on my way home after a pride party i stopped to pick up some fruit for a midnight snack. i was wearing makeup + a dress, but that should be irrelevant to this story or any story about gender based violence. it’s not about what we wear, it’s about what they do. why is the focus always on our appearance, never their hands? i handed the shop keeper $1 for 4 bananas. he asked me if i had a penis. it was over 85 degrees outside but i froze. i am alone. it is dark. there are several blocks to my house. if i say something what if he attacks me? if i walk away what if he attacks me? if i don’t answer what if he attacks me? they keep calling me brave but i would rather be safe than that. so i smiled. this is what i do: i smile & keep quiet. i hope that this submission will allow me to leave. it is a sacred art form i learned from my mother who learned from hers who learned from hers. i learned early on how to charm to disarm. i carved this smile from stone. “do you have breasts?” it was past midnight. i had just come back from a pride celebration. at dinner i had talked about how rather than strategizing against public harassment, the lgbtq movement has conceded that we have to conform to gender binary to be safe. i talk about harassment & then i get harassed. visibility is traumatic. it is exhausting. it is the opposite of a party. no it is being at the party & watching people celebrate a victory you have never felt. it is being the only one who looks like you. not by circumstance, but by design. it is a Pride catalyzed by gender non-conforming trans femmes that continues to push us out. is this what it means to be out? not to be free, but to be made a freak? “are you a girl or a boy? i said “both.” then he reached to touch my chest. i ran out with the bananas. i only remembered to breathe when i got home. the bananas, they were stale. my mouth, it was dry. they stayed up all night sweating on a dance floor & i stayed up all night sweating on my bed. to each his own. never their own, always his. always his.

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