Walk Like A Man


Looking through my old word documents, I remember when I shaved my face.

My friend, newly male, slipping easily into the persona of a frat boy, told me to shave my face.

Shaved hair grows back thick and dark. Shave enough, you get a beard. Moustache. Sideburns.

I shaved my face a few times, but then I was too lazy, so I stopped.

Like how I don’t shake my legs now, four years later.


Lead with your knees. Keep your shoulders on the same plane as your hips. Swing your arms.

Use eyeliner to thicken your brows. Ace bandages to bind your chest, but only a little;

too much and you fuck up your ribs.

A hat and shades to cover your feminine features.

Pinch your voice box for grit.


How simple things were back then.

I had an identity, firm and true; everyone ignored it, but I had one.

I wasn’t in this strange halfway world, pink lips and a flat chest, high heels and flannel shirts.

For once in my life, I knew who I was.

I had a plan in place; hormones, surgery, the whole shebang.

A simple set path to follow, a path I veered off course as soon as I thought I was in love,

back when love was being hit across the face.


Now it’s complicated;

now it’s, do I flatten my chest when I wear a dress? Go on a date?

How do I explain myself, how do I get people to listen.

How do I say, You know, I’m really confused right now, so could you just use they?

Could you just stop making assumptions about me for a little?

Could you just stop deciding what I am for me?


I used to ask God for breast cancer.

I’d take it away from someone else, save someone who loved her breasts.

Lose my breasts without jumping through hoops, without people questioning,

saying, Are you sure? Are you ready? I don’t think you’re ready.


I still wish for breast cancer. Save someone else. Be the selfish martyr.

Some days I have it all straightened out;

goodbye make-up, goodbye dresses, I know what I want.

I’ll talk to my doctor, make the appointment, finally get back on my original path.


But the fear of permanency stops me.

Once you start you can’t go back. Your body is changed irreversibly.

I who never wants to get married, I worry that I’ll never find love.

Be a 40 year old spinster with five cats.


So I stay in my secret midway world,

flattening my chest, lengthening my lashes.

Lying awake at night, 2 AM, knowing what I want

and changing my mind the next morning.


I think about shaving my face again.

I have shaving cream, I have a razor. I could start all over again.

I go into my bathroom. I pick up my shaving cream, my razor.

I put it back down again. I go to bed.

I lie awake all night and think of what could be.

This poem is about: 


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