A Shared Bridge by Lou Hartmann and Diana

A fellow college classmate, Diana, and I wrote this poem together as we were inspired by the likes of Adrienne Rich and Sara Ahmed. We wanted to touch on the animosity between trans folk and cis women that often exists between them, and bridge our collective and often shared feelings of joy, rage and injustice into writing. We welcome you to walk the bridge with us. 

Pt. 1

What is a woman? A woman can’t satisfy.
Because if she’s not “woman” enough in one aspect or the other she’s not deserving of that title at all.
Gender is a societal construct so I wouldn’t really know how to define a woman.
For many, being a woman means that her brain is in between her legs but how do we persuade them that it’s fucking not?
I know a lot of women who aren’t born with the biology of what a woman is expected to be
I know a lot of women who don’t have breasts, who don’t carry typical reproductive organs within their systems.

I am a proud bi/ pansexual being,
I won’t shy away from who I am, though, my gender expression has often impacted the world around me and how others perceive me
Because I am more masculine, I am always characterized into a masculine stereotype,
Leaving me out of what designates femininity
I am not the problem, the world that surrounds me is,
I always find myself trying to break out of the expectations that society has built around women and people like me,
Because I am a threat in cis-gendered lenses
Society only labels me as a woman because of the body I have but I don’t feel like the woman
they expect me to be.
I’ve never wanted to comply with society’s definition of what a woman should be but I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t formulated certain opinions about me
I remember one night I was told by a group of boys, “ You know what Sam, we were looking at your senior portrait and you’re actually kind of hot. But we’ve never wanted to mess with you because we don’t know what you are.”
For decades men have dehumanized women as objects to pick and choose from, what category we fall under depends on how they feel about us
I never really thought that the way I presented myself was a problem until then.
I wish to live in a world where there wasn’t a border separating what’s acceptable and what isn’t
I wish to live in a world where men didn’t scan my body to decide whether I am worthy enough of their attention because my story lies within the power my eyes withhold not what’s in between my legs.
I wish to live in a world where scripts didn’t exist, where the discomfort of others as Ahmed explains in Queer Feelings didn’t predict my future
And I wish I didn’t have to comply with gender norms to feel accepted
I don’t want to fucking conform to what everyone wants me to be in order to feel like I belong,
I am a woman regardless of what other people see me as.
I am a woman despite the fact that I express myself in a masculine matter and not
What society wants me to exist as
I am who I am and I love myself,
Being a woman is an internalized feeling of empowerment,
whether she’s attracted to women, is transgender, doesn’t want kids, chooses to express herself in a masculine way,
a woman is a woman, a woman obtains diversity and nothing should take her away from that.
Society wants to see us tearing each other apart since we are part of a system that was not made for us.
We are seen as creatures who are too sensitive and shouldn’t be taken seriously but the truth is,
Women are some of the strongest people I have ever met
Us women must no longer let the poison that they spit on us burn at our skin, we must instead use this fire that illuminates within us to burn these bridges that keep us apart, from humanity and within ourselves.

