Art. Poetry. Writings.

Recognising artistic expression in the form of poetry, artwork, cartoons, graphic novels and other writings by transgender, non-binary and gender expansive people, and by parents can help with understanding. Have found the poetry in particular very moving and insightful.

​____________________________________

ARTISTS & COMICS

image.png
image.png

You Don't Have to Change   

 Family Fun

CREDIT:  Cartoons by David Hayward of NakedPastor.com

“The Naked Pastor”

Artwork by David Hayward.  (New Brunswick)

NOTE:  See the "Religion & Faith" section to see numerous drawings by David.
”David Hayward is the NakedPastor. After 30 years in the church, he left the ministry to pursue his passion for art. His work challenges the status quo, deconstructs dogma, and promotes critical thinking.”

David's images depict LGBTQ2S+ inclusion. He has also written a book called Questions are the answer: nakedpastor and the search for understanding.

Click HERE for Facebook page.

Damien Alexander - double mirror drawing.jpg

ARTIST CREDIT:  Damian Alexander, artist

Bullfish

Artist.  u/FrogginBullfish

https://www.reddit.com/user/FrogginBullfish_/

Bullfish gender.png

____________________

​​POETRY AND WRITINGS

WRITTEN BY TRANSGENDER PEOPLE

Shouldn't need to feel lucky

By Eleanor Baker. 2022. Reprinted with permission.

between the black nails 

and the seven-inch haircut,

between what feels like fresh air 

every time i tell you, 

i use she/they pronouns,

my parents know that if you feed me

an idea about the way

that i am supposed to be,

i am going to spit it out. 

 

they know, you see. 

they know, and they don’t

feel like they need to forgive me

for anything.

i am so, so lucky to have someone who accepts it.

 

do you hear me?

do you hear me?

i’m lucky.

i shouldn’t need to feel lucky. 

i shouldn’t need to feel like 

i’ve flipped a coin the right way, 

tossed salt the right way, 

prayed to angels the right way. 

coins are metal and salt is blood. 

luck 

is almost like 

a knife i’ve been handed, as a child.

 

i hear people saying, 

they told me that i was confused,

that i shouldn’t follow the fad, 

that god knows best 

and He made you to fit the format i 

want you to become,

 

more often than i hear, 

they told me they were happy for me,

and they respected me for who i am.

 

i shouldn’t need to feel like i’m lucky 

because everyone, 

everyone, 

should feel that way.

___________________

 

Wrong body
By Elliot Matthew Drew

You look at me.
And see her.
The person you’ve known all these years.
The person you watch grow up.
Into someone you thought you knew.
What if I told you, she was fully meant to be he.
See, I see him.
I see Elliot.
The little boy, turned teenager, turned adult.
Screaming to be released.
He has so much to offer to the world.
Love
Hope
Laughter.
Family.
Yet, y’all want me to keep that cage locked.
To leave the window locked and shut.
I can’t do that anymore.
To my family, I hope I still have your love.
My friends, I hope I have your support.
See unless you know what it’s like
To grow up knowing you’re different than your sisters.
To feel the same way as your brothers.
To feel like you’re in the wrong body.
You won’t understand.
That’s okay.
But please.
Don’t tell me it’s sin.
Don’t tell me you pray I find peace about it.
Because I have.
I’m accepting myself.
For the man I was created to be.
To no longer hide in the shadows.
To be afraid of what you will say.
To be afraid of rejection.
I’ve been rejected.
By you
By them.
By myself.
No more.
I matter.
My life matters.
Who I truly am matters.
I will no longer hide in the shadows.
No longer feel trapped.
In this body.

___________________

Growing pains

By Freddie Lewis.  Song lyrics.  Official Video.   (UK)

When I was little I felt the weight of something bigger

Couldn't put my finger on it without feeling like it's on the trigger

Of a weapon I don't understand or even know the name of

But I was staring down the barrel of myself like a face-off

 

The mirror's looking at me funny

Flutter feeling in my tummy

How the hell do I become me?

