A little about me before reading this poem. I'm a 17 year old transman (meaning I am transitioning from female to male) and wrote this poem that I slammed in class.
You wanna be a Superhero
You want to swing from the buildings of New York on thread-thin spiderwebs
You want to fight pirates, slay dragons, tackle wide receivers, and rip your jeans climbing trees
You wanna be a boy
And you can, up until you’re thirteen
Because then it’s not cute anymore
It doesn’t make your relatives chuckle when you ask for “boy clothes” for Christmas
It makes them sigh and shake their heads
It makes them ask “when will this phase be over?”
“She really needs to grow her hair”
“Why do you still let her wear that?”
“She’s too old to play with boy things”
“Why can’t she be normal?”
When you’re thirteen the boys you played football with seem to finally realize “girls don’t do this”
The girls start nitpicking each other’s appearance and hating one another for the shape of their bodies
But they all start asking the same question “do you want to be a boy?”
And your stupid ass is honest and you say “Yeah I do”
Apparently that was the wrong answer because After school you get beat up and they tell you “real boys can take it”
In fights that’s four against one “real boys” win
You’re being punished for a defect, a genetic blip
Something that went wrong while you were cooking, a split second decision made by the gods who govern bodies
“No, this baby will be a girl” but it’s already too late
Because that “girl” has already developed the mind of a boy
And is now cursed to stumble through life with a head forcibly sewn onto the wrong body
They don’t know it, but they’re already punishing a trauma patient
There is a war being waged inside her brain
Each side breaking down walls of serotonin and building them back up
To satisfy a need for a chemical that she wasn’t born with
And when she gives up and puts on the eyeliner, the leggings, the dresses
The battle inside of her head doesn’t stop
She just ignores it and conforms to a society in which even when she’s a “proper” girl she isn’t good enough
She's still a "freak" to everyone else
But now, she starts to believe them
So she cakes on more makeup to mask the man trying to burst from her every cell
And he can’t take it
It makes him want to rip the skin from his bones so that he won’t have to deal with seeing a girl in the mirror everyday
And when he finally comes to terms with who he is, they're not proud
They're ashamed, afraid, disgusted.
They blame him for trying escape this prison
Tell him it's just another phase
Would you tell a cancer patient waiting in hospice that it's just a phase?
So why would you belittle someone for trying to make the best out of a genetic defect
Someone who puts on a corset of ductape, squeezing their lungs down to half their original size just to hide two of the tell tale signs of a gender he needs to escape.
Someone who wears a sweatshirt when it's 95 degrees outside so others won't walk past and do a double take, staring at the womanly lines of his frame
And when he goes a day without being called ma'am or being made to use the name branded into him since birth,
He has hope
Until the next day when he can feel the stares,
Eyes searching, scanning for the tell tale breasts, curves, and smooth face of a woman
And he knows that they won't find muscular arms and an Adam's apple
Then they ask the question he's been running from since third grade
"Is it a boy or a girl?"
They don't use "he" or “she” because if they can't tell what's in your pants, you're not human to them.
And he stands here before you spilling his guts and trembling under a blanket of anxiety that grips his very being
And all he asks, is that you read the instructions on the side of the box, because I am a man, I just come with some assembly required.