drink breathe state of grace gunkypuss
a queer sadness trans-sexual Martyr/Manager
trannybladders the path is chosen We Know The Cost
The O word a moment out of loneliness What The Hell Do I Do With A Penis?
Really Time Disco Broken Cock
hoochie mama spun thought Pick A Gender
wax ears Becoming Fearless Tranny Breakdown, 1998
we are beautiful,
i am beautiful
"She is" Look At Me
To Do   Surface People


Back To Home Back To Poems

drink breathe
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>
- - - - - - - - - - -

hot summer day
river runs cool
watching from
the bank

swift current
no time to breathe
carried along
with all the others

the shore
isolated and dry
too dry
dream of a sip
water of life

lost in the water
found on the bank
dry and alone
liquid and lost

air of freedom
water of connection
isolation of distance
submersion of source
life of resistance
life of surrender


thrown in the water
emerging from the womb
learn to breathe on our own
adolescent lives

I fear the immersion
a life lost in reaction
river of human culture
flowing faster each day

wash away our separations
become a part of the whole
swept with a tide
struggle and die

stand proud and free
become who you are
away from the liquid
quenching human needs
water in cycle
waste and refreshment
passing between
carry life

learned how to breathe
proud and free
standing tall and bright
yet sometime or other
we must each stoop
to drink

arid and thirsty
for all things human
afraid and fearful
of drowning again.

state of grace
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

change focus
state of grace
god voice zone
place of bliss
soul erupting
out of body

automatic creation
deep within
beyond fear
unedited truth
spinning yarns
which knit themselves

divine feeling
divine grace
hard to trust
facing void believers
weaned on televison
weaned off trust
changing the channel
to expectations

peace is here
in the danger
speaking freely
gut spilling voice
fire pierce eyes

watch a candle
burn with light
from inside
pathway to grace
neuron trigger
communal brain
perform the function
stimulating base pairs
encrusted with expectations
searing seductive spirit
slicing bounds
open to grace

ecstasy embodied
intense joy
zoom to god
fear becomes tiny

armor slips away
grab for it
pull out
god becomes tiny

copyright Callan Williams callanw@crosswinds.net

"Yes," she admitted
"when I first saw your breasts
I hoped they were real."

They could be,
I told her
if I wanted to let surgeons
implant plastic bags full of goo
under my skin.
If I wanted to risk
encapuslation and infection
to get a result that
wouldn't look or feel
like part of my body.

They could even build me a vagina
without muscles or tissue
very short and at an odd angle
maintained though dilation
limited in sensation
and even possibly non orgasmic

They could break my jaw
carve my nose
insert plastic in my cheeks
use metal tubes to suck out fat
to try to make my face more feminine

They could slice up my head
taking out chunks of skin
moving hairs around
to try to bring beck my hair.

All these possibilities
plastic body
simulated female
for your comfort
and my disguise
of what I was given
in the lottery of genetics
just to try to show
what I was given
in the lottery of spirit.

a queer sadness
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

a queer sadness
I wanted to talk to you
because you looked so sad
and I thought maybe
you would understand my sadness too
she told me

I remember that evening
I was trying to be perky
look upbeat and engaging
but it was
the queer sadness she saw
(along with my beauty, she tells me)
that drew her close

Now she watches me
and tells me I am happier
in my women's clothes and makeup
not different, mind you
just happier.

Yet that happiness is touched
by a queer sadness
which comes from believing
exposing my own happiness
opens me to hurt, separation and destruction
from people who don't want
happy queers
in their eyeline.

let me see them suffer
for their sins
so my children will know
following your bliss
only leads to pain

inner happiness
ecstatic display
of individuality
queerly leads to abuse
and rejection

the risk of people
who believe my happiness
mocks their sacrifices
for a life of mediocre normativity
for the kids.

denial of joy
a queer sadness

"My mother came to see me sing, and I looked so happy on stage that she understood and accepted me." said Alexandra Billings

"When the guys in the band saw how much happier I was dressed as Paula, they said I should dress that way for performances. Sure, it's a bit exploitative and a bit of a gimmick, but I'd much rather play in women's clothes than men's."

This is the issue: happiness. And it is rated against so many other things: comfort of others, risk, standing and so on.

How much is happiness worth? I'm not sure I'm the one to ask -- it has never been valued in my family, in my life.

It's OK to work to not be unhappy, but to be happy is a slap in the face to others who aren't happy. That's how support groups go -- we affirm suffering and sadness but not ecstasy and happiness.
"Look, you can be queer, but only if you look like you are suffering, so we can point to you and tell our kids, "See, that's what happens to queers," so wipe that smile off your face or we will wipe it off for you!"
Joy drops defenses, and that is dangerous, right?

copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>
(written as a response to a theory post by rachel pollack)

yes yes yes
erotic attractions
around my gender
who I saw myself as being
who I saw loving me
or lusting after me,
what the hell.

being a man or a woman
may not be primarily about sex
rather about roles
child rearing
modes of expression
but to paraphrase Emma Goldman
if there is no flirting in your revolution
count me out.

ah yes.
lusty ribald passion
show it sexy
filmy stockings
supple leather
heat of flesh
sizzle of difference
coming together in rut
human explosions
of the (usually) procreative kind

well worn paths to orgasm
feel so lonely
when the dance is only in my head
and not with a sweating partner
burning with heat
for me.

just the magic
thinking sexy and embodied
looses the flow
not a lover seeing the minx in me
just my own glimpse
carnal tensions
between myself and I

to dream of partners
seems a canned heartbreak
to trust that lovers
will reflect the beauty inside
swiveling hips, swaying breasts, smooth skin
crushes dreams
of pounding hearts

I watched the dance lessons
high school mating rituals
learned a few steps by rote
but no one ever asked me to dance
undulate my skirt
swaying bum
cha-cha heels
hair on my face
hand on the small of my back
all just done in dreams
of being sexy
in a way that feels right
in a way that is wrong.

seximages move me
into places of melty passion
places I go alone
places I don't know how to take a partner
who can't see my own dreams.

when did I learn to dance in sync
daddy's little princess, mary-janes on brogues
trust the moves and the reflections
take me in your arms
feel the strength of a partner
polarized and locked together
two halves of a whole
repelled and attracted
into lust?

how could anyone ever dream
of someone like me
as a sexy mate
if they never knew someone like me?

