<Back to the Issue

“So what’s in your pants?”

I guess it depends on how I felt when I woke up today.

Did I wake up and feel that my body isn’t betraying me?

I have a vagina today.

Did I wake up with an aching in the pit of my stomach that something isn’t quite right?

I have a dick today.

But oddly enough, both are detachable, though not in the same way.

 

I grew detached from my vagina first.

It started off slowly- a gentle discomfort that grew into an abrasive disdain.

Something that used to cause pleasure and wonder,

had suddenly turned into a mockery- a reminder

that I will never be comfortable in my own skin again.

Don’t want it anymore? I detach from it mentally.

 

The dick came more recently.

I’ve finally found an attachment that makes me feel like

more of who I am- more of who I want to be.

Sure, it’s not “real” and it’s not “connected to me,” but does that make it any less mine? No.

Don’t want it anymore? I detach from it physically.

“So why don’t you just have a surgery to change what you have to the other binary?”

Because binary is something I am not.

 

My dick is not an attempt to be a man (because not all men have dicks)

My dislike of my vagina is not a jab at women (because not all women have vaginas)

I don’t follow any of your transphobic rhetoric about what parts I should or shouldn’t have.

 

How I choose to pee doesn’t put me in a binary category.

I am genderQUEER and so are my parts- no matter what they might be today.

I change my identity like I change what’s in my pants- freely.

But some days, it doesn’t work that way. Some days I’m trapped.

 

Most days, I can choose what I want to see when I go to the bathroom,

but some days like today, I can’t make my own decisions.

These are the days when I can’t detach from my vagina

When I have to constantly be reminded that it’s there

That I have to acknowledge and feel and see all that I don’t want to see,

all that I don’t want to feel, all that I don’t want to acknowledge.

Weeks like this one, instead of detaching from a body part, I detach from my head

 

When I’m bleeding, my dick is rendered useless

I can’t bring myself to use an STP while I bleed

It takes too much care and attention to handle a period.

On a normal day, I can mentally detach from my vagina,

But these days, I can’t detach myself enough.

All of the attention that I have to pay to myself is muscle memory by now.

15 years of handling myself in these states comes in handy because

 

when I step into the bathroom, I turn into an astronaut- a space cadet.

I turn into a disembodied spirit- my body left behind- on autopilot to do it’s duty.

The second my pants come down and I spy even the tiniest,

smallest, most insignificant speck of blood, I am dissolved.

I am no longer in my body. I don’t know where I am, but I am no longer present.

My vagina becomes this black hole of dysphoria and dissociation

causing me to shut down my brain until my pants come back up and the sight is gone.

 

These days, tampons are out of the question,

I don’t like the feeling of them being pulled out. I don’t like my body well enough to remove one.

These days, menstrual cups are out of the question,

I don’t like the feeling of them going in. I don’t want to know my body well enough to put one in.

I don’t like any sensation of feeling inside my body.

I wish I could be external. I wish every day that I could go back to the very beginning

and come out just a little bit different. Why can’t I stop my body from turning on me?

 

Sure, I could get an implant that stops my periods.

Sure, I could get a surgery that will cause them to end forever,

But knives and needles scare me more than my dissociation

And nothing scares me more than the thought of something going wrong.

I’m bad at being a risk-taker, but there’s a risk involved, no matter what I do.

I can either stay dissociated forever

Or I can take a chance on changing myself into something that I may regret.

 

So for now, I take a pill every day that delays me by three months-

gives me relief from the pain I feel now only four times a year.

But these times that used to be three or four days

have turned into two or three weeks.

Weeks outside of my body. weeks of weakness.

The medication isn’t helping anymore

Now it’s dragging out the inevitable so long that I forget who I am.

 

It’s not that I don’t want a vagina, it’s that

I don’t want this reminder that I have one.

So in these weeks of hell and loss of control,

as I find myself outside of my body, watching in horror, in a triggered panic

Begging for this to be over soon, I wait.

