. The empowering knowledge that personality traits are not all innate – we are capable of changing our behaviors – minimizing the expression of negative traits, and emphasizing the nurturance of positive traits!
    • To this end, I suggest looking toward things like CBT and DBT worksheets you can find available online. PsychPoint, the site linked above, has many other types of worksheets, too. 
    • If you have a therapist, this is something to discuss with them, and they may have tips or insights you won’t get from a worksheet. They may also be able to help you figure out how to fill them out if you’re struggling with where to start. A therapist should be able to lead you through the process of identifying behaviors you wish you change and what drives them.
    • You may be interested in building new habits – there’s lots of wisdom out there about how to do that, and the biggest point that all of it stresses is that you need to start your habit small, then let it grow into the habit you WANT from there.
  26. The ability to support your friends.
    • Another life-changing suggestion that helped me in this is simply asking, “Would you like sympathy, or do you want advice?” when a loved one is struggling with something or venting to me. Seriously, knowing the kind of support that is desired will save you and your friends a lot of effort and potential frustration, especially if you’re traditionally a “fixer” who hands out unsolicited advice often. I believe I first saw this suggestion on Twitter years ago, but unfortunately couldn’t tell you who offered it if my life depended on it. Twitter stranger: thank you.
    • Remember that your friends likely have some different needs than you do – it’s important for us to respect their desires and their autonomy as we support the people we love.
    • Show up for your friends when you can, don’t be the friend who goes MIA through all your friends’ struggles because you got a new partner, or the friend who only comes around to dump your emotional baggage or gush about your great life but doesn’t turn up to listen to their issues when they’re struggling. 
    • Seriously, even just asking “how are you doing?” and playing catch-up with your friends before you ask a favor can make a world of difference – and their answer may clearly indicate to you that it’s not a good time for you to request a favor of them.
  27.  Trans literacy. I wish I didn’t have to say this but I really, really do, because a lot of people fuck this up. Y’all, with the internet in most peoples’ pockets, we are more connected now than ever before. It’s easy to meet a lot of new people online, and some of those people are going to be trans, like me, hey, hi, hello. You can find Trans 101 articles all over the internet, GLAAD has a media reference guide for terminology.
    • You need to make an effort to use the right pronouns for someone consistently, you need to know how neo-pronouns and singular “they” work, and you need to know how to behave when you fuck up.
    • I understand that sometimes it’s difficult to conjugate neo-pronouns you don’t know in your head – my favorite site to help is Pronoun Island, which shows you examples of many (but not all, yet) pronouns at work!
    • It’s okay to Google it when you don’t know. Seriously. Do the independent research. Practice. Don’t complain. The harder you resist, the more difficulty you’ll have learning to use them.
    • Learn what nonsense constitutes as microaggressions toward trans people – this means NO: 
      • Random questions about our fucking genitals
      • Questions about how or if we have sex
      • Deadnaming or misgendering us
        • “Deadname” is a term some trans people use to refer to the name we were given at birth, but have stopped using in favor of the name we choose, typically a name that is more in line with our gender. We have different relationships with our deadnames – some people find it unpleasant, some people feel bad because the name often carries the context of misgendering them, some people don’t care about their old name but just feel it isn’t the best fit. It’s really better for you just to use the name we give you, like you’re supposed to.
        • Don’t ask what our “real name” is. The name we give you is probably our real name. You don’t ask cis people who use nicknames or their middle name what their “real name” is, so you shouldn’t ask us either.
      • Asking to see pictures of us “before” transition
      • Telling us you preferred our appearance before transition, or saying something like, “Why would you transition, you were so pretty/handsome/etc.?”
      • Outing us to other people without our permission
      • Complaining about the difficulty of using our pronouns
      • Assuming pronouns/gender instead of asking
        • When you’re meeting a new person, just say, “Hi, I’m [name], my pronouns are [your pronouns]. What are your pronouns?” You’ll make many of us breathe a sigh of relief if you ask.
      • Giving us your unsolicited opinions about our transition or appearance, including very specifically:
        • grading how well we “pass”, or saying something like, “I never would have known you were trans!” (This is always an asshole move, and “passing” is a topic of some debate in the community – some of us never aim to, some of us do, but *you* need to shut up about it, cis people, because nobody needs to hear your hot take on passing.)
      • Asking if we’ve had “the surgery” 
        • There are many surgeries, for starters. Some trans people never choose to medically transition, some do, and all choices are valid, but your intrusive questions are not. 
        • You will see the terms “non-op,” “pre-op,” and “post-op” tossed around. They represent, respectively, people who do not want to have surgeries, people who do want to have surgery but have yet to undergo the procedure(s), and people who have had their surgeries.
        • “Top surgery” generally refers to surgical procedures involving the chest, and “bottom surgery” refers to procedures involving the genitals. These *still* aren’t the only surgical options out there for trans people, and more than one procedure could be performed and still count as “bottom surgery.”
      • And for the love of unholy fuck, DO NOT use the T slur. Just don’t do it. I don’t care if RuPaul did it, it wasn’t okay for Ru to do it either, and it sure as fuck isn’t okay for you to do it. You, cis people, cannot reclaim that word. So unless a trans person uses it as part of the language for their identity and you are referring to that identity, don’t let it pass your damn lips or come out of your keyboard, even if you aren’t trying to say it with venom. Do not say it.
  28. A safe space
    • I think this is self-explanatory? You deserve one. Build it – a space for yourself where you can just be.
  29.  A SMART goal. Not to be confused with any indicator of intellect or wisdom, SMART is an acronym for what your short- to medium-term goals should be: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. 
    • This post on Ivory and Pine about how to set effective long-term and short-term goals with the SMART framework in mind has been very useful for me!
  30. A loving attitude toward yourself. I could’ve ended this on a cheesy note and said “self-love,” but I know firsthand that self-love can be a REALLY big ask for some people – and plenty of people who are in their 30s still haven’t pieced the self-love puzzle together yet. Self-love also is difficult for most people to feel consistent about – even I have some negative days, and let me tell you, I’m my biggest goddamn fan nowadays. Self-love isn’t necessarily a constant, and that’s okay. Instead, treating yourself lovingly, as tenderly as you’d treat the people you care about the most, is a worthwhile goal every day. 
    • Forgive yourself when you screw up. 
    • Accept where you are, even if it’s not where you wanna be in life yet.
    • Treat yourself when you can – don’t work yourself to the bone without taking time to care for yourself.
    • Recognize the work you’ve done.
    • You have worth as a human being, and you have worth as yourself. Remember that as often as you can, especially in times you’re not feeling so kindly toward yourself.


White background with faded print reading: You are worth so much more than your productivity." Beneath those lines sits an illustration of a rose, and beneath that an allcaps line of text reads: "Anti-capitalist love notes."

If you made it all the way down here, I sincerely hope you’ve learned something useful, if you didn’t know some of this before. Regardless of what you learned, I appreciate you bearing with me through a very long, information-dense post!

What else do you think people should know before we enter our 30s? Are there other resources you would have added to my list?

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