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Counting Back from 10...

On Gender Affirming Surgery, out 60 participants, 95% “rated the global outcome as favorable [. . . and] No one regretted their reassignment.” According to a 2009 Swedish study by Annika Johansson, et al.

“If anything, the [Johansson 2009] study likely under-reports mental health benefits of medical and surgical care for transgender individuals [. . . and] suggests (surgery provides) extended and ongoing benefit.” —Dr. Joshua Safer, executive director at Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, NBC News, 2019.

Deity of the bright room, leaning over me,

Wearing only my skin, I’m still as a sarcophagus

As you ease your scalpel into my long-hated body.

Never have I been so keenly aware of trust

Bleeding forth freely as you push in two silver fingers,

The forceps pulling out my mammary glands,

Your palm raising my scoop of blood orange slices.

You discard this severed handful of me

Gently into the waiting tin.

The nurse starts to hand you your sharpened

Grail but thinks no, he prefers the smaller one for this.

My chest open on both sides, twin harvest crescents,

Two bloody slits of cracked-open eyes,

I watch you from the heart until you stitch my sight

Shut. Oh, Voodoo Doll, does it hurt you at all

To hurt me into a more unique person,

To flaw away my flaws for the sake of my gender,

That cruel master we all yearn to know so well?

Or do you lose yourself inside the messy project of me,

Flesh Artist, that subtle delight of impressing yourself,

Only to finish and find me underwhelming?

This is pride, I will think, when you unveil me to a mirror

So I may learn to love a scowling chimera

For a chest, these red slits of tightly shut eyes,

Because to be my true self was never a gift

But a compromise.

Tell me, Slowly Slicing Angel, as you leave

The most tender mark on my only body

Do you have any idea how much love for myself

You are opening up in me?

This poem won a commendation in the international 2020 Hippocrates Poetry Prize and was read aloud by the author at a virtual symposium, May 2020


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