My gender is a history,
woven into my mother’s clothes.
My gender is that of a haunted girl,
and the ghost of a boy who never lived.
My gender is bell, book, and candle,
a prayer to the all-mother:
of testosterone poisoning,
a demon to be purged from cell and bone.
To be cleansed of the poltergeist that crawls,
that imaginary boy,
that lives in the hearts and minds,
of everyone who never saw me.
To be… finally… myself,
to see me grow up to look like my mother,
and for people to tell me,
“My, how much you have changed.”
I have not.
I have merely become myself.
What you long for is a lie,
told to you by birth certificates,
and patriarchal expectations.
My gender is freedom,
the kiss from a boy I love,
the smell of orange groves,
and pockets in my dresses.
Charl Landsberg is a transgender South African poet who’s work focusses on feminism, LGBTQIA+ rights, anti-colonialism, and other issues of social justice.