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Words as Weapons of War

“Living as our authentic selves, whatever that might mean for each of us, is something to celebrate.” –Reid Vanderburgh, on “Coming Out” in Trans Bodies Trans Selves

I think I’m a transman

The flat horizon of his mouth

Did not shift

And then

Clamped in the irons of denial

He perused the thicket of conversation

Searching for the other path, the better path

I must be on

I must be over-reacting, exaggerating

He pushed through all groves of grief

Except anger

As though he was losing someone

Instead of gaining the full me

Then he cut me in turn

No matter the hormones and surgery

You’ll never be a true man

I didn’t realize coming out

Was a declaration of war

That I had just unbuckled my armor

And pointed to my heart

He looked for proof online

That cishet men can stay without

Being gay

As though life was a prescription

Results of active trials revealed online

“I left her

Was the general consensus among

Those willing to so much as speak of it

But marriage is forever and love is enduring

Isn’t it?


In the end the warrior kicked down all flags

And only breeze stirred the dust at our feet

I love you for who you are

Regardless your gender and body

I stabbed my sword into the earth

And took his empty hand in mine

Knowing I don’t deserve this surrender

Any more than the cage I escaped

But we’re not telling my parents


The next time I was to visit his family

I donned my binder

Took it off, tried on my old female attire

Hated myself

And took it back off

Naked wasn’t an option

And I hate the bright, curved sight of it

So I put my binder back on

And crossed into partially welcome territory


With silence and a smile



This poem won an Honorable Mention in the New Writer's Contest and was published by TulipTree Review, June 2019.


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