Poet Joshua Jennifer Espinoza believes language can be both a medium for transformation as well as a way for us to find our own identity. In her own words, Espinoza writes poetry to better understand herself and her position, but she also writes to honor the history that she's part of.
This is not another feminist poem
about the tyranny of western standards
of beauty. Or maybe it is.
As a trans woman, I’m still not sure what
I’m allowed to contribute to the topic.
According to some I exist only to
reinforce gendered violence—
my body a blade sliding up and down
the legs of real women
forcing its way under their arms
and carving the language of misogyny
into every surface.
Wow. Who knew I had so much power?
I don’t even leave the house unless
I’ve had time to build a world on my face
and make myself palatable
for public consumption.
Is it so wrong to be afraid
when I’ve seen what can happen?
When I’ve had it happen to me?
In my life there is nothing more beautiful
than dissociating in front of a mirror
and drawing perfect lines
across the flesh, wrinkle to wrinkle,
eyes rolling up into themselves,
plastic pulling lashes into little curls.
I live to cover my shadow with blood.
To cake my entire image.
For me, this means something like safety.
Like a hit of oxygen from a falling plane.
The first time I saw my face made up
I couldn’t help but cry it all off.
What will I call myself now? I wondered.
It helps to have a name even though
a name is a room you can never leave.
Originally published by Them.
Photos by @Deanastacia.