I can try to be what they lust after
I can try to lust after what I want to be
I can try to build bridges of lust
I can burn bridges of trust
I can love myself
take the old magic pathways to explosion
where I turn beautiful
turned on, beautiful

the sweaty leotard of my dreams
revealing glowing skin, sinuous muscle
and hot flesh
lives forever in my own lust
dreaming forever
of one who peels away the armor
by dressing me up
sees some inner me
and gets all

copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

Is there anything more frustrating
than in the moment when
we feel a martyr
we know
we have to be
a manager?

We feel the pain
an unresolved childhood
wanting to be taken care of
knowing we need to take care of
the mess

Surface People
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

its the surface people
who scare me
those people
who are so in the moment
that they never see
their moments show
how shallow and twisted
their thoughts are

don't be on the surface
don't surface me
or you will terrify me

more than scary
which lives on the surface
vehemently protecting
the hidden secrets
which terrify them

copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

I have control
force of will
power of concentration
absolute and total control
over what leads me
into utmost danger:
my bladder

urinary apartheid
sanitary segregation
that closed door
marked women

I am a woman
the choices of a woman
but I am not female
my achilles heel
is my penis

Control the bladder!
hold it in
hold it all in
so as not to be exposed
to toilets

though the hall
down the stairs
picking though the construction zone
to the designated facility
signed and sealed in a piss pact
queers go here

the either or question
when we face the doors
to the minefields
be on guard
and choose the right one
or choose to control
the bladder.

We manage our intake
schedule our fluids
like on a space trip
and emergencies which come
bring terror and fear

"We went to the ladies
but she waited in the car.
I can't believe the control
of tranny bladders."

Watch the entrance
who is in there?
Stakeout the door
create suspicion that way

Rushing in
do your business
everything tucked under
cues for messiness here
stand and draw
knowing gaps in the stall
have triggered guards
and beatings
it's true

No time
to linger
no quick makeup check
readjusting your clothes
panty hose may slip
but pull them up in the car
snakedance on plastic

You watch the women
who when they arrive
take a trip to the loo
to primp and resettle
makeup and hair do
not you.

What if they speak to you
a moment of connection
and a voice spills out
tipping the scales?

It's a surgical dream,
"Excuse me sir,"
after alterations
you can prove you belong
penis turned inside
stride and not hide

Enter those doors
make a statement
bound to be wrong
to someone or other
assumptions confirmed
assumptions denied
all just because
you have human needs

Miracle of miracles
the bladders of trannies
emptied into plastic cups
or just sealed until bursting
the simple necessity
of public necessity
denied to us
by those two little signs
women and men
denied a safe choice

the path is chosen
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

the path is chosen
the unmothered child
becoming the mother
a woman who goes to the mens room
who stands and speaks
for the simple truth
that the lines humans draw
are illusion
and we have the ability
we have the obligation
to draw them in ways
that empower
not oppress

are thrust onto one
without seeking them
for only those who understand the gravity
can help others fly
by penetrating surfaces
which bind us to fear
helping others fly
in a world become
three dimensional
and full

a non-passing
whose seductive power
ruffles peoples
houses of cards
the big bad wolf
blamed for shoddy craftsmanship
in building a life
no one wants to eat them up
but hurricanes are
a natural force
one that goes lonely
in a bottle

forces of nature
forced to deny nature
because nature engenders fear
fear prompts destruction
before revelation
before nature is exposed
in their heart

We Know The Cost
copyright Callan Williams callanw@crosswinds.net

we notice
when people treat us
because we are
visibly transgender

telling stories
about supermarkets
and assumptions
and rudeness
and loathing

we know the tales
of how it feels
to meet the judgment
of people who see us
beyond social control
too queer to tolerate
in front of the children.

it is in the name of children
that we are humiliated
keeping the world safe
by keeping it sanitized
of what might lead babies to question
the lessons of normativity
a storybook life
where what is edited
is more important
than what remains

we know how
oppress us
assumptions of sexual indulgence
assumptions of rudeness
assumptions of normativity
assumptions that what scares someone
is a deliberate slap in the face

the stories we don't trust
are stories of success
the questions omnipresent
is it self-deceit
or just denial
to say
we have power in the world
that people know and respect us
for who we are
when we stand boldly
out and queer
compassionate and different.

confidence shot
by the projectiles of fear
buried in our minds
from early attempts
to show a nature
wrapped in stigma
a life
without open space
to practice being

the responsibility
for other people's comfort
for the ignorance
of children
dumped on us
as the heinous thieves
of imagined innocence
by showing
the lines which separate humans
are illusions

lines make people safe
erasing them
make people feel scared

the power, though
is always where
we cross worlds
are the door
between here and there
between man and nature
between flesh and god

to walk proudly
confident and gracious
the stick of fear
removed from our back
knowing that
every step is a risk
every smile a danger
and the more effective we are
the more we are feared
and the more people
want to silence us

we know the stories of fear
the stories of ecstasy
even in the face of stigma
are harder to find
and because we see the cost
and the pain, fear and rage
harder to believe

The O word
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

I remember the last time I saw Callan. It was a spring night, and Callan had come to Rhinebeck to a book signing I was doing. Callan was in her boy clothes, squatting under a cap from a plutonium reprocessing company she had bought at a dollar store.

