Transgender Awareness Week takes place in the week leading up to Transgender Day of Awareness on 20 November. Transgender Day of Awareness was co-founded in 1999 by activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith, in memory of her friend, Black trans woman Rita Hester, who was killed in 1998. Transgender Awareness Week draws attention to and celebrates trans identities.
Celebrate with poems by two trans poets, Lily Holloway and Sylvan Spring.
I am born, my gender two swans
after Group IX/SUW, The Swan, No. 1 (1915) by Hilma af Klint
When I am born I bleed at the edges
like a painting in the rain. The midwife
is overbooked, the umbilical cord wraps
around my neck, an ambulance rushes me
from one hospital to another. Meanwhile
the swans inside me already kiss at the edge
of their reflection. Their chest muscles pumping
to power wings that beat against fistfuls of air.
Their fierce eyes stare into the other’s as if
to whisper: Why shouldn’t we merge our frantic bodies,
our too-eager hearts? Why shouldn’t we live
as something true and shining? It’s an osmosis
of sheer will when they cross into each other;
yellow beak into blue, black feather into white.
And there, within my small, bloody body,
there is transcendence; there are trumpets.
Cis people aren’t normal they’re fugly: a pamphlet for coming to terms with the fact that transsexuals exist and maybe you are one ¹
I mean, can you imagine, basing your life on a bet that your gender is real? Embarrassing, really. At least we know it’s all just pantomime.
If queering is questioning, critiquing, rethinking; transgendering must be tearing apart entirely, casting aside, creating something else.
‘Trans’, as a prefix, means across, over or beyond. While AIDS was killing cis gay men in disturbing numbers in the 1980s, the word ‘transgender’ was created to put a label to the virus’ most ‘dangerous’ population of carriers. Transgender was a name selected to identify a trail of disease.
The cis are so brave, can you even imagine going out to the beach and showing off both your cleavage and the conspicuous space where your dick should be to the world?
Most things worth knowing have been taught to me by transsexuals.
Being trans is a divine glow-up. We’re a spiritual rung above, one sizable step closer to utopia – that’s why the cis are scared of us. They fear those that can see what they will never reach, and are unafraid to follow it. Also, we’re sexy and they want to be us.
We live across, over, beyond the borders that make up the only world they will ever know.
The time has come for transgendering the cis. We will pull their bodies apart over our enormous stove, watch them lose their shapes in the water, the air heavy with the smell of people unbecoming.
We all shake into nothing with enough heat.
¹ With thanks to Torrey Peters’ Detransition, Baby.
Lily Holloway (they/her) is an impossibly tall stack of hedgehogs in a raincoat (pretending to be human so they can ride the Corkscrew Coaster at Rainbow's End). You can read their recent work in Peach Mag, Cordite, and Ōrongohau | Best New Zealand Poems or find a full list of where to read their writing at lilyholloway.co.nz. Lily is currently in their first year of an MFA in Creative Writing at Syracuse University.
Sylvan Spring first got a taste for writing when they won a competition at the age of 8 with a story about sentient meat.