Non-Binary Ghosts: For Anita
Folks, above is my second video piece! Below is the transcript of the prose poem. And right at the end of the post, you'll find links to Anita Moorjani's amazing work.
You gave me a world, when you died. There was no tunnel, no bright light. You expanded beyond, blooming, opening. That body on a hospital bed? You knew you’d lived before it.
Out of your body, you saw the truth. Gender, a place you’d visited: an X on a map.
Gender roles aren’t given to us from the other realm, you tell us. Gender roles aren’t given to us. Gender roles aren’t given.
I thank you on my knees!
In spite of your gift, the world shrinks from me. I cry, “I’m neither man nor woman,” and I become droplets. But droplets become a lake, an ocean. You can’t erase oceans for long.
You came back, Mermaid, and gave us worlds! Here’s mine: a miracle. Me, a five year-old, asked by a teacher, “Split. Boys here. Girls there.” And I stood, agape, knowing I was neither. Anita, back in your bones, you became a woman again, because you think your body defines that.
This doesn’t rob me of your magic.
But know this: gender isn’t bodies. How else could genders be wrongly assigned by medical magicians?
Gender is a tower that humans build. A tower that cries, “Let down your hair!” Or perhaps it’s a flower. Or perhaps a blade. Or a heaven, a weight, a million stars. Gender’s rainfall. Or the fields of England, where valleys gasp, and the hills touch the sky.
You weren’t gender when you didn’t have a body. Well, I’m not gender when I do.
Try my magic! Say “everyone,” or “People of all genders.” Say “starlight, birds in flight!” but never “one of two.”
You’ve given me a miracle. Now I ask another: Take the two out of it. When you say, “People, regardless of gender,” when you say “everyone,” you cast a spell. I appear in front of you, offering three wishes.
I know your first is love.
Special thanks to Anita Moorjani, author of the wonderful Dying to Be Me. I'm so deeply grateful to her for sharing her powerful story so generously. It has been transformational for me. And here's a blog post of hers, which I quote in the poem, in italics.