After people left, we walked together though the quiet center of town. Callan had a piece of carrot go down the wrong way, so as we passed by her car, she grabbed the warm remains of a 44-ounce cup of Coke she had bought for 44 cents in her travels. She swigged the Coke as we walked.

"The 24 year old used the O word today," she told me. After a few digressions on what the O word might mean, Callan finally told me what this word was that was so powerful to her. She raised the big empty paper cup to her mouth, using it as a resonator and boomed out the word, replete with echo: "Overwhelming."

Overwhelming. The stories Callan told me that night were funny and sharp, Callan was up and animated, but they all were about the O word. How people, from parents to lovers, had cast her aside, and closed a door when they found Callan overwhelming. There were stories about kindergarten, when a teacher wanted to move her out when she found out she could really read, about lovers, and coworkers.

Callan was full of energy, entertaining and electric, but there was a sense of deep sadness, because she was having trouble believing that she could ever overcome the curse of her life, the sense that others could not see her or love her because she was overwhelming. We talked of publishing and art, of techniques and venues, of ways to help her share her gifts with the world. I told her clearly that I believed that there were other people who could find her as wonderful and attractive as I did.

Callan's loneliness, though, ran very deep. Her performance was almost manic, to cover this sadness, and that upset me. This challenge, of packaging herself up to connect with people, which meant cutting down, was something that wore on her he entire life. She felt she was, as she said to me that night, a 5000 volt person in a 120 volt world.

I felt understood Callan. Callan said that was because we had a history together, and more than that, because I had worked so hard to understand the shared history of queer, transgender folks. I needed to understand that history, because I needed to understand myself.

Like a stranger in a strange land, the language of society was not Callan's first tongue, and she always felt awkward and limited by it. She had the constraints of someone who learned a second language later in life, always forced and constricted in a way she was not in her beautiful native language, a language so many felt was overwhelming.

Overwhelming. Callan may have been overwhelming, overwhelming with ideas, overwhelming with emotion, overwhelming with pain & rage, overwhelming with energy and overwhelming with sprit, but it was my great joy to be overwhelmed by her in these ways, and to be a better and more enlightened person for it. It was when I let her wash over me that I felt the power, and it was a gift, a gift I honored.

I really believed that this gift was something that could be shared with the world, but for Callan, that was the hardest belief of all. She knew her loneliness, and every cut that came, the cuts which for her were tied up in that one word, the one that boomed through the streets of Rhinebeck, resonating in a paper cup. Overwhelming.

Overwhelm my defenses, let me see myself again in your mirror, show me the beauty that is awesome and overwhelming. This is your gift to the world -- a gift that Callan really learned to believe she could never show in public.

a moment out of loneliness
copyright Callan Williams callanw@crosswinds.net5/4/99

So what is the point of a Kindred Spirits gathering? Simple. To help dissipate some of the deep and intense loneliness that we feel as transgendered people.

From Radcyffe Hall's book "The Well Of Loneliness" on, everyone who has written about being queer has talked of the incredible and often unendurable loneliness of the closet. The obligation to live a life of concealment, be that concealing our body, our history, our desires or our nature, is the obligation to be fundamentally lonely.

We learn early that to reveal ourselves is to be shamed, stigmatized, misunderstood, and hated, and to conceal ourselves is lonely, painful, and debilitating. We are given a choice between the proverbial rock and hard place, which come together to crush us into submission to a socially approved role which erases and silences us.

To be transgendered is to have to watch your back at all times, to know that there are very few people who actually understand what we are saying, who are safe spaces to be around. The rest ask us to erase parts of ourselves for their comfort, or the comfort of others, like children or friends. We live our lives without the power of language to express who we are, because without someone who can hear and understand our words, without both a speaker and a listener, language doesn't exist.

It's easy to wear whatever we want wherever we want, but when those clothes demand that we bolt armor around our heart, history, thoughts, and beliefs in who we are, we are doomed to being lonely, no matter how nice we look. When there is no aesthetic that sees our natural selves as beautiful, we have the choice to twist ourselves into someone almost unrecognizable to our hearts, or to be ugly and lonely.


As we gather today to reflect on the life of the person whose body lies in front of us, we wonder why they chose to take their own life. Clearly, they had no hope that they would find what they needed, that life would get better.

What was it that they had lost hope about? They lost hope that they could ever be seen and loved for who they saw themselves to be. They were crushed by an overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation, a sense that the gifts of their heart could never be accepted in this world.

This must have started early, with parents who cared more about how choices reflected on them than on helping this child find, express and believe in the beauty of their own sprit. It continued on though the social structures, where conforming was honored over being exceptional in our own way. In relationships, where people were looking to meet their own expectations and needs, projecting rather than seeing, the loneliness was enforced. Years and years of concealment lead to the belief that the only way to be accepted was to be who others expected, while at the same time, those expectations became a weight on their beautiful spirit.

Through the years, they ran to people who they believed might understand them, who could give them affirmation and strokes. Yet, these strokes always came at a cost, the cost rooted in a deep, childlike belief that underneath, they were not lovable for themselves, but rather for what they did.

For those of us who believed that we knew this person, who thought we were there, this revelation of loneliness must be especially heartbreaking. They were important to us, and we believe we valued their life, their contributions. Somewhere, though, our own gratitude to them, our own embrace of them, never connected with the deep loneliness in their heart. Somehow, the isolation they felt consumed them, and they lost hope of being connected, appreciated and understood.

That is why they took their own life, and today we can only think of the things we would have done if we knew this was going to happen. How would we have entered their world and seen though their eyes, so they felt understood, connected and less lonely? Whatever we would have done, now is the time to help others that way.


