the details

An online publication for exploring transmasculinity and creating community for trans men, butch lesbians, drag kings, and all non-binary and intersex people who identify with masculinity.

EXPLICITLY SW + SEX + SEXUALITY POSITIVE

The art director is a lifelong sexual violence survivor and wishes to create a space for transmascs to speak of such unspeakable things no matter how complex the truth may be.

THIS IS A PLACE TO BE COMPLEX ABOUT TRANSMASC SEXUALITY

current issue

ISSUE #1: soft-boiled

navigation



what we're all about:

eggplant tears is a chill online space for anyone of the transmasculine experience. Here, we aim to celebrate the radiant joy of our genders and bodies. We are especially into exploring the unique positioning of the way we have sex + our sexualities in all contexts, including ones we didn't choose.But we also want to cultivate a space where we can really dig in and discuss all the intracommunity issues with transmasculinity. (And don't we all know there's a lot of them.)

we are not a space for:

We are not interested in gatekeeping in any way, shape, or form. We are police and prison abolitionists, so we're definitely not interested in cosplaying the gender police. If you feel that you align with the transmasculine experience in any way, this space is for you.ZERO TOLERANCE FOR: transmed/truscum, SWERFs, TERFs and transmisogynists, ableists, racists, or bigots of any stripe.We are a space for creatives and artists who have experienced being excluded, left behind, or persecuted by traditional institutions and state systems.

A SPECIAL NOTE FROM FEYXUAN:

As a lifelong C/SA victim and SWer, I am especially interested in opening conversation - among SWers and outside of us - about gender performance during sex. Specifically, I want work that engages with conversations about gender performance both during obligate and voluntary sex as transmascs.In my personal experience with SW and transmasculinity, I find that I've had to exclusively perform as an "Asian Woman" in order to attract clients due to the particular way my Vietnamese ethnicity and the unfortunate but profitable racial fetishizing of Asian women as objects of sexual desire intersect.I want to hear other transmascs talk about the way they've had to perform gender during moments of sexual desire, both of their choosing and out of financial obligation.

navigation



masthead

eggplant tears

jonah wu:

editor-in-chief + eggplant enthusiast

  • writer (and somewhat lapsed filmmaker) creating stories about identity, trauma, family history, and memory/emotion as a conduit for time. sins & tragedies of equal importance.

  • Twitter

  • Website


eggplant tears

thien-my:

art director + bnuuy of all time

  • a disabled/mad viet-american who develops bilingual JPN/ENG traumatic/erotic games that act more like lyrically operatic stageplays about hunted animals hunting animals, temporal mechanics, and the game of go.

  • Instagram

  • Games

navigation



how to submit

→ We publish all lengths of written work (poetry, prose, hybrid) and visual media (illustrations, comics, photography, videos).
→ We DO accept work about kink and eroticism that is explicit and intended for mature audiences.
→ We allow simultaneous submissions, as long as you notify us as soon as you can if your piece has been accepted elsewhere first.
→ We also accept previously published work as long as you own/retain the rights (we don't want to get in trouble with your previous publishers!).
→ We are not, unfortunately, a paying market (though we will celebrate you with eggplant emojis).

  • ISSUE 2: KNIFE-CUT

The theme for our second issue is knife-cut, where we dive into that vulnerable place together to talk about wounds, scars, and other types of pain.One of the obvious topics pertaining to transmasculine experience is medical transition. (Please note from our “About” page that we are not transmedicalists, so any work with a transmedicalist agenda will automatically be rejected.) What does it mean to undergo gender reassignment surgery and/or HRT? What does it mean to not undergo medical transition? What afterimages do either of those experiences leave behind?Beyond the question of medical transition, what are some other wounds that are left on our bodies? What other types of physical pain do you experience? Pain, of course, is not only located in our corporeal forms. What are the emotional wounds you’ve experienced? Who or what have you had to cut out of your life in order to continue living? What parts of yourself have you had to cut out and excise? In contrast to last month’s theme, what are some parts of yourself that you might have had to sharpen into a hard edge in order to survive?Lastly, we are interested in pieces about sex, kink, and sex work. Not just knifeplay, of course, but what it means to invite violence consensually into the bedroom. (And, if you want to talk about it, nonconsensually.) What does it mean to exist within the delicate balance of intimacy and danger? What are the complicated and sometimes painful feelings about performing gender during any type of sexual act?We know that this can be a distressing and triggering theme on all of these various fronts, so please, if you’re looking to submit work for this issue, we ask that you take care of yourself while you do so. And if it’s too much to handle, we encourage you to wait for the next issue. We’d also like to stress that while we welcome work for this issue that can be dark and uncomfortable, we’re equally excited for work that can be healing and optimistic. The tonal scope of this theme is incredibly wide, and we’d love for you to play in all of those complex gradations in-between.If you have any questions at all about the theme, please feel free to email us.

  • The deadline for submissions is 【DECEMBER 31, 2022】.

  • WRITTEN WORK should be sent as a .doc, .docx, or Google Doc, and if there are visual elements that require complex formatting, please send it as a .pdf, .jpg, or .png.

  • VISUAL WORK should be sent as a .pdf, .jpg, or .png.

  • VIDEO WORK should be sent as a YouTube or Vimeo link.

  • Multiple submissions of any genre, as well as across genres, are welcome. Send as much work as you’d like, our inbox is your oyster.

