Two Poems: "Silent" and "He/Him/His"
I’m Sorry I Stayed Silent
My introduction to law professor is talking about the degrees of sexual assault, and when she thinks victims should be believed. I am trying to stay present, trying not to run head first into the darkness she invited.
We were supposed to talk about real estate law, but I can’t tell you one thing we learned that night. I spent the whole hour panicked, reminding myself that he can’t hurt me.
This is the third week that she has talked about assault, for the shock value. Can you believe this? she asks with a laugh, after the me too hashtag bursts her bubble weeks late. as she invites people to share their stories, as if this is some fun debate. Completely unaware that I am playing back the worst thing that has ever happened to me again and again.
When I finally gather the courage to say something to her, she tells me this is the real world is not my liberal arts bubble and I will have to deal with this. That this is just something that happens to women.
I take a deep breath, but don’t correct her. Because I don’t have the energy to prove myself masculine.
I should have told her, that this body, makeup and lipstick is male. That my gender did not stop me from saying me too, that this body did not protect me from a man who wanted my body. But I didn’t and is that silence not an act of violence too?
I am tired
of the string of apologies
reminding me just how hard this is for you.
Or the friend with good intentions
who tells his roommates I’m not his girlfriend
with a smile thrown in my direction.
Making no attempt to correct the pronouns.
I spent a semester putting my gender pronouns
on everything I turned in to a professor
and he still gets them wrong.
I am supposed to accept this with a smile.
Because I don’t look like a boy,
or it is just so hard to remember.
I am only supposed to be the right kind of angry
while people walk over my being.
because they just don’t understand
I have lost count of how many times
a stranger has told me
they never met a girl Mason before
I bite my tongue and force a smile.
after talking about how hard it can be to be transgender,
a friend called me girl
and couldn’t understand
why I wouldn’t hug her.
Mason O’Hern is a gender-queer poet whose work centers on disability, mental illness and healing. For more of Mason’s work, follow him on Twitter.