We gather with Kindred Spirits because to them, we are visible for who we are. Rather than being a shimmering hole in the vision of others, they see us as real and embodied, even if we do slide though gender and identity in the blink of an eye. They can track us in dimensions we share, and for a moment, the loneliness of our lives is taken away.

One problem, though, is that being seen can often be a traumatic experience for those of us who are used to hiding. We feel exposed and vulnerable when we are seen, because when we have been seen in the past it has lead to pain and hurt. We strike out against people who see us, staying defended, in a hole where we have learned to be comfortable. The worst part about expressing ourselves is suffering attacks, erasures and being called wrong that feel the same as when we learned to hide in the first place.

We crave moments out of loneliness, but we also fear them. It is loneliness that has become the touchstone of our lives, and as much as we crave to end it, we know why we created it, and why we keep it, because being queer and challenging in the world is dangerous.

Loneliness is the cost of being both wild and tame, for our wildness is what separates us, makes us anxious and afraid of separation. No matter how much we try to fit in, that loneliness remains, for until we can expose ourselves and feel loved for who we are and not what we do for others, the ways we make others comfortable, we will always be lonely

The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all,
is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.
        Lorraine Hansberry

What The Hell Do I Do With A Penis?
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

Sex confuses me
I end up getting cast
as the one with the penis
even when my partner
sees me as a woman.

Or maybe
I'm just cast
as the old one,
the smart one
the healer
even for people
who are the healers
in other places.

My strength
My mind
My penis

I provide safe space
for others to find themselves
but where do I find safe space
to just relax?

I know what she wants
healing of a healer
by being enveloped
surrounded in a womb
and I give her that
but not with my body
which cries for the loss
dreams of femaleness
scratching inside my skin

yet this is the way of my body
this is the life I was dealt
the cards I was supposed to play
rather than trying to reconstruct
a neo-female body

I know I can wear whatever I want
and go wherever I want
but I also know
that is a lonely life
however you cut it
hiding my history in a reconstructed body
hiding my body in a reconstucted image
always hiding
always hiding
always lonely.

This is the challenge
even in bed
when the roles are assigned
and I feel erased
always lonely

I am not
a guru
a healer
a radical
a nutcase
a bomb thrower
I am
a human
with the power of story
and the weakness of flesh.

My penis works
but I never had
the cockiness
to work it.
Yet, it is the part
that ends up defining me
in bed
and wherever
the line between female and male
slices me apart


Women wish to be loved not because
they are pretty,
or good,
or well bred,
or graceful,
or intelligent,
but because they are themselves.
        Henri Frederic Amiel

copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

"No, Really,"
she said
"Who are you,

"I have a real eye for people.
I know
you are not really
what you seem."

you cant be real
that would really strain

"Tell me for real
who you are.
Why are you really
dressed like that?"

Who am I really?
I showed you
the real me.
You called it
a real lie.


Time Disco
copyright Callan Williams callanw@crosswinds.net07/18/98

Hot summer night
Driving away from the bar

Stop the car
And get out
Pounding on the door
Of Uncle Fred's Pet Supplies

Jeremy's Disco and Lounge
Where is Jeremy's Disco and Lounge?
Damn it was right here
minutes ago in 1980
Spin the tunes
dance real sexy
feel my partner
move with me

Where is Jeremy's?
Open up now!
I miss those times
when sex was possible
and life was simple
at least when seen
from this end of the telescope.

shooop shoop
hip swing
another date

too many drinks
at a genitorturers club date
where the sex on stage
reminds me of how hollow my life is
how complex sex is
in this age of AIDS and age
at least for me

Just open the door
let me buy a rum and coke
spin some Donna Summer
and watch the girls
in jewel-tone silky nylon wrap skirts.

But Jeremy's is gone.
I got the sign one Christmas
and left it on the garage
of the woman who danced with me there
and her lover
a sculptress whose full size image
of a dance created for me
hangs in the community college.

So long ago
Right now it's only a moment
open up
and let me reclaim a life
where human touch was possible
where people looked at me with desire

and someone actually seemed to care.

Who's that tranny in the red hair and tiny black dress
pounding on the door of the pet shop
and hearing the beat
of disco in her heart?

Broken Cock
copyright Callan Williams callanw@crosswinds.net07/18/98

broken cock

just like the last time
you haven't changed
the same energy
the same sadness
the same softness
as she climbed off my pelvis
her hem dropping

in the kitchen she lights a cigarette
paces a bit
looking at me with sad betrayal
misled and deceived
when i said i was different.

its still broken
not cocky at all
just the meat
without the feelings
a trick to satisfy you
without satisfying your partner.
yet even then it fails

its not so much anger I feel
just disappointment
you lied to me
your cock is still broken
unable to cut a swath
unable to impale my heart
unable to cut the bonds of control
with cocky swagger

i'll smoke
then i'll go
nothing to talk about
talk doesn't cut it
you know what i need
you know what i demand
and you cant provide it
as i knew the moment
you put it in my hole.

you can't lie to me
plugged into my polytwat
all the truth is in my juices
going directly to my brain
fool me once shame in you
fool me twice shame on me
your cock is broken
only meat
not a psychic sword

if you want to own a cock
you have to go find one
attached to a man
and make that cock yours
feel the zap inside you
impaled on the stake
wiggle and writhe
moan and scream
freeing the passion
while enslaving the body
to his enormous dick
slicing open my heart
slicing into my heat

she goes out the front door
smoking on the landing
i follow her
pleading hangdog in my eyes
she looks in disgust
at the boxes piled in the stairway
obstacles installed
to stop her retreat

i hear the sigh in her voice
as she lectures me like a mother

nothing can keep me
with a man who has
a broken cock

hoochie mama
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net> 07/18/98

Show me that poontang
hoochie mama
Throw my dick into overdrive
pointing out at the sweet pussy
it strains to dive into