  • Please email your submission to[email protected]with the following format in the subject line: 【(GENRE) Title of your piece】

  • Please include any applicable content warnings or a label for mature/sexual content in the body of your email. Upon publication, these will be included alongside your work.

navigation



issue #1: soft-boiled

soft-boiled (adj.)A method for boiling eggs that cooks the albumen ‘til firm but leaves the yolk runny, sometimes gelatinous, always soft.

on THE MENU

navigation



“Self-Made Man” by Ky Huddleston

There’s a kindness in the skin of my soul.
I keep it tucked close in my breast pocket,
where I was softer once in a different way—
It is shaped like a match strike.
Molasses and brown sugar are
poured through white honeysuckle,
the eagle up on the mountain screams
silent and etched in snow to say
it’s time for fishing.
My skin is thicker now that it once was.
I don’t have to start with my own hands,
bright in a sea of cypress, like learning to
bait a line the way my father does.
My heart is soft and warm in all the ways
that make for weak edges, brittle cracking
until it might chip away under that
immutable influence—
I am chasing the taste of a 5 o’clock shadow.
I have it tucked close, in my breast pocket
beside the knife I use to cut trout free from
my lure and line. I always catch and release.
My father is rolling his eyes already.
It is carefully crafted, and it burns
with a simple, controlled strike.
I’m not complaining.
Having been imprecise edges,
no craft in the forging, it's easy to
forget what being tempered is.

Bio

Ky Huddleston is a reptile-wrangling transgender author working the library night shift, but only when he has the bite marks to prove it. He has too much audacity for his own good, just enough moxy to sell it, and recent publications in pacificREVIEW, The Ekphrastic Review, and Campfire Macabre.



“not masc not femme but water earth & stars” by Kai Minosh Pyle

Bio

Kai Minosh Pyle is a 2spirit Métis and Baawiting Anishinaabe writer originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Currently living in the once and future prairielands known as Champaign, Illinois, they yearn for the day they can dip their toes in the Great Lakes once again. You can find their chapbook AANAWI GO and other works at https://mekadebinesikwe.com/.



3 poems by Siobhan Dunlop

Mr. Strong

I would've taken up boxing if it wasn't for
my fear of losing teeth, put my ability to scare
people with lightfootedness to good use,
let those feet transport fists, build up jabs
like a training montage, Rocky ain't got nothing
on me surely, the real turnaround, proper
underdog story as I remove my glasses
for the world to see an unframed, lost face,
eyes blurring before an opponent, stronger
than my 160cm and bookish tendencies would
suggest, now you've got my height you can
calculate what size box I could be caught in,
a box I might've come out of fighting, if only I wasn't
so scared of broken bones, of changing rooms
divided by sex, of being allowed to take part,
then you could've seen me in the ring,
with confidence I'm not allowed, for being
confident might suggest I like this body,
that I feel at home in this form and not trying
to shape it otherwise, blindly dreaming
of a physicality that makes sense, toning
muscles like that matters, I'm not even the one
in the relationship who opens the jars,
imagine being scrappy, scrawny,
a surprise of wiry strength, uppercut uppercut
with an undercut, isn't it funny how
childish dreams and Mister Men
both allow for one personality trait per person?

shorts (non-binary)

I never felt comfortable / in shorts / until I was comfortable with who I amand yet that erases / those years of carefree shorts / 90s style matching with the t-shirtchildhood wonder / at the muscular power / of tennis short-ed legsthe fight to be allowed / to wear shorts to primary school / like the boysthat era of cropped trousers / and striped socks / to be like Avril Lavigneneeding a football kit / to fit in with the team / despite feeling too different from themsurf shorts at the beach / to avoid the sand / and do exactly zero surfinginsistence I could last a winter / only in navy PE kit shorts / as everyone else wore trackiestrying to fit in / with the denim hot pants and tights fad / though it wasn't me at allit was only as I hit / the complex shores of adulthood / shorts became the enemyand now with a new gender / and a renewed sense of personal style / I am cool again

Skipping Leg Day

I'm sorry / I keep skipping / leg day / not in the gym / just here / in our flat / thinking how / I just don't care / about the quads / the glutes / the hamstrings / my legs are fine / clad in skinny jeans / venturing into shorts / a recent discovery / that once you're not / a girl / shorts are okay / in your head / and really / legs are a vehicle / for Doc Martens / to appear / at the end of / so I let them / do their thing / mostly forgetting / they're even there / not like arms / so visible / with useful strength / see me hoovering / in a vest / a t-shirt / with the sleeves cut off / that urge to re-form / recreate / making housework / gender non-conforming / body not conforming / to workout ideals / even if I plank / stiff as a board / unfeeling / or feeling too much / downward dog / taking place / of a real pet / I want core strength / but I'm not an apple / pipped to the post / in the race / of aesthetics / learning the shorthand / outside of the class / breathe in / breathe out / activate / don't procrastinate / working out / would be easier / without relentless motivation / hate the vibe / not the feeling / of power / in the body / sometimes mine / sometimes / other / you see / I'm not / skipping leg day / I just / don't remember / my legs / at all

Bio

Siobhan Dunlop (they/them) is a UK-based poet with poems in 404 Ink, Impossible Archetype, Queerlings, Streetcake Magazine, and elsewhere. Their micro-chap Glitching Al Pacino (2022) is published by Ghost City Press. They can be found on Twitter as @fiendfull talking about poems, tech, and Neopets.



