1. How To Make Love to a Trans Person

    by Gabe Moses

    Forget the images you’ve learned to attach
    To words like cock and clit,
    Chest and breasts.
    Break those words open
    Like a paramedic cracking ribs
    To pump blood through a failing heart.
    Push your hands inside.
    Get them messy.
    Scratch new definitions on the bones.

    Get rid of the old words altogether.
    Make up new words.
    Call it a click or a ditto.
    Call it the sound he makes
    When you brush your hand against it through his jeans,
    When you can hear his heart knocking on the back of his teeth
    And every cell in his body is breathing.
    Make the arch of her back a language
    Name the hollows of each of her vertebrae
    When they catch pools of sweat
    Like rainwater in a row of paper cups
    Align your teeth with this alphabet of her spine
    So every word is weighted with the salt of her.

    When you peel layers of clothing from his skin
    Do not act as though you are changing dressings on a trauma patient
    Even though it’s highly likely that you are.
    Do not ask if she’s “had the surgery.”
    Do not tell him that the needlepoint bruises on his thighs look like they hurt
    If you are being offered a body
    That has already been laid upon an altar of surgical steel
    A sacrifice to whatever gods govern bodies
    That come with some assembly required
    Whatever you do,
    Do not say that the carefully sculpted landscape
    Bordered by rocky ridges of scar tissue
    Looks almost natural.

    If she offers you breastbone
    Aching to carve soft fruit from its branches
    Though there may be more tissue in the lining of her bra
    Than the flesh that rises to meet itLet her ripen in your hands.
    Imagine if she’d lost those swells to cancer,
    Diabetes,
    A car accident instead of an accident of genetics
    Would you think of her as less a woman then?
    Then think of her as no less one now.

    If he offers you a thumb-sized sprout of muscle
    Reaching toward you when you kiss him
    Like it wants to go deep enough inside you
    To scratch his name on the bottom of your heart
    Hold it as if it can-
    In your hand, in your mouth
    Inside the nest of your pelvic bones.
    Though his skin may hardly do more than brush yours,
    You will feel him deeper than you think.

    Realize that bodies are only a fraction of who we are
    They’re just oddly-shaped vessels for hearts
    And honestly, they can barely contain us
    We strain at their seams with every breath we take
    We are all pulse and sweat,
    Tissue and nerve ending
    We are programmed to grope and fumble until we get it right.
    Bodies have been learning each other forever.
    It’s what bodies do.
    They are grab bags of parts
    And half the fun is figuring out
    All the different ways we can fit them together;
    All the different uses for hipbones and hands,
    Tongues and teeth;
    All the ways to car-crash our bodies beautiful.
    But we could never forget how to use our hearts
    Even if we tried.
    That’s the important part.
    Don’t worry about the bodies.
    They’ve got this.

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