Until I can pee the way I want to again, looking down at what I wish I couldn’t detach

I’ll hold my breath and try not to think too much about it.

<Back to the Issue

As a genderqueer individual, naturally I wanted to pick and choose

traits/characteristics from the binary baskets of puberty to build the human that is me;

flat chest, but still have some hip curves;

and thank you, but no thank you to a menstrual cycle;

If only.

So, every month this intrusive frenemy enthusiastically greets me.

“Hello! I’m back!” say the sometimes intense menstrual cramps, back spasms and occasional nausea,

to prepare me for five days of secret bleeding. But who would make me

want to hide from this?

The world would.

The world would have me hide in shame for five days.

“Am I bleeding through?” “Better not swim.” “Tough it out. Go to class.”

Even though I didn’t wish for the ability to menstruate, I embrace it.

It is part of me.

It has allowed me to experience things I would never have experienced if I lacked a cycle.

It has allowed me to feel a vulnerable rawness inside me,

and experience a sort of spirituality.

Accept my body like I do.

I shouldn’t feel shame because I’m genderqueer and bleed.

While annoying sometimes, it’s just something my body naturally does.

Most importantly, my menstrual cycle has taught me to love myself and my body for all that it is.

Because bleeding, well, it’s just a part of life.

Period.

#loveyourself   #loveyourbody

<Back to the Issue

<Back to the Issue

dear well meaning cis women poets,

i’m going to try to be polite about this but i really would rather not.

see, sorry if i seem like i am silencing you with this piece but i want to let you know that is how i feel daily.

she read a poem about periods,

and her daughters

and her daughter’s future daughters

letting the life blood flow

maybe something about wombs

but not all women have wombs, not all people who have wombs are women

my womb is an empty room

and i plan on keeping the door locked tight.

not every trans man has his door locked tight,

trying to keep the bad dreams out at night

slammed the door after shutting off the light

before taking a last look around and a deep breath,

saying goodbye- it was lovely knowing you. i know you are sacred.

i don’t know if i understand why you are sacred. i hope you understand that i do not view you as something sacred. for me.

i am a man who has put a deadlock on it. i hope it gathers cobwebs. i’ll turn all the old family photos facedown where i am wearing a dress.

and i know that bloodletting is holy and ancient and has been since the beginning of time

but please, it is not a women’s issue

equating wombs with women

equating periods with women

equating vaginas with women

is only detrimental, and i know you mean well, cis women poets.

i know you are not trying to hurt us.

i do not want this to be read as an attack,

i’m looking for some peace of mind, to be behind the wheel for once and not just in the passenger seat along for the ride, wondering if i even belong.

and i fucking swear to god, if anyone says something along the lines of this is just another man making everything about himself

i will bleed my period blood all over everything you love

wracked with sobs because the fucking toast popped out of the toaster.

on the floor, begging for ginger green tea.

i get it. i get it. i understand, and i am right there with you

and respectfully

if you think it sucks being a cis woman on her period

just try and take a single second to imagine how it feels to be a man on his period

and i know so many aspects of masculinity are toxic,

but let me navigate this

i’m not trying to take anything away from you

i’m not trying to blame anything on you

but how can i try to reclaim my body when only cis women are making it about themselves

i’m screaming until my lungs give out.

i am crying for you to hear me.

i am writhing on the floor in pain.

are you not my sister?

am i not your brother?

please acknowledge that i exist.

it is not solely your struggle.

not only do you exclude, me, but you exclude the trans women who are being murdered still just about weekly

the non-binary people who are even more under the radar than me

because so many can understand binary trans but not anything outside of that

and i do not care if you have a trans cousin,

or you helped some kid come out in high school,

or your favourite character on degrassi was adam

because your language continues to silence us and me and did i mention us enough

so save the ovaries before brovaries

save your pussy power

save the women are only recognizable as women if they have vaginas

just miss me with all of that transphobic bullshit in general.

have you ever heard of a terf?