2 stories by Addie Tsai

BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF BOOTS

The fairy wanted those boots for themself. They were of the most delectable green rubber, thicker than the air up high, far beyond the clouds in the dead of summer, even when fairies wore next to nothing. But, they knew better than to try to sneak them away from the master of fairies. First thing first: Their wings would never carry such substantial boots without being noticed, and their spells simply weren’t strong enough yet to cloak them behind a shield of invisibility, or make them vanish, just for a second or two. So, they did it. Just as the master of fairies determined that any wearer of the boots would be placed in whatever time they desired, they spoke it into being that the boots would make the wearer miserable in whatever time they’d always hoped for. Every fairy knew that the minute a fairy spoke a prediction, it made it so. And every fairy also knew that such predictions never applied to them, but only to humankind. The fairy slept on a cloud and kept an eye on their beloved boots, cringing with displeasure at the man who took the boots deep into the mud. Or shedding a tear when a boy roughed them up against rocks and cobblestoned streets. When you’ve found an object that makes you feel more like yourself than you ever thought possible, what’s a little time to wait? So the fairy waited. And waited. They stared at themselves in their little mirror in a house they’d built in the clouds and transformed the image in the mirror to match the one inside. The boots only began the image in their mind. Soon they saw deep red suspenders, chestnut trousers, an oxford shirt the color of the sky they slept in. Their wings sparkled in longing and joy, with such intensity that they fell asleep from the excitement. When they woke, the pair of green boots sat next to them on a cloud, which the fairy assumed was their imagination. But when they went to touch them, they could grab them with their hand. The boots were worn, hefty, sticky with life. How could it be? And then they heard behind them a most distinctive laugh that belonged to the one and only master of fairies. The fairy threw their head back: What? How?! The master giggled again, their wings bouncing with self satisfaction. Silly fairy. If only you’d told me how much you wanted them, I would have given them to you as soon as you asked. The master winked, but the fairy had no clue as they were too busy admiring their beautiful new possessions, now on their feet, which made them feel like always, and also, brand new.

PUT ON YOUR RED SHOES AND DANCE THE BLUES[1]

Whatever you knew of the name you believe is mine, forget it at once. Instead, consider a name that is dandy and pristine, like Jonah or Milo. Maybe even Theodore. I’d long been abandoned by both my parents for so long I couldn’t sketch portraits of them even if you were to give me all the money in the world. I had no choice but to make my way through the harsh world but by sharing with the rats the food tossed in dumpsters and on the streets. I didn’t mind. They were pleasant enough company, if you didn’t treat them as cursed creatures. Shoes were almost never abandoned, and so my bare feet became accustomed to nicks and barbs of a particularly prickly plant or the sharp edge of a rock. My hair draped against my back, thick and hard as the ragged dress I found to protect my skin from the elements. By the time she came for me, I had built a perfect enough routine to suit me just fine. I knew the best place to hide out from the jailers, the perfect view to watch the musicians and dancers on the streets. How I longed to join them! But without shoes and a suitable look, who would have me? Until she came. What could I say? I had no position to refuse her charity. I knew that the way to a decent meal and a warm bath was obedience, and so obey I did. With clean skin, I held my new caregiver’s hand to lead her out of the carriage like a proper valet. I kept my new room clean, and stayed out of trouble. I was never one for trouble anyway. She gifted me with literacy and new shoes made of silk, the finest gowns that I would have burned all at once if I could have traded them for a suit jacket adorned with brass buttons, trousers to match, and most of all, a pair of men’s shoes with laces and a short heel. One day, she left me at the finest cobbler in the town, while she walked down the street to buy food for our supper, accompanied by a friend of hers. Her eyes were losing their ability to discern details, but she wanted my shoes to sparkle for a wedding we were to attend in a few days. Resting behind the cobbler’s head were the most beautiful pair of shoes I’d ever seen in my life! Men’s shoes made of the finest red leather, the sunlight glinting against the red as though it were made of diamonds. The sweet old man tried to get my attention three times while I descended into my fantasies of the red shoes. Once he realized that no shoes would be a match for my new love, he grinned. A very rich boy couldn’t be pleased with them, he told me. Would you like to see if they are the right fit? When he laced them around my worn and ragged feet, it felt like walking on clouds made of silk. I pinched my cheeks so hard they turned the same shade of red, so sure was I that this must be a dream I was having still in my bed. But, it wasn’t a dream, and I knew that I would never let anything else touch my feet again. I could finally become Milo with the Red Shoes, and that was worth more than any bed, or school lessons, or warm meal my new mother could give me. While she was still out shopping, I pranced over to the barber and despite his resistance, convinced him to give me a proper boy’s haircut, to match my new red shoes. I saw the new me in the cut glass of a shop next door. I was perfect. I never saw that old lady again. I stole an abandoned coat—it would never be fine as the one in my dreams, but I didn’t need it to be anymore. The shoes were just the edge I needed to dance to busk with the others, hoofing out a time step count for the musicians, for always.

[1] This title is borrowed from David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”

Bio

Addie Tsai (any/all) is a queer nonbinary artist and writer of color who teaches at the College of William & Mary. They collaborated with Dominic Walsh dance theater on Victor Frankenstein and Camille Claudel, among others. Addie has an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. She is the author of the queer Asian young adult novel Dear Twin. Unwieldy Creatures is their newly released adult queer genderswapped biracial Asian retelling of Frankenstein. They are the fiction co-editor and editor of Features & Reviews at Anomaly, staff writer at Spectrum South, and founding editor & editor in chief at just femme & dandy.



“Call it What You Want” by Kit Lascher

eggplant tears

Bio

Kit Lascher is the King of Trash Wonderland. She dropped out of the same theatre school as James Dean and has worked hard not to burn out as quickly. Her work has been shown and produced across the US. Favorite artistic projects include creating Recover: A Cabaret by and for People with Mental Illness, publishing zines with WolfShark Press, and writing and directing for Reboot Theatre Company and Copious Love. You can find her work in the latest issue of beestung, in upcoming collaborations as part of her residency with Nomadic Soundsters, and in more spaces to be announced.