 

When I grew taller I felt the weight grow with me

Like I was living in the suburbs but my home was in the city

It's a pity, cause I know that I'm pretty,

But in a way that never fit me like the dresses in my broken closet

It wasn't easy was it

Dwelling in a prison called my epidermis

Growing pains, but with a different kind of hurting

And the worst thing, is that when I see myself I'm looking twice

I know that I'm in there, but part of me's a poltergeist

From a different life That was never mine I find segments of myself a couple beats out of time

 

The mirror's looking at me funny

Flutter feeling in my tummy

How the hell do I become me?

The mirror's looking at me funny

Flutter feeling in my tummy

How the hell do I become me?

 

Then out the other side of the danger years wiping off my tears

With a nametag made of jetlag and my biggest fears

Whiplash, and dreaming of a mustache

I'm sitting on the bus back and I see it just like that

The rest of my days that were fading fast they start to flicker

A bright red light, I press play and I shake off the bitter

The kid in the mirror started smiling like I've never seen

And with the help of a prescription, and a self-love remedy he starts to look like me

Peel off the layers of pain and the heavy's subsiding

And the inside's less violent And the outside tells the truth, and the world can see it brighter

When I was little I felt the weight of something bigger but I've never felt lighter

And I'm a fighter, I will not give in

And I'm just lucky to be out here existing

In a flesh house of bones that I call home

No more growing pains 'cause I'm all grown

 

This is a poem for all the boys who cry in the mirror before they get in the shower

Or forget that being themselves is a superpower

One day things will look brighter

Your mind shines with truth and kindness

And you make your mum proud

You already teach others to love loud

One day the love you have for the inside of you

Will be matched when your gaze meets itself

In the reflective glass hung on the wall

And you'll catch your face in your hands and it'll feel like yours

One day your body will be your home

And you'll be everything you wanna be

And the boy in the mirror won't cry anymore

___________________

A powerful poem about what it feels like to be transgender
By Lee Mokobe

The first time I uttered a prayer was in a glass-stained cathedral.
I was kneeling long after the congregation was on its feet,
dip both hands into holy water,
trace the trinity across my chest,
my tiny body drooping like a question mark
all over the wooden pew.

I asked Jesus to fix me,
and when he did not answer
I befriended silence in the hopes that my sin would burn
and salve my mouth would dissolve like sugar on tongue,
but shame lingered as an aftertaste.
And in an attempt to reintroduce me to sanctity,
my mother told me of the miracle I was,
said I could grow up to be anything I want.

I decided to be a boy.
It was cute.
I had snapback, toothless grin,
used skinned knees as street cred,
played hide and seek with what was left of my goal.
I was it.

The winner to a game the other kids couldn’t play,
I was the mystery of an anatomy,
a question asked but not answered,
tightroping between awkward boy and apologetic girl,
and when I turned 12, the boy phase wasn’t deemed cute anymore.

It was met with nostalgic aunts who missed seeing my knees in the shadow of skirts,
who reminded me that my kind of attitude would never bring a husband home,
that I exist for heterosexual marriage and child-bearing.
And I swallowed their insults along with their slurs.
Naturally, I did not come out of the closet.
The kids at my school opened it without my permission.
Called me by a name I did not recognize,
said “lesbian,”
but I was more boy than girl, more Ken than Barbie.

It had nothing to do with hating my body,
I just love it enough to let it go,
I treat it like a house,
and when your house is falling apart,
you do not evacuate,
you make it comfortable enough to house all your insides,
you make it pretty enough to invite guests over,
you make the floorboards strong enough to stand on.

My mother fears I have named myself after fading things.
As she counts the echoes left behind by Mya Hall, Leelah Alcorn, Blake Brockington.
She fears that I’ll die without a whisper,
that I’ll turn into “what a shame” conversations at the bus stop.
She claims I have turned myself into a mausoleum,
that I am a walking casket,
news headlines have turned my identity into a spectacle,
Bruce Jenner on everyone’s lips while the brutality of living in this body
becomes an asterisk at the bottom of equality pages.

No one ever thinks of us as human
because we are more ghost than flesh,
because people fear that my gender expression is a trick,
that it exists to be perverse,
that it ensnares them without their consent,
that my body is a feast for their eyes and hands
and once they have fed off my queer,
they’ll regurgitate all the parts they did not like.

