"This Time, It's Queer"

Monument Valley Regional Middle School
Berkshire County, MA

This time, it’s different. 

This time it isn’t the haircut,
the thighs, the height, the weight, the anxiety, the laughs,
or the shoves, or the in-betweens. 

This time, it’s queer. 

Girl, they call me,
   she,   her.

An abomination of femininity shoved into my face,
shoved through my ears,
pushed to my brain and plastered to a body that I do not believe is mine. 

This time, it is the separation between the boys and the girls.
And where do I belong?
Where do I belong?

I do not belong here,
I do not belong in that bathroom,
I am not meant to be placed in line with those girls in dresses,
with the makeup and beautiful, feminine clothes. 

“Be yourself,” I am told.
But little do they know,
you cannot be yourself when you are being told exactly who you need to be.
You cannot be yourself when you have families to approve of your choices,
friends to accept who you are.
You cannot be yourself when who you are isn’t even up to you to decide. 

How am I supposed to become myself when I have an entire society to please?
How am I supposed to become myself when I do not even have
   a gender to identify with?

She,   she,   she.
Girl,   her,   herself…

You are female, you are girl, they tell me.
“It’s wrong, it’s all wrong.”
I wish to plaster that phrase onto the insides of their eyelids,
I wish to give them a looking glass that would show them what I see,
give them the feelings that I feel,
the pain that I’ve felt…but not for too long. 

Because though I am hurt,
and in pain
I do not wish it upon anyone else.
I do not want people to be scared, 

I do not want people to be hurt because it hurts too much
and that kind of pain cannot be erased. 

But how am I to be genderless when it has been made clear to me that I have far too many feminine flaws?
People point them out as if I am blind to them,
as if I don’t see them when I look into the mirror,
when I take that step into the shower.
That shower that cannot be avoided,
the whispers that cannot go unheard,
the stares I can’t help but see.
How am I to be addressed as they, as them, as their?
When people only see it as plural.
And ey, em, and eir sound too foreign to use,
too unimportant to learn.

They say I am too short.
They tell me the glasses will never pass for neutral but there is nothing else I look okay in.
They say the hair is still feminine as if I couldn't tell
They tell me the button ups look gay – surprise, surprise! I am gay.
They say my chest is not flat enough, that it will never appear flat.
They say my arms are too thin and my body too curved.
They say these words as if I’m blind.
But no, they are blind for not realizing the harm they’ve put me through,
the struggles they’ve caused. 

This time it’s when I am told who I need to be
while asked what I want to be when I grow up,
as if demanding I be different than I am now.
I do not wish to be different 
I wish to be they and them and their. 

This time it’s when I am told it’s a phase.
I'm confused.  I'm too young.
I don’t know what I’m saying.
I don’t know who I am.
I don't know which bathroom to step foot in. 

This time, it’s queer.