My Body ca. 1997

In May 1997, I did a one-woman show in college called "Dancing Deviant" where I talked about my body. Funny how that body is so different now than it was back then. Here's what I had to say in the old days:

My Body

Everything starts with the body
For the body is as much ourselves
as the mind is.
We cannot account for the shaping of ourselves
Without the body.
The mind is powerful
And yet it is in constant battle with the body
The mind must win
Because it is the mind that advances.
It is the mind that separates humanity
From all the rest.
The learning mind,
The communicating mind
The mind that can write poems and make tools
The mind that must conquer biological realities to express itself.

When you look at my body
There is no doubt in your mind that I am a man.
Because you focus on my genitals
My penis
My scrotum
The marks of my manhood.
My penis allows me to be distinguished
To be categorized
Yet is it really that simple?
Not for me.
I have never felt comfortable
Being a man
Because my body is not fully so.
My body is a failure as a man
My body is short, when men should be tall.
My body is thin, when men should be muscular.
My body’s chances of finding a woman
Are much less
Than those who are taller and bigger.

And yet I am also a failure as a woman
Because I have this penis.
Because I have this chest.
And yet I am of a woman’s stature
I am of a woman’s size.
Judges have told me
Throughout my life
That I would look better as a woman.
If only I had breasts
If only I didn’t have this penis
To get in the way.

“Look at your waist,” they say.
“Your teeny tiny waist.
The one that curves, so feminine.
The one that forces you to wear women’s pants
Because they don’t make men’s pants big enough for you.”
And when a lot of women look at you, they say,
‘You make me feel like a cow.’
You may have the penis of a man,
But you have the waist of a woman.”

“Look at your hands,” they say.
“So small, so delicate.
Look how your nails curve so elegantly
The fingernails of a woman.”

“Look at your face”
“Soft, no chiseled features
No strong lines
A face that would suit a woman
So much better than a man.”

“But you’re not a man
You have a dick
How can anyone who finds women attractive
Be attracted to you?
You’re just a sissy
You’re weak
You throw like a woman
You walk like a woman
You have a woman’s body but no one wants a woman’s body
When there’s a dick attached to it.”

There are days when I want to cut it off
Days when my body wants to succeed
As a woman.
Because it is certainly a failure
As a man.
There are days when I want to grow breasts
Ripe and full.
And my body will be a failure no longer
My size, my stature, my waist, my hips, my face
Will match my genitals
My body will be inviting
It will attract attention
For it will be the body of a woman.

But as soon as I find myself thinking
That I should get my dick cut off
I think again.
Do I really want to be a successful woman?
Does my body want to be successful at anything?
If I were a successful man
How could I know first-hand
What it feels like
To look at my body
And admire its womanly qualities?
To wish sometimes that my body
Is fully woman.
If I were a successful woman
Can I really know and sense
The power of what is manly in me?
Would I be able to see how my failure
Leads to an ambiguity?
How my body’s womanhood, attractive to men
Causes my mind to rot at his gaze
Prevents me from expressing my equality
Because my body is not equal
Because my body functions successfully.

The failure of my manly body
The failure of my womanly body
Allows the freedom of my mind
Allows me to see both man and woman
In me and in others.
I fail miserably
As a man who desires a woman.
I fail completely
As a woman who desires a man.
And yet in that failure
I see that my mind can be free
To think about my lack of manhood
Lack of womanhood
And see that in that lack
I can be both man and woman.

But how? How can I be both man and woman
When I am forced to pick.
How can I be both man and woman
When the desire of others
Is squelched by this ambiguity?
When humanity continues to order itself
Continues to see its objects of attraction
Based on the undeniable distinction
Of man on the one hand
And woman on the other.

Even in the community where I presently reside
The “gay” community that promises a better life for me
By ostensibly rejecting the opposition: man and woman
As it views members of the same sex
As its objects of desire.
Yet this rejection I see is but a ruse
When I look at image after image
Magazine cover after magazine cover
Of what a gay man is supposed to look like
When I look at the thriving gym industry
Catered specifically to gay men.
When I go to a gay club and see
The privilege of tall, muscular men
With bodies I could never have.

I will continue to be
Both man and woman at once.
I will continue to live in that uncertainty
However tempting it might be to transform
And forget that in this ambiguity
I can set myself free.