‘How do you see me?’ she whispers, shifting her face against the pillow.
My throat catches as I run my eyes down her body: her hair in ringlets, her smooth browned skin, her soft-as-fuck lips, the half-moon crescents of her curves.
‘Glorious,’ I say, ‘Like Xena.’
And I take her come-lubed hand in mine, squeezing it warmly. I close my eyes. This hand could be any gender, yet deserves so much more than a split-second assignation. A hand is just that: a hand. A hand is a hand is a hand.
Later I examine my own body in the full-length mirror, a draped rainbow shawl framing its edges. I puff up my chest and broaden my shoulders, flick back my chin. Boi-ish. Then with smirk and hip-slant, I’m instantly a little more femme.
‘What even are bodies?’ I wonder, as I lovingly glance at silvered scars and stretch marks, grin at whimsical ink choices and clusters of dark hair. What even are bodies? And how is it possible for bodies to be both solid and fluid, malleable and enhanceable: created to contain multitudes? If we are nothing more or less than the sum of our parts, then can we be everything and anything we want all at once?
In dark jacket with slicked-back hair, I’m ‘sir’ at the grocery store but a quick reflex to ‘ma’am’ as soon as they notice my lips, plumped swollen from windburn. What if I could be both? What if, beyond ‘both’, I was even more?
I text my long-distance partner every day. We cultivate a world where skin can be marked and touched despite kilometres, can be transformed and altered on a whim. Breasts morph to chest to tits and transform back again. Their body becomes her body becomes his – warm-soft hills of sand shifting to shimmering ocean waves. Type, touch, gasp, breathe, send. The glorious text-speak of two creatives, our words exploring gender fluidity, our words landscaping bodies.
Before I began to make physical changes to my body (tattoos, piercings, surgery), I felt dark and heavy. I used the creativity and softness of language and perception to blur the edges of the parts of my body I hated, gave voice and touch to those parts I loved. And to the people I loved, as we navigated the physicality of our trans bodies.
To be assigned a gender you are not, to have rigid rules and roles forced upon you, is nothing short of cruelty. Especially when gender itself is socially constructed: the binarist vocabulary of colonisers attempting to claim authority over something so very variable and exceptional.
Therefore to reassign yourself, to embrace your gender and reclaim autonomy over your body, is power. And to play with terms and labels, reimagining and reframing, is to power the fuck up!
And as I bask in full sun day-lit bedroom, our bodies naked and licked with sweat, I know I can be any body I want. Cock can be pussy can be clit with one touch, one word, one glance.
And it’s not just about words and their weight, not just about the power of renaming or the refashioning of perspectives. It’s about bodies being bodies being breathtaking bodies. It’s about shedding cis labels and letting the light in. It’s about seeing, speaking, feeling, knowing what we are: magically reframed and flaming glorious.