not that i am calling all of you well meaning cis women poets terfs,

for those of you who do not know – that means trans exclusionary radical feminist

that’s womyn with a y because they want to separate themselves from Men with a capital M but i am a man and i bleed just like you, and lillith fairs and lesbians who will hit up trans men and non-binary people who are assigned female at birth because

we are not recognized as anything but women, and that’s women with an “e”

we

exist

please try and make a conscious shift in changing your language

i knew i said i was going to try and be polite about this and i am still trying

but you, cis women poets, of course you understand about making a conscious shift and trying your best to be heard

while being silenced

and i am not trying to silence you

i am just trying to make some room so people like me can also speak.

please do not claim that your feminism is intersectional when you throw trans men under the bus,

when you romanticize the fuck out of us,

humanize me

i am human

we can only fight this together.

<Back to the Issue

The ewe delivers afterbirth and

licks her lambs who wobble

for colostrum

I bleed with the moon

tucked into a hay bale

the moon is tucked

behind a winter hailstorm

mama sticks her head out

for a scratch

behind the ears

we are two animals

both shedding

what we can not hold

so we hold each other

here

where the too muchness

is not a choice

but an obligation

where I cry to the lambs

and we all make it

to spring

<Back to the Issue

<Back to the Issue

I don’t remember exactly when I got my first period but if I had to guess I would say it was around the age of thirteen or fourteen years old. What I do remember however is being met with shame, devastation, and disappointment. There was no grand celebration of womanhood. It was when I stopped believing that one day God would miraculously change my physical body overnight and I would wake up as the boy I always felt I was. It was when I started to feel the worst about myself, feeling like an alien in my own skin. I felt as though my body was betraying me. I had this belief that maybe I would be one of those people that menstruation just does not happen to, but I knew it was coming no matter how much denial I was in. I didn’t tell anyone when it happened. I just tried my best to hide it. My grandmother realized I had started menstruating when she found stains in my underwear while doing laundry. She later pulled me into the bathroom and began showing me how to use pads. I could hear the irritability in her voice as she explained; “Look, when you get your monthly (as she called it) you put these pads in your underwear. When you’re done with it you wrap it up in toilet paper, then you wrap it up in newspaper, and then you throw it away. You have to wrap it up twice so that it doesn’t smell.” I thought there was something wrong with me. I felt embarrassed and wanted to hide it even more after that. I wanted to pretend like it wasn’t happening to me all together, but menstruation is not something that is so easy to conceal. I remember being at a friend’s house when I got my period unexpectedly. At the time I wasn’t aware that I could predict when it would come each month. This was all new to me and unfortunately for me I was not provided with clear information on how to manage my period. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. I was having fun and playing games with my friends and there were even girls around that I had crushes on. I didn’t tell anyone even though I needed pads. So I just wrapped up some toilet paper to use as pads until it was over. It was uncomfortable but I had to keep my secret, at least until I got home. When I got home I told my grandmother I got my period while I was gone and she got angry. “You should know when it’s coming every month, that’s something you gotta do! Get them pads out the bathroom closet, girl…And take a bath!” She yells. Later that night I was woken up by extreme pain in my abdominal area. I woke my grandma to tell her of my pain and she gave me a couple ibuprofen and a glass of water. “Those are cramps you’ll get them sometimes. Hold this heat pad on your stomach and try to go back to sleep.” She never told me about cramps when I got the first one. Needless to say, I was not happy when I found out. Like, I already have to bleed for up to 8 days AND I have to be in pain!?

