I purchase my first penis at fifteen. A week later, it falls out from under my skirt and into the toilet bowl. The silicone shaft sways like a sea creature and no amount of flushing sends it to the sewers. Water spills out onto the floors.
“Oh no,” I mutter to myself.
I’ve imagined every angle of my coming out in classroom back corners. I’ve written the speech every night in my head to entertain my insomnia. There are good ways to come out as transgender. The discovery of my dick in the stalls of my all-girls school is not one of them.
I roll up my sleeves and reach in. The penis emerges in my grasp and the waters recede with a final flush. I wrap it in toilet paper and stash it behind the embroidered emblem on my pocket.
My boyfriend is about the same size as me. He keeps his clothes folded neatly by the side of the bed. When he leaves for work, I steal his shirts and lock myself in the bathroom.
Bras are abandoned for bound chest. Long hair is hidden beneath a backwards cap. And for a few hours, I recognise my reflection.
Before he returns, I repeat the process in reverse. I shower with eyes shut tight. Shirts are returned to the bedside, smelling a little bit like me.
He never notices.
It’s quiet in the unisex staff bathroom. The customer complaints are muted by the stall walls and replaced with the hum of plumbing.
This was the best job I could get; getting flipped off by angry tourists while I flip their burgers.
My manager allows us three bathroom breaks per day, so we’ve learned to loiter. I unpin the badge from my chest and play with it.
A smile tugs at the corners of my mouth. In bold lettering it carries my new name:
I’m wearing a brand new prosthetic penis that can be used at a urinal. The only problem is that I haven’t put it on properly. When I break the seal, the stream runs straight down my leg.
I finish work and waddle home with warm, dark patches between my thighs. On the train, no one seems to notice the smell.
Sydney’s gay district is flying rainbow flags from every window. The sun sets on Oxford Street, but the party is only beginning. Every Facebook feed in the country is filled with the news that our love is finally legal.
“We did it! We really did it! We won!” Two men scream. They skip hand in hand in their golden hot pants. It’s the gay equivalent of Christmas; with everyone acting authentically for this one day of the year. The crowd around me hug and cry with joy, but marriage has never mattered to me as much as other issues.
I just want to pee in peace.
I just want to feel safe on the street.
I just want my body to be my own.
I find myself in the Stonewall Hotel. The club is too crowded with sweaty bodies. It takes three gin and tonics to calm my claustrophobia. I try to retreat to the toilet, but there’s so many people inside that the door won’t even open.
I head for the deli downstairs.
The next thing I remember; I’m face first in an alleyway.
“Faggot.” A man slurs between punches.
Blood pumps to my bruises.
Equality never came.
My Facebook feeds offers links to endless articles about bathroom bills and gay bashings:
Another homophobe puts a kid in the hospital.
Another Pride turns to riot in Russia.
Another trans woman is killed on her way to work.
I’m acutely aware that 38 percent of the population still hates us.
The bigots still spit on me in the street.
My parents still talk about me in past tense.
The TV tells me to use the women’s room, so I do. With short cropped hair and shoulders hunched, I wash my hands in the shallow basin. A woman walks in behind me and stiffens.
“You’re not supposed to be in here.” She glances back to the sign on the door.
“Oh. Sorry,” I whisper. She softens at the sound of my voice.
“No, I’m sorry,” she laughs, “I thought you were a boy.”
I am, I want to say.
The Court is Perth’s grimiest gay establishment. The venue is slippery with spilled drinks and sweaty bodies. My brain is bloated with gin and my bladder is screaming for release.
I make my way to the men’s room. All the stalls are occupied, so I wait. Multiple sets of knees and feet move under each cubicle.
A door unlocks and three men emerge, adjusting zips and wiping mouths. One grabs me by the crotch as a form of greeting.
“Well, hello there.” His eyebrow arches at the size of my bulge. He doesn’t need to know it’s a rolled up sock.
His hand glides up to my chest. It’s bound so tight to my body that I can hardly breathe, but his hand still finds a curve. He jerks away, lip hooked upward to reveal bared teeth.
“Ugh. Fucking freak!”
I am, I think to myself.
“Are you ready?” The doctor says. I nod.
He unwinds the bandage and peels the dressings from my chest.
“Thank you,” I say. Tears sting in my eyes.
It’s 5 steps from my hospital bed to the bathroom.
I undress in front of the mirror. My chest is finally flat. I will recognise myself for the rest of my life.
I shower with my eyes open.
The youth centre toilets were designed for someone shorter. From the sinks, anyone over 5’9 can see into the stalls. I’m careful to keep my eyes averted.
My manager doesn’t count my bathroom breaks. The only thing that matters to her is that I’m helping people.
I’m washing my hands when the kid comes in. He freezes at the sight of me. I hunch to hide my chest out of habit.
“Sorry,” I say, “I’m almost done.” He doesn’t move. His eyes are fixed on my feet.
“You have rainbow shoelaces,” he says.
“Yeah.” All the blood in my body rushes to my cheeks.
“Are you gay?”
“Not quite. I’m bisexual.”
“I like boys and girls.”
“Oh,” he looks up at me with glossy eyes.
“Are you okay?” I ask. He charges at me. I expect his tiny fist to hit my face, but he wraps his arms around me and sobs into my shirt.
“I’m bisexual, too,” he croaks.
I pat him on the back. “You’re gonna be okay.”
“I thought there was something wrong with me.”
I push him away gently to look in his eyes. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. I promise.”
“Am I allowed to get married?”
I laugh, “Not until you turn 18.”
A smile tugs at the corners of his mouth.
About the author
Kai Schweizer is a writer, sexual health educator, and trans advocate based in Perth. He is the current President of the Curtin Writers Club and represented WA at the 2017 Australian National Poetry Slam. Kai is best known for his transgressive, poetic personal voice and his obsession with superheroes. You can find him online at: www.kaischweizer.com
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