‘This Is Not A Manifesto’ by Scott-Patrick Mitchell

Content/trigger warning: this work discusses toxic masculinity, physical assault and gender dysphoria.

This Is Not A Manifesto

Because I am still manifesting. At the age of 41, my gender identity is more fluid than ever. Inside, I am aqueous. Outside, I do not know which pronouns best suit me: I have been using he and him for so long I wonder if they are who I am. Or who I was. Who was I again? When I was 10, I told my mother I was gay: at the time, it was the only word I knew for other. From there I flowed from bi to queer to non-binary masc. My body is a mask, is a drag. I dress up every day. I have learnt the heteronormative performative walk of men who think the world owes them something. I call on such a strut whenever I have to slip through the streets at night, appear as if I don’t give a fuck. It’s a gait that makes my body ache and I hate that it exists within me. There are days the testosterone surges and these urges remind me of what it means to be toxic. I am learning to be brave again: men have bashed me for being “too” feminine. Appropriate active-wear vacant stare of “men” going nowhere. I am learning to be brave again, be myself. To hold myself in the centre of my self is the greatest challenge I have ever faced. I pray for the day that the dress declares that they are androgynous. And all other garments follow suit. Pockets abound, in surplus. Buttons refuse to conform to these preordained societal gender norms. High heels will become the free toy with every Happy Meal. They will all be neon yellow and six inches. My hope is to make the veil a socially acceptable accessory that you can wear in the roughest suburb. We all love a bit of drama. But why should we hide who we are. My friend jokes, tells me that I should use tHEy and tHEm as my pronouns. I do not laugh: there are days when even using a capital I makes it feel as though i am taking up too much space. I am learning to be brave again, because I am still manifesting, and one day I will write a manifesto about all of this. Until then, I will tear up at the bravery of those so much younger than myself, so much more certain of how to speak the uncertain. And, for now, I shall identify as human, because it is the only word I know for other.



Scott-Patrick Mitchell (SPM) is a non-binary performance poet living and writing on Whadjuk Noongar Land in Western Australia. SPM’s poetry and writing appears in Island, Southerly, Westerly, Cordite, Rabbit, Baby Teeth Journal and Honey + Lime, plus such tomes as Contemporary Australian Poetry, Going Postal and Stories of Perth.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

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