I didn’t learn how to use tampons until a year and a half after I got my first period. I was at my friend’s grandmother’s house with some other kids my age, she lived in the sticks and there was a big river running through the woods out back. We were getting ready to go swimming and while I was changing I noticed my period started. I stayed back at the house while the others left for the river. My friend’s mom noticed me sitting by myself and she asks why I’m not going swimming with the others. I confessed to her that I was bleeding and couldn’t swim while using a pad. “You can still go swimming, you just have to use a tampon.” She says. “But I don’t know how.” I tell her. “It’s easy, I’ll show you then you can go in the bathroom and do it yourself. Just take the tampon insert it into your vagina, hold onto this part while you push this end up and leave the string hanging out. See, like this…” After she explained I felt confident that I knew how to use a tampon correctly. Before I went in the bathroom I turned around and asked if it was going to hurt. She said no and I shouldn’t feel it at all. So I went in the bathroom and gave it a shot. At first it didn’t feel right so I took it out. I got frustrated because it was so uncomfortable but I had to persist if I wanted to go swimming. I went through 2 more tampons until I got it right. Somehow I felt accomplished and it was at that moment that I believed I could experience “The Period” with fortitude. I had not felt that confident in a long time until then so I took a moment to really live in that feeling of being in control of my own body. I joined my friends at the river and even swam without my t-shirt on that night. It was lovely.

Being a young transgender man experiencing menstruation is anything but easy. It’s exhausting. It’s irritating. It’s painful. However, we can find our strength if we keep living through our periods every month until we can safely make it stop. To get to that point we must keep living through these challenges. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24 according to data collected by The Trevor Project. I want all young trans-men to know that they are not alone and they can overcome the difficulty of going through puberty and searching for themselves in a world that denies their existence, invalidates their identity, and treats them less than. There are many resources out there for trans youth and the trans community in general that can provide support for getting legal name changes and gender marker changes. Some are also providing sanitary items such as; tampons, pads, condoms, and STP devices, etc. You can also find assistance with hormone replacement therapy.  Trans Lifeline has a number you can call; they are transgender people who understand your experiences and are willing to go the extra mile to help you find what you need, even if you just need someone to listen to your worries. This organization is dedicated to improving the quality of trans lives by responding to the critical needs of our community with direct service, material support, advocacy, and education. There is also T-Buddy, which is powered by Trans in Color. They work to provide housing, clothing, food, and support through text, phone, Skype, and in-person contact! You can find them on IG @tbuddy and @trans_in_color. I also recommend contacting them if you are looking for a transgender mentor. I will also leave links at the bottom for your reference. There is help out there, you’re not alone and you will find your tribe amongst the many loving and caring people in the queer community. I want you to be here, I want you to live, I know it seems like you won’t make it past the age of twenty-five because I didn’t think I would, and I’m still here 25 years, 300 months, and 144 periods later. We all have lived through the first one and many more to come.  We see you, we hear you, and we’re here for you. We can end the shame of bleeding. I love you.

<Back to the Issue

Are you fucking-

Kidding me

Escapes my mothers lips

Always about everything

 

“Are you fucking kidding me,”

When dinner is not ready

 

“Are you fucking kidding me,”

When I’ve not yet ripped the pissy sheets 

From a tween boy’s bed

 

“Are you fucking kidding me”

A response reserved for simple tasks stacked high

She asks why my head is in the clouds 

 

Well that’s where task one is 

If I start from the bottom they’ll all topple over 

 

Are you fucking kidding me 

I learn from an early age 

That I must be some sort of joke 

Always fucking-

Kidding someone 

 

Are you fucking-

Kidding me 

A response reserved 

For my coping mechanisms 

Boyfriends in bathrooms 

Boy friends in back lots 

Never the girls I sleep right next to

 

Oh, no no 

That’d be a joke 

I must be fucking kidding 

 

Because that does not exist in this house

Under the Lord’s eyes 

 

Are you fucking kidding me:

 

An inner voice when my heart flutters 

At the bounce of her hair 

That matches her dress 

The break in the beat

As men jump at her breasts 

 

“Are you fucking kidding me!”

I scream in her defense 

Good friends?

 

Are you fucking kidding me?

