What We Say


That I have never curved my being flush against

The static expectations of what a woman ought to be

Was not precisely of my choosing.

Had it been left to me, I might have been

The most audacious sex pot you’ve ever run across

With curves that defy the masculine imagination.

But the hot gaze of men has never held for me

A feeling of desire reflected, because I always knew

That what goaded them was not lust or longing, simply put.

True, they do often desire, but more keenly feel

The need to quench an ember of curiosity

Burning a hole in their brains, enough to drive them mad.

“Are you a real woman?” or “Have you always been a woman?”

I hear it almost before they finish saying it, with a fatalistic sense of the inevitable.

So that’s what you wanted to know.  That’s what this whole song and dance is about.

I hear it like the click and skitter of cockroaches in dark, unseen spaces.

And it leaves me feeling disappointed in the opposite sex in a dirty and unwholesome way.

Because it negates my own need to be perceived as precisely what I am–a woman in every sense.

I’ve got my lady parts in the original packaging–my body.

They don’t make these for those who take on the role later in life.

Do not seek to cram me in a pigeon-hole of gender ambiguity. That problem is on your end, not mine.

It takes my femininity from me and breaks it, before handing it back.

Yeah, thanks, I like my sense of self all nice and fucked up when I go out in public.

I’m so glad you could do that for me, you big, strong man, you.

It is, at the end of the day, fueled by a tremendous sense of misogyny.

And it gives me reason to fear Atlanta, the city where a transgendered woman

Was stripped and beaten on a public train last week because she was playing the role too well.

Because she refused to satisfy the lurid curiosity of men who fear

What they cannot understand.  That could have been me.

For all that they would have found a vulva and a clitoris, rather than what they expected.

Now, just how baffled might they have been?  The next step in that dance is rape.

Even with a crowd looking on, no one would have stirred a finger to help.

Because this city hates its women, has trained us to hate ourselves, even.

So that when we are victims of violence, we are unsurprised by police apathy.

We do not expect help from any quarter, because what we say is subsumed

By what we should have said, what we should have done to avoid situations not of our making.


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