Show me that poontang
hooochie mama
let me sniff the juices
see the smooth skin
over sleek sexy curves
that throw my hormones
into primal rage

Oh, my hoochie mama
I am a man
and if you want my missile
you gotta provide the fuel
sweet juices that enflame the organ
chemical reactions
igniting the flame

fire me up
flame me out
you ground crew for my rocket
that explodes inside
your target
Be my woman
hoochie mama
so I can be your man
be your throwback animal
unleashing the beast in you

show me you can
melt my butter
in your silky honey
hoochie mama
and my hard pulsing rod
will be your own ticket
to ecstasy
deep inside
your hoochie papa's home

spun thought
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net> 4/7/99

every new thing
starts in the mind
fragile and ephemeral
spun thought
too thin to stand
against the assault
of normalcy

list the reasons why
dreams can't come true
change is impossible
transformation is heretical
recreation is a lie
transcendence is beyond us
life is stuck
mired in history and biology

and still
humans dream
learning to hide
possibilities and hopes
until they can stand against
status quo
expectations of entropy
assumptions of decay
that all things human
are bound to crumble and die
nothing new can change
a life a culture
so let dreams die

"it's a great big beautiful tomorrow
shining at the end of everyday
man has a dream
and that's the start
he follows his dream with mind and heart
and when it becomes a reality
it's a great new world for you and me"
        theme from ge carousel of progress, ny world's fair 1964-65
        written by the sherman brothers for disney

the power of dreams
is the power of possibility
only coming to bloom
though the power of persistence
against the assault
of normalcy
bursting from rehearsal
to a better world
where hope lives and
transformation is possible.

Pick A Gender
Callan Williams, 1997

A little fist thumping on a car window
"Mommy, mommy, that's a man!"

I finish pumping my gas and drive off,
conscious of the stares at my broad back.

Have they penetrated a deception
declared an essential truth to the world?

Or have they ignored an essential truth
right in front of them,
have they missed the point entirely?

I am what I am.
Woman and male, both truths together.

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

She joked
"My mother used to lean out the car window
and yell at boys with long hair:

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

Don't look at them, Tommy
Don't ask questions
Turn your head away
No staring!
Or you'll get it when you get home.

In polite society, we stay away from things like that.

Look at them Tommy!
Aren't they funny?
A man in a costume!
Lets throw some nickels
and watch him dance for us!

In our family, we watch clowns perform!

Look at the faggot Tommy
An abomination to the Lord
doesn't it turn your stomach?
Let's taunt him until it gets dark
And then we can help him out.

In our faith, we follow the Bible.

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

Is it too much to ask
that you simply fit in?

We sacrificed to be gendered
learned how to be tough men
to be willing women
You can too!

Your transgression makes a mockery
of the price we paid
to be good men, good women
at the cost of human hearts.

And if the kids see it
they might figure out
being gendered is a choice
and might choose not to make it.

We can't have that happen.

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

"Have you ever thought about changing your body?
Less bulk, beard gone, hormones, surgery?"

'Wouldn't it be easier if you passed well
looked like you were born the sex
typical for your gender?"

The choice of a woman is to be female
so choose a female body,
--or as much as you can manage
in that slab of beef that
turned male at puberty.

Maybe people will see your neutered body
without muscles
without penis
without the threat assigned
to every male.

Maybe giving up your sex
will stop people from being afraid.

Or maybe not.

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

Not passing
as something you aren't
is a political act.

Open the space for humanity,
announce we are not our bodies
reproductive organs don't define humans
human possibilities transcend stereotypes

See my heart
not just my cock
see my soul
encased in meat.

I know who I am.

Why do you want to decide that I lie
I make you uncomfortable
I am dangerous and dissociative
that somehow gender
is an end it itself

Biology is not destiny.
Our history does not define our future.

Denying the truth of our lives
severing parts of ourselves
doesn't make us fit in
only makes us smaller

But the truth of a penis
keeps the heart away
from sight.

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

It's all attitude, you know.
all energy and belief.

Just feel confident in yourself
secure in your truths
committ to your beliefs
and the world will respond

The reality lies below the flesh
we are spirit living a human life.

Why should it matter
what body you are?

Glow bright, stay focused and
your life will be light!

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

Women are oppressed and hurt
by people like you

People born with penises
who have what we want
keep us down
keep us out

You will never be a woman
never know how society raised us
never know the vulnerability of a female body
never know the feeling of being prey
for tesotereone laden males like you.

Prove your femininity:
cede to the women!

Lose your voice,
let us speak for you.

We know the truths
you can never know
and if you see things differently than we do
you are wrong
and we are right

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

There is no rest in the crossroads
no peace in the doorway.

Living in no-mans, no-woman's land
is to be in a war zone
smack on the rupture between the sexes
behind no-one's lines

No place of safety
beyond the enclaves of gender
beyond simple binaries
beyond pressure to conform
beyond the acceptance of dueling armies
women and men, two of a kind

To be in the doorway is to be in the fire
Getting out of the fire requires a choice
us or them -- who will it be?

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

Switching back and forth
may mean you never find the center.

Too much sliding loses
focus and power.

The cost of context switching
is the cost of losing your way
being washed away in every tide.

The only way to make your mark
find your center
is to committ
deeply, intensely, now.

Embrace the death
To be reborn
let old truths pass
to fully embrace the new

Sing your note boldly
take your part
in the global harmony
of humanity.

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

"You have chosen a hard path," she said

Do we choose the hand we are dealt
or only how we play it?

For me the choice was to live inauthentically
hide in the closet
kill myself

Or follow my heart
come into the light of culture
and let others do it for me.

My choice is simple:
Follow my heart and be killed
or deny it and die.

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

You must be like me,
said the crossdresser
pretending to be a woman
really a man, have no doubt.

