Tuesday, December 1, 2020

2020 Visions of Dysphoria: A Poem for Students of Trans Literature


A poem for my students
inspired by the Fall 2020 syllabus:
Transgender Literature:
Gender Diversity and Reading Beyond the Binary

The printing press has grown old and broken
But the stereotypes continue to last and replicate
Through the words of fantasy authors:
Those five transphobic “s” slurs.

Take down those images wherever you see them
Replace them with paintings of trans lives past, present, and lost
Scholinski, Elbe, and Alcorn
Teach us to visualize more livable worlds.

Take us across the stars to Venus,
Or into the homes of elfin princesses,
Or to homecoming dances with our best friends,
Wherever love in all its forms is found. 

There we will hear the music playing,
A Kiki number, a drag standard,
As strawberries and tangerines dance
Through the streets many call work and home. 

But treed carefully down the roads past old mansions,
Impossible Mountains that never let go,
Transylvanian theaters with their fishnets and boas,
Or else you too may be bit by fangs or crimson lips.

Monsters come back when we forget
That, “we are each other’s harvest.
We are each other’s business.
We are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

Though fear not, for warriors you have become,
Able to carry the stones in your pocket and heart
Torn down from broken walls and abolished prisons,
Fighting openly and authentically in the battles to come.

The future of trans literature is yours to write.
So stay focused, don’t forget the small things,
Because a single stone can bring down mountains.
What you know, what you do, what you say, what you think matters.


Pandemic Feminism: A Poem for the Rising Generation


A poem for my students
inspired by the Fall 2020 syllabus:
Many Ways to Be a Woman:
Intersectional Traditions of Feminism and Femininity

Would you rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all?
Would you bake a pie even if you may get judged for it?
Would you wear pynk no matter your genitals or gender?
Would you detox your feminine and masculine programing, even if it gets called dirty?

Let’s hope you will because we don’t just need another RBG
We need another you, each of you, all of you,
Whether you sit in the supreme court or in a medical lab
What you know, what you do, what you say, what you think matters.

This year reminds us that life and choice can be cut short
In kitchens from the 1950s, Christmases and Weddings from the 2010’s,
Summoning up nightmares of red cloaks, white hoods, and vampire pregnancies.
Yet through it all we repeat the words: don’t let the bastards get you down.

Because sometimes #wetoo find ourselves down rabbit holes,
Tied up or cut down in board rooms, doctor’s offices, or red rooms of pain.
But we fear not: we know about power, about speaking up, about liberation.
Our sisters, brothers, and siblings have shown us the way up and out together.


That is why we march in the streets of Somalia, Kenya, and Pakistan,
That is why we call out the names: Khalil, Floyd, Taylor, Garner, Brown, and Martin.
That is why we reject the master’s tools, that is why we call for reform and abolition.
That is why we build bridges of our backs: so future generations can escape with their lives.

We would rather there be bad feminists than no feminists at all.
Because the sisterhood is still powerful
When it reaches out across racial, class, and geographic divides,
And when it unites the whole queer, trans, intersex, and non-binary family.

The futures of feminism is yours to write; show us new ways to be a woman,
a man, a creatively gendered and sexually empowered human being.
Moving forward, may you stay focused - don’t forget the small things -
And remember: what you know, what you do, what you say, what you think matters.