beautiful little brown boy

it seems that
Every time i open my mouth, i
spit out a rage
long fermented in my
bones
well aged to pair with
the bitter tears that
soak my skin
Every time i open my mouth, i
am screaming at every 
cell in my body for
not letting me
feel at home in this
vessel of flesh and bone i
cannot replace
Every time i open my mouth, i
let my face tighten into
a mask of anger
a costume of fear and
uncertainty and
despair, and i — 
i don’t want to despair
out loud anymore.
there is enough sorrow
coursing through my 
veins and i 
do not want it to
taint my throat today so
today, 
i will open my mouth, and i
will lend love to
my voice
all the affection i cannot
lend my eyes when i
glance at a mirror
i will stir into my
words today because
today
i am beautiful.
Little Brown Boy, seven
years old— 
beauty is not an
inherently feminine term so
don’t feel less yourself
when someone calls you
beautiful.
your beauty is your
cute little nose, is
your smile, is your
sketchbook, is
every part of you that wants
be a painter, writer, and pilot
at the same time, so
embrace it and
feel your beauty brighten 
your skies.
Little Brown Boy, ten
years old — 
i know “America” sounds a
bit scary but
don’t worry, it’s not too
different out there.
they eat dinner at a weirdly
early time and
there aren’t a lot of stores open 
at midnight but
you’ll make a few friends.
when the other kids call you
“terrorist”, don’t take it to
heart because you
shine brighter than any of
them
(in fact, you’ll beat them all
at the spelling bee).
Little Brown Boy, fourteen
years old — 
you don’t know you’re a
boy yet, so 
crushing on Edgar or Kevin or
David was no huge
cause for concern but
don’t worry
when you realize you want to
kiss that girl, either
the one whose locker is two
classrooms down from
yours, who
absolutely mesmerizes you
when she dances at
the talent show
don’t worry about
liking boy and girls and everyone
else, because
it just means you have a really
big heart
(and fyi: the girl you end
up dating has
no capacity to dance—
except with you)
Little Brown Boy, seventeen
years old — 
you are beginning to realize
that you aren’t a
girl
you are beginning to realize
how much it hurts to
be called “she” by
your best friend, to whom you
confided your uncertainty
how much
it hurts to face a 
mirror every morning
after taking a shower
how much it hurts to 
try and untangle confusion,
call it gender
how much you love
her, but she calls you
princess, raani, muñeca
as you hurt, i want you to
know that 
wearing dresses is still okay.
it doesn’t make you less of
who you are
and Little Brown Boy when
you turn nineteen
years old — 
i know you want to stop
wearing dresses.
i know you no longer
want to paint
your eyelids and lips
bright colors because
even when you tell them who
you are, they scrutinize your skin
instead of your
soul, and decide your
pronouns for you.
i know you went through 
every rack of men’s clothing at
Goodwill only to have
the cashier mark the items
“women’s shirt”, but
i want to tell you
that who you are does not
depend on a Goodwill
receipt.
i want to tell you that
you are beautiful, and
beauty is not an 
inherently feminine term but
femininity is not
synonymous with
womanhood.
that being a man and
wearing lipstick aren’t
mutually exclusive 
that being trans doesn’t
mean submitting
to conformity
that
you can still wear your
mother’s bangles on
Eid-ul-Fitr, and still
ask your best friend
to call you by
your grandfather’s name
because
Beauty is not an 
inherently feminine term but
even if it was, 
that would be okay.

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