537: Today I'm Not Thinking About Gender

537: Today I'm Not Thinking About Gender

537: Today I'm Not Thinking About Gender


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

There are days I wake up and don’t want to be in the human suit I was given. I want to be free-er than my skin allows. I want to not be assigned a category. No career, no body type, no height, no gender, no different ways of making a living, no obligations, no limits. Don’t you sometimes wonder what it would be like to just reinvent or reimagine what was possible in terms of just being?

I have to say there are days I’m just tired. Tired of the body. I don’t want to be a woman or a man or a girl or a boy or a daughter or a mother or any of the categories that we are given. I remember once when I made my mom cut all my hair off when I was nine years old and then refused to answer when a woman called me sir over and over again at a buffet with my grandparents. The poor woman kept calling me sir and me with my short hair and sleeveless shirt I wanted to be both tough and soft. I didn’t want to be sir or ma’am or miss or anything.

Sometimes I just want to change at my whim. Wear a suit sometimes. Wear all the lace in the world other times. Be the boss. Be the layabout. And yet, there seems to be an idea that we must be fixed. You are who you are forever and ever. But we aren’t, are we? We’re changing all the time. Or rather aren’t we free to change at any time?

Even in my own life as a writer, I’ve both hated and embraced categories. The Latinx writer. The feminist. The woman who writes about infertility, the woman who writes about physical pain. The woman who writes about grief. The woman who writes about x, y, and z. The woman. And sometimes I want to shove it all away from me like tearing off constricting clothing. I want to believe in possibilities. Endless possibilities. Not restrictions.

Today’s poem by Dennison Ty Schultz does that good work of pushing against categories. It opens up the imagination. It speaks to the need to go beyond what is required of us and just be — just be who we fully are in the only precious vessel we have.

Today I’m Not Thinking About Gender
by Dennison Ty Schultz

                                ⏤beginning with a line by Yanyi

Today I want to shake around some new keys. 

Today I fistfight the sun with my exposed belly but it’s okay because we’re lovers & also we’re 
lovers who box. 

Today I rhinestone the window blinds—it’s pretty & alarms intruders. 

Today I handfeed my houseplants a crisp seafood platter. 

Today I ladle chicken noodle soup into a bassoon. 

Today I patchwork couches with swatches of clear vinyl & corduroy. 

Today two wrens lay eggs, wet as cucumber slices, on my eyelids. 

Today I’m not in any danger. 

Today I rig the wind with autotuners & together we frame stock photos. 

Today: phantasmagoria. 

Today I groom wire monkeys in pools of their milk. 

Today my livewire mouth. 

Today (                                                                                                  ). 

Forgive me—all the bowls were dirty, I had only this bassoon.

"Today I'm Not Thinking About Gender" by Dennison Ty Schultz. Used by permission of the poet.