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The Letter T

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We would like to issue a brief trigger warning: This poem is about transgender as well as the ups and downs one goes through to feel comfortable in one’s own body and our heteronormative society.

Dear Mum,

I am sorry that I spent so many years juggling a binary that the only ball still soaring is the answer you didn’t want. But I was drowning in a quicksand pit of doubt and I thought you’d be there to direct me to my senses, rather than closing the lid on my hands raised with questions. 

Uncertain whether the options I had been toying between had truly been my decision, or yet another game I would grow out of, I flirted with each outcome like a teardrop does a cheek. Always holding on for slightly too long. Yet I know that, inevitably, I owe you some gratitude. No mother is taught how to parent a shape-shifter, but you raised me in all my forms, until my soul settled on manhood and you loved me, regardless.

Though I have shifted as frequently as the moon, you did not label me with phases. Simply witnessed them as growth spurts whilst I left nothing more than photograph memories of all the people I used to be. Thank you for loving the ghost of me. For tending to my catastrophe. For placing no boundaries on my destiny. Thank you for protecting me.

Thank you for teaching me that if I want something done properly, I should do it myself. I leant an ear to your wisdom and tiptoed across the guidelines you gave me, tried to do as you had told me. But I’m not a trained doctor and my attempted mastectomy left me with scars in all the wrong places. Layers of my innocence stretched out of place as I searched for identity under the surface of myself. Yet you stitched up the holes I left, threads hashing back together your beautiful baby girl turned boy.

I am sorry for spending so long believing that you could not love the truth. But I have never been one for raising white flags. You brought me up better than that. I have always raised rainbows from the puddles of my tears, Mum, but I’m starting to realise how many colours I have lost, how many futures I will cut short, how many lives will never be given the chance to start. I wonder – does this make me a bad man? If I cannot respect the woman I once was. 

I’m looking for answers that you can’t give me for the first time. You used to tell me that real men wear pink, but I have always looked better in blue, Mum. I am struggling to learn how to grow, Mum. We both know that every boy needs his Dad, Mum. I am scared, Mum.

I am scared, Mum. 

I am scared, Mum. 

I am sorry – for experimenting on that which you grew. But you cannot resuscitate the past, Mum. This face was not built for survival. It will change into one we shall both have to relearn. But I hope you will always remember the life you have given me, and the girl that you raised into a man.

Dear Mum,

I am sorry that I spent so many years juggling a binary that the only ball still soaring is the answer you didn’t want. But I was drowning in a quicksand pit of doubt and I thought you’d be there to direct me to my senses, rather than closing the lid on my hands raised with questions. 

Uncertain whether the options I had been toying between had truly been my decision, or yet another game I would grow out of, I flirted with each outcome like a teardrop does a cheek. Always holding on for slightly too long. Yet I know that, inevitably, I owe you some gratitude. No mother is taught how to parent a shape-shifter, but you raised me in all my forms, until my soul settled on manhood and you loved me, regardless.

Though I have shifted as frequently as the moon, you did not label me with phases. Simply witnessed them as growth spurts whilst I left nothing more than photograph memories of all the people I used to be. Thank you for loving the ghost of me. For tending to my catastrophe. For placing no boundaries on my destiny. Thank you for protecting me.

Thank you for teaching me that if I want something done properly, I should do it myself. I leant an ear to your wisdom and tiptoed across the guidelines you gave me, tried to do as you had told me. But I’m not a trained doctor and my attempted mastectomy left me with scars in all the wrong places. Layers of my innocence stretched out of place as I searched for identity under the surface of myself. Yet you stitched up the holes I left, threads hashing back together your beautiful baby girl turned boy.

I am sorry for spending so long believing that you could not love the truth. But I have never been one for raising white flags. You brought me up better than that. I have always raised rainbows from the puddles of my tears, Mum, but I’m starting to realise how many colours I have lost, how many futures I will cut short, how many lives will never be given the chance to start. I wonder – does this make me a bad man? If I cannot respect the woman I once was. 

I’m looking for answers that you can’t give me for the first time. You used to tell me that real men wear pink, but I have always looked better in blue, Mum. I am struggling to learn how to grow, Mum. We both know that every boy needs his Dad, Mum. I am scared, Mum.

I am scared, Mum. 

I am scared, Mum. 

I am sorry – for experimenting on that which you grew. But you cannot resuscitate the past, Mum. This face was not built for survival. It will change into one we shall both have to relearn. But I hope you will always remember the life you have given me, and the girl that you raised into a man.

This text was written by Alex Calver and illustrated by Monika Ernst

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