When I moved to the city I expected everything to change, fast. I wanted to leave behind this shell of a girl Torn apart by hands too rough and voices too loud Come into my own this Maybe Girl Maybe Boy Maybe Yes Maybe No Whirlwind of being ball of energy hurricane I wanted to be tough. I wanted to be the kind of person That people would look at and say My God I don’t know if that’s a boy or a girl Whatever they are they are **** as **** But **** I wouldn’t go anywhere near them without asking first. I started buying cigarettes and drinking whiskey Got a half pit-bull half Rottweiler Shaved my head but not my legs Pierced my nose and my ******* and anything else that I thought would make my mother angry I wanted to be tough. But I want you to tell me How I can hold my head high and walk through these busy streets When the same voices are loud and are bodies close too close much too close When I go to a bar and eyes assault me Looking but not seeing Thick hips and **** and red lips How can I glare back? When I go to a University party with my girlfriends Get so drunk I can’t stand and my legs turn to rubber and my head turns to glass And he finds me and takes me upstairs turns out the lights and hurts me How can I snarl and tell the world to go ***** itself? Fear is not something we are born with It is taught when that dark car pulls over and asks your 8 year old self if you’d like a ride home when your first boyfriend tells you he loves you before threatening to slap you across the face when the man on the subway waits to see what stop you get off at when he crosses the street to your side when boys talk about grabbing a girl’s *** as “ice breaker ****” I am not tough I am afraid It permeates my being and I know for some part of you it permeates yours too Fear has left your No Vacancy light on and no one else can check in. Ladies of every color and age and walk of life Ace Pan Bi Gay Trans Queer Female presenting or passing They’ve taught us fear They’ve taught us that toughness is reserved for your man your protector I am here to tell you I’ve seen fear so close it breathed down my neck And being tough is not about cigarettes and leather and piercings Sometimes it’s about being fragile and wearing thick *** armour Girls there is nothing wrong with faking it until you make it Let your bones show Scream and cry and stomp your feet Lash out baby yell till your vocal chords feel raw Let your ****** ***** freak flag fly Tough as nails might not look how your trapped suburban self imagined it Remember that the conversation of your hand intertwined with hers Speaks louder in your memory than the screams of telling him to go **** himself ever could. Let bravery be your Vacancy light. Be tough.