the year i cut my hair, i was shrinking myself to become invisible,

found myself swimming in too large clothes from the wrong clothing section.

“so what, do you want them to sew up your twat?”

my mother’s lip curled, her knuckles white on the wheel

as her words swallowed me up and pulled me under,

but, god - i live on the sunny southern coast.

i know how to stay afloat.



the shirt simply says, ask me about my pronouns.

the hand-made patch stitched onto the denim jacket is in a dizzying array of exotic colors to reflect the wide variety people come in.

we have, of course,

baby boy blue!

beauty queen pink!

aaaaand the sterile white of that hospital room

where the doctor cut me out where i lay dreaming and said those words,

the ones that would shape my life.

congratulations. it’s a girl.

(the button pinned to the collar with shaking hands but a steady breath reads ey/em/eirs)


sometimes i sit on the pier and feel thin fabric twirl around my legs as i dip them into the water.

i smooth the skirt across my lap and look down.

with every breath i feel my lungs compress, my second layer digging into tender skin.

the skirt is white like the binder is white like the middle stripe of the transgender flag is white

like that hospital room is white like my mother’s hands are white like scars are white

like our souls are white when we’re born.

i think about sliding off of the wood and into the dark water below.


the year i cut my hair again, i am teaching myself to take up space,

learning to be comfortable in every clothing section.

“you...are trans.”

my mom’s voice only hesitates a fraction of a second,

her face soft in the dim light. her voice is thick.

she’s remembering what she’s done to me.

“i am so sorry,” she whispers. her hand finds mine.


instead, i feel the warm wood beneath my hands, watch my knuckles angrily pale as i grip the edge and shake.

instead, i lean back and feel the dock solid beneath my back.

instead, i look up at the blue sky. instead, i watch the pink creeping in as the sun sets. instead, i watch it paint the white clouds a riot of color.

instead, i breathe.

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