 

So I shove those feelings down 

Like they’re the joke that I am

And I hold the hands of a man 

Who hurts my head as much as my heart

Has me going

 

“Are you fucking kidding me”

When he tries to think he’s smart 

My smart mouth a fuckin’ joke to him 

 

And I start my period earlier than expected

Are you fucking kidding me 

 

Tomorrow is Monday and I bleed 

Like a faucet. I tell my mother:

She sits at her chicken 

As I bleed in the kitchen

 

“Are you fucking kidding me 

I’ll go to the store tomorrow,” she says 

 

I call up my boy

Who’s getting annoyed 

Are you fucking kidding me 

 

And I tell him the issue 

So he gets on his bike and 

…at least he has that going for him 

 

A knock at the door

Are you fucking kidding me 

 

Says hello as he visits 

And he hands me a box

I told him to quit with the knocks 

This was a covert operation

-he scoffs-

 

“Are you fucking kidding me”

Thinks he’s too keen to not be seen 

My mother’s jaw drops

 

Saved by the bell

His phone rings 

His mother screams 

“Are you fucking kidding me!”

 

He tells her what happened

And I can hear her snap 

From across the room 

 

Are you fucking-

Kidding me 

 

“You snuck out 

For that whore?

You cant see her any more!”

He leaves before I say thank you 

 

“Are you fucking-

Kidding me!”

 

My own mother screams 

As she sees the things 

I stick between my legs 

 

She blames him 

Are you fucking kidding me 

 

Are you fucking!

That’s what it comes down to 

 

A tampon is a tell tale sign 

The Lord sees your sin in his mind

 

But I just want to stop the bleeding 

Are you fucking kidding me 

 

Like it matters what’s between my legs

If I bleed and bleed 

Just like you did 

 

Are you fucking kidding me 

 

“I don’t want anymore grandchildren,”

She says, “I won’t raise anymore babies!”

Are you fucking kidding me 

 

I think of my work load

Wonder whose doing the raising 

I stare at a box that’s says 

I’m not pregnant, I think

 

Are you fucking kidding me 

 

She asks

“Are you fucking?”

 

And I realize.

I must be some sort of joke

<Back to the Issue

Still They / Them

 


Blooming Together

~you are invited by the artist to color & paint in this image with your menstrual blood~


 

<Back to the Issue

My relationship with my period is complex. On one hand, I value it. It is pretty fucking cool that so much blood comes out of my body, and I do not die from it. It makes me feel fierce and strong. It can be a time of deep and soft reflection with myself. On an other hand, I hate it. I dread it. I fantasize about taking enough T for it to go away. I feel weighed down by it. I want it gone.

Now, I understand that all people conditioned by western, colonial, cis-hetero patriarchal society have been taught to be disgusted by the very natural process of regular (or irregular) uteral bleeding. As an AFAB person (assigned female at birth), I have experienced firsthand the ways this has negatively impacted my relationship to my body. I don’t even remember being told that one day I was going to have blood rushing out of me for approximately four days every so often. No one ever told me. It just came one day, and well, was that terrifying for an eleven year old. Or however old I was. I don’t even really remember how old. All I remember is dark red blood on underpants.

So, I understand the healing necessity when modern cis-women healers call for the reclamation of a relationship with bleeding cycles. Having internalized hatred and disgust at a bodily process that happens for some people pretty frequently can be deeply traumatizing and self-harming, and I support the wanting to uplift and empower things that have been cast as chtonic and therefore banished as a result of the patriarchy. As a non-binary person, what is also traumatizing, is when these same cis-women healers do not leave much space for all kinds of feelings and perspectives about periods. Or when they completely forget that not everyone who bleeds is a woman. Or that some women will never bleed, and that does not make them any less of a woman (by the way). Or they “recognize” or “name” these things, but still continue to center themselves and their experiences in conversations about menstruation.

How many times have I seen modern cis-women healers say things like: “It’s so important to come into a sacred relationship with your cycle. If you were taught to hate your period, I can help you heal that”. For trans and gender creative folks, it is more complicated.

Why do some of us have such intense and hate-filled relationships with our cycles? This answer differs according to who you ask and their unique story, and what I have found in my own self-investigation processes is that hatred for my cycle is connected to what it represents to me. Or what I have been taught by cis-heteropatriarchy that bleeding is supposed to be about.

