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.