Chapter 6: There I Be Unconditionally

Medical Necessity

By Andrea Hawkins-Kamper

It’s eight-thirty on Sunday morning.
I sit at a table in the cafe and I read about monsters, demons, and superheroes from the pulp novel I keep in my purse,
I drink coffee and relax, for it is a glorious morning.
Looking at the book, I catch a glance of the swell of my chest.
It still surprises me, even now.
I allow my gaze to drift further down to see my hips spilling outward.
    For a moment, I am fooled.
    I remember that those hips are just fat and muscle,
nothing more,
    Because bone doesn’t move,
        not then, not now and not ever again.
My gaze carries past my hips and stops at my thighs,
    Cresting the hills of injection sites and scar tissue,
        Over countless points of self-inflicted and necessary pain,
    And my gaze turns inward and upward.
I see things as they will be,
    The smooth line running between the folds of converted flesh and split muscle,
        Into the cavern of my womanhood,
        Into the space where my wife’s cock will rest,
            And I rejoice.
        I rejoice in my rebirth,
        I rejoice in my renewal,
    I rejoice that I have come to this most holy altar of reconstruction,
        Made of stainless steel, autoclaves, and tubing,
        Of blood and pain and lights,
        All the conversations, all the confrontations of my deepest fears and desires,
        All to find salvation in a scalpel and a skilled hand.
I have been examined and analyzed,
    I have been found worthy,
    I have been found true, and
    I rejoice.
I close my eyes, and I sigh slowly
Knowing my work isn’t yet done.
Knowing that I am not yet me,
That still I wander in the desert of Not-Me.
I can no longer be the person others saw when they saw me,
He has ceased to be;
I am free to just be me, and I will be free to just be She,
Eventually.


Proposal

By Sean Estelle

I’m tracing the tattoo on your thigh, it’s dark dark dark and you tell me the story of the scars underneath it which leads to a mutual pouring out of our deep terror about what’s happening in North Carolina I tell them that my comrades are the ones on the news right now with literal chains around their waists putting their bodies on the line because this might seem like something small, let’s just use the bathroom somewhere else, but we both know that that’s the starting place for something much worse it’s about access to space and personal dignity and once they start chipping away at that we’re fucked.

It makes me want to drop everything and go work on making sure my people are safe I say.

I’ve been through a lot, and this is scarier than most of it they say.


As I Am

By Alexia Jasmene

Verse 1
Sometimes I don’t
Feel lovely inside
I get the feeling
Of stares outside

I don’t know
Cause I’ve been told
For so long
That I’m not worthy of their love

Chorus
The way you look at me is profound
Like I’m the person that will change things around
I wait breathlessly for your mind
Will you take me as I am?

Verse 2
My doubt has built,
Wondering if I’ll find love
Holding on to the pain
I’m so sure of

Chorus

Verse 3
I saw your face
Become sure of
Us becoming
After you understood it all

Chorus


Margin: Photos by Shell Myers

Celebrating the beauty and expressive power of the human form