Austen Crowder

Poem: Walking for Samantha

Filed By Austen Crowder | June 09, 2011 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: bathroom bill, pee in peace, poetry, transgender

In honor of all the bathroom bill scares out there.

Thumbnail image for bo trans bathroom

I'm making this walk for you,
Past the receptionist and around the
call center hallway,
down the maintenance stairwell that smells of damp brick,
dust. mildew.
Through the furnace room
and past a cube farm filled with Banker's boxes
nobody will ever open again,
because I need to use the ladies' room.

Apparently, Samantha-who-is-not-a-bigot-just-concerned,
My penis is magical.
Her mere presence in your bathroom-
limp and atrophied and raisinettey
from estrogen and years of tucking
as it may be--
emits a force field that attracts evil male rapists
in fantastic dresses and shawls
to come a-knockin' on the ladies' room door,
hungry faced, grabby-handed, crazed for
female, feminine flesh.

I get it.
A person has got to have principles, right?
("It's this or the men's room," is the management principle, as if
telling Samantha-that-doesn't-hate-me to relax would trigger the
moral panic of the century, dogs and cats falling from the sky, hellfire
and brimstone and Liberty Counsel lawyers knocking on doors
with "personal endangerment and assault by means of tranny" charges
pinned to their lapels - you know, believable stuff)
I think about you -- you strong-willed woman, you --
and take cold comfort in the peace-of-mind our
compromise gives you and your penis-free stalls
as I make the five-minute march downstairs
curling around the forgotten guts of our office complex.

And I know you meant no offense, Samantha-whose-Christian-upbringing-
no-siree, when you stood up at my coming-out meeting
and spoke for every girl in the room when you said that I
wasn't a girl,
couldn't be a girl,
will make every girl uncomfortable,
(Making beady eyes at upper management as if to beg for my termination
at the behest of your offense,)
I stood at the front of the room
patting tears under my eyeliner and trying not to faint
as I stood on display:
a freak behind glass, where the villiage brings the torches.
You spoke daggers and threw
at my identity.
(Majority rules, after all!)

But just maybe, Samantha-it's-just-a-moral-issue,
you can see it from my perspective?
I mean, is your peace-of-mind worth
My walk of shame?
My invisibility?
You say you worry about men in women's bathrooms but then
Ask management to send me into the men's room--
Did you picture me, with my
small breasts,
long hair,
soft skin.
my cute blouse and business skirt,
My meek voice and my curvy frame,
Sitting defenseless in a stall
Surrounded by irate guys staring me down,
hungry faced, grabby-handed, crazed for
female, feminine flesh:
Is my risk worth your magical, penis-free air?

you're not the first to put me last.
When I told my mom I was a girl.
she said, "What will everyone else think?"
and when Dad found the picture of the boy-toy crush
He threatened me within an inch of my life and said
"You will not bring shame on this household";
and after I walked away from sleeping pills and vodka,
after I'd kept my secret for so many years
Hoping I'd beat the habit
or find a way to make my goddamn male life work
I broke down, came out, and I said "I need you now
more than ever"--
they said,

"I can't stand to see your pictures and hear your voice."

"I don't want you to call me again."

"How dare you humiliate me!"

See, Samantha-I-don't-understand-why-you're-so-uptight-about-all-this,
Everybody else takes their piece of my pie
And says I owe them more.

Let me spell it out for you,
You just don't like me.
Sure, you say you like me as a person
but let's be honest: you think I'm dirt.
Lipstick-on-a-pig male trash.
You want me gone. Fixed. Saved.
You want my life to be miserable enough that I'll come crawling back.
You don't say this, but you mean this.

I'll be honest.
I'm not taking this walk so well.
I don't want to be the angry tranny or anything
but since you got a bee in your bonnet
I end up running across hell's half acre like some sort of circus freak
just because I have to pee?
Do you think I'd be a little angry? I'm not.
I'm pissed.
I want to take a swing at you when you say "Can't you be happy without transition?"
that I'm less than, almost like, look like,
Just Like a Real Woman.
Or that you know women and now you're suddenly some
gender police
riding down on me with nightsticks and angry man-in-dress arguments.
I'm tired of feeling like I have to knock on every door in the neighborhood like some sex offender to say "Hi, I used to be a man, but I'm a woman if that's okay with you?"
Or being expected to share the exact configuration of my crotch
and that my breasts are real, and no, you can't feel them,
and no, I'm not going to tell you if it still works
or if i can still have sex
or if I've had "the surgery"
or if I'm "all woman down there now"
or if I made my outie into an innie
or whatever-the-hell else you want to euphemize for my genital configuration
by strangers on the streets, coworkers in the company
Concerned Women for the Cubicles
before they send me away to my tomb of a bathroom like a kid in timeout,
An interloper in their gendered world
a loose thread to be tucked away.
And I'm sick.
TIRED of feeling like
you and me and we
would be happier if I were to take the 120-volt cord hanging down from the the ceiling,
tie a noose,
and promptly
hang myself by the neck in my little potty-tomb
until I am completely,
out of your life,
Invisible once and for all.