You must be like me,
said the transsexual
but still in deep denial
about your dysphoria

Just tell me you have always been a woman
said the doctor
and then we can cure you
simulated female, simulated life
change all your stories
change he to she
we will claim victory
another birth defect repaired
normativity reclaimed

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

Look over there
said the lesbian
a man in a dress
must be a gay guy.

Look over there
said the gay man
such sensible shoes
must be a lesbian

Falling out of the system of desire
not straight, not gay
not sexual


Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

How do I treat you?
Are you one of us or
one of them?
Am I competing with you or
am I competing for you?

Which face do I show you
Which walls do I maintain, and which do I let drop?

Don't confuse us!
Choose a side
Shit or get off the pot

People we can not define
are people who make us feel
uncomfortable, angry, funny

Be a threat, be a clown, or be a neutered.
Decide, or we will decide for you
and we might do that anyway, sir.

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

Does transformation work?

Does a commitment to transform the body
transform the soul?

Maybe I should ask at the gym --
perfect bodies
does heart, mind & spirit come along?

To enter into my body is
to enter into maleness

To enter into my heart is
to enter into femininity

I do disconnect from my body
to trust my heart
after years of seaching for a place
that accepts women with penises
I find I have to make one.

Comfortable in my body?
Maybe modifying it would be good
or maybe it just leaves me
and neutralized.

Pick A Gender, Stick To It!

pick a gender and stick to it. . .

I thought
knowing my own heart
was choice enough.

wax ears
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>1998

a schooling designed
to fill ears with wax
poured by parents
tamped by teachers
ear plugs of wax
filtering out distractions
that might lead to revelation.

wax to seal in
the tapes they put inside
tapes triggered by cues
dimly heard and
more dimly understood.

tapes of fear
stored conclusions
of hate and emotion
just looking for reasons
to justify their playing.

the new and challenging
is filtered out
by layers of wax
that cover the wounds
the hurt and sadness
we choose not to hear.

clean the desk
remove the clutter
erase the memory
of hearing tapes
over and over
when you should hear

a still, small voice
muffled by wax
a clear, reflective world
muffled by wax
an echo of the effects of our actions
muffled by wax
a new way to be happy
muffled by wax
overwhelmed by tapes

remove the wax
hear the beat
of your own heart
hear the song
of your own spirit
jumbled with the tapes.

pay attention.
log the noises
become discriminating
hear the noises
that play again
silence the cacophony
to hear the sweet sound
symphony of life
beyond fear

hot needle of truth
melts the wax
letting the noise flow out
and letting the real sounds
of the world we live in
new every moment
let the roaring rush of
our own life
fill our ears
with joy

Becoming Fearless
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net> 11/10/98

Aren't the fearless fascinating?
Artists and performers
Sages and pundits
We love the fearless
who go beyond the bounds of expectation
to the surprising and innovative

Aren't the fearless terrifying?
Beyond social control
They flaunt convention
capable of anything
breaking every rule
every expectation
of people we can handle.

The only choice to move forward
is to become fearless
take on a new persona
who speaks from moral authority
trusts their connection with creator
moves past the fear that keeps us small
fearless, fascinating and feared.

Four ways to handle shaming
-What shaming? In my lucite closet, I see no shaming
-I'm wrong! Let me run and hide, be who you want me to be
-Screw You! You have the problem, so take this in your face!
-Thank You For Sharing. I'll take it under consideration, but first trust my heart

I know where the voice is
drag and funny
camp and cutting
wise and authoritative
a voice that is compelling
and one that people will seek to silence
because it calls out their own hidden truths.

Fearless is fearful
it makes me afraid
because fearless cuts connections loose
refusing to buy into the fear
and the fearmongering
of those around us
who would prefer we play small.

Fearless is beyond
the everyday sniping
the crabs in the barrel
pulling us back into medioctity
from fear that somehow
standing out is standing dead
the fear of being

Separation is the only fear.

Connection is the power
Connection to more than humans
Connection beyond human denial
that makes us fearless
and feared
when we move past
being fearful
of the bold song
God put in our heart.

Fearful in the past
Time to become fearless
Time to become feared
Time to take the ressurection
and the crucifixion
that comes when we
claim the truth of our creator
over the truth of social fear
of people beyond fear

Tranny Breakdown, 1998
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

Tranny Breakdown

Callan Williams
Copyright 1998

Pull off the highway in Knoxville
Man with a limp says
look what a mess
we got here.
to fix my car
tranny breakdown

Burnt out climbing the mountain
limping along
ready to break down
ready to break though
but maybe not yet
No safe space for
tranny breakdown

As a kid
I hated to upchuck
to let it all out
to lose control
to get yelled at by my mother
who never held my head.
I learned how to keep it down
swallow it back
use youthful energy to ensure
there never was a
tranny breakdown

In younger days
girls were impressed by
pedal to the floor,
big metal phallus
leaping at the green light.
Even then I knew
my stick shift never had
quite that response.
It craved to be caressed
needed to be nurtured
shifting smoothly
without the bursts of T power.
Certain signals of impending
tranny breakdown

Running ragged
feel the slip
when someone else
sits next to you.
Afraid she notices
up the hill in the dark,
Afraid that she can sense
tranny breakdown

Shift into neutral
cruise down the hill.
Such stress on the tranny
when jammed into drive
to overcome the forces of nature.
Pulling you back to
the base level.
Pulling you to
tranny breakdown

Every tranny gets old
linkages get loose
molecular bonds break down
bills come due
abuse takes its toll
nature takes its course
on the road to
tranny breakdown

You can feel it coming
the shifting gets soft
the determined drive of younger days
becomes a bit idiosyncratic.
You become tender with your foot
start to nurse it though
all the while worrying about
tranny breakdown

Feel the balk at the slope
slip and slide
buck and ride
telling you clearly
this is an impossible task
telling you it's time for
tranny breakdown

Grinding gears
not quite meshing
Wasting inner power
Burning it off in friction
Losing it all in heat
Mechanical inefficiency.
Leading inevitably to
tranny breakdown

The released energy
shuddering movements
shivering fits
wailing moans
screaming out
tranny slip
mark the need for
tranny breakdown

Be a man, my son
replace that tranny yourself
slide under the wagon
bolt the torqueflite to
the 318 V8.
Covered with tranny fluid
glistening cherry syrup
puddled at my feet
amniotic oil
trying to seal in
tranny breakdown

Smell the auto parts store
rubber and chemicals
adjust your shorts
lope down the aisles
searching for magic potions
to prevent
tranny breakdown.