They’ll put me back into the closet, hang me with all the other skeletons.
I will be the best attraction.
Can you see how easy it is to talk people into coffins,
to misspell their names on gravestones.

And people still wonder why there are boys rotting,
they go away in high school hallways
they are afraid of becoming another hashtag in a second
afraid of classroom discussions becoming like judgment day
and now oncoming traffic is embracing more transgender children than parents.

I wonder how long it will be
before the trans suicide notes start to feel redundant,
before we realize that our bodies become lessons about sin

way before we learn how to love them.

Like God didn’t save all this breath and mercy,
like my blood is not the wine that washed over Jesus’ feet.
My prayers are now getting stuck in my throat.
Maybe I am finally fixed,
maybe I just don’t care,
maybe God finally listened to my prayers.

A powerful poem about what it feels like to be transgender
By Lee Mokobe. Ted Talk video. 2015.

Lee's Ted Talk reading their poem.
“ 'I was the mystery of an anatomy, a question asked but not answered,' says poet Lee Mokobe, a TED Fellow, in this gripping and poetic exploration of identity and transition. It’s a thoughtful reflection on bodies, and the meanings poured into them."

*********************************

E.S. Conway poetry website

E.S. is a transgender poet

Girl Inside

By E.S. Conway.  1985.  (UK)

 

I felt once so deformed,

Unhappy in myself,

Wishing I chose another me,

From those upon the shelf.

 

But then I found the courage,

To listen to that voice,

that cherished little part of me,

She presented me a choice.

 

On the one hand there was death.

An end to all my pain.

But this was not a choice I'd make,

So I had to think again.

 

On the other was a secret,

A truth of which, if told,

Would open up my life,

To troubles, new and old.

 

But make a choice I did.

To tell and not to die,

Of the girl below the surface,

Inside the boy that is a lie.

___________________

 

Inside Me

By E.S. Conway. 1985.  (UK)

 

Can you see the pain,

That lives behind my eyes

Can you hear the truth,

Through all my smiling lies,

Can you feel the torment,

My body causes me

I'm living for the day to come,

I can live with what I see.

If I smile and I seem strong,

I'm doing that for you,

But that doesn't mean,

It's not hell i'm going through.

My body is a prison,

It drains me every day,

So please don't dangle keys,

Then just take them away.

___________________

Ode To My Inny

By E.S. Conway. 1985.  (UK)

 

Once I had an outy

(A penis some might say)

A vagina growing outward

It developed the wrong way

 

So after many years

When it all became too much

I decided to have it changed

To something I can’t clutch

 

Now I’m not being dirty

And don’t think of me as rude

We’re not talking Masturbation

Or anything so crude

 

I just wanted my little outy

To be inverted as was right

To change that blasted willy

Into something out of sight.

 

So my outy became an inny

(Or “vagina” you could say)

And that inny is my pride and joy

I clean it every day.

___________________

​​PC Me

By E.S. Conway. 1985. (UK)

 

1985, child 2.0

Which model will they get?

Even they don't know.

 

Still 1985, they think it's boy V 1

The hardware's there, it seems to work.

How could they be wrong?

 

1990, new programs galore.

but something’s not right,

The system seems flawed.

 

The year 2000, new info acquired,

A mistake is acknowledged,

New update required.

 

No update is found, now 20 05

The system is learning,

But it's barely alive.

 

Now 2010, the problem is known,

Analysis complete,

Hardware Unknown.

 

20 14, hardware is through,

Wrong software on system,

It’s girl Version 2.

 

20 15, let the update begin,

Transition in progress,

It starts from within.

 

20 16, and now moving on.

System repaired,

Wrong hardware is gone.

 

Into the future, and all that it holds,

This is my story,

The rest yet untold.

___________________

​​​Take It

By E.S. Conway. 1985.  (UK)

 

I beg of you, give me hope,

Give me strength to carry on.

Take away the pain I feel.

Take it back, make it gone.