I stare at the cord and wonder, sometimes. I really do, Samantha-who-means-no-harm.

So, when you came to me after your little tirade with a
and a handful of Chick tracts in your hands
to say "Jesus loves you, but He hates your sin"
and acted like there were no hard feelings at all,
I did stare you down and give you the cold shoulder.
I saw your face - priceless, really - with that flustered,
"That-tranny-can't-tell-me-off!" sneer to your lips,
the anger in your eyes, the hiss in your teeth..
I was contemptuous--
--Offensive, even!--
when I told you and your religion to promptly fuck off.

You lie.
And I hate liars
Even more than you hate trannies.

(HR left your complaint on my desk this morning.

But I'm not going away
just because you'd rather I disappeared from your world.
I'm going to smile at you every day
and force you to talk about clothes and kids and soap operas
and for as much as you'd like to put me back in that man's room
and never, ever, ever again think that a boy could be a girl,
I know where I belong, sister,
and I'm not going to make this walk for you forever.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Thanks for this. I feel the same way a lot of the time.

WOW this Poem was totally mis-titled it should have been titled "the angry trannie" while I understand your situation I can't say I sympathize with you at all and heres why. While reading your poem the the part were you talk about your parents and their not understanding your need to be a women, I never saw anything about counseling or therapy and from my point of view all those that merely "SAY" they're gender dysphoric, but lack a formal diagnosis they haven't any proof that they're in fact truly gender dysphoric and not just living out some fantasy of being a women. That being said I would suggest that those who proceed down the transitional path without following the SOC do so at their own risk and therefore not only deserve whatever obstacles they encounter and should expect hardship. Society can not be expected to agree with them or believe them when they state that they are women just because one says so....oh no for ours is not a take you at your word society it's in fact just the opposite it's a show me the money or the proof society.

Brandi - You know the difference between a poem and an autobiography? One uses literary devices to convey a largely emotional response in the reader. The other is a factual accounting of events, actions, reactions, and thought processes.

Aside from your obvious ignorance of basic literature, the rest is the same (lack of) quality every woman of any sort of trans experience has come to expect when they see you. How has Hot or Not been treating you?

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

Brandi, while your point is merely that following medical standards of care might have been helpful in this situation, fairly innocuous in itself, your tone is despicable. Your use of the phrase "angry trannie" against someone in our community, who has described the agonizing and painful abuse from family and society that most of us have experienced, and her drug abuse and contemplation of suicide as a result, and the abuse she is suffering at work -- that is not only callous and unsympathetic, but most offensive. In addition, you do not know whether the author has a therapist or has followed medical advice, but are merely speculating.

When your comment was reported as LGBT-phobic, I was, for a moment, in favor of saying that it violated our terms of service, and deleting it. What would we say if a gay man posted about similar problems, and a commenter said that failure to go to ex-gay therapy brought the author's problems upon himself? And called the author an "angry homo?" However, there are differences between the two situations, and while your tone is most inappropriate, your point has validity.

You should think about the difficulties you have experienced, and think how you might feel if someone said you brought all the problem on yourself, when in fact it was society, family and employers who created the problem. You should also think about why it is bad form to insult a person who has bared their soul to us, and how it could cause further injury to the person.

Jillian While I respect you I must completely disagree. I thought I was posting on the Bilerico project a site were they not only want contrasting opinions they encourage them since it leads to open minded constructive conversation which is the only way for people to understand opposing opinions. I also feel that both of my post while they ruffled the feathers of those in transgender Inc and may have been unpopular with the transgender masses they were still just my opinions and as such weren't a violation of the TOS and no were in my post did I do anything (including my reference to mad trannie since the writer herself used the term more then once to describe herself.) that was in violation of the tos. Jillian Im glad you brought up my experiences for I think my some of my early transition experiences may of be able to make a good point here. I read and hear of transgender people complaining constantly about bathroom issues and I find it curious why because I've NEVER had a bathroom issue not even in the beginning when I looked most awkward and I live in one of the most bacasward conservative states there is full of rednecks and bigots. So why is it that I didn't have any of these troubles while others seem to ? Did I have some Magic Invisible force field that Cloaked me when I used the ladies room hardly I had a carry letter and while me personally telling someone that I was GID and in a Transitional process may have not meant much to the authorities my carry letter did It was a medical diagnosis from a medical professional and as such carry the weight of law and had I had any problem she had told me had them call her and she would straighten them out.

I feel very strongly that following the SOC is the ONLY way anyone should transition period. I known thats not the popular opinion or one that means with the approval of transgender Inc, but it is the opinion of the vast majority of HBS transsexuals and women of history who HATE being pushed under the transgender umbrella. and who also feel that those who lack a diagnosis lack the right of validity to call themselves GID or claim that have the gender of the opposite sex. For they lack proof as I stated before we don't live in a society of Il take your word for it we live in a society of proof it ! Proof you are who or what you say you are. I also feel that No matter how much the transgender community complains they will never be accepted only tolerated. Society isn't ever going to accept anyone who calls themselves a women with penis as real women IMO.


