An Aria - Alexander Low's image
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I am thirteen

    when the mean girls call

me weird—

I do not shave

I do not wear makeup.

I do wear basketball shorts

and messy ponytails.

I am pressured to be her—


I shave relentlessly

    for the next two years.

I am fifteen

    full of discomfort

    and anger

breaking my bones like they

    are glass

reckless rage—

all reckless no brave

    depraved of a home

    inside my own skin.

I am fifteen when I

learn what gender dysphoria is.

I am fifteen when I

    realize I am a boy

that I always have and will be

    a boy.

I am fifteen—

putting holes in wall and

    overdosing on advil

like it is a sport

championing my own self demise.

I am fifteen afraid and closeted—

I write my name as


on my school assignments

I always change it back

before I turn them in.  

I am fifteen

    convinced everyone loves the girl

I am not

    and will never love me as the boy

I actually am.

I am sixteen crying on the floor

    of a psych ward

    this is my fifth hospitalization

in fourteen months.

Pretending to be her is

killing me.

I choke back tears as I tell

my mom that I am


She tells me she loves me,

    and she saw me writing

    ALEX on my papers.

It will take five years

for her to let her daughter go.

I am seventeen when I am shoved

    to the floor in a men's bathroom

    slammed and slurred across the tile—

It will not be until six months into

    Hormone Replacement Therapy

that I use the men's public restroom.

I am eighteen when my moms boyfriend of the

time pulls me aside

and tells me I am making a mistake.

He would wear his mothers dresses and heels,

    hiding in her closet

    all of this is to say

    this is a phase.

When people say that this is a phase—

    I am sixteen

    sobbing on linoleum floors

    covered in cuts

    wanting nothing more than death

    if I have to pretend to be her

    for more than one second longer.

I am nineteen hopeful

    and naive.

Voice cracking and hair sprouting

    I am coming into my own body.

    I have learned that there

    are things much worse than needles.

I am twenty out of the

    ashes of abuse and trauma

    I am finally becoming

    the man I have always been

    meant to be.

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