‘He’ by Grace Guildener
Too much dysphoria to ignore, not enough courage to admit it.
A calculating coward, weighing the options for years on end.
At this rate it may just end up buried in the ground with the vessel
I’ve always felt detached to occupy.
Or maybe on impulse, one day I’ll spill my guts for everyone to see–
Will I walk out of the closet and into a casket?
Only to have my gravestone marked with a name that is, itself,
The girl I was supposed to be is dead but I’m too passive
To correct you about it. I’m trapped in her corpse, you see.
The perfume of her identity is stifling as everyone refers to me
Refers to her.
I can’t blame them. After all, her death wasn’t exactly public.
No one knows that she was never me,
Or that perhaps she’s been a phantom
Ever since she entered this world.
Her ghost still whispers, tries to deny what I know to be true.
Her flesh betrays me, shames me. The thoughts and words
Are my own but her voice, her chest, her womb–
Are a stranger’s.
Maybe no one will understand.
Maybe no one will put the pieces together,
Compile all the clues I reveal
And maybe I don’t want them to.
Because fear is still stronger than pride. Ignorance conquers acceptance
And gaining freedom from this skin means losing
Friends, family, respect, humanity.
The safety of living in hiding.
Transness is something so many people pretend to accept
But love to ignore.
I’m not confident. I’m not proud of my identity. I’m good at lying
But I’ve pretended for too long. I suppose this is coming out.
Still I’m afraid to correct you—just don’t mistake it for indecisiveness.
I am no woman.
Grace Guildener | ’19