My family cried when I cut them off:
half a spine’s length of corkscrews
that had trailed me as long as anyone
remembered. I only felt them as a shroud
covering my view in every game of tag–
and when I first came to Spectrum
I already had a label
for myself: straight ally.
It took time to learn that the anxiety
jackhammering inside my chest
might’ve been trying to shake me
awake. Me, as in the person who loves
larger than gender–loves the root of the plant
more than how it manifests; for so long
asleep beneath miles of those ringlets.
More time, still, to let go
of all my dresses, to give my jeans
and ball caps top space in the drawer,
time to learn how many ways there are
to be a person.
I go back to those scissors–both
the blades that first liberated me
and the ones that still do, those months
when hair begins to shag and tickle
the backside of my neck,
a cycle of gaining myself by losing
what was never me to begin with.
When the curls are gone, and air cools
the skin above my collar, it still feels
like the first moment I turned to the mirror
and saw another short-haired girl
smiling back at me in the glass. She knew,
too, that we were one and the same, that I
had become myself
for the first time in my life.
– Elizabeth Barton’s story as told by Marissa Rose
Marissa Rose lives and works in Muncie, Indiana, where she advocates and supports everything from early childhood support systems, adult literacy, and trans rights, among other issues. When she’s not advocating, she’s usually writing.
This story originally appeared in Facing LGBTQ+ Pride in Muncie, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Muncie OUTreach in Muncie, Indiana.