Last year, Enough/Enough compiled a collection of letters written to our body parts, making space for trans and non-binary survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to seek safety in impossible seeming places. The collection is now published in a book titled Written On The Body: Letters From Trans And Non-Binary Survivors Of Sexual Assault And Domestic Violence. Below is one of the first letters received in the open call:
To the folds and flaps between my legs,
You make me uncomfortable.
Your shape confuses me and causes me to question who I am, what I am. You’re a jigsaw puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit anywhere, but we manage to make it work.
We’ve always made it work.
I silently succumbed to your limits, always gentle and careful with my prodding. You make yourself scarce underneath your wealth of thick curly hair, hiding the form that feels like a betrayal. You remind me that it doesn’t have to be a betrayal, that you are what I make you and you know that I’m never out to harm you.
But other people, they try to harm us. They’re not so gentle in their prodding, nor do they respect the silent understanding we’ve forged. I hear that it’s wrong that we don’t touch each other or look at each other, that real love would entail both of these things. And people shame me for not pushing things inside of you.
They don’t know our agreement: you hide your naked form to console me and I end the silicone war against you.
You know we’re trans just as much as I do, and so objects being inserted into you feel terrifyingly foreign. You’re not a vagina, you’re not a vessel for man and his seed. And I will not take that away from you because someone tells me to. I’ll let you live in what folks may see as blissful ignorance, in all your hairy glory and without the pressure of acknowledging your femininity. You don’t want to be a vagina because you aren’t one. And I would never force you to be one by using you in ways that force you to disassociate. You are a magical hairy pulsating sex machine, and one day we can sew up that hole. We can sew it up and we can forget it ever happened. And no one will hurt you ever again. I promise.
You know we’re trans just as much as I do.
Our relationship really started after the assault, after I was forced to confront the ways in which and the reasons why my body was the way it was. I didn’t realize just what you were trying to tell me until you were threatened: until the fear of being forced to be both a victim and a woman took over us in those 5-10 minutes I struggled to fight him off. I always saw you as a “work in progress.” But I’m starting to think that perhaps it is I who is the work in progress. Maybe I always have been, and you’ve been perfectly imperfect all these years, saying the same thing over and over again. You always knew it, but it just took me a long time to really listen.
Physically, the space between my legs is you. No amount of pubic hair or careful maneuvering could change the fact that you exist. The folds decorating your depths feels deeply wrong, confusing even. So confusing that you couldn’t stand to allow a tampon to be placed inside of you when I attempted such a feat at age 11.
But I see you now, I know what you are.
When I close my eyes, I can feel you as my dick between my legs in my hand. This is especially the case when I’m aroused. I can feel you hard and pulsating — and it’s the most natural feeling in the world. The flesh you’re in now is certainly entrapping, but an imagination is a lovely thing.
But you’re endangered. Endangered by a world full of hate and by my heart, which is full of confusion and doubt about you.
I sometimes wonder if I want to erase you because we were assaulted. That is to say, what if I’m not really trans, but merely a cis female survivor of sexual assault? What if I only want to get rid of my vagina because of the vulnerability it represents? This is what my mom asks me, and the more she asks this, the more I wonder. The more I consider returning to a life of betraying your truth.
I wonder if I could go back in time and tell my abuser, “Wait, stop, I’m really a man,” would that have made a difference? Would he have hurt me, us, anyway, or even more so due to my dishonesty and gender identity? Or would he have said, “Oops, my bad,” and walked away from me? Is it right to want to shift rape culture away from me because I’m not a woman? Is it wrong to be confused about being subject to anti-female rhetoric from men while really being a man myself? Is it wrong that my gender identity truly feels more than besides the point when it comes to misogynistic actions and culture?
I want to stop assigning my politics, societal expectations and my fear of being problematic to my feelings and my body. To you, vagina. Is it okay if I call you something different, by the way? Perhaps “va-hoon?” I heard Ilana Glazer say that once in Broad City I think, and immediately took a liking to the phrase. I hope you feel that it suits you.
Most of all, I hope you know that you’re beautiful and worthy of love. Even if you don’t look quite right. I am your ally and I’m always listening.
Artwork courtesy Enough/Enough
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Enough/Enough is a collection of letters written to our body parts, making space for trans and non-binary survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to seek safety in impossible seeming places. The collection is now published in a book titled Written On The Body: Letters From Trans And Non-Binary Survivors Of Sexual Assault And Domestic Violence. Check out www.enoughenoughanthology.com or shout to email@example.com "if you want to collaborate, dance with your eyes open or closed, share a meal, cry cry cry, look longingly into a snow-globe, process what it means (to you) to feel believed as you are and as you're changing."