"Free the Words"

When writing about controversial issues, powerful people, and information that some would
rather see hidden, a certain disconnect from the world around you is expected. If the pen is
one’s weapon, then abject nakedness is the greatest shield. Stripped to an animalistic core,
driven by a few basic tenets, choosing to be reviled while crafting a product that will be
consumed by anonymous masses, the writer must forage for relevance on an island of their own
creation.


To credibly pontificate on the events of the day takes a self assurance bordering on vanity, while
mining the depths of corruption, crime, pain, and tragedy requires a smug confidence that too
often is mistaken for a narcissistic conceitedness. Yet despite having such negativity cast their
way, writers dare to explore, challenge, and question spaces where others won’t and don’t.
The person I am now, the person whose exterior finally matches their soul, is forced to write. If I
don’t, if I choose not to, then my entire existence to this point would be for not.

 

And it is an existence that treads on time borrowed and bartered, an existence that just is.
Transgender and autistic, a parent, a speaker of multiple languages, who has lived around the
world, and succeeded in business, yet I’ve never finished school, I’ve been homeless twice as
an adult and lost everything, close to a million dollars in total, multiple times. The material loss
driven by the sense and notion that suicide was imminent so nothing mattered.


But through it all I dreamed, and I wrote. Two books published, another one not. All terrible, for
different reasons, but mostly because I’d throttled myself and my passion, a fraudulent soul
within a corporeal mass.


And now, with a body and mind bouncing in and out of congruence, my words finally have
meaning behind them. My sentences are finally freed.


After death knocks, after you glance beyond the end, after you make the decision of self versus
self marginalization, all that remains is a truth unvarnished.

 

Despite some criticisms of my ways, and attacks on my character I’ll never apologize.

 

Ever.

 

Why would I? I’m alive for now, and the world I inhabit belongs to me and the stories are mine to tell.


Stories uncensored, unvarnished, free of disinformation, free of gatekeeping, free of fear, the
ones that must be told will be, and others? I’ll write them just because.


1976. My father, a crooked cop, was under indictment in New York City. So what did my mother
do? Tricked him into getting her pregnant, “just in case.” He was acquitted and that was that.
Over the next 17 years, I’d meet him 5 times before he died of cancer at age 57. Luckily for me,
at age 6 the realization that I was transgender struck me and with it his absence was in some a
blessing. One less person to hide my feelings from.


At age 11, Neil Carr, a now dead, defrocked priest, molested me. Despite reporting it
immediately, the blame fell on me. After all my mom knew I was a “fag.” After two years in high

school, and a stay in a psychiatric facility in north Florida to cure my gender and sexuality
issues, I left both home and school at 16.


Then I wandered. Europe, South America, Asia. Las Vegas became my home in ‘04 through ‘09
and again in ‘16. My mind giving and taking, over and over.

 

Successes in the world of investment and finance guaranteed by my place on the spectrum with

natural gifts more than made up for a lack of any formal education. That same place on the spectrum, along
with my gender identity crisis and fear of living an authentic life, also guaranteed a tortured
existence within my personal life. And a tortured existence for all who tried to love me.
In the end, in seeking an elusive truth, and the love that would go with it, the choice was made
to finally die or transition. And so, gun in my mouth (literally), I made the decision.


The transition didn’t cure everything. If anything, life became worse in some ways. Three years
later, I still cry daily, wondering about love, my body, my place in the world. Three years later,
I’m still autistic. But for the first time in life, freedom is mine. Along with a stark clarity.


With that agency now in my possession, I create. Sentences. Images. Stories. Scenes. Through
writing and pictures, the stripped down truth of both of my world and the world around me will be
told.


Stories uncensored, unvarnished, free of disinformation, free of gatekeeping, free of fear, the
ones that must be told will be, and others? I’ll write them just because.

 

Sarah Ashton-Cirillo looking forward to seeing Truth in politics.