Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Striped Naked: Called to Vulnerability

The following pieces of writing both stemmed from a prompt at a writing workshop. I've left them sit untended for a while, uncertain about how I felt going public with the immense vulnerability that they are rooted in. After an extremely painful conversation today where I was reminded that many people see my gender as a curiosity, a lack of self-understanding or something to be frightened of I decided I did not want to hold back any longer. 

To live into the gift God gave me in my gender I have been asked to accept the responsibilities of a marked life. I am invisible in much of mass media, and often struggle to find representations of others who share my gender experiences. At the same time I am highly visible, and a simple request to be addressed by the correct pronouns is often derailed into detailed questions about my hair and voice, my history, or even if I have had surgery. The worst part is no matter how well I explain, how open I am, I am still rejected, objectified and erased on a daily basis.

There are no easy solutions, no instant answers. For tonight I'm not even going to try. All I can offer is a peak into the window, a glimpse of what that burden feels like, as once again I've been cast out into the night. 

When I am naked I feel…
            This question is wrong because it focuses on the end. Naked is a state, a destination, the end. But the journey is what is important, where the feeling begins. The end means nothing if it never begins
            Naked in a crowd, stripped down to my deepest parts, no secrets left, you’ve torn all from me. Every shred of privacy is gone, no clothing remains, no tattered fabric to shield my dignity. I consented to this torture, this daily routine. The erasure of self-worth, to reclaim what might have been. I let you do this day by day. Taking away my freedom, in the hope that I might be someday.
            I answer your questions, comment on your forms. I repeat again and again the secrets I’ve born. My scars are a story, as is my life. Told so often, that I no longer can claim them. The feelings are gone, worn down by the stares. Yes I repeat, I was really there. I lived in hospitals, the streets and alone. I’ve been chased out of bathrooms, churches and home.
            These stories were clothing, that wrapped me tight. Now you have taken them, along with the light. Darkness closes in, wrapping my frame. I’m naked again, and again and again. Will I ever be like you? Free to stay dressed? My story my own and not your quest? I’m not an activist, a hero or a saint. I’m a person whose shivering from giving all I have left.
            I held nothing back, sold all as demanded. So I stand before you naked and spent.
But this isn’t the journey I’ve wanted to take. To become a display, a model, a saint. I just wanted a chance to explore this gift.
To lay down the lies.
 Shedding the fabric of illusion that we might embrace what it written. 
I want to take off my clothes myself for a change. I want to see you as naked as me, not as a punishment, but a gift. I want us to embrace, to come together. To let the boundary fall. To see ourselves as ourselves and to delight in being naked together.
            But I stand at the door, my clothing rent.
You stand in front of me, clothed and aware. Can’t you see what it’s like at the mercy of the air?
Don’t you feel awkward, secure in yourself, stripping me again and again to satisfy your curiosity, yourself?

Clothed in Love
            Standing naked in the cold, the door blown open wide,
            I have nowhere left to run, nowhere to hide.
Shivering & shaking as hope grows dim
            I dare to ask myself what might have been.

            I chose this path, this stripping routine
            To invent the self that I hoped could be seen.
            Fatigue settles over me, one final try.
            Is it almost over? Can I be set free to die?

            No, a voice whispers, close and aware
            Don’t fall victim to Babel’s despair.
            Be clothed in my love, I’ll hold you tight
            Shielding you, my dear, from the dangers of the night.

            A thin fabric winds its way around
            The force of eons held in its bonds.

            Invisible and sheer, I’m still exposed
            But Love is the answer that blunts all your blows.

            All the trips and careless words.
            The countless times my pronouns go unheard.

            I feel them crash in,
            Their power strangling the might have been.

            Yet I cling to this love,
            To this skin that binds

            Myself to myself
            Freed from prying eyes.

            I can share without fear
            Answer any question

            For wrapped in your love
            There is no hesitation

            I’m clothed and I’m nude.
            The boundary is broken.
            Stripped naked again
            But never forsaken.


  1. Thank you for posting this writing. I only know you from #Episcopal Twitter, but I find this beautiful and just wanted to say thanks.

    1. Oh, oops. I'm @marlaynard. I thought I had logged in.