 

Take away the daily shame,

The anguish which I bare.

Take the part that is not me,

That I never wanted there.

 

Give me courage in myself,

Remind me to be me.

Tell me to stand tall and proud,

For life is long, and I am free.

____________________________________

WRITTEN BY PARENTS

 

Love Is
By Laurel Yaga. 2021. Shared with permission.

Love is putting my arms around my sobbing child, crying so hard he can’t breathe. “I’m here, is it physical pain or emotional?” I ask.

He didn’t ask for this. He didn’t ask to be born into the body of an ovary-owning person. He didn’t ask to be born into a world that judges people by their genitals and hair and their chosen aesthetic. “I’m here,” I say. “It’s going to be okay. Do you need to let it all out, or do you want me to help you try to calm down?”

Love is fetching a cold wet rag and some ice, tools to shock the parasympathetic nervous system; tools to allow him to take a breath and to speak his truth. “My arms,” he chokes out.

“Your arms? Your arms are hurting? Or..?” Even as I speak the words, I know that it is his soul that hurts. He holds trauma in his arms. I pull him into my lap, us both rocking, holding the trauma, recognizing the truth for what it is. “I’m sorry.” I say. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t protect you when you were smaller.”

With this pain acknowledged, all the grief flows out.

Love is holding space. Love is healing your own hurts enough that you can be fully present, without judgement or defensiveness. Love is bearing witness.

“You told me you didn’t want to change your name yet. Was that because you didn’t want to be a bother?”

Who among us has not worried that their feelings and needs were too much for others? That the risk was too high that — if voiced –their needs would not be met? Who has not feared that they were not worth it? Who has not longed to be told, “You’re worth it. I would do anything for you. You’re never too much trouble.”

Child, my love for you is unconditional. No matter what gender identity or expression, no matter what name, no matter how much pain we have to hold together and bear witness to.

"I’ll start the process of getting your name changed on Monday. It’s fine if you need to change it more than once, no worries. I promise, It’s not too much trouble. It’s a simple process, no big deal.”

Love is living in the mud flats, soaking up the flood waters, and filtering out the pollutants so our home remains a place to live and grow and thrive. Love is waking up weeping the next morning, washing your face, and then going downstairs to water your seedlings, hoping they are getting enough light and warmth and just the right amount of water.

___________________

Screenshot This
By an anonymous Mama Bear. 2020.

Shared with permission.

So you disagree with what I post,
Your bitterness just stews and grows.

Tis a shame, you’re wasting time,
Taking screenshots and reading lines.

My posts reveal the hill I guard,
As fate would have it, I drew this card.

That gay boy you mock-he’s just like my son,
And let me tell you, “These colors don’t run.”

I’ll call you out ….. dead in your tracks,
Shut down your hateful LGBTQ attacks.

That transgender kid you so quickly bash,
Shouldn’t have to defend themselves against
your trash.

That lesbian you smack talk, she’s doing fine,
Because people like me are polishing her
shine.

Take your Bible verses back to church,
No more LGBTQ people will you hurt.

Your pettiness is laughable – your actions
birthed from hate,
My convictions are filled with passion, an
urgency that cannot wait.

So take your agenda to silence my voice,
And watch me smile as I make more noise.

Let me remind you upon whose hill you stand,
Screenshot this and send it to the man.

A fierce “fxxk you” loud and clear,
As I wave this Pride flag far and near.

People like me see through your hate,
We stand vigil at this rainbow gate.

******************

It was never going to be okay - book.jpg
TransVerse book_.jpg
Resilience book.jpg

​​​​BOOKS & WRITING COLLABORATIONS


it was never going to be okay
By jaye simpson. Oct 2020.    (BC / CANADA)

jay simpson is a poet and non-binary Two Spirit trans woman in BC.
"it was never going to be okay is a collection of poetry and prose exploring the intimacies of understanding intergenerational trauma, Indigeneity and queerness, while addressing urban Indigenous diaspora and breaking down the limitations of sexual understanding as a trans woman. As a way to move from the linear timeline of healing and coming to terms with how trauma does not exist in subsequent happenings, it was never going to be okay tries to break down years of silence in simpson's debut collection of poetry":
  i am five
  my sisters are saying boy
  i do not know what the word means but -
  i am bruised into knowing it: the blunt b,
  the hollowness of the o, the blade of y

