May. 9th, 2009

imagining how i might die everytime i use the bathroom

at the registrar of
the college that i'm leaving
the turquoise-turtlenecked woman
is acting like it's a major upheaval
to change my first name so it's
an "A" with a period beside it.
"i'll have to talk to my supervisor,"
she says, smiling.
she's Nice in the way that people
who have had diversity training are,
Nice like maybe she's got
kids who carry old ladies' groceries.
but i think she's one of those people
who when i say "trans" she'd rather
that i hide it, that i protect her from
doing calistentics with her brain
by wrapping my body and its boundaries
in a turtleneck of shame but
who at the same time might
say if i slept with her son
without splaying myself open
that i have no right to deception,
like  not ripping off my clothes
in the center square of town
yelling, "look! look! look!"
means her son can turn me
into another name in
the book of lives that have been
extinguished at the hands
of the phobic.
later, at a party, liquor
wrenches my mouth open wide
and i tell everyone listening
about the invisible identities
that make my unchanged
body mutant
and a girl swilling forties
asks about surgeries and
a boy
in a leather jacket
asks about the difference
between sex and gender
but doesn't want to listen
when i talk about intersex
ion, when i talk about
what matters, when i talk
beyond pop-culture men
in dresses & vaginas with
big clits.
earlier the thing
that gets the turquoise woman
moving is not respect
for what i say i need
not a penchant for
satisfying the customer
but it's that i say
the girlhood that hides
inside the "A" period makes
me feel unsafe if i'm not in
control of it; it's that her
eyes get wide and worried.
it's not the fear i carry
of people
like the son i imagine she has,
like her, like boys in leather
jackets, like businessmen in
suits, like my mother,
like the girl swilling forties
who knew me before and
says my old name casually
being too able to see me. these people, able
to decide that what i say i am
is deception, that i break glass
to get to the extinguisher
when there's no fire,
that this trans
is punishable by fines,
by hanging,
by ending it
in the living room
of my apartment,
in the kitchen of
a party,
in the bathroom next
to the stall that is
the only shield i have.
why is it that our
culture fears calling
what is what it is --
why is it that fearing
being accused of
continuing systems
of oppression
when that's exactly what
you do moves our feet quicker?
that yes,
at your little old corner-crumbling
desk in a public university
in maine, you
are part of the problem?
in your leather jacket
wanting to know
only about folds of
skin and your eyes
glazing over at
everything else, your
privileged disinterest--you're part
of the damn problem--
why can't i abbreviate
my name without cisgender
supervision? why
is this anger that
i feel something
i ought to tone
down, stop wearing
on the surface? why
do i have to explain
only the things
people want to hear
and not
every single
of my
goddamn(ed) self?



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