Poem: A lesson in trans joy

    Otter Jung-Allen

    Otter Jung-Allen

    A Lesson in Trans Joy

    1. Trans pain is currently a certainty.
    2. Trans beauty is currently an ​inevitability​.
    3. When I am asked about my genitals on a daily basis,
      It is not my fault when I start getting creative with my answers.
      Honestly, I should start telling everyone there’s a black hole there.
      Because I could say anything,
      And some theorist would still find a way to prove it doesn’t exist.
    4. Teenage trans boys look like tiny children for a reason.
      Three words: movie, ticket, discount.
      You might ask, “well, is looking like a newborn really worth it
      Just to get a few dollars off a movie?”
      For Straight Outta Compton,
      You’re damn right it is.
    5. At some point, trans people can’t do much else to piss off the family.
      I mean, I’ve literally named myself after a semi aquatic mammal.
      In their eyes, I’ve kind of hit the ceiling for nonsense.
      If I burned the house down, they’d just say.
      As long as you don’t ask
      For any more button down shirts,
      We’re good.”
    6. Being trans is being on the best game show in the world:
      How Far Can I Go Before My Grandma Stops Buying It?
      One round for each invasive question!
      GRAND PRIZE: Watching the look on her face when I say,
      “Actually, they botched the surgery
      And now I have a cactus down there.”
    7. We know we’re different.
      Not everyone has fluctuation in their back pocket.
      Not everyone moves like unanswered questions.
      Allow me to recognize how fine we are.
      I mean, look at us!
      Look at our baby faces and
      and Adam’s apples
      and painted nails
      and two hair beards.
      They can’t stop debating us
      Because our beauty is miles past thesis
      And the rest are running to catch up and hypothesize.
      They keep us on the streets
      Because our hands are too pure
      For homes washed in hand­me­down hate.
      They don’t believe us?
      We don’t need them to.
      Mortals never do believe it when they see magic, anyway.
    8. We pack our pride like armor.
      Like bigots pack ammunition.
      Like phoenixes pack resurrection.
      We have too much flight in us to entertain ideas so earthbound.
      We are a chorus of our own making.
      Bodies and voices with bliss in the background.
      Don’t they know that they cannot kill a people who have built themselves?
      We do not burn like bones do.
      We are rebirth remixed.
      Our ashes glitter!
      The smoke is singing!
      Even in death or dysphoria,
      We pick fights with our ghosts!
    9. Let them come at us.
      They will never catch us off guard when we are this trained in transition.
      We’ve got endurance like oceans
      And bodies like water: all fluidity and freedom.
      We flood towns with this!
      Why else would they call us a trend
      Unless we were in high demand?
      Our self love is nothing short of commodity.
      Of relic.
      Of beaten down and glo’d up.
      Of overwhelmed and overwhelming as a consequence!
      There is nothing more holy than correcting how they talk about your halo.
      There is nothing more royal than shedding old titles
      To find new ones that sound more regal.
      Look at us reign!
      All us insecure and estranged kids,
      And still “​never be cis to save my life” ​kids!
      Look at us ​be​.
      Not in spite of ourselves
      But because of ourselves.
      Not in Death’s face
      But behind his back
      So we don’t give him the satisfaction.
    10. This has been your lesson in Trans Joy.

    Otter is a 16-year-old poet, artist, and gender bender from West Philadelphia. Currently, they are in 12th grade, the performance coach of Science Leadership Academy’s Slam League team, a 2015 Brave New Voices International Champion, 2015 Liberty Unplugged Champion, and 2016 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate. They are adamant about the global importance of intersectional youth voices and artistic conversation.

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