“‘boy parts’ (in praise of inverts)” by JP Seabright

We wear it well, this gentlemale exterior,
reaching for respectability in our breeches,
these buttoned down shirts and braces,
bovver boi boots with tightly pulled laces,
playacting our way onto the social stage,
rewriting our sexualities onto the page.
We did not know who we were,
these unwomen, these inverts,
these confused bodies of face and bravado,
pursued by bears and flaming libido,
until we undone ourselves, unbound the parts
we wanted, discarded those we didn’t,
and found our bodies beautiful again.
We are always and forever Cesario
causing Olivia to fall in love with us,
as Phoebe swoons for our Ganymede,
we disguised ourselves as Pan and Puck and Ariel.
We were the first fairies, androgynous
fresh-faced slender-limbed fuckboys,
dragging our desires through the forest,
bouncing our quiffs down the street,
while Cindy lathered up the shaving foam
and we dripped with hunger to be seen.
We wear our boy parts well, soft and hard
in all the right places, self-made men
aping no one but our own reverted faces.

Bio

JP Seabright (she/they) is a queer writer living in London. They have three pamphlets published: Fragments from Before the Fall: An Anthology in Post-Anthropocene Poetry by Beir Bua Press; the erotic memoir NO HOLDS BARRED by Lupercalia Press, and GenderFux, a collaborative poetry pamphlet, by Nine Pens Press. MACHINATIONS, a collaborative experimental work, will be out from Trickhouse Press in Autumn 2022. More info at https://jpseabright.com and via Twitter @errormessage.



“hot sugar crush” by nat raum

i bought tigerbeat at the airport like everyone
else in my class but i used to look through
and strike through boys’ faces with sharpie,
decreeing them and their fans disgusting
while hanging hilary duff posters on wildflower
pink walls. and it wasn’t that boys
weren’t for me, but that i had to be swayed
by coalblack tresses whose long waves would meld
so delicately with my freckles and beachglass
blue eyes, whose overdyed skinny jeans looked
just as good on spindly preteen legs as theirs,
whose love was as unattainable as their likeness.

Artist’s Statement

i've recently been thinking about how i was pretty obviously queer from a young age in the way i understand it now, but a heteronormative upbringing caused me not to question my gender identity or sexuality until i was an adult. i kind of think this is partially due to the masculinity i was exposed to being so terrifying, i wanted to run far away from it when i even thought about gender. anyway, i realized one of the ways my queerness silently showed itself was that i was only attracted to men who looked like what i wanted to look like at the time. this is something also explored in a favorite song of mine by Glass Animals called "Hot Sugar." it's not explictly about a queer relationship but many queer fans related to the idea of having a crush on someone they wanted to emulate.

BIO

nat raum (b. 1996) is a disabled artist, writer, and genderless disaster based on occupied Piscataway land in Baltimore, MD. They’re a current MFA candidate and also the editor-in-chief of fifth wheel press. Past and upcoming publishers of their writing include Olney Magazine, perhappened, CLOVES, and trampset. Find them online: natraum.com/links.



“Crew Cut” by inkyswampboy

eggplant tears

Bio

inkyswampboy is a traditional pen and ink hobbyist illustrator from the North West of England. He is a queer genderfluid transmasculine person who likes to make art inspired by gender and sexuality as well as his disabilities, autism, and experiences with mental illness. Their art varies from tender illustrations of gay romance throughout history to explorations of body horror, monsters, the sinister and the grotesque: often, it falls somewhere in between. He also loves watching horror movies, crafting, knitting, playing video games, and working on forming his own gender expression to be a beautiful work of art in itself.



“slap slap grab choke shut up bitch” by sal kang

i think i owe it to lots of people to try & be myself a little less.every day i wake up & try to write that poem—
me surfacing from the ocean of his hands grinning, every noose
this world tries to place on me fraying, falling at my feet
as his grip loosens around my neck. i tell the page i do not think
about how womanly or manly i was when we were inside each other.
when we finish, he bathes everything in warm water: first me,
then all the bumpy/long/flat/thick/smooth silicone i took in
& over my skin. we kiss each other’s feet & i realize our sex is trans
-formative in a way that doesn’t scare me. we are beautiful
because beautiful doesn’t exist outside of this room.
i don’t mention how his fingertips sharpen into small knives
sometimes, that i cannot distinguish his ***** from the barrel of a pistol
when it’s pressed against my face. my poems are oblivious
to how these two things are true at once: i have the best time in bed
pretending to be a wild flower, voiceless under a shoe & easy
to bend/twist/scratch/snap. also, sometimes i cry during or after
because he is so good at acting & i want to live. i have a good idea
of my limits, i think. also, sometimes i wake up drenched
in a cold sweat, furiously treading the air in my sleep,
trying my hardest to run from everything i want.
yes, the logic of my desire refuses the logic of my paragraphs.
playacting a murder victim does not mean your life is suddenly less
likely to be cut & pressed into a faceless obit come tomorrow.
every night, a man tries to hurt me, & every night, i get to decide
when he stops trying. this can only be empowering once we choose
to ignore that i still reek of prey when we escape the covers.
there are days when i open my eyes & even this feels like possibility.there are days when i open my eyes & all this just feels too devastating.there are days when my queerness reveals itself to me like it’s this
too colossal thing, bright as a broken tooth being gifted to you
by a child who wants nothing back in return. it says: your palms
will never know how it feels to choke someone like that. so, instead
you must learn how to smother lovers’ heads between your thighs
—let it teach you the weight of softness, what it burns & births.

