"I’m Charlie (they/them) a trans nonbinary queer health researcher and activist. Writing has always been a liberatory practice for me, in some ways it is the only way I know to express myself safely, without limitation, and without punitive threat. I started Queer Football Collective (@queerfootballcollective) to create a safe place for queer and particularly trans people to have safe access to health and well-being.
This is a piece that honours all the versions of myself I have been before arriving home, in my trans non-binary body. It’s called, “All the selves I’ve disowned.”
All the selves I've disowned
It feels like I am just now born and living.
Reconnecting and meeting all the selves
That I had disowned
To fit into a body that was not
I took the shape of a fragile hermit crab
Occupying empty shells I find a long the way,
To conceal and protect my brittle bones.
I have carried many shells,
I have worn many skins,
And been many people.
But never all at once -
Always a single person at a time.
I was a girl once
Or so they said.
A kid who’d rather catch grasshoppers
Alone in a field
and feel their crawly feet
Move over the nerves on my palms,
As though they were traversing
The venation of a leaf.
A reminder that we are all
Living, breathing things.
A kid who’d rather climb a treehouse and hide
To read a book over and over
And you couldn’t stop her.
I was a tomboy.
I was a tomboy once.
Then a tomboy disowned.
A lipstick lesbian took her place
With a clumsy performance of femininity.
I was the butch,
I was the damaged -
Heck, I was Shane from the L word.
Finding scripted selves
Never authentic ones.
Wearing flannel as shells
And hiding fantasy figures of me
In the books on my shelves.
But that’s plural.
Yes, yes it is.
I am plural.
I am all the selves that I have disowned
And all the selves I have yet to meet.
I am a soft and gentle masculinity.
I am goofy, nerdy, curious, questioning, sexy, and a HOT boy.
I am vulnerable and quirky.
I am sometimes lost. And when depression shows up
I am sometimes anchored to the bed of the ocean.
Sound travels faster under water
Making it seem louder.
And when I am sleeping there
Sounds become distorted but thundering.
But I am plural.
And all my selves reach down
To pull me up into the air,
And I take a deep breath
We are all here.
They/them. Yes, I am plural.
I am all the people I’ve ever been
and all the people I have disowned.
I am them.
I am connecting differently to gendered parts
By looking at my whole self. Really looking.
When she is looking. Really looking.
And I dare to look back
As I embody all my fantasy figures -
All the selves I’ve disowned
And we meet them together.
All my selves reemerge
And we take each other by the hand
And it feels like I am just now born and living.
My shell a plurality.
My shell a home,
Not a hiding place.
I am queer and weird and awkward,
I am relational and individual.
I am plural.
I am all the selves I’ve disowned.