Last night at 1.35 am MST on March 31, 1995, I was physically brought into this world. I was born at an Indian Health Service Hospital in Chinle, Arizona. I was given the name Ronald Charles Scott Jr and assigned male at birth. Today is my birthday.
Today I turn 22 years old.
As a child, and growing up, I was very conscious of time. I always had this morbid thought that I was never going to live past the age of 20. I do not know why, but I always had that thought. Maybe some part of me hoped that I would stay a child forever. I did not want to face the inevitable truth that I would have to accept the gift of growing up. Or accept the responsibility that I was given toward myself, my family, and my community.
Today, I decide to envision something new for myself. To be perfectly honest, since my arrival to Brown, I dreaded my birthday because I would never be around my mother, my sister, my grandma, my grandpa, and my family, who I celebrated with on my day of birth for the longest time.
But today is different. From now on, my birthdays will be different. Today, I plan to celebrate this day to celebrate myself.
Because turning 22 is an achievement.
Today, I remember both the past and I have started to envision my future.
This year, I will be graduating on May 28, 2017, from a University that has almost torn me apart; mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
This year, all 10 of my Master programs offered me admission (places such as Harvard, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Arizona, etc). One out of 6 Ph.D. programs (Washington State University) offered me admission.
This year, and this past year, I have dealt with depression, and continue to do so – because of the amount of stress, emotional labor, and violence that surrounds me and that I have ignored for the longest.
My birthday is marked by moments of happiness but also moments of despair – it is a celebration of my time on this earth.
I think of my past and all that I have overcome, and I am in awe of myself.
There have been moments when I have thought about leaving this plane of existence. Moments darkness surrounded me and I thought of leaving my mother, my sister, my family because I did not feel strong enough to continue. I did not feel like I belonged in this world.
I have dealt with figuring out my sexuality. Figuring out where I fit in this world as an Indigenous person with ancestry in the Zuni, Hopi, Yavapai, and Navajo community. Struggling with loving my body, loving myself in all aspects because I thought for the longest time that I did not deserve it – I still struggle with this. Accepting that I am both privileged and disadvantaged within the social systems of this world, but that does not mean I do not belong – it just means that my experience with understanding oppression is unique as is anyone. Deciding what pronouns I was going to use in English because he/him/his just did not feel comfortable to me, finally settling that I do not accept the gender identity that was assigned to me as a child.
All of these moments have taken their toll on me, and they still do, except I have developed coping mechanisms to get through them, but that should not have been my reality.
My love, my strength, my hope, my fear, my courage, my loss – all of these, I have inherited from the people I grew up with and the people I have come to know and love. Yet, with family, friends, and ancestors, I have learned how to survive. I have learned how to live and I will continue to live.
Because celebrating my life, celebrating myself is needed and I welcome that.
Today is my 22nd Birthday. The name that I have given myself is Charlie. I am neither straight nor am I gay. My sexuality does not have to be defined and that is completely fine with me. I am enrolled in the Navajo Nation, yet I acknowledge my ancestors who are Zuni, Hopi, and Yavapai. My English pronouns they/them/theirs because I do not identify with being male or female. I do not use he/him/his or she/her/hers pronouns. My Diné ancestors would tell me that I am a nadlééh – a changing one. Claiming my narrative means accepting the responsibility that was given to me.
I am sacred, and today I am reminded of that.