My life in transition:  A super late bloomer collection
By Julia Kaye. Feb 2021. Autobiographical webcomic.
"The follow-up to the critically acclaimed autobiographical comics collection Super Late Bloomer, documenting transgender artist Julia Kaye’s life post-transition.
My Life in Transition is a story that’s not often told about trans lives: what happens beyond the early days of transition. Both deeply personal and widely relatable, this collection illustrates six months of Julia's life as an out trans woman—about the beauty and pain of love and heartbreak, struggling to find support from bio family and the importance of chosen family, moments of dysphoria and misgendering, learning to lean on friends in times of need, and finding peace in the fact that life keeps moving forward.
  After the nerve-wracking, anxiety-ridden early transition period has ended and the hormones have done their thing, this book shows how you can be trans and simply exist in society. You can be trans and have a successful future. You can be trans and have a normal life full of ups and downs. In our current political and social climate, this hopeful, accessible narrative about trans lives is both entertaining and vital."

 

Super late bloomer: My early days in transition
By Julia Kaye. 2018. Autobiographical webcomic.
"Instead of a traditional written diary, Julia Kaye has always turned to art as a means of self-reflection. So when she began her gender transition in 2016, she decided to use her popular webcomic, Up and Out, to process her journey and help others with similar struggles realize they weren’t alone. Julia’s poignant, relatable comics honestly depict her personal ups and downs while dealing with the various issues involved in transitioning—from struggling with self-acceptance and challenging societal expectations, to moments of self-love and joy. Super Late Bloomer both educates and inspires, as Julia faces her difficulties head-on and commits to being wholly, authentically who she was always meant to be."

 

TRANSlations: Navigating HRT access in Alberta
Pivot Edmonton 2020 Cohort Zine. 2020.
Created through a collaboration between the Edmonton Men’s Health Collective (EMHC), CBRC, the Edmonton Pivot 2020 cohort, and the Albertan 2SLGBTQ+ community, TRANSlations is an original zine made up of a collection of community testimonials and works of poetry that illuminate the diverse experiences of twelve 2SLGBTQ+ community members as they navigate Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) access in Alberta. TRANSlations was created to provide a basic overview of what the path to HRT might look like from a community, self-advocacy, and resiliency perspective. All participants who submitted a testimonial to this project were offered an honorarium regardless of inclusion.”

Resilience: surviving in the face of everything

Edited by Larissa Glasser, Sugi Pyrrophyta and Amy Hearth.  Heartspark Press. Dec 2017.

“Take a journey through the worlds of over thirty transgender women and (C)AMAB nonbinary writers in what is currently the largest collection of poetry and prose made for and by us.

Nominated for Best Transgender Fiction by Lambda Literary in 2017.

Note: *(C)AMAB means (coercively) assigned male at birth. Our writers featured in this book exist across the gender spectrum, but do not identify with their birth assignment. Many are transgender women, but some are genderqueer, non-binary, agender, or all of the above.“

TransVerse:  Poetry about being transgender  (Trans Everything Book 1)

By Jamie Winters. 2018. Book of poetry.


   Before you come,

   You ought to know.
  The name I use.

   Isn’t the name I’m called.

   At home.

"Once upon a time, there was a boy, only he didn’t know he was a boy.
He didn’t know what was wrong at first, so he did the only thing he knew how—he wrote. And he kept writing as he learned more about himself and his place in the world.

   TransVerse is a broad collection of poems, including haiku, sonnet, acrostic, rhyming, and free verse poetry. The poems start at the beginning of the author’s journey before he knew he was transgender, continue through his transition, and end at where he is today.

   This collection of poems offers an unflinchingly honest look into what it’s like to be transgender. This book takes the reader by the hand and leads them through the author’s journey from girl to man, showing an intimate look at what it’s like inside a transgender mind.”

Bloomer book 1.jpg
Bloomer book1.jpg

************************************