Keep the grease rag wet
A quart of Marvel Mystery Oil
stops tranny leakage.
Keep the filter clean
with regular maintenance
unless you want to crash
unless you need to let loose.
Fill her up.
Never have to worry about
tranny breakdown

Avoid facing the mechanic
who gives you the chemicals
does the re-manufacturing
technological solutions
allowing new power connections.
Never the same as
original equipment.
A Turbohydromatic
in a chassis designed for
a Powerglide
Check under the hood
makeshift power train
just asking for
tranny breakdown

Tension comes over you
when you know it's busted.
Neck tightens up.
Traffic jams are terror.
So many people around
What if it fails now?
To be at the mercy
of emergency trucks
at the hands of strangers
and you are in the middle of a
tranny breakdown

Don't stop moving
things might seize up.
Keep it going.
Taking it apart will
just reveal the problem,
forcing you to deal with it,
forcing everyone to deal with it.
Bringing out the reality of'
tranny breakdown

Cars are required
Gender is required
for status
for movement
for playing a part in society.
Car breaks down
Gender breaks down
Identity breaks down.
Dependent on others
who look down on you
tranny breakdown

I have never depended on
the kindness of others
for my independence.
Don't tell them I need help
Don't ask for their indulgence
Don't be seen as a taker
But I have to trust them
to go into
tranny breakdown

Pull into the garage,
just let us see it.
We can talk you though it
We can patch you up.
We can keep you rolling.
Or maybe not.
If I can't crash
where can I blow up?
Where is it safe
to have a
tranny breakdown?

Stuck in the birth canal again
ready to deliver
into the world
a bouncing baby girl
who has been hiding for so long
she has grown to an eighth of a ton
false labor again
or time for breakout
time for inevitable
tranny breakdown?

Why do things by halves?
It's only the impossible worth attempting
Be big or be gone
unless you avoid
unless you embrace
tranny breakdown

Time and time again
on the edge
tranny breakdown
no thanks

Filthy fluid
clotted with waste
clogging the screens
wearing the synchros
can't process the load.
Too much danger
of crashing into static objects,
of hurting people you love.
Even blasting the radio
doesn't cover the signs.
No more room for denial of
tranny breakdown

Millions of
busted trannys
consigned to the scrap heap
along with their treasures.
Thrown out.
sent to the margins
pushed to the edge
result of
tranny breakdown

Pay the piper
lay the groundwork
face the music
shut up and dance
the inevitable occurs
the dreaded happens
the impossible is expected
and you will be blamed for
tranny breakdown

Be ashamed of not holding it together
Be ashamed of not keeping it hidden
Be ashamed of not buying the newest
Be ashamed of letting people down
Be ashamed of putting others at risk
at least the risk of losing
their comfortable illusions
because of your own
tranny breakdown

Pull of the highway in Knoxville
a man with a limp says
look what a mess
we got here.
tranny breakdown

we are beautiful, i am beautiful
copyright Callan Williams callanw@crosswinds.net (4/25/99)

we are beautiful, i am beautiful

my hair plastic
without luster and flow
to replace what was lost
years ago

my face plastered
concealing the remnants
of my beard.

my hands large
with stray hairs showing
not removed by the machine
which should pull them out by the roots

my body hidden
making invisble the hair
which covers my chest and shoulders

my feet enormous
keeping me from cute shoes
which beckon everywhere.

my jowls hang
my pores gape
a gift from my mother

my back very broad
my hips very narrow
my waist very thick
with the comfort of food
reshaped with girdles
and prosthetics

this is what I look like
and yet
I am beautiful

not like a young female
a model or star
but like a human
a transgendered woman
who claims her heart
and shows her soul.

the details are rough
far from perfect beauty
messy and tough
with a masculine edge

sometimes even I
am blinded by imperfections
all flesh is heir to

this is what I look like
and yet
I am beautiful
the beauty in my eyes
the beauty in my heart
the beauty in my truth
the beauty in the art
I create as myself.

(Rachel suggests that I am too explicit after this point,
too redundant and too much explaining what I just said.
She's probably right.)

we are beautiful
we women born male
not because we
fit expectations the female form
but because we
break expectations about human limits
vanishing walls
exposing the heart
which connects us all

I am beautiful
We are beautiful
when we open ourselves up
to the scrutiny of ourselves
to the scrutiny of our creator
to the scrutiny of out truth

when i get lost in the details
of where my art is imperfect
my creation not flawless
artifacts of my history
and the limits of my hand
showing in sunlight

my creation is flawless
thanks to my creator
perfection unachievable
in the world of flesh
I am beautiful in her eyes
and when I show that beauty
I am beautiful in the world

We are beautiful
I remember when I look into the faces
not of men in costume
but of women who claim their hearts

Can I remember the same thing
when I look into my own face
seeing beyond the flaws
and to the beauty
which shines from truth?

Women born male are beautiful
not like magazine models
but strong women
who know their own heart
and value it above all else
even the fear
people will see the flaws
and miss the point

We are beautiful
I am beautiful
when I believe in the beauty
my creator placed in my heart
and boldly let it show.