ARTIST'S STATEMENT

the title of this poem references an andrew tate quote from a video in which he spoke briefly on "how to handle girls." the rest of the poem is an attempt at differentiating queer bdsm from such blatantly violent/misogynistic practices, unraveling kinky sex from its perceived social contexts & trying to engage with it from a much more radical place while still acknowledging the ever-present potentiality of harm. i love queer bdsm & think that it can be beautiful & revolutionary, but i think that the main point of the poem is that it can also be a little complicated (for me)(because society, not because of queers).previously, i wrote of queer bdsm as an almost purely positive escape from a violently binary/gendered world, not always because my experiences with it were exclusively fun & liberating (though many times it was!) but rather because my desire to only paint palatable pictures of my community was very strong. i was afraid to be completely open about this topic in particular because it is such a loaded, misrepresented/misunderstood thing to begin with, & my honesty may just end up adding to that when it reaches readers who are unequipped with the context they may need to not misconstrue the “point” that is being made.i am still scared of all of this. however, i also believe strongly that we owe it to ourselves & others to have these difficult, complicated conversations (quote from jonah). cishet sex is often treated as a difficult topic in writing for many sociopolitical reasons; narratives on queer sex should be allowed to unapologetically take up the same amount of space. we are deserving of so much more than what is already out there. so, so, so much.

BIO

Sal (they/them) is a poet living in New Jersey. They write about sexuality, queerness, Asianness, & their intersections. They are a 麻辣香锅 enthusiast & have a lot of wisdom teeth.



“Stone Butch 4 Stone Soft Butch” by Mx. Butch

In the exploration of my body, I’ve spent so much of my time
exploring the body of someone else…

The trans body.
The dyke body.
The butch body.
The hard, hard
stone butch body.

My love for another butch is hard.
He’s another stone butch, another
top, another dom, another butch
unwilling to switch in his role.

Or he was before me.
He was all of those things.
Dom, top, stone, dyke,
ultra-alpha muscle butch.

With a careful touch, a strong hand,
a firm grasp on his leash attached to
his pretty purple collar…I’ve made him
into so much more than he was before.

Still a muscle butch but
now the omega pup.
All the way on the very
bottom of Daddy’s pile.

It started as friends. Then flirtations.
Then hand holding while rubbing on
each other’s jeaned crotches.

I love the tightness in his
worn black jeans. He loves
to rub his face into my blue,
dress, damp, denim slacks.

The first time I took off my suit jacket
and then took off his leather jacket,
his stone completely melted away.

Submissive boy licking
at my boots, soft putty
in the hands of your
mistress/master dyke.

I loved him first for being stone but – but –
I love him even more for being soft for me.

Bio

Mx. Butch is a college student working on a BSBA. Their poetry covers the experience of queer, trans, and disabled body, as well as the existence of queer love in the current political world. They can be found on Twitter as Mx. Butch (@assignedbsba).



“Stay Soft” by Murphy Pines

eggplant tears

artist's statement

When I first drew this image, I was pre-T. I had just recently started using strap-ons, and it really got me thinking about my relationship to gender. I went through several drafts of writing about this piece and this topic but I couldn't get the words out correctly, because my thoughts and feelings around it hadn't been fully formed yet. Now, over a month later, I feel like my thoughts have finally settled and my experiences have brought me to a place of clarity.I came out later in life in my mid twenties, so I spent most of my adult life in cis-heteronormative relationships, and by default, I took on a more submissive and receiving role in sex. I'm still in the process of deconstructing my understanding of gender and sexuality, and I know this will be a lifelong process. Consciously, I knew that our physiology, how we have sex and what roles we take on during sex was not inherently connected to gender. But as I started expanding my sexuality beyond the confines of cis-heteronormative sex and gender, it really shed a light on my conscious and unconscious biases and associations I had been taught about masculinity and power dynamics in sex.As I started to present more masc, it coincided with my exploration into topping and being more dominant. I began to associate my newly embodied masculine expressions with being sexually dominant and being in a more giving/topping position. Given that this is the model I had been operating on for most of my past relationships and sexual experiences, I think it makes sense that I automatically went from one end of the binary to the other. Which, I'd like to emphasize, is a totally valid experience and identity for anyone to have! It was just important for me personally to really ask myself where I wanted to go in my journey, as I had been on autopilot and overlooked my own desires and identity for most of my life and I wanted to approach my next steps with as much intentionality and authenticity as possible.I am now finding my way outside of that binary. I’m trying to separate my gender from sexual dynamics, with the added layer of kink and bdsm. My partner, who is also nonbinary, has been so supportive of my transition and in our relationship, we’ve been approaching and navigating intimacy and sex in a conscious way and forming our own unique relationship to sex beyond gendered norms and cisheteronormativity. We define our own pleasure. Soft top, power bottom, service top, bratty bottom, pleasure dom... I'm exploring the infinite combinations that can be enjoyed between people during sex, beyond the binary and boxes that we are expected to abide by by the forces of white, colonized ideas of gender and sex. It's exhilarating, liberating, connective and a lot of fun!I would also like to digress to talk about something new that came up in my life in the last few weeks that shifted my perspective enormously.As I'm writing this, I'm now 6 weeks into HRT, and my body is going through rapid changes. I knew about bottom growth before starting T, but didn't expect my clit to grow actually into a penis in a matter of weeks. I honestly thought I’d never be able to experience having a penis. It never even occurred to me that that would be possible. But now I get erections and even wake up with morning wood! Even the way I masturbate has changed to match the rewiring and shifting anatomy of my body. It's completely transformed my relationship to my body and sexuality.Pre-T, I was only able to achieve orgasm in one position, because I had to masturbate lying on my back with my legs straight out and fully clothed, hiding under the sheets because I had no privacy growing up. I had a lot of lingering shame about this. The only way I could achieve an orgasm was rooted in a habit of secrecy and hiding. Many of my past sexual partners were frustrated by this, which further exacerbated my shame and made receiving pleasure a stressful and awkward experience. I felt so disconnected from my body. I tried training myself out of it for years, but to little effect.Now, as my physiology is changing, I'm learning that I can now orgasm in many different positions, from a variety of different sensations and stimulation. I feel like I've finally reclaimed my body and my pleasure. It feels really good. Ha.I still like to use my strap sometimes, but it's not integral to my sexual experience, nor does it feel like this significant part of my gender expression. It's just one small part of an ever-expansive exploration of pleasure and exercise in connection, trust and play.I am transmasc. I am also nonbinary. I have both masc and femme qualities. I appreciate them both because they make me who I am. These days, I'm trying to understand myself outside of the framework of masc and femme, because I'm learning that in my own journey, that I am just a person trying to reclaim their body and their pleasure in their own way.

