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Ready or Not


By Dane Z. Bauer

I fished my gender out of the discard pile. It was buried under a leotard, a Cabbage Patch doll with Sharpie tattoos, and the corpse of Judy Garland. It had glitter stuck to it, and a pair of patent leather shoes. I brushed the sparkles away, junked the Mary Janes, and took it home. After a week of sitting on my bookshelf, my gender spoke to me for the first time. “You’ll do,” she said, “after a little fixing.”

For awhile, my gender was a construction site. I needed a helmet and work gloves to feel safe around her. She mangled my assumptions with a crowbar, threw books at me like bags of cement, and stuck a razor in my hand. She pursed her lips at my body and offered an appraisal – the fingernails are a good length, but some other bits don’t work. When I said my gender made me shave my armpits, the feminists looked at me funny. I kept my carpenter pants and flannel. My gender thinks they’re cute, though she often says “It looks comfortable, but it’s not quite you, sweetie.”

These days, my gender is fat, pretty, and bossy. She’s va-va-voom and a cast iron skillet tucked into red cotton boxer briefs. Jewelry points to my cleavage like a new discovery. She helps me flirt. Other queers don’t recognize me as kin until she comes out to play – see, honey, I’m as much a performance as you are. I’m just sneakier. Look at all the people who can’t see me, so blinded by my shine. Look how fast you found me. Let’s play.

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