is this a gender?


by Robin M Eames

 
[Image description: version of the “is this a pigeon?” meme with Katori Yuutaro labelled “trans people” gesturing to a butterfly labelled “literally fucking anything”, caption “is this a gender?”]

[Image description: version of the “is this a pigeon?” meme with Katori Yuutaro labelled “trans people” gesturing to a butterfly labelled “literally fucking anything”, caption “is this a gender?”]

Trans culture is pointing at random objects  

& saying          That’s my gender

strictly out of sight of cis people because

if they catch you pointing at random objects

& saying          That’s my gender

inevitably some disingenuous dudebro journalist

will write a tortured, torturous thinkpiece about

trans people thinking that Mario Kart is a gender

& oh my god, think of the children,

what the fuck, the children, holy jesus, Amen,

when obviously Mario Kart isn’t a gender

but watching your animated avatar crash & burn

in a fiery explosion of pixelated death  

while cheerful 8-bit music announces your demise

is directly analogous to the feeling of existing

in the world while also being transgender.

[Image description: KC Green’s “this is fine” comic panel with a trans flag superimposed over the dog surrounded by flames]

[Image description: KC Green’s “this is fine” comic panel with a trans flag superimposed over the dog surrounded by flames]

Neon Genesis Evangelion isn’t a gender either  

but relatedly, it did turn me trans

which I think explains a lot about me –

who among us doesn’t see a manifestation  

of glorious genderqueer expression  

in giant violet-&-viridian apocalyptic robots?

Get in the fucking gender Shinji.

[Image description: the purple, green, and white genderqueer flag beside an image of the purple and green robot Eva 01 brandishing a glowing white sword]

[Image description: the purple, green, and white genderqueer flag beside an image of the purple and green robot Eva 01 brandishing a glowing white sword]

I have a lot of unholy rage inside me,

which I try to channel into passion & action

& love but sometimes it just comes out as

weirdly specific cheerful nihilism,  

which is also trans culture.  

You reach a certain point where

language is inadequate & the only coherent

form of expression lies in strange, baseless,

basement-dwelling internet humour.

I write a lot of poems that facetiously

explain my gender because I feel like

I spend so much time explaining & justifying

my gender & I’m tired of it. I’ve passed

through exhaustion & into sheer frustrated

nonsense, I’ve burned through my patience

& gentleness, my attention to detail & my  

endless capacity to be reduced to other people’s

teaching moments. All of this is ash & smoke

& what’s left is pure concentrated memes.

[Image description: Charles Eisen’s 1896 illustration of the devil being spooked by a maiden flashing her vulva. The maiden is labelled “trans people”, the devil labelled “cis people”, and the vulva labelled “biology, neuroscience, history, sociology, psychiatry, basic human decency”]

[Image description: Charles Eisen’s 1896 illustration of the devil being spooked by a maiden flashing her vulva. The maiden is labelled “trans people”, the devil labelled “cis people”, and the vulva labelled “biology, neuroscience, history, sociology, psychiatry, basic human decency”]

 My gender is the troll under the bridge.

That’s all you get. My gender is a seagull

stealing chips from helpless tourists. My gender

is a cultural reference that you’re too young

or too old to understand immediately & you have

to have it explained to you, only the process

of explaining the joke makes it even less funny

& you still don’t get it & you’re beginning to think

that nobody else really gets it either. My gender is  

skeletons & anything on wheels. My gender is

that feeling you get when you’re halfway  

to the bus stop & you can’t remember if you

left the stove on. My gender is leaving the stove on

& coming home to find that everything you know

& love has burned to nothing, you are nothing,

you no longer exist. You are some kind of ghost,

dead but not dead, alive but aberrant, unrecognisable  

to blood relations, to friends & lovers, to medical &  

social security records. My gender is what’s left

when everyone else is done mourning the person

I didn’t grow up to be. Shit, that’s dark. Sorry.

Also my gender is that one Dalí painting

with all the melting clocks, because. Same.

[Image description: Salvador Dalí’s “The Persistence of Memory”, with the melting clocks labelled “fuck”, “fuk”, and “fuck fuck fuk fuck fuck”]

[Image description: Salvador Dalí’s “The Persistence of Memory”, with the melting clocks labelled “fuck”, “fuk”, and “fuck fuck fuk fuck fuck”]

 When I’m writing poetry about being transgender

I often avoid simultaneously speaking about being

a cripple because people can kind of only handle

one (1) thing at a time, they can’t handle complexity

which is why we have politicians justifying legislative

decisions on the basis of misremembered year 7 biology.

Cis people & bipeds have a lot in common though,

largely that they’re all weirdly obsessed with my legs,

or what’s between my legs, or whether public infrastructure

should prevent me from going to the bathroom.

& by the way there’s something really hopelessly funny

about the social codification of gendered spaces

resulting in the designated genders being Men, Women,

& Wheelchair Users, because – that is definitely my gender.

[Image description: Vector of bathroom signs signifying male, female, and accessible]

[Image description: Vector of bathroom signs signifying male, female, and accessible]

 Neon Genesis Evangelion didn’t actually

turn me trans, by the way, that was a joke,

because I use humour as a coping mechanism

for the inordinate bullshit that you have to wade through

whenever you open your mouth & say something

about the ~Trans Experience~. It’s not that we

don’t take gender seriously or we don’t think this

is serious, like, it’s so fucking serious that 48%  

of trans youth in this country have attempted suicide

& I’m one of them. It’s just that when you get to  

that point you have to either laugh or just  

fucking kill yourself & I already tried that

& it didn’t work out, so, this is where I live now.

 

[Image description: Arnold Böcklin’s self-portrait with Death looming over his shoulder as he paints, caption “Not now, Death, I’m using art as a coping strategy for immense systemic violence”]

[Image description: Arnold Böcklin’s self-portrait with Death looming over his shoulder as he paints, caption “Not now, Death, I’m using art as a coping strategy for immense systemic violence”]

If you’re feeling lost at this point

then I want you to know that deep down

the real gender was the friends we made along the way

 

[Image description: Eugène Delacroix's 'Liberty Leading the People', depicting a personification of Liberty leading a bunch of bedraggled revolutionaries over a battlefield, with the flag of the French Revolution replaced by a rainbow pride flag]

[Image description: Eugène Delacroix's 'Liberty Leading the People', depicting a personification of Liberty leading a bunch of bedraggled revolutionaries over a battlefield, with the flag of the French Revolution replaced by a rainbow pride flag]

 
 

About the author

Robin M Eames is a queercrip poet and historian living on Gadigal land. Their work has been published by Cordite, Overland, Meanjin, Voiceworks, and Deaf Poets Society, among others.

Don't forget to tip the author

Please consider giving the author a 'tip'. You can tip the author as little or as much as you like, no pressure. 80% of what you donate goes directly to the author while 20% goes back into keeping the volunteer-run Subbed In & Ibis House projects afloat. Thank you!

TIP ROBIN M EAMES