Bil Browning

How to Make Love to a Trans Person

Filed By Bil Browning | April 05, 2011 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Gabe Moses, making love, poetry

I stumbled across this poem when Projector Ed tipped me to it. We don't usually post poetry or fiction or Bilerico Project, but I thought ourSEX readers would really enjoy this one. It will resonate with quite a few Projectors.

The author is Gabe Moses. Gabe is a poet, author, performance artist, dogwalker, and accomplished floor-sock-glider who does most of his best writing in the bathtub. You can find his work in lots of cool places, but that kid singing James Brown on YouTube is not him.

Check out his stunningly beautiful poem, "How to Make Love to a Trans Person," after the jump.

How to Make Love to a Trans Person

Forget the images you've learned to attach
To words like cock and clit,
Chest and breasts.
Break those words open
Like a paramedic cracking ribs
To pump blood through a failing heart.
Push your hands inside.
Get them messy.
Scratch new definitions on the bones.

Get rid of the old words altogether.
Make up new words.
Call it a click or a ditto.
Call it the sound he makes
When you brush your hand against it through his jeans,
When you can hear his heart knocking on the back of his teeth
And every cell in his body is breathing.
Make the arch of her back a language
Name the hollows of each of her vertebrae
When they catch pools of sweat
Like rainwater in a row of paper cups
Align your teeth with this alphabet of her spine
So every word is weighted with the salt of her.

When you peel layers of clothing from his skin
Do not act as though you are changing dressings on a trauma patient
Even though it's highly likely that you are.
Do not ask if she's "had the surgery."
Do not tell him that the needlepoint bruises on his thighs look like they hurt
If you are being offered a body
That has already been laid upon an altar of surgical steel
A sacrifice to whatever gods govern bodies
That come with some assembly required
Whatever you do,
Do not say that the carefully sculpted landscape
Bordered by rocky ridges of scar tissue
Looks almost natural.

If she offers you breastbone
Aching to carve soft fruit from its branches
Though there may be more tissue in the lining of her bra
Than the flesh that rises to meet it, Let her ripen in your hands.
Imagine if she'd lost those swells to cancer,
A car accident instead of an accident of genetics
Would you think of her as less a woman then?
Then think of her as no less one now.

If he offers you a thumb-sized sprout of muscle
Reaching toward you when you kiss him
Like it wants to go deep enough inside you
To scratch his name on the bottom of your heart
Hold it as if it can-
In your hand, in your mouth
Inside the nest of your pelvic bones.
Though his skin may hardly do more than brush yours,
You will feel him deeper than you think.

Realize that bodies are only a fraction of who we are
They're just oddly-shaped vessels for hearts
And honestly, they can barely contain us
We strain at their seams with every breath we take
We are all pulse and sweat,
Tissue and nerve ending
We are programmed to grope and fumble until we get it right.
Bodies have been learning each other forever.
It's what bodies do.
They are grab bags of parts
And half the fun is figuring out
All the different ways we can fit them together;
All the different uses for hipbones and hands,
Tongues and teeth;
All the ways to car-crash our bodies beautiful.
But we could never forget how to use our hearts
Even if we tried.
That's the important part.
Don't worry about the bodies.
They've got this.


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sarahallison48 | April 5, 2011 11:25 AM

That was an awesome poem, Thank you Gabe Moses, and Thank you Bilerco for putting this up. It really does sum it all up.
sarah Allison

I cried when I read this. So touching, so sensitive, and so spot-on!

Wow. That is absolutely brilliant... loving, beautiful and very hot.

I've read it several times and it still confuses me. Then again, a lot of things do. (AS/IS/TG)

Can't tell you how much I needed this right now. Thank you.

Annette Gross Annette Gross | April 5, 2011 1:22 PM


I'm breathless. Gosh, it's warm in here.

Dominic Collins Dominic Collins | April 5, 2011 1:45 PM

So beautiful, and so true. I just keep reading it, and I keep crying.

Morriganscrow | April 5, 2011 1:50 PM

That beautiful poem made me cry. I am so in love with an amazing transWoman...and the pain she's endured just to be true to who she has always known herself to be is staggering! I will cherish her, and love her, to the very best of my she deserves!

Seems redundant to say how beautiful this work is... but then again maybe it can't be said enough.

I loved reading this. Thanks to the poet and thanks for sharing.

I don't know Gabe. Surely he must be a wonderful and fascinating man. I harbor him no ill will but I'll be putting his poem in a folder where I keep interesting poetry. There are other poems there and here are a few of the titles.

How to grope a Jewish Princess.
How to satisfy a black man.
How to bed a Muslim man.
How to enjoy lesbian lust.
How hard is gay sex.

And one of my all time favorites....
How to seduce a Christian with holy procreative sex.

lisalee18wheeler | April 5, 2011 5:17 PM

I don't know Deena. Surely she must be a wonderful and fascinating woman. I harbor her no ill will but I'll be putting her comment in a folder where I keep interesting comments...

Elizabeth Olsen | April 5, 2011 4:41 PM

Gabe, thank you so much for this poem. It is just so very beautiful, I can't stop crying.

california panda | April 5, 2011 7:42 PM

Absolutely stunning! I cried. To be loved like that would be a truly precious thing.

That was truly beautiful-I have tears for how much this has touched my heart h I thank the person for writing this!!
You are simple beautiful!!

Not sayin' | April 5, 2011 11:04 PM

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

Ethan Alister | April 6, 2011 8:54 AM

I must also confess to crying upon reading this poem. With sorrow, with joy, but mostly with truth.

i am his mom, and he is FtM and 17 and when i read things like this stunningly stark poetry that strips away all the self-sparing illusions that any of this will be easy for him, i shed the tears only his mother can shed, and say "no more, no more, my heart can bear no more" knowing full well it can and it will and it must because these are the lessons that teach me to be the mother he needs me to be.... so he can become most fully the man he is meant to be..... thank you, gabe moses, this lesson is learned

lisalee18wheeler | April 6, 2011 5:25 PM

Thank you for doing the right thing. Many parents (and other family members) find throwing the transperson away a much simpler thing to do.



Bless you, and all the other moms and dads whose love does "go the extra mile".

You are a wonderful mom and as the study Injustice At Every Turn from The Task Force shows, he will do well in life from having a supportive family.

I realize this has moved many but to me it makes me ask myself, am I ugly. Must my lovers from now on follow a rule book to avoid the thoughts of my unnatural appearance?

To me this is a set back. I feel more beautiful, not less. I hope my lovers love me for my soul for sure, but I also hope they touch me because they long for me. I hope they cherish me body and soul.

I think trans is beautiful. As one who loves me says, "the best of both worlds".