Poetry - Either Or

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #105, Spring 2004.
either or

by julia serano

it should have been no big deal really

just another saturday night in some bar

some guy flirting with some girl

and she wasn?t even interested in him

and it should have been no big deal

except that i was the girl

and the guy was the first straight boy

who ever took an interest in me

in the past

other men had hit on me

but only the ones who like their girls

to be boy underneath

but months of hormone replacement therapy

erased most traces of my maleness

so much so that this straight boy

didn?t think twice before flirting with me

and it took me by surprise

we talked for a while

before he gently touched the side of my arm

and smiled

and my brain went wild

with a million thoughts

set off like fireworks

like my life flashing before my eyes

years of potions and spells

crossdressing rituals

designed to conjure up the girl in me

just so i could catch a glimpse of her reflection

in a bathroom mirror

or store front window

and i wasn?t even into this boy

but he made me blush

his flirts felt like hard won accomplishments

years of suffering and sacrifice all paid off

all because some random guy saw a real girl

when he looked into my eyes

our language doesn?t have the words to describe it

this is the sort of thing that ordinarily gets taken for granted

from the moment the doctor announces

?it?s a girl? or ?it?s a boy?

most people?s gender is written in granite

but my gender

is more like a carrot on a stick

it?s always dangling right in front of me

because i may pass as a woman

but i have a male past

that runs thirty-some years deep

and it?s full

of memories that i don?t regret

secrets that i shouldn?t have to keep

and every time i meet

a stranger who turns into a friend

it?s only a matter of time

before i find myself telling them

and i?ve seen that look hundred of times

when what i am changes in someone else?s eyes

and they always act nonchalant and polite

but from that point on

they can?t help but see the boy in me

and i?m no longer quite the girl i used to be

my gender

is a boulder that i roll up a hill each day

only to have it come crashing back down on me

that?s why it?s so tempting for me

to just lose myself

in those rare moments

of absolute authenticity

like when that straight boy flirted with me

because a part of me wants so desperately

to be one hundred percent female

yet somehow

the burden of a million sins of omission

seems like too high of a price to pay

for the privilege of merely blending in

i know what the real problem is

gender is exclusive

it?s always either or

and i guess that makes my gender

none of the above

because my gender

is the answer to a trick question

it?s like that optical illusion where you see

either a vase

or two faces

but you can?t see them both at once

my gender

is more than the sum of my anatomical parts

and you can insist on seeing me

as either female or male

that?s up to you to decide

and if you still don?t get what i?m trying to say

well that?s okay

my gender

takes more than three minutes to describe