ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the November 21, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] librarygeek and [personal profile] janetmiles. It also fills the "experimentation" square in my 5-29-17 card for the Pride Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the series Feathered Nests, which you can find via my Serial Poetry page.

"More Pressure to Fit In"

Ensign Landry noticed that
one of the beth males always
seemed to hang back a bit
while shopping in the market.

"Something wrong?" he asked gently.

Tseep lowered his head as if he
could hide in his own ruff. "I can't
ever find dyes that I really like."

The aleph males had dark, bold ruffs.
The beth males had smaller, pale ones
that they dyed in various colors and patterns.

"Well, keep looking," Ensign Landry said.
"I never really felt satisfied with how I
did my hair until I came here and
started borrowing the beth style."

He ruffled a hand through it,
showing off his natural blond hair
now adorned with feathery chevrons
flecked with blue, green, and pink.

"I know what I'd like, but ...
nobody ever has it," Tseep said.
"The colors are all wrong."

"Not bright enough for you?"
Ensign Landry said. "Have you
seen the new neons? Humans
have used those for ages, but they
just got approved for Fifers."

"... not dark enough," Tseep whispered.

"Ah," Ensign Landry said, enlightened.
"This is not just about the dyes, is it?
You feel out of sorts with yourself."

Tseep gave a miserable nod. "I know
there's something wrong with me."

"I sincerely doubt that, unless Fifers
and humans are far more different
than I expect," said Ensign Landry.
"Do you think there's something
wrong with me, for example?"

"... no?" said Tseep. "But I
wouldn't know, I'm not human."

"It happens that my body isn't made
in the usual way for human men or women,"
Ensign Landry explained. He ruffled a hand
through his hair again. "This helps me feel
a little more ... settled, in my identity. So if
you want to dye your ruff differently, do it."

Tseep whistled a sigh. "Nobody would
take me seriously," he said. "I may feel like
an aleph inside, but that doesn't make me one."

"Doesn't it?" Ensign Landry said. "Dr. Ogden
tells me that the Fifers have five sex/gender roles.
The differences among males are slight, and
for females it's purely social, not biological."

"But everyone can look at me and see ... this,"
Tseep said, angrily pecking at his pale ruff.
One long, silky feather floated free.

"Don't do that, feather-picking is bad
for you," Ensign Landry said, shooing
Tseep's beak away from his ruff. "What I
mean is, some humans feel like their body
doesn't fit and they want to change it from
male to female, or the other way around."

"But that's impossible!" Tseep squawked.

"It used to be, but our technology has
improved over time," Ensign Landry said.
"It's not easy, but it is possible. People do it."

"You?" Tseep wondered, cocking his head
to watch through a single dark eye.

"No, my issues are different,"
Ensign Landry said. "That's okay,
though, I have my own coping skills.
You just need to find yours."

"It's hard," Tseep said. "When I was
a chick, it wasn't like this -- the males
look alike until puberty. As I got older,
it became more confusing. Suddenly,
there was a lot more pressure to fit in
with the other beths, and I just don't."

"So stop trying," Ensign Landry said.
"It's not working, and it's making you
miserable. If you want to dye your ruff
and step out as an aleph, then do that."

"No one would accept me, though,"
Tseep said. "I'd never have a territory."

"Maybe, maybe not," Ensign Landry said.
"At least you would get to be yourself."

"There isn't any dye dark enough,
though," said Tseep. "I've looked."

"Look again," Ensign Landry said.
"There's a glossy black dye in our batch.
It's meant to contrast with the neons."

"Really?" Tseep asked, fascinated.

"Yes, really," said Ensign Landry. "It
might take some experimentation, but I
believe it will work for you. Think about it --
even if people react badly, at least then
you'll have no more pressure to fit in."

"Thank you," said Tseep.
"I think I'll go ... take a look."

"Good luck," said Ensign Landry.
He remembered how long it had
taken for him to find some forms of
self-expression that worked for him.

Hopefully Tseep would be a quicker study.

* * *


"As you get older it's more confusing. Suddenly, there's more pressure to fit in to your assigned gender."
-- Chaz Bono

Birds go through different stages of plumage in their lives.  Young Fifer males all share the same juvenile plumage, but at puberty, they molt into aleph, beth, or faeder plumage.  Alephs have a bold dark ruff, beths have a slightly smaller pale ruff which they dye in festive colors, and faeders resemble females with no ruff and drab colors.

Transgender people feel a disconnection between the shape of their body and their internal identity. Yes, transgender and transsexual traits appear across a wide variety of species. It's okay to question your gender identity and expression. Here are some ways to support a transgender friend. If you are very fluent in gender issues and they're not, sometimes this entails explaining that transgender is a thing. Not everyone necessarily knows this. Same with intersex, I had to do that once too. Just try to be gentle with people.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-24 03:52 am (UTC)
bairnsidhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bairnsidhe
Beautiful... I adore the way the Fifers and the Humans are helping each other in this. There's nothing more exciting than an adventure of mutual self-discovery.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-24 05:55 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thank you, Landry! Good luck, Tseep! -kellyc

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-24 07:04 pm (UTC)
readera: A tree on a animated background of snow falling (Default)
From: [personal profile] readera
This is wonderful!

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-25 03:14 am (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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