Happy Pride Month! This poem came relatively quickly. I was sitting in a staffing of a case for a patient and one of the members of the treatment team made a comment about a girl on the unit. The comment was not meant with ill intent, but it definitely sparked my curiosity. The comment seemed to allude that because this teenage girl dyed her hair pink, she was ‘hiding her identity through her pink hair.’ It was a strange comment because half the teenagers we worked with were changing hair colors and styles and dress constantly. We all do things to ‘change our appearances,’ and does it mean that we are ‘hiding something behind it.’ People do express themselves through attire. It brought up a lot of questions for me, as the discussion earlier was regarding individuals who were transgender on the unit and several kids hiding they’re sexuality. When I got home, I began to think about the comment. It posed a lot questions for me about society, our beliefs/norms around gender and expression of the self. Being that I work in psychology, it’s our nature to look at behavior. At times, it just is what it is though, ‘behavior.’ Besides who deems what is correct behavior and what is not? Who determines if a change is authentic or if ‘someone is hiding something.’ As for the kids who were desperately trying to hide their sexual orientations from their families, I found it to be sad. Many of these adolescenct’s were not ‘screwed up.’ They were simply trying to get by in a world that can be very rigid on what is and is not accepted. In family sessions, I’d often hear about what the kid had done that the parents were appalled by, and it was just normal ‘sexual behavior.’ It might not have been the sexual behavior or gender norms that the parents wanted, but it’s what teenagers do when the individuate. These parents were causing issues for these teenagers, who were normally, they just felt attraction and love differently or saw gender norms differently. As a therapist, I promote my clients to be whoever they are. I let them know that there are going to be ‘rough days,’ but I applaud their bravery. It takes a lot to ‘fight for the truth of who you really are.’ I could write a paper on this topic. When I got home, I sat down and wrote this poem. It questions who gets to choose ‘what’s right for you?’ In my mind, you should. The question I get most when I tell people what I do for a living is, ‘Are you analyzing me?’ I dislike it because I don’t see my job as analyzing people. I am learning them, their stories, being the navigator of the car sometimes, but they’re always driving. To me, therapy is about building acceptance of who you are, learning to be still and comfortable with your emotions. People have the right to be who they need to be whether that’s loving someone different than the ways their parents hoped for, dying their hair pink, or feeling like you don’t feel right in your skin due to your gender. This poems is for all the brave souls past and present who work and have worked to break down these barriers that we use to essentially ‘judge’ people.
Pansexual Pink Pixie Punk
What if the pixie punk haired pansexual girl was
Truly that, a change? Would the psychologist stop babbling
About how she was using her hair to hide
Behind something? What if gender fluidity
Became the normal? Sharon could wear flannels,
Spiked boots, and work at Macy’s in a dress on Sundays.
What if Adam’s femininity made him stronger?
What if Jake’s masculinity and chiseled jawline did nothing?
I wonder if football would be as popular as choir?
What if Mary never wore a bra unless she liked it
And Pete wore a harness every day?
If he then dated Jake for a week,
And then realized, he was in love with Sharon.
Jake moves on to Steve, a guy he met at the gym.
They have lots in common. What if
All pronouns were shredded from the recollection
Of the conscious mind of the world. Jesus
Was not a son, anymore than he was a daughter.
Juliet was the street gang member and bestie
Of Mercutio. Romeo, loved getting pampered
By the nurse. What if bars were just bars
And clubs places for those who loved to dance?
What if no color conquered any other?
Privilege was only obtained through inner beauty?
What if beauty was seen through uniqueness of spirit?
Would psychologists still wonder about Amanda
Hiding behind her pink hair? What would she be hiding from
If everyone just loved what they loved? Would
Secrets and therapy be a thing? Why is it
That a small switch of gene at birth or choosing pink hair dye
Makes life fifty million times more complicated,
Dictates the narratives of our hearts and our interests,
And makes fifteen year olds ‘hide behind a hair color?’