“The gender binary,” someone once told me,
“is not a binary at all, in that a)
a binary is a system composed of two parts, and b)
the rainbow has more colors than pink and blue.
If she is pink,
and he is blue,
every color in between is not purple.”
I have this friend who is orange,
not quite as pink as red, she tells me,
but just enough that it counts.
The days she wears dresses are special occasions,
short skirts are a celebration,
make-up is worship.
I watch her line lipstick rows on her vanity,
like candlesticks, on the altar
of the perfect girl she never wanted to be.
Most days, she wears jeans like battle armor;
her binder is a bulletproof vest
deflecting catcalls and whistles with a chainmail
made of cotton and elastic, because
she is not girl enough to love,
she is not girl enough to marry,
she is only girl enough to fuck.
My classmate is yellow,
he likes to say that he was there
when the prism created the primary colours,
third wheel on the colour wheel
when red and blue fell in love,
he has no place in their family tree.
If a binary is a system of two parts,
he is writing his own code.
My other friend is green,
they don’t know what that means yet—
My neighbor is purple,
some days she is magenta,
some days he is periwinkle,
she sets her bones up like an easel,
stretches his skin like canvas,
and mixes red and blue in the divots of her hips
and the valley of his collarbones.
I knew someone who was pink—
It’s the only color her father wanted her to be.
He painted it onto her nursery walls like a contract
in limited edition colors of
When we were sixteen, she signed it in artery red,
her skin caved like drywall.
Today, she isn’t pink anymore,
she is mental hospital white, and conversion therapy grey,
she smells like drying paint and her hands are so cold.
If gender is a rainbow,
then I am the rain,
I am transparent,
refracting your glory,
smearing your variety across the sky.
I am structured,
a means to your end,
but I am not welcome in your illusion.