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A lone boy on the metro - the paradox of my gender

Pandora's Diaries | Poem 

individual wearing a pride flag as a cape
Illustration by Nandini Sarin

Standing in the metro, in the “ladies” section, obviously,

they stared enough to make its obviosity unclear. 

it’s “safer” here. 

If safety meant comfort, then I would disagree,

paradoxical really.

A trans woman just walked by, 

entered through the same door as me, 

sprinted towards the men’s section. 

They say your gender is what’s between your legs, 

paradoxical really. 

Entered the “ladies” bathroom, they told me to leave. 

My pronouns would say they are right, 

paradoxical really. 

Booked a cab for a night at the club, 

the girls dressed pretty

I wore my haircut.

Her mom told me to sit in the passenger seat,

my hair became my shield against the male gaze,

if I wore a different haircut, would I be a pretty girl? perhaps vulnerable

paradoxical really.

Boarding school, girls’ dorm, 

they told me I belonged in the boys’ dorm, 

is it our liking for girls that makes me a boy? 

School dance, couple dance, couldn’t be a boy then, 

they didn’t let me,

paradoxical really.

Same dance, but her eyes could see the top of my hair,

I couldn’t make the lift.

despite his lanky arms, mine tired,

his pronouns made him her pair.

Did my size make me a girl? Did they forget about my haircut? 

paradoxical really. 

A boy in boarding school. 

A girl when I’m at her house. 

Androgynous as her muse in the art room.

The curve on my chest played hide and seek,

My gender was my setting. 

Paradoxical really. 


College began, gender-neutral housing, I chose the girls’ dorm. 

Why? This time they let me be neither, 

the choice, the comfort, 

paradoxical really. 

A lone boy on the metro, you’d think from the back of my haircut,

but I was born a woman, and I could never be that free.

By Nandini Sarin

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