Three days ago I realized I was living on borrowed time
when my mother gave me an ultimatum:
“Either you start dressing like a girl
and talking like a girl
and acting like a girl
or you’re going to be in some deep shit.”
She didn’t actually say “deep shit”, of course.
My mother has standards.
Threaten her child–without swearing.
Reduce them to tears–without swearing.
Emotionally manipulate them–without swearing.
And deny everything when her kids hear her scream
“Why is your head so fucked up?” at her eleven-year-old son (who only wanted help with his science project.)
But this poem isn’t about my mommy issues.
This poem is about love, conditional love.
And about living in a home where familial love is dependent on and determined by
whether (or not)
I play along with gender roles and gender presentation.
And this? This is a barbed-wire cage dressed up in frills and laces
this is my own personal iron maiden
and I am impaling myself
on cold, archaic, unforgiving expectations
in the struggle to escape.
And I can’t stand the days
when all I want and need to do is flatten my chest
and talk like a boy
but when I step out of my room
their stares drive me back in
and it becomes better, safer,
for me to suffer in silence
rather than enduring the hate outside.
And I don’t see why they can’t accept me as I am
because I might change my clothes or my pronouns or my name as I see fit
but I’m still the same person.
I’m still the same person.
But for some reason I am only fit to be proud of
and talked about
with skirts and pink and jewelry and “girl” branded into my skin.