Poems on Gender

GENDER IDENTITY 

Everyone is at war with their gender 
For some, it’s a guerrilla warfare 
For others, nuclear weapons at dawn 
I guess you could say I was cis gender as a teen 
I wanted to conform, I wanted to belong 

Then women’s liberation came to town 
I had to be housetrained, of course 
Learn to wash dishes and sweep the stairs 
And as time went on, it would get deeper 
I would learn things about myself 
Things I had to change 
But my first experience of women’s liberation 
Was as a liberation for me, too  
I didn’t have to be John Wayne anymore 
(lucky thing, because I was shit at it)
Suddenly, breaking gender rules was more than ok 
It was cool – it was right on 
Gay liberation intensified this 
If you could be queer in front of the entire world 
I could be brave too 
And trans… one more giant fuck you 
To the whole gender prison 

We should be comrades 
We should be allies 
We should be friends 
And we are 
But friends can fall out 

History is binary in terrible ways 
Women have reason to fear men 
Reason to fight for their own spaces, meetings, organisations
It’s not self-determination that tears us apart – it’s injustice 
Now everything has changed – and nothing has 
Is there any such thing as a real woman now 
Was there ever 
We are at the beginning of a new age of possibilities 
But thousands of years of history 
Do not go away with the stroke of a pen 
The war goes on 
We carry the enemy on our backs 

Gender identity 
Is not a home base 
It’s a prison 
Or at best a day release 
It’s a compromise between 
What we’re expected to be 
And what we could be 

Gender identity 
Is a war fought on the battleground of our bodies 
There is an element of actual, real reality to it 
We do, after all, have to reproduce, we have to make babies 
(and raise them up so they can make more babies) 
But for all the love that grows up out of this 
The rules that are laid down on top of it   
Are twisted through with power, property, ownership 

Gender identity 
Think of it as a brand 
Like a game of cowboys 
– where you are the cow 
You’re penned in 
You try to escape 
But they throw you down 
Take the iron out of the fire 
And burn it into your flesh 
You fight your way free 
But you carry the scars 

And the scars become who you are 
Your story, a record of all you have endured 
All you have accomplished 
A red badge of courage 
And yours is not the only one 
You realise now you are standing in a field of red 
We are many 
And we each have a story to tell 

Sometimes rights intersect – sometimes they collide 
History is binary in complicated ways
We don’t all fit together like a finely crafted jigsaw puzzle 
One love, one struggle, yes 
But unity is not a god given state of grace 
We have to fight for it 
Fight to protect each other 
Fight to understand each other 
And sometimes, fight against each other 
Not as enemies, but fearlessly 
Like comrades, hungry for the truth 
No matter how painful it is to learn

We are on the side of human liberation 
We welcome debate 
You have a right to be wrong 
You have a right to make mistakes 
We each have an obligation to be brave 
To speak our mind 
To dare to go against the tide 
It’s how we learn from each other 
It’s how we become strong 
It’s how we become kind 

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