Regarding Leelah

(this poem was written two years ago and is being posted in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance)

dear Mr. un-evolved
I am writing in response
to your community press op-ed
last month on Leelah Alcorn
yes, before I begin
let’s get her name straight
her name is Leelah

this is the letter
I do not send
the letter where I am not eloquent
nor patient
the correspondence
that lashes out
juvenile
name calling thrown about

this is the letter I do not send
where I forget my religion
and ridicule your (anything but Christian) chastising
of a young woman
who had no recourse
to defend
submitting under the heavy hand of hate
told she had sinned
because the
G-d given parts bestowed upon her
did not match her insides
because she was made in all of our image
because we all start out as women
because you are less of a man
for picking on someone
not your own size
a child…a child

did you hear your voice when you shamed a teen for being
self-centered
did you read those words
before you hit send
did you know
being a teen
is a contract in narcissism
did you know that if you love them through
the acne
the heart breaks
support them as they are pulled in a thousand different ways
they transcend
did you know the worst you can do is to hurl
shame filled rhetoric
that’s what forces them
to jump in front of trucks
did you know
your blind and narrow view
of what it means to be human
is blasphemous
to the very messiah
you espouse to worship

something tells me
proof reading
is not your strong suit
self-reflection and soul-searching
are past times that terrify you
something tells me
that a real hard truth
would stick in your throat
and consume all you contend to be true

you could never face Leelah’s truth
you can never stand in the light she left behind
it will only grow brighter over time
eventually eclipsing the dark places
until there are no closets left to hide
perhaps that is why
your hate compels you
to compose articles dripping in inky ignorance
to shoot arrows poisoned with arrogance
at a community united in love
perhaps there was once a little girl
inside you
dying to be given
a voice
instead she just died
leaving you abandoned
an empty cliché of a man
so fearful
so sad
so devoid of compassion and full of false pride

no, I won’t send this
but I will write
I will fan Leelah’s flame
and pray
that as the dark night
sets upon your life
may G-d have more mercy
on your soul
than I am able to find

Post Traumatic Election Disorder

Post Traumatic Election Disorder; that’s what afflicts me. It’s personal, because see I’m already ready wired for this. In fact, I’ve found myself horribly triggered since the second debate. I’ve been working, working on being aware and I am aware that there is something so keenly terrifying about watching a man lurk with malicious intent around a woman. I am aware that watching his hands grab the back of the chair I am transported to six years old, to terrified at the dinner table, my father clutching my shoulders and pushing down on them with his hulking frame, his hard catcher’s mitt hands insisting that I eat what is on my plate. While the tears stream down my cheeks, my own body’s salt mixing with the fatted meat as he shoves his fingers past my lips, past my teeth.

I’m right back in that place, only I’m really 43 with a safe home, a gentle man, two children of my own, a successful healing practice with beloved clients and friends who love and appreciate me. I have agency and for now, freedom. I have awareness and fortitude to do what my own mother never could. So, I work through the fear, my anger and tears. I write and tell the world my story. Why I believe we need to actively resist the misogynistic bull fist that is threatening to strip us of our dignity, that fist which opposes all I know of what it means to be human. So, I spoke, I did. I said it out loud, I told them, bared it all. Let it go and damn it, I finally understand that cliche, because it’s not my shame, or hers. It’s not okay. My voice was received.

Then I vote. I dress in all white honoring the suffragette. I channel the memory of my Grandmother, Caroline. I thank her for showing me the way, how to argue with dear friends over cocktails at the club that a woman’s body was hers and hers alone. I thank my mother, though she couldn’t leave when I needed her to she has found her own way to work for change, to empower so many of our nation’s daughters. It leaves me anxious, surprisingly vibrating kinetic dread that turns to stricken as the election results trickle in. I wake at 4:30 am Wednesday to pee and peek at my fucking cellphone screen (that someday I will smash with a hammer) to see the most God-awful headline any rape and abuse survivor could see, “President Trump”.