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Jake Scott

Jake is a writer, and a trans man. And also an ABBA fanatic! "For me, it's impossible to separate the two. My transness can be found in everything I write, and in this work, I have given it the space it deserves, putting it at the fore. Writing is a number of things to me - my work, my hobby, the thing I love. But on a more fundamental level, it is and always has been the way I process things best. When I experience trans joy, it makes me want to write so I can capture a little bit of that moment to keep forever. When the world is an unkind place to be trans, I use words to process my emotions, be they sadness or rage. These poems were born of this process - my trans joy, trans fear, trans love, trans fury."

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When I die, don’t test my DNA. It’s a waste of time and resources. Leave my bones to rest, for I make no bones of telling you that I was born into a body that has welcomed change. My skin has served me sweetly - let it rot in peace. When I die, don’t excavate me looking for some truth unknown; I’ll give it all, gladly, here and now:

I am a changer of shapes.

I do not want the world,

just myself,

and my form is full of pain, bliss, and heart overflowing.

In my marrow there are memories,

and in my memories, marrow.

I have borne wounds, weeping –

and eyes, too.

DNA says nothing of a life. In pursuit of my skin I have persisted, every day closer. I’ve felt my own fingertips like gloves. I’ve stepped into my legs and zipped up my chest (a raw and open chest). No posthumous test could recall the first time I took a breath. I was nineteen years of age and freshly ungirdled, my beautiful ribs unbound and spreading. I cried when I felt cotton on my skin. So do not test my DNA - just read my lips when I say that I am proud of my ability to grow. No matter what the records state I want people to know:

my life, spent in transition, is my pride and my joy.

And what can DNA tell you of how proud I am? Oh, to be trans. To be hated and pondered. Unseen and seen. To be so ever-changing is my burden and my honour.

Pack away the cemetery shovel; wash the dirt from grave-robbing hands. There’s nothing to unearth; I’d carve it all into my headstone. My bones, my flesh, my scars and sunken eyes - let them pass, as they were born to do. Honour this temporary vessel I have made all my own and love with every heartbeat. I have bled for this life readily, and I will readily dry up when it’s time for me to go. My skin covers no secrets: my only skeleton is the one that has kept me upright. Do not test my DNA. Just listen now, as I let the truth roll free from my lips:

I was born with two crosses to bear,

and I will take them to my grave with no regrets.

What if?

I’ve spoken with God, and he said that you’re dead wrong.

I walked to the top of Mount Sinai and shared a cup of sweet wine with the one who created me. He cupped my cheek with more tenderness than I have ever shown myself and said you are everything I always hoped you would be and more. My feet are still healing from the strain of that walk. I have blisters, raw, but my eyes have wept more at your words. No wound stings like ignorance.

What if I told you that I’ve been down to Hell, looked the Devil in the eye and said no thank you.

My skin smoke-stained, I still hold the taste of soot inside my lungs. My lips will never be un-charred. My climb back to planet Earth was fraught with rocks and burning. It brought me closer to God than you have ever been.

God spoke to me whilst I slept.

He told me my heart is full of love, crafted by his hands, and I should afford some to myself or else drown in its overflowing abundance. He said that every path I have taken was a gift he gave to me. The kindness I have spent on those who gave me cruelty was his moving through me, a vessel so holy.

The light you see is sunburn fresh: agony dwells there. I know now that enlightenment is gentle, beauty-basking. My saccharine skin is sun-kissed, God-blessed. Heaven sent me - to walk the dirt, to kiss the sky, to give thanks.

God is real, and he cannot wait to have me home.

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