Pink Crayons: A Spoken Word Poem About Radical Love for My Trans Sister
September 30, 2017 5:47 AM   Subscribe

We knew since she was a toddler that she was different. Although we saw her as a boy, she played with girl toys. She had a solid obsession with the color pink. She always wanted to put on my sister’s dresses. At first maybe we thought she would be gay and we were totally fine with that- we have a lot of gay relatives on my mom’s side. We didn’t force the issue either as she grew up. We didn’t want her to come up with answers that she didn’t have or needed to have. But we knew one day she would figure it out.

An amazing spoken word poem. Watch the video; it's wonderful. Transcript also available.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon (21 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
That poem is so beautiful!!
posted by 41swans at 6:32 AM on September 30, 2017

I am crying. Thank you!
posted by cider at 6:52 AM on September 30, 2017

Wow. I can't stop crying. Thank you.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:12 AM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by Splunge at 8:20 AM on September 30, 2017

I liked that he made the poem about his own worries and hopes and fears and feelings rather than what he imagines hers are or would be. He didn't try to take her voice at all (which I was anticipating).
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:25 PM on September 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

... idk... mixed feelings on this. I'm glad to hear the perspective of somewhat supportive family members. But wow I hate the idea that the author knew his sister was a girl (or gay) because she liked pink and barbies growing up. I guess they're just speaking truthfully but what a harmful stereotype of what it means to be trans, or queer, or a boy, or a girl.
posted by Emily's Fist at 12:26 PM on September 30, 2017 [32 favorites]

But that's his sister's particular experience and history. I don't think he's suggesting it's the same for everyone...
posted by mochapickle at 12:29 PM on September 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

Well, not exactly. It's not his sister's experience/understanding of what it means to be transgender, because she didn't write it. It's his experience/understanding of what it means that his sister is transgender and what childhood clues were or weren't meaningful towards that.

I'm not hating on the author. I think his support is so powerful. But my sister could also write a poem about how she knew I was gay because growing up, I didn't like dresses. But the missing element is that I did a lot of things that conformed or didn't conform to my gender roles, like most kids. And I don't really think of those as being indicators of queerness or not, because you're always paying attention to some cues and ignoring others in an effort to try and fit someone into a box. Just my outside perspective and my mixed feelings about this.
posted by Emily's Fist at 12:37 PM on September 30, 2017 [23 favorites]

Emily's Fist, I could be totally wrong about this (and it doesn't invalidate your reaction either way) but I thought the poet was looking back at his (and his family's) reactions to his sister's childhood and the family's uneasy reaction to her growing sense of who she is. Like I described above, I was a little worried that he was trying to try and tell her story, but he was really telling his own, making a narrative of his sense of her progress (or maybe his family's memories of that shared sense).

And that could go really wrong, with him telling her her story, but I think the confession of fear that happens maybe 2/3 of the way through makes it clear that it's his feelings and memories, and that he's aware that he's maybe misunderstanding things and that what he chooses to do is accept and love his sister even though he knows he's going to screw it up sometimes.

I think that maybe that saves it from being "oh, that's what that meant."
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:10 PM on September 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Imagine gender is a mirror.

For cis people the gender is mostly intact, likely cracked, but for the most part a reflection in the mirror can be seen.

For trans people you take that mirror and shatter it then spend the rest of your life examining small bits of reflection until eventually it all adds up.

That is why it is important for trans people and those who love them to share their experiences

The tiny little fucking shards are not a complete reflection. They are sharp little bits that add up and cut at you and your loved ones until it eventually makes sense.

So please stop with the bellyaching that because a family member noticed the child enjoyed pink, that it somehow invalidates and cheapens or somehow reifies the toxicity of gender.

It's not politics it's a child.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:14 PM on September 30, 2017 [23 favorites]

So please stop with the bellyaching that because a family member noticed the child enjoyed pink, that it somehow invalidates and cheapens or somehow reifies the toxicity of gender.

Seriously. Could we have just one thread about transfeminine people that doesn't automatically turn into a "trans femmes reify gender stereotypes" derail. It's tiresome.
posted by saltbush and olive at 1:18 PM on September 30, 2017 [14 favorites]

"trans femmes reify gender stereotypes"

Yikes, that's really not the point I was trying to convey, so I apologize that it's how I came off.
posted by Emily's Fist at 1:59 PM on September 30, 2017 [12 favorites]

This poem calls to mind very strongly the first time I saw my 13-year old trans brother playing the role of the Fox in a children’s production of Pinocchio, comfortable and confident in his body and clothes, and my delight at his ease. Took him another sixteen years to tell his family plainly, and I still worry that Richmond isn’t safe for him... but I met my brother for the first time twenty years ago, and nothing that felt so right can possibly be wrong.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:40 PM on September 30, 2017 [17 favorites]

I took Emily's Fist's comments as an attempt to validate people who realized they were trans later in life and/or who may not conform to binary gender roles. I didn't read them as a TERFy attempt to devalue trans femmes and their experiences that may follow stereotypes. But maybe I'm viewing the comments through my own enby lens.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:00 PM on September 30, 2017 [9 favorites]

I don't have the fortitude to make another trans post, but here is an amazing new video with a spoken word poem that encapsulates (my) trans experience very well.
posted by AFABulous at 7:01 PM on September 30, 2017 [9 favorites]

Here's another awesome story about YouTube celebrity and role model for maker girls everywhere, Super Awesome Sylvia, figuring out that he is Zephyrus and then having to figure out what to do with the persistence of the online character of Sylvia.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:07 AM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Hello I'm a nonbinary (probably agender) AMAB person who chooses to be read as a binary woman because I can a) pass as a cis lady well enough and I b) need to stay employed so I can take care of my family. So "woman" it is because no one is hiring genderqueer AMAB's.

Now, about feeling like someone in someone else's family with someone else's kid watching and writing about their trans sibling go through their own life experiences somehow invalidates or erases your lived experience is the wrong way to go about looking for examples of how media representation for nonbinary kids is totally lacking.

So I understand feeling like there's not a place for nonbinary people to hear there stories told because there really isn't at all and we need much much more written about trans and nonbinary people. But a story about a trans child child who turns out to be a girl and not a boy is not a potential danger to nonbinary people. The dearth of media representation for nonbinary people is a threat.

And guess what, in the space where the media doesn't represent nonbinary people appropriately, the TERF's have found an opening and are co-opting nonbinary as their struggle. That is a real threat.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:28 AM on October 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

Have you ever been called a transtrender by a TERF?
posted by elsietheeel at 8:24 AM on October 1, 2017

I've been called many many shitty things by TERF's. That included.
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:39 AM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm saying TERF's trying to claim nonbinary as theirs is a bigger threat to nonbinary erasure than yet another story about a trans kid who happened to like pink as a kid.
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:42 AM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Look, we're on the same side and I don't want this to go farther than it already has. I know that impact is far more important than intent. I'm well versed in the bullshit that TERFs use to try to tear us down. I was just saying that I don't think that's what happened here, but you're right that we don't need to invalidate one experience to validate another.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:50 AM on October 1, 2017

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