bio

Murphy Pines is a transmasc, nonbinary Korean American interdisciplinary artist and director. Their work focuses on emotional and mental care and wellness, as well as trauma healing. For their latest project, they designed an oracle deck for emotional care. They are currently designing a videogame about navigating difficult emotions. You can follow them on Instagram @hereismysecret.



“Carly Rae Jepsen's Your Type is for the Boys” by otto LA

I’d break all the rules for you. Yes, even this one: That a man is a man is a man and a woman is a woman is a woman. I’m not the type of girl for you, and I’m barely your type of boy. You don’t have to say it; I know what you’re thinking. It’s in the way my brother and I were once indistinguishable on the phone, and then we weren’t, and now we are again. Yes, this one too: That the sliver of window you leave open isn’t for me. I hold your manhood and mine, and it all fits in one palm. We’re not so different but that’s what scares you (and me, and me). Men who love men who love men who love men still sometimes don’t love me. So instead, I love you. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I love you. I didn’t mean it. Yes, this one too: That you ask me not to pretend. I don’t anymore, and I know that I’m not your type. But this one is my rule, the one I wrote: I’ll be anything you want. Come to bed, I’ll be your girl. I’ll be your girl.

Bio

otto LA is a writer interested in creating work portraying love, masculinity, and relationships between men. They can be found on twitter @bladehilt.



“His Beloved Ianthe” by Priyanka Bose

Iphis and Ianthe fall in love the very first time they meet as young schoolmates, in the ardent way of children with twin souls. Their eager fathers are delighted, and over dinner one night, speak of betrothal in the years to come as the two young friends smile at each other across the table.When his mother Telethusa tucks him into bed that night, Iphis tugs her arm and pulls her close. He asks her how he can be a good husband when he grows up, so he can make sure Ianthe is always happy.“Oh, my child,” she says as she smooths the worry from his forehead. “The time has not yet come for you to concern yourself with such grown-up things.”“Even though I am betrothed?”Telethusa laughs and pulls the covers over his restless legs. “Even though you are betrothed.”


For reasons she refuses to explain, Telethusa never allows Iphis to swim with the other boys in the river. His request to swim with Ianthe is denied as well, for his mother says it is not right for a betrothed boy and girl to bathe together before marriage. Luckily, Iphis and Ianthe have no need for a river, as they have a secret hiding place: a secluded cove by the seashore where they go after class, spending hours tumbling around in the sand and playing in the water as they talk about their dreams for the future.It becomes a ritual for them, and knowing nothing of wealth or the realities of marriage, Iphis promises Ianthe all the gold in the world and all his love when they grow up, golden gifts for his golden-haired bride. Ianthe, the daughter of a trader with many older sisters and sparkling green eyes, is wise beyond her years and knows better, even as a young girl. She tells Iphis that the only gold she wants from him is the pollen from a wreath of hand-picked flowers to wear around her head on the day of their wedding, to which he gladly agrees.


In his fourteenth summer, Iphis wakes up in the middle of the night in a pool of blood as his stomach throbs with a terrible, intense pain. Frightened, he runs to his mother and collapses in front of her as he tells her of his woe. In the flickering light of the oil lamp, her face is so mournful that Iphis’s fear only grows.“Mother, am I dying? Have I done something to displease the gods?” he asks, plaintive in the darkness.“No, my child,” she answers. “You have done nothing to displease the gods, but there is a death we must now reckon with. Your childhood has ended, and I must now share with you a truth I have concealed for many years.”As Telethusa helps Iphis wipe the blood from his bed, she tells him the truth of his birth; that when she was with child, she and his father Ligdus lived a humble life, with little hope for better circumstances. In her ninth month, with tears in his eyes, Ligdus had commanded his wife to kill the child should she give birth to a girl, for he could not afford a wedding dowry for a daughter. That same night, the goddess Isis had visited Telethusa in a dream, accompanied by a small band of other gods who surrounded her bed.“I am the goddess of help,” Isis had said, bathed in the moonlight. “Be unafraid to raise the child you shall deliver, whether boy or girl, for I respond to all appeals for my aid. Come to me at the hour of your greatest need, and your prayers will be granted. Your worship will not be unrewarded, for I am merciful to all who come to me with an open heart.”As Telethusa awoke from her dream, she felt her birthing pains begin. Raising her arms to the stars, she prayed that her dream would come true.“I lied to your father when you were born,” Telethusa confesses. “I have raised you as a boy, but you were born a girl. Your nurse was the only other person who knew. Because I have always dressed you in the clothes of a boy and your father named you after your grandfather, the deception has gone unnoticed. When you were younger, I believed you instinctively knew the truth until you asked me how to be a good husband to Ianthe. I realized you truly believed in your heart that you were a boy. I could not bear to extinguish the hope in your eyes, so I said nothing. But unfortunately, nature cannot be deceived.”She opens a chest at the foot of the bed and produces a linen rag and a long strip of cloth and hands them to Iphis.“You will bleed for several days once every full moon. You must wrap the shorter one between your legs to contain the blood. The longer cloth, you must wrap around your chest every day, and let no one see it under your tunic.”Iphis does not understand. “Why must I bind my chest?”“I raised you as a boy, dear Iphis, but soon, your body will reveal the truth of your womanhood, unless you take care to conceal it. You must start now, before your breasts grow, so that you may grow accustomed to the feeling. Come, I will help you.”Iphis is silent as his mother wraps the cloth around him for the first time, his breaths growing heavy as he thinks about the secret smiles Ianthe saves just for him on their daily walks, of the innocent love that has recently transformed into a passion more fervent and deep. He thinks of all the promises he has made to her for when he will become her husband, promises that suddenly seem impossible.“How can a girl be a husband?” he wails. “It is a curse to know this. I wish you had not told me!”Iphis claws at the cloth choking his chest, the flesh he cannot tear away without drawing blood. Telethusa pushes the hair away from his forehead and presses a kiss to his flushed face.“The gods will intervene, I am sure,” she says as she strides out of his bedchamber. “Have faith. But until then, we must take caution to keep this secret, lest the others find out.”Alone again in the darkness, Iphis shivers and presses his hands against his throbbing abdomen, his own body suddenly a stranger to him.


