It’s me again, it’s you again, it’s us. We are lying on the mint bedsheets, thinking about her again. We wonder if she will appear in our dream again. Not a past lover, not even our mother, but someone in the future, a child. It’s probably pretty weird to be a twenty-one year old trans masc dude thinking about motherhood, but there you are, again.

Fine. There we are.

Ada, you have said you do not want to be a mother. But even you must admit there are certain socio-cultural-political associations that float with the “m” sound in maternal that “paternal” or even “parental” will never capture. A utopian sound. As our nonfiction professor once said, “mother is an endless well.” Perhaps that means maternity is an endless well, too.

Remember how once, on the playground, a little Chinese boy called me “big brother?” That was early in my transition, when I exclusively wore a terrible buzz cut and a black hoodie that hovered over my body like a reaper. From this child’s hailing, years of missed boyhood reverberated: I could have climbed trees and thrown rocks and shot arrows and laid bare-chested in the sun like my boy cousins. I could have kept the sword that my grandfather gifted me.

Nowadays, parents give quick, nervous looks at my painted nails and long hair, my sunflower shirt and my jean shorts, the femininity I perform as a masculine person. They soon leave with their children, and I keep swinging, swinging so high that the sun leaks into my eyes, and it becomes easy to criticize these fenced playgrounds as hyper-surveilled, artificial, bourgeois creations: inaccessible and unnatural. I swear to raise our future child somewhere close to nature, with trees and Chinese food and people who she can safely express herself around.

Because gender abolition does not mean removing ourselves from historical time and space, which for me means remembering that I was a Chinese dyke before I was a man, before I was a transfag. Which also means remembering that I was once a mother. That you were a mother, Ada, my mother, the one who is always in me.

It’s because of you that now, though I pass as a man, I can sink comfortably into femininity, a privilege I did not have pretransition. That now, I feel a loving kinship with the queer and trans women in my life, a pleasure in watching them embrace something that was mistakenly bestowed upon me, on us. Once, during an educational panel, when the host introduced the word cisgender as people who “relate to the sex they were assigned at birth,” you and I exchanged a laugh. Of course we relate to the sex we were assigned at birth — how could we not? Womanhood is the country we come from.

Ada, you have always been the more hopeful one. I used to get mad at you because I viewed you as nurturing or self-sacrificial, but really I was angry at the way we were raised. Early on in my transition, the femininity I unwittingly performed felt like a resignation: my small body, curvy figure, and tiny hands and feet will always raise eyebrows and suspicion. The emasculation of East Asian men and cultural transphobia will forever make me not a real man in most eyes. But it is because of you and the other Chinese dykes in my life, of all those who came before me, that I have retained this strong sense of kinship with womanhood and femininity even as I embrace masculinity as my own.

There will always be things that I don’t know about gender, like why you refer to our future child as “she.” You claim to have seen her gender in a dream, but isn’t this prophecy just another way of perpetuating a bioessentialist predetermined destiny, the same way our parents did? What does it mean, Ada, that I am writing this letter to you—that as a man, I am thinking of motherhood and drawing out my more feminine self as one carefully debones a fish? As usual, I don’t have the answers. But for now, we bury our heads in the mint pillow and say a prayer, the same one we always have:

May we play on the grounds of inheritances, may we abolish the structures that reproduce pain, may we mother hope for futurity.

Ocean Wei (he/him) is a trans writer and a senior at Kenyon College. His works are in or forthcoming in Brevity, The B’K, en*gendered lit, Stone of Madness Press, and more. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram at @_oceanwei.

Artwork by Kah Yangni