I am a woman of transgender experience

and I am beautiful.

"She is"
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

When you call me she
without hesitation or irony
you honor my heart
hidden for so long
by the shadow of my genitals

I smile when you treat me
like another woman
tying your sleeve
or watching my purse

When you smile at me
and share a confidence
you share the confidence
my heart is true.


Look At Me
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

Look at me
Aren't I beautiful?
Look at me.

Don't look at me
Hidden in my cloak of invisibility
Obscured behind
my smokescreen of words
Nothing to see here, just move along.
Don't look at me

When you look at me,
what do you see?
I know what I fear you see.
The freak, the pervert, the clown
A phobogenic object,
in the parlance of philosophers
A disquieting figure
A projection of your own fears.
Don't look at me!

But I can explain!
Let me tell you what I mean
Let me show you
a side of me you will like
as soon as you tell me
what that side is.
I'm not really codependent
unless you want me to be.
Maybe it is all about you!
Just don't
look at me.

I can just leave.
Sit out in the parking lot
Drive around in the darkness
never taking the chance of going in
where you might
look at me.

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother what will I be?
Will I be pretty? Will I be smart?
Here's what she said to me:
"Shut up, you dumb ugly bitch.
You are a boy, stupid."
Don't look at me.

Don't look at me.
I'm scared you will see my scars
think I am ugly
think I am scary
think I am disgusting
think I am odd.
Don't look at me

Smile, honey.
Smile and
let the nice people
look at you.
You are so beautiful
when they see you
they will see
a beautiful, confident woman.
You do look a lot like a woman,
from a distance anyway
just huge
and not really beautiful.
Don't look at me.

It's the energy,
some tell me.
Such energy.
Such presence.
Let them see it and
they will respond.
Don't hide it behind
a wall of words
Don't get jittery and run
Let them
look at you.

That energy, though
makes me a target
makes me a screen
for projecting the feelings
unresolved issues
in people's lives
when they
look at me

Can't hide the energy.
Can't hide the power,
No matter how much
my role models lived
by staying under a bucket.
Not leading
but nattering
or whining.
No one looked
at them.
Don't look at me.

I can list every flaw
from the bad teeth,
rife with neglect
and pounds of flesh
signs of betrayal of a body
that betrayed me
denying me the chance
to follow my heart
or so I was told
by people who explained
it just couldn't be.
No one would ever look at me
that way.
Look at me!

I grew out of my body
rather than growing into it
making it a toothless lumbering hulk
no fear
no sex
no fair
no fun
don't look at me.

Who cares what people think
about my the utilitarian looks
when i just am there?
I care what people think
when I show my heart in my looks
though my art,
on my body.
don't look at me!

Thousands of dollars in clothes
sit in my closet
Words of a vocabulary
Silent in the world
because I'm afraid
they will look at me.
And I can't know what they think
When they
look at me.

So much life
poured into style, appearance, image.
So much fear
poured into silence, invisibility, defense.
Look at me
Don't look at me.

To be seen is to
make my sacrifice a waste.
To not be seen is to
make my life a waste.
Wasting away again
in a closet full of clothes
searching for my lost seed of hope.
Missing somewhere,
under all the shoes,
where I hide.
Don't look at me

What dare I hope?
That my heart is visible?
That people can see my soul
When they look at me?
Well, if
my parents never saw me
my teachers never saw me
my lovers never saw me
just saw themselves
when they
looked at me
who can ever see me
when they
look at me?

Listen to the naysayers
Singing out in concert
Don't let them look at you
they won't like what they see
Don't look at me.

I worked hard to be a woman
changing my clothes
changing my mind
changing my life
to fit my heart.
I worry that
With one glance
when you
look at me
you can take
my womanhood away from me
Turning me into
a man in a costume
Turning my truth into a lie.
Don't look at me

Boldly and confidently take my place
The place I have earned
Trusting the truth can be seen
when you
look at me

The femme power
is the power of attraction
Without words.
show your red dress and
your beautiful flashing eyes.
Feel safe and powerful.
Let them look at me
Hey you, look at me!
let them see me
Hey you, see me!
work my magic
with a smile
Don't Look At Me

Easy to say FUCK YOU
when I get a sideways glance.
Start the defense at
even the hint of someone
looking at me
in a quizzical way
that might be negative.
Stay behind the glass
Ready to attack or run
Defended well
Insulated well
Alone in the well
of my own fear.

Easy to say LAUGH AT ME
when I get a glance
Be the clown
behind drag queen armor
that hides the little girl
who cries to be held
the boy in the bubble
the woman in the closet
with the funny painted door.

Hard to say LOOK AT ME
This is what TransWomen look like.
Can you hear what I am saying
or are you deafened
by the sound of my penis?
Erasing to keep a tidy world
where separations are cogent?
Don't look at my crotch
or my history
Look at me

look at me!
Look At Me!
I will let you look at me
If you promise to see me
and not see who you want me to be

But how do you make that promise?
How do I trust you can see?
Trust that my heart shines forth
and not my history or biology?
Don't Look At Me
I'm a afraid you will be like the others
who have scared me in the past
who have scarred me in the past.

Look at Me.
Don't Look At Me.
Just come here
and leave me alone.
Keep your distance
and hold me close.
Embrace me
with your eyes closed.

See me with your heart
Look into my soul
Feel my beauty
Hear my love
Make me feel safe
When you
Look At Me.

To Do
copyright Callan Williams <callanw@crosswinds.net>

Remembering to breathe.
Standing still enough
to be heard.
Slowing down enough
to be seen.
Trusting that my heart
is visible.
Not jumping to what
people think.
Believing in my nuances.
Opening to possibility.
Becoming corporeal.

These are the things
I usually believe
I cannot do.