I think there is space on Bilerico for the conversation you want to have about SOC, I just don't think this post thread is an appropriate space for it. This poem is not about the SOC or not following it. There's nothing in this poem that indicates anyone is or is not following the SOC. Perhaps following the SOC would offer some tools that might be helpful in this situation, but for all we know they have already been utilized and Samantha is still being a jerk.

Another time I'd be happy to have a conversation with you about the merits of utilizing the SOC and getting "proof" of one's gender, but right now what I'm opposed to is the idea that such proof needs to be offered pre-emptively over the internet to dissuade negative comments from like this.

I agree with you that it's not against the rules to declare that you have no sympathy for someone expressing a great deal of vulnerability and pain and that you feel they deserve what has happened to them. But it's bordering on inhuman. Especially when your reasoning for doing so is an off-topic assumption that you don't even know to be true.

(Additionally, notice that each time the term tranny is used in the poem it is about how other people see her, not about how she identifies herself. But either way, that does not make it okay to use that term as a slur against her.)

God, that is the weirdest thing about extremists who dehumanize others who don't meet the standards of said extremist. You really prolly think the things you post actually *are* 'open minded constructive conversation'.

Personally, I find you the nastiest of the various 'I hate TG' ppl who post here. If I were moderating, I would block you from posting. Or at least as soon as I saw your name on a comment, I'd immediately hit delete without even reading it. It's one thing to 'have an opinion', but you know, it's often best to just keep it to yourself if it's far outside what is considered acceptable in the society in which you are having a conversation.

For example, there are still plenty of ppl who consider black ppl and Latinos subhuman. I am related to quite a few of such ppl, and though they may use all the slurs and hateful language they want among themselves, they know that if they leave the redneck area I am from and go somewhere the least bit inclined to live as if it's the 21st Century rather than the 17th, they have to keep such thoughts to themselves.

Aren't there enough angry, hateful sites among all the Pure Transsexuals for you to all go to, and spare the rest of us having to see such bile? If not, please start one and pour out all your hateful thoughts there rather than here.

I followed the SOC. the narrator of this poem is a fictional conglomeration of bathroom stories I've heard from other women. My transition was actually pretty smooth.

There is a distinction between writer and the writer's characters. :D

Wow. I'm sorry, I've just got to report that.

Austen, its a good poem, and your effort works well to drive the points you made in it home. Well done.

This is an amazing poem. It condenses a lot of the experiences I've heard a number of women speak of into one extremely potent concentration. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

To anyone whose life contains anything from this: I'm so sorry. I promise you're not alone, and no one deserves that treatment.

Thanks. When I wrote this poem I'd just watched a youtube video from a girl who recorded her walk to the special-accomodation bathroom the company had set aside for her. It bordered on ludicrous. That's what sparked the poem.

Do you have a link to that youtube video Austen I am curious

A very moving poem, Austen. I strongly resonated to this. Although I am many years past such experiences, they come back with all possible force when I read your words, and yet, your courage and resilience is healing. Thank you for your words.

And I'm going ot have to report that response to LaughrioTgirl as well. I realize folks don't always agree with me, so not really bothered by the last one.

But this one is just directly against the TOS no matter how hard you try and dance around it.

I love this poem. It is moving, full of expression, great strength, beauty, passion and grace. You are grace and beauty defined.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 9, 2011 9:54 PM

It's a great poem. I loved the fighting spirit, the will to endure no matter what.

It's the most striking aspect of the trans community, IMO - something about this experience tempers the spirit, makes us strong folk. Never met a trans person who lacked that fighting spirit.

This is really beautiful and moving. My friend shared on Facebook. I wish all the "Samantha's" out there could read this.

Loved the poem, Austen.

Brandi's response was perfect,in a way. We build such huge intellectual defenses and rationalizations to "justify" who we are that we sometimes lose track of what drives us to be ourselves, or at least myself.

The narrator's sense of quiet rage and frustration behind a veneer of forced accomodation rang very true to me.

Austen; you moved me. One of my friends at work has just "Come out"; started dressing the dress and talking the talk. It's not her colleagues and employer dehumanising her though... they have been fantastic and YES she's using the Ladies'. She works on a helpdesk and it's her CUSTOMERS doing it. "You don't sound like much of an Emma to me" comments and so on. This poem really resonates; and Brandi's response shows that, when people really believe what they say it's hard for them to see the pain they are causing. Thank you for this.

Bless Tom :) thanks.
Sadly as Tom says it is the customers and not even external customers it is an internal helpdesk.
Seems to be a company thing though as I rang in as an Eon customer to talk about my account and was treated so awful I have left them too and gone to npower who by the way where lovely :)

I have to use the disabled toilet next to the canteen by the way.