Gender is Like Losing at Pinball

I've noticed it doesn't take much to pass as a guy. As a kid, it's the easiest. You just need a short haircut, and since society is dripping in gender roles, that's all it takes. Too bad when you're a kid, you don't really know what gender is yet to work the system. I know when I was a kid, I didn't care about gender at all. I just really liked games. When I was six, on my mom's old computer, there was a pinball game. It was infuriating. The flippers at the bottom of the screen were never long enough to catch the ball, like a t-rex trying to use its hands. One day I spent hours playing it, and as if I was stuck in a time loop, I shot the ball up, it bounced around, then fell directly into the void. I couldn't shoot the ball back up, without starting over, if I tried. I'm nineteen, now. I know gender, and oh we are not friends. I was walking home from class. The college campus was cold, so I wore my green hoodie and a pair of khaki pants that hugged at the ankles. The wind kept tossing my short curly hair, which I continued to let blow into my eyes. The sting only slightly noticeable. Fall around here was like a hug of ice, and I wanted to be engulfed by it. Up ahead were two men. They had clipboards in their hands, which signaled to me I had to keep my eyes low and walk faster. I didn't want to sign anything, and these guys were tall enough to be ‘persuasive.' My shoes hit the pavement. Leaves crunching underneath me with every step. I just needed to look down. “Hey bro, come sign this petition,” the taller man said to me. I stopped. 'Bro? Did he think- no. I didn't even try today.' I looked up, startled. That was a mistake. I couldn't just pretend not to notice him. I noticed. I started to panic, my words tumbling in my head. 'This is what you wanted. For people to see you as a guy.' I swallowed hard. 'Then why do I feel like I'm gonna puke?' I processed the men's intimidating figures, and concluded they probably weren't trans friendly. In a split-second decision, my voice dropped to its lowest register, shooting down my throat like a pinball. Except this time, I wanted to lose. I wanted my voice to drop into the void. With a huff, I breathed out a low, shaky, “No thanks bro.” I quickly walked away. My non-existent Adam's apple hurting in my throat.

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Tiana Mar

Poet & Aspiring Author

Srebrenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina