"At the bar, dykes smile and nod my way, connecting butch to butch. Gay men cruise me hard, then look away. The bouncer cards me, surprised when I'm not a 15-year-old boy. The bartender calls me “cripple” and “girl” in a single glance.
In another world at another time, I would have grown up neither boy nor girl, but something entirely different. In English there are no words. All the language we have created – transgender, transsexual, drag queen, drag king, stone butch, high femme, nellie, fairy, bulldyke, he-she, FTM, MTF – places us in relationship to masculine or feminine, between the two, combining the two, moving from one to the other. I yearn for an image to describe my gendered self, not the shadow land of neither boy nor girl, a suspension bridge tethered between negatives. Rather I want a solid ground with bedrock of its own, wish for language to take me to a brand new place neither masculine nor feminine, day nor night, muscle nor bone, stone nor wing."
-From the essay “Neither Stone Nor Wing” by Eli Clare, as published in From the Inside Out: Radical Gender Transformation, FTM and Beyond, edited by Morty Diamond © 2004, Manic D Press.
I posted this once before, nearly a year ago if not longer. I find myself coming back to these words as I reflect on my own struggle to find the language for myself. We are all a work in progress, but I'm happy with the stages in the construction. I wrote this poem in Environmental Science during a lecture on policy. If my words are a bit off, I blame the uninspiring atmosphere. Oh and please try not to laugh, I haven't written a poem in a couple year.
Am I a butch star or a femme spiral?
Can I call myself in between without people seeing my identity as viral?
I feel like a fraud in this skirt,
I look at my fingernails and see not polish, but dirt.
Words in my ears bleed me dry,
I look up into the faces of my peers,
Begging them to hear my outcry.
I may force rhymes, but it speaks of the times,
When up the ladder zi climbs,
Only to fall.
Do you hear the call?
Some strange reaction,
Don't get caught up-
stumble over the sudden attraction.
Maturity is hard to define.
Caught trying to find an all too fine a line,
Seeking a space that is mine,
Unable to see the message for the sign.
I zoom out,
Pan left and am left
Searching for a word that speaks,
Fumbling through convoluted language that cannot articulate
The reality of my locality.
And then, there's this phrase,
Am I genderqueer?
I find comfort in the syllables,
am immediately attached,
Anxious that it may be taken away
From me by people who see
Labels only as boxes
To be done away with,
Forgetting the embrace:
A cool welcoming,
Without a trace of rejection,
And at last I found a place
Where my identity isn't rife with infection,
A space I find malleable enough to add my unique inflection
in how I say three syllables which resonate firm and stable and familiar,
Like the drum in my heart,
So while some may say the words are thick like tree sap,
They roll off my tongue,
Sweet as syrup,
Lifting me up
And from the word I branch the tree
Of my body
And find a community
Who doesn't look at me
Like I'm crazy
When I explain that my gender is rain
Or at least
How I interact with it-
Assuages my pain
And melds with my tears
As over the years
I've seen myself alone
Lived through their own rain storms
articulated their laughs
Negotiated their paths
With a three syllable word
That echoes the thunder of their hearts
Wording, titling, connecting,
But never defining-
How could one speak a heartbeat
That goes so much more than