In the months that follow, Iphis watches his father closely, observing details he has never noticed before. Ligdus has always been his father, but now, Iphis is compelled to consider him as a man. His strong, clear brow, the hearty vigor in his stride, the booming timbre of his voice, his imposing stature — all of these are qualities Iphis always assumed would be his natural inheritance one day, that he now realizes will never be passed down to him.“You have taken after your mother,” Ligdus says to him one morning, with mild disappointment. “You were a beautiful child, but your features are so feminine and soft. I had hoped that by naming you after your grandfather, you would take after me. But no matter. You have already found your bride. Perhaps your children will take after the men in our family.”Iphis smiles weakly and ignores the sharp pangs of shame in his chest. Later, on his way to school, he stops and sighs as he peers into the river, where he can see that despite his mother’s best attempts to bind his newly formed breasts, they still rise like twin mountains through his tunic, a pale imitation of the flat plain that was once there.In class, he looks closely at the other boys and suddenly realizes that their bodies, too, have all begun to change. One boy, once only up to Iphis’s shoulder in height, now towers above him. Another classmate, whose voice was so high and shrill the others in the class had teasingly called him Mouse, now speaks in tones so deep and resonant that the teachers call on him to recite poetry for the class. There are so many other changes he sees — stronger calves, the beginnings of chiseled jaws, thicker arms, a more pronounced protrusion from all their throats, and voices that form a cacophonous choir that rises and then falls in tone. Most striking are the flat, broad chests they bare proudly in the sun, while Iphis hunches over in the shade and tries his best to swallow his jealousy.One day, instead of going to the cove with Ianthe, Iphis sneaks behind a group of the boys in his class and follows them to the river, where he knows they often swim together. When he was younger, he had often wished that his mother would allow him to join them, but he is now grateful for her foresight as he watches them from behind a tree. They are glorious and joyful in their adolescence as they splash in the water, free from all worries as they revel in the possibilities of their swelling manhood — some small, some large, some wide and some slender — so many variations on the one thing Iphis realizes with brutal clarity that he lacks.From the riverbank, he can hear snatches of their conversation; the boys are curious about girls and their bodies, of the mysterious curves underneath their tunics and the meaning behind their coy smiles. They are curious about the pleasures of the body, of their marriage nights, and the best corners to hide from the eyes of suspicious parents. Some of them even brag and boast about the secret rendezvous they have had with the daughters of families who live in other towns, and Iphis realizes just how little he knows about what it is to be a man.At dusk, they finally leave, and Iphis slides down the riverbank and slips into the water. The soft current eases the throbbing pains from his monthly bleeding, which has come once again, and earlier than expected. As his blood seeps into the water, Iphis imagines what it would be like to do all the things the other boys talked about with Ianthe, if he could truly ever bring her happiness.


At home, Iphis watches his mother and admires the grace with which she sways her hips and the elegance of her hands. But when he helps her wash their clothing, he looks at his reflection in the water and is distressed as he recognizes her delicate features in himself. Iphis admires his mother’s kindness and Ianthe has always praised his soft nature, but he also wants to be recognized as his father’s son. He wonders if it could ever be possible to carry both within himself, for he is both feminine and masculine — neither man nor woman — he feels like everything and nothing and that nobody will ever truly understand.Every night, he lies awake for hours, pressing his hand to his heart to soothe the inexplicable pain that emanates from it throughout his body. In his dreams, he is free, his chest a clear and unbound plane, sunkissed and broad, and he embraces Ianthe with strong arms and revels in the sound of her laughter.Every morning when he wakes up, he yearns again for his youth, before he knew the truth.