It’s about “womanhood”, and every time I get my period, I am confronted again with my own dysphoria and gender trauma. I am not a woman, though, and so somehow I must be wrong. People assume that I am a woman though, and that hurts. All the fucking time (seriously, stop doing that). I cannot fit into the mainstream conversations that happen about periods. They are not written for people like me. They are actually written to erase and make invisible my identity or any identity that is not cis (and usually also white/straight) women.

The people who would have taught me what it is like to be non-binary/gender creative and have a period have been killed long ago. I am talking about the mass global genocide of transgender and gender creative folks that has happened (and continues to happen) at the hands of white supremacist and patriarchal colonizing forces. Something that is hardly ever talked about. Most people do not even know that there is a concept beyond a gender binary, let alone that cultures all around the world typically had more than two genders before european christianity and colonization arrived.

I often day dream about what these queer elders would tell me. How they would validate my unique body and my unique orientation to it. How they would praise the liminal space I occupy and give me secret and special rituals to do with my blood. How they would offer instruction about how to change, alter, and shape shift my body and its bleeding processes if that is something I wanted to do. Sometimes friends in my queer community show up as these elders, offering me words of wisdom and solidarity that can only come from the pains of shared experiences.

My bleeding and my relationship to it cannot be contained or explained by a heteronormative gender binary. When I am bleeding, my sense of time shifts into a deep and vast slowness. I enter a state of no beginnings, no endings, no words. An ambiguous place between the worlds of rising and falling life force, pleasure, and feeling that has no destination or impulse other than to flow. This slow liminality is one of my favorite aspects of being a bleeder, and it is also something that I experience as intrinsic to an anti-capitalist and queer love. This practice of bending time is for me very similar to the art of gender bending, finding one’s selves between and of many different landscapes and textures of feeling with the capacity to flow, shapeshift, and re-create selves in any moment.

I feel that it is time that trans and gender creative folks give ourselves permission to carve our own pathways to sacredness when it comes to bleeding and periods, and that these pathways are centralized, even in cis-het spaces. We need more complicated ways of holding bodies who bleed and bodies who don’t want to. We need to come together more as a queer community to talk about these things and support each other through them. We need to make sacred our pain and our hatred and our enjoyment of our cycles. We need to redefine periods on our own terms. Stripping away its “inherent connection to womanhood” and queering it the fuck up.

Society can learn from the permission we give to each other to say “no” to having a period, to being a boy and having a period, to being agender and having a period, to being non-binary and having a period, to being a woman and not having a period, and to every possible combination that can happen in a human body. To me, that is what queerness is about. Exploring the edges. Endless multiplicity of horizons and varying forms.

I believe we need to stop shouting at cis-women to try and understand, seeking validation and inclusion into their moon circles or into their practices and healing modalities that are only designed for themselves. Perhaps they will never understand. Some of them will try. And some of them will develop into consistently counted upon accomplices, which is vital. But, I feel we need to focus more on creating and feeding our own circles. Share our stories with each other more and hold space. Create queer-operated and owned health clinics. Create access pathways to health and healing and spirituality for queer folks by queer folks. (Queer Asterisk is an amazing and powerful example of this, and I have been deeply supported by their services and community offerings ever since they began).

In many ways I feel that trans and gender creative folks have much to contribute to the fields of health and healing, especially when it pertains to matters of the body and its shapes, forms, and processes. We are, each in our own ways, playing with the body we have been given, finding thresholds through it, and making and re-making ourselves. I once had a cis-person tell me that taking testosterone is ecologically “not safe”. It was a twisting of chemicals inside the body in a way that no human should ever do. I remember feeling upset and unheard when this person shared this with me. We take chemicals to alter our bodies and consciousness all of the time in modern society, and humans have been participating with and experimenting in alteration for a long time. What makes this any different?

I believe that trans and gender creative folks are edge walkers of imagination, whether we take hormones or not. We imagine ourselves in ways that other people won’t allow themselves to. We experience our bodies in ways that other people do not. We have so much to teach, to give, to offer. We deserve respect, space, and autonomy.

