Dear Trans- [Ching-In Chen]

Dear Trans-


I heard a rumor. Is it true the nervous woman
excited by diversity
pulled you aside by the front door?
No reference to                     evidence-

based on what? asked you to fill out an entitlement form       to receive dirty housing?

No, I heard a rumor.
About your daily
gender. Under vulnerable
tongue. They say, a science-based flaw enforced appropriate shunning.

No, this rumor –

you’re a body who spores a scrubbed front
dares to sit in front
opens the door for conversation?
Ask me about the rumor you heard.

I add diversity to the appropriate container.

I grow entitlement—
it’s not a science—
based conversation.
The earth holds no gaps. No mistakes.

Words like fetus-


don’t slide into line easy.


Ching-In Chen is author of The Heart’s Traffic (Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press) and recombinant (Kelsey Street Press), which won a 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry, as well as co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (South End Press; AK Press) and Here is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets (Achiote Press). They have received fellowships from Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole, Callaloo, Can Serrat, and Imagining America. They are also part of Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation writing communities. They are a poetry editor for the Texas Review. They can be found online at

Inspiration: I’ve been trying to write this poem for months, but somehow placing the words on the page only produced more and more anxiety for me – representative of the anxiety I’ve been carrying around with me recently as a result of so many of these attempts to exclude and legislate trans people out of existence. I didn’t want to merely reproduce the words on a page without transforming them so I chose to re-situate them into new journeys, new angles to peer through.


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