Yellow Flower

Are you a girl

or a boy?

 

my nephew would ask me,

puzzled.

I’d smile and try not to answer

for as long as I could.

 

But he was so persistent, so

needy for reassurance.

My nephew is secure in his boyhood;

no questions, no blurriness

in his mind. He, him,

boy things, boy clothes

and books.

 

But me? An enigma,

and I so very much wanted

to stay that way.

But he’d ask me, annoyance

rising in his voice,

but what are you?

 

I’m nothing!

I wanted to yell,

I’m a tree, a bear,

a yellow flower in a green field.

I wear my Dad’s jumpers

and cut my hair.

 

It isn’t fair,

nobody needs to know,

because really

I am a full moon,

a lake,

a shimmering shoal of fish.

 

Am I a boy, or a girl?

Neither and both.

I want to be even more confusing

than I am,

show up gender as a sham,

a carapace of paper

covering the truth;

 

That inside I am dark night

pitted with stars,

a sea of untold depths,

a soul set loose.

something

Accompanying Image “Something”

 

I am Trans

I am trans.

 

These words feel to me like a waterfall crashing down, the edge of a precipice, or like walking into a raging inferno; which is perhaps why it’s taken me so long to be able to say them.

To say that I am trans, to admit it to myself, feels like putting myself in danger. It goes against everything my social conditioning has taught me about fitting in and attracting as little attention as possible to limit personal peril.

It stirs in my belly like an animal that cannot be kept at bay, cannot be kept in a cage any longer, despite being in a climate where trans and non-binary identities are battling misinformation, ignorance, prejudice, hatred and fear on many fronts. The terror I feel when I look at my trans-ness is visceral and deep, a primal urge to flee. Yet it is bubbling up nevertheless, appearing in my dreams and in my art, in my growing sense of myself. I went to a talk with Juno Roche, author of Queer Sex, where she and several others were discussing the book and their personal queer and trans journeys. One of the speakers was Kuchenga, who spoke about her womanhood as being a force that became impossible to ignore no matter how hard she tried. In beginning to engage with and accept my own gender identity I feel the same force in me, the one that stalks like a panther waiting to roar and roam the jungle, the one that longs to be free and to make itself known. My trans-ness is willing itself into existence in a world that says it ‘shouldn’t exist’, in a world that denies, interrogates and crushes people outside the binary. This sheer will to exist demands respect, and as I begin to step more fully into who I am I am filled with awe at the battle people face to be themselves. It takes a truly staggering amount of will power and courage to exist in this world if your identities (and/or intersection of identities) are marginalised and oppressed.

 

My trans-ness (I don’t have a better word for it) feels like a storm cloud engulfing me. It colours everything in my life and threatens to capsize the fragile vessel of safety I’ve built for myself over the last few years; because my trans-ness demands to be known and to be lived and in order to do that some radical changes are needed. I’m tired of my non-binary identity being erased or dismissed and no longer have the energy or time to engage with people or environments that demand this emotional labour from me. If I am to step even further into my fullest self-expression I need folks around me who get it, who will support and respect me. This is partly where the raging inferno or cliff-edge feeling comes from, because I have no idea where to find employment, housing and community where I will feel safe and held in this journey. Deep down I doubt that these things exist for people like me… a doubt that gnaws at my heart and guts and leaves me hollowed out. But perhaps if I can keep my sense of myself close, at the forefront of my choices, I will eventually find ways of living that support and nourish my self-expression.

Something that has been and is vital to me is the support of allies who treat my gender identity with sincerity and respect, a feeling of being seen that is life changing and deeply nurturing. I’d become so used to feeling like my pronouns (they/them) were simply inconvenient or confusing, too much for people to bother with, that I’d begun to doubt my own sense of self. It is partly through supportive allies that I am able to feel more deeply into what my body is saying and what my gender identity is wanting to manifest as. Having people who recognise and celebrate my gender identity as important and integral to who I am gives me the courage to go even further.

 

Another aspect I have been struggling with is the idea that self exploration and self expression is somehow selfish and irrelevant in a world that is crumbling though climate change, political turmoil and escalating inequality, oppression and violence. There’s a voice inside me that tells me that gender identity means nothing in a world on fire. In the face of such uncertainty and mass change, what is the relevance of manifesting my non-binary identity?

I have no concrete answer to this, but I feel it in my bones. Being non-binary/trans is not just a physical thing for me, it’s part of everything. I cannot separate it away from my politics, my creativity, my activism, my love of nature, my love of life or my spirituality. It is echoed in everything I do and everything I believe in.

My therapist sometimes referred to me as ‘two-spirit’. I do not feel able to claim this term for myself as it is not part of my culture, but it helped to ground me in the spiritual aspect of how my gender feels and helped remind me that gender variance has been a celebrated and spiritual part of many human cultures throughout history. Simply put, when I allow myself to explore my trans and non-binary identity, in all the ways it is present in my life, I feel whole and aligned. I feel powerful.

 

In some ways I think that finding the courage to express oneself fully in a world that prohibits certain bodies and ways of being is one of the most radical acts of resistance one can do. Just by existing in all our variance, we can dismantle the power structures that are destroying and oppressing us and our world. These power structures partly rely on us believing in their integrity and their right to exert control over us. By living in ways that directly subvert dominant power structures we show them up as lies, shine a light on their weaknesses and demand space for other possibilities. By stepping fully into my trans non-binary identity and allowing myself to live it, perhaps I too can be a vessel for different possibilities to exist and be one more drop in the ocean that will wash away our current oppressive ideologies to allow for new and beautiful things to grow.

flowery

Accompanying Image “Flowery”

 


genderqueerness3
Alix Hyde is an artist, musician, producer, film-maker, poet and writer based in the North West of England.
You can read more of their writing here, see their art here, and listen to their music here
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