Ianthe finds him, as always, at the cove. “You have been quiet these past few weeks,” she says, fixing him with a stare. “Let me into your thoughts.”“They are heavy,” Iphis replies, with a sad smile. “I would not burden you.”“Burdens are meant to be shared,” Ianthe counters. “But if you will not, I know something that will make you smile. I am becoming a woman. Soon, it will be time for us to get married.”She moves closer, and Iphis holds his breath as she loosens the top of her tunic and shows him her breasts and the new inward curve of her waist. Ianthe’s skin glows in the fading twilight, and she holds herself proudly, delighted by the changes in her body. Iphis feels a strange yearning bloom in his heart as he watches her. Bathed in the light of her beauty, he feels that she is Aphrodite incarnate, and he almost forgets he is a monstrous creature with the soul of a boy but the body of a girl, overwhelmed by his desire to hold her.“Would you like to touch them?”“W-we are not yet married,” stammers Iphis.“But we are betrothed, and we are alone. I believe even Hera would give us her blessing.”Iphis is unsure, but he lets Ianthe guide his hands towards her breasts. He caresses them tentatively, tenderly, and Ianthe is lithe and graceful as she leans into his touch.“You are beautiful,” he murmurs, voice low. “My beautiful Ianthe.”Ianthe beams and moves closer, whispering into his ear. “I have seen my father and mother in the night, when I should not have,” she says, giggling. “My father has so much hair on his chest. Do you have hair on yours?”Iphis hesitates and pulls away. “No, I have very little.”“Let me see,” she says, reaching towards his chest.“No!” Iphis exclaims, louder than he means to, and pulls away before she can touch the cloth around it.Ianthe frowns. “What’s wrong? Did I do something to offend?”“No — I have cut myself on my father’s scythe. I am injured, the wound is ugly; I would not want to upset you.”“I understand,” Ianthe says, before she smiles her secret smile again. “I will pray that it heals soon, so we can continue where we left off.”She caresses his hair and presses a kiss to his cheek before she leaves, a silent promise that leaves Iphis wanting for more.


When Iphis returns home for dinner, his father greets him at the door. He is joyful in a way he has never been before, and Iphis knows that can only mean one thing.“I bring wonderful tidings, my son. Telestus, the father of Ianthe, approached me today at the market. She is a woman now, and come midsummer, you shall finally wed. What luck that my son has won the fairest maiden in all of Phaestos! The gods have truly given us their blessings.”Iphis turns pale and instinctively presses his hand to his chest as his heart begins to race. There is nothing more he wants in the world than to marry Ianthe, but despite his father’s words, his prayers have been unheard and the gods have yet to bring him any sort of miracle.Ligdus laughs. “Nervous? I would be too, if I was marrying such a beautiful girl. But do not worry; from what Telestus tells me, your bride-to-be burns for you, and I have seen the way you look at her. I have no doubts that you will enjoy your wedding night.”Telethusa enters, carrying their meal, and notices the disturbed expression on her son’s face as he catches her gaze with a silent plea. She understands immediately.“My husband, I am glad to hear of such tidings! We have waited for this day for years. Unfortunately, our joy must wait beyond midsummer. I saw a vulture fly towards me from the west this morning. I believe we should postpone the wedding and make an offering to Hymen; I do not want our only son’s wedding to be cursed. I am sure Ianthe’s parents will agree.”Ligdus is unhappy, but he is as superstitious as he is impatient, so he agrees to speak to Telestus, who shares his fears and immediately consents. As the date approaches, Telethusa continues to witness an exhaustive list of bad omens, pushing the nuptials further and further back, until there are no other bad omens left to be seen. Finally, two days before the fourth rescheduled date, Telethusa pleads ill and asks for it to be postponed once more. Although everyone is frustrated, she makes such a convincing show, even fainting onto her bed, that both families agree that they must wait for her recovery. That night, Ligdus enters her bedchamber.“My wife, we cannot delay this wedding any further. The auspicious time is passing and Telestus grows impatient. If we wait any longer, it may never come to pass, for there are many other men who would have his daughter for their bride. Upon your recovery, we must light the wedding torches immediately, for we cannot lose such a perfect bride to another family. No matter what more omens or dreams you may see — keep them to yourself.”Iphis, eavesdropping outside, slips into the room as soon as his father leaves. “Has Isis visited your dreams?” he asks. “What say the gods?”“I am sorry, my child,” Telethusa responds, mournful. “My dreams have been silent.”


While Telethusa buys time with her excuses, Iphis burns away inside, pining for a miracle. With nowhere else to go, and the town of Phaestos filled with excitement for the upcoming nuptials, he runs away once more to the cove to confide in the sea and the sky.“Despite my mother’s promises, no miracle has come. What will become of me now? What do I do about this reckless and foolish passion? My desire for Ianthe is monstrous; it consumes my every waking moment and possesses my dreams. I cannot walk two steps without aching with the need to hold her. Has anyone ever loved this way before? It cannot be possible — I am possessed by a new kind of love, an overwhelming obsession that will eventually crush my soul. How will I ever survive?”Iphis clutches at his chest as he paces around the sand. Though he prays every night, he still wakes up every morning shackled by the chains of the same womanly body from which he yearns to be freed, so he can love Ianthe as a true man, the way she deserves.“Why was I cursed with the heart of a man?” he wails. “I can never love Ianthe the way I want to, the way I know she wishes and believes I will. She believes I am a man, but she can never press her face to my chest and feel my heartbeat right next to her cheek; my bindings will always be in the way. It matters not that she reciprocates my love, that our parents are supportive, because months have gone by and the gods have still not intervened. Nature herself must not want us together. Am I deceiving myself? Is my love hopeless? Despite everything, how can I ever have her? She will reject me as soon as she learns the truth about the curse of my body. I can never make her happy.”Preoccupied by his rant to the gods, Iphis does not notice Ianthe approach until she is standing right in front of him. Her green eyes are stormy and dark, startling him into silence.“I have been praying to Hymen to speed his arrival for our wedding, but he does not hear my prayers. Bad fortune continues to plague your family, though I cannot think of why. Your mother is pious and your father brings offerings every single year. Are the gods angry with us? How can we appease them?”Iphis strokes her face and presses the frown out of her forehead