I’m tired of bleeding in secret. I’m tired of feeling disempowered when I bleed because there are no mainstream narratives that affirm my experience. I’m tired of cis-privilege and the way it wreaks havoc, harm, and genocide on trans and enby bodies. I’m ready for something different. I’m ready for something complex, revolutionary, and liberating. I’m ready for queer leadership, representation, and celebration. Because when we destroy the gender binary, everyone benefits. Everyone benefits from a world and a culture that upholds body sovereignty. One that says: you get to decide who you are. No one else but you.

<Back to the Issue

The mornings I wake up with blood

c   h   i

Soaking

into my sheets, dried

    to the skin of my thighs,

Are the days my yellow skin burns gold

Burnished and bright,

And I swear I am an open fla

Because it burns

Sharp

tsu橿粥岳歓

Br痛岳ght and cruel

I wonder if any of this matters.

The double monolid slope of my eyes,

The curve of my cheekbones

          皆侃私梶

女(樫簡 n a )

          樺額兜考掛鴨粥岳乾?

(Don’t you?)

<Back to the Issue

Blood of the Matriarchy

February Moon Blood

Things We Lost

<Back to the Issue

I’m sitting in the men’s bathroom. I’ve got blood on my hands.

Here we go again.

I quickly realize that the closest sink is next to the urinals.

Who will see me this time?

Will they say hello? Make eye contact?

Will they see my hands and know?

I sit there listening until someone leaves and think to myself, “Last time this happened, I couldn’t get the blood out from under my fingernails. It would be great to never have a period again. Ever.”

I made it to my office. My Boss comes in and tells me he needs to talk to me.

He pulls me into a conference room. Him and the lady from HR are telling me there are two contracts to choose from and I can pick which resignation I want to sign.

I place my pen down.

“Can I still apply for unemployment?”, I ask. To which they replied, “We won’t contest it.”

<Back to the Issue

 

The first day blood fled from my insides

& rushed down my legs in exile. I was twelve.

My mom told me it was early. I didn’t know what

it was but I knew it was painful.

The day before, I had discovered

I was allergic to milk.

dat baby will hit yo head with a bottle

after drinking all the milk in seconds was how my family described me.

Everyone thought I would grow to be tall.

I’m only 5’3” & they seem slightly disappointed. Me too.

Looking back I think I lacked nourishment.

Milk was nourishing, until it wasn’t.

Then it became a toxin.

I’m young & knew nothing of this body

Other than sometimes things felt good until they didn’t & sometimes things

shed & it’s painful.

These lessons are important for me now. I still don’t drink milk & every day I

become better acquainted with pain. My great-aunt told me I could be anything I wanted to

be.

I wondered if someday I could be a girl who didn’t bleed? I

wondered if someday I could also not be a girl?

I wondered if all girls bled. I knew my mom did, but

what about the other ones?

Online-forms, applications, people ask me about my gender.

I’m that girl who isn’t even a girl who no longer bleeds.

I am not like my mom who still does. I eat tiny white pills for breakfast and skip the

sugary fake ones so that I may skip my period. These pills were not made to make me feel at home in this way,

but they do.

But sometimes blood still comes through as if in defiance as if in an act

of rebellion. My body’s rebellion is two fold – will reject what I put in and reject parts

of me from within. A reminder that with this body my ability to control is minimal. A

reminder that with this body shedding is inevitable. A reminder that everyday I must

become better acquainted with pain.

 

On Crafting the Cover…


 

When thinking of menstruation, I meditated and thought deeply on what that means, how that feels, what processes are occurring. I have a complicated relationship with menstruation but do think there’s this element of rebirth that appeals to me. Particularly, rebirth and cycles and replenishing. So I began to think about those ideas and the things that remind me of that and how all these elements, the snake, the butterflies, fungi, plants, the moon, and us are all in conversation, all a part of this intricate cycle.

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menstrual fluid on canvas

8 in x 8 in