Pt. 2

Post trans day of remembrance/vengeance is a cacophony of light and dark

What is a trans person? A variance with no monolith
Because the beauty we hold is not in the title but in the diversity
If gender is a societal construct then let me define me
My body is a constant preoccupation, by the hand of law or by the hand of geriatrics
I know many trans people whose flesh would concern the judge and the jury
Not because of illness or pain or plight but their flesh goes against the compulsory
The blood in my trans siblings’ bodies is running
Our system inactive
My pride in motion
I won’t shy away from who I am even if I make the world dizzy
Because I say fuck you to gender
I am not the problem, the world that surrounds me is
My fat trans body will fit where it may, but I demand a recall on these seats
The expectations of my sex are of no importance
As they surround me like wild dogs
I throw the meat, not my flesh
Because I am a threat in cis-gendered lenses
Formulating an identity comprised of ambiguity
Of suits and red nail lacquer, of facial hair as equally flowing as my dress
I disinfect the venom and vitriol of my public display of faggetry
In its bounty, in its endlessness
Often disregarding my janitorial work of yesterday
My trans siblings are visible and so am I
I remember one night, but it is every night that my mother calls me, “she”.
Even if they/them or he/him were drawn in spit
I wish to live in a world where my trans siblings were not being fucking murdered
Where our suicide rates and our unemployment rates were deemed a worldwide pandemic
And our hazmat suits all with the proper pronouns
In pink if you’d like, green is an option too
I wish to live in a world where the only ones who scanned my body were reenacting the bar scene from Cruising (1980) minus the murderer
I am worthy despite your decision or contemplate
But your venom is too often and not asked for
I suffocate when you invade my space
I am trans regardless of how you see me, or treat me, or ignore me, or fail to help my siblings, or fail to document our histories, our murders, our accomplishments, our pride, and our adversity.
It has taken me years to love myself
Post trans day of vengeance, the statistics are too high
Being transgender is fucking beautiful
Whether you take hormones or consent to the scalpel
Your trans-ness does not wain
Society wants us dead, but I want you here with me
In the pages, in the text, in the flesh, and in the streets
We are deemed as adjectives the bible and bureaucracy elate over
As there need to feel pious is confronted with our existence
Transgender people are so fucking strong, Charles Atlas writhes with jealousy
Post trans day of remembrance is an everyday observance. We must continue to be the fire they fear
And we’ll build the bridges they deny us with their bones.

Lou Hartmann is an artist and student, riding the waves of their communication and queer studies-centered education. 

Categories: Activism, Embodiment, LGBTQ, Poetry

Tags: ,

10 replies

  1. In honor of your courage and love, Lou, Diana and everyone else who finds themselves on your path.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a valuable contribution. Thanks so much for writing and for sharing it. There are so many wonderful lines you write that I am still taking it all it. There is one that really stands out for me on first reading:

    Because the beauty we hold is not in the title but in the diversity
    If gender is a societal construct then let me define me

    And I feel that your work gives us all permission to define ourselves to be beautiful in our diversity, in whatever way we define it and that is part of what makes your words so powerful. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Building bridges, finding common ground, sharing who are most deeply with one another — these are all so important for making a better world. Thank you for this honest and heartfelt post.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. With you on the bridge!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so glad to see a trans post on Feminism and Religion. Building bridges is what we’re about and understanding the religious/spiritual situation of all women. Your anger and determination remind me of myself as a young feminist, fighting rape culture and the objectification of women. At the ripe old age of 74, I continue to channel that anger and determination, because the fight is certainly not over.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Lou and Diana, I thank you for your post and the great poem. I really can feel you , as I had been married for 21 years to a transgender, and before had a transgender girl/boy friend. I am so familiar with all the emotional waves of wanting to be recognized as the person who you really are. As you are saying it’s building bridges the society has to recognize and accept, it’s not you ,because you have already done your work , the society has to do it’s work right there. And your work has been a hard journey to come to accept who your really are and there is so much to admire you for this open post. I know about this journey, as I have been on the side of a husband for so many years, that it takes a lot of courage and I believe transgender people need the most applaud in society. Thank you so much for your amazing post. Sending you much love and hugs and keep going.


  7. In my experience of meeting and working with transgender people during the past 30-odd years, I have noticed that when adult men transform themselves physically and socially into women, they almost always carry with them a life-long habit of white male superiority. The patriarchal view of the world. They still want to be in charge. Is this an issue you are addressing or intend to address in your work? Best of luck! Bright blessings to your work.


    • Barbara, thank you for your comment. In regards to trans women transitioning from M-F, the habit of white male superiority/supremacy is not for all a continued habit/trait. Black and brown trans women did not grow up with this privilege, thus they don’t carry it as their white counterparts might. The patriarchal view of the world can be held and perpetuated by all folks, of all genders, and trans women can for sure perpetuate the patriarchy even post-tranistioning, but this is not a common, routine, or shared sentiment with in the community. Quite the opposite, for when trans women come out (and transition if they so want to, though that is not a requirement) she is often discriminated against, ostracized, and “brought down” if you will in the level of privilege they once held. Now as women or as trans-femmes, they are not explicitly in that arena of privilege anymore, and are subject to misogyny, the patriarchy (for it affects all of us negatively), and what other ‘isms’ interest their lives, like classism, or racism. Trans women across the board dont go into transitioning or coming out and thing that they will still be in charge. They might have be raised as such, but it can be, and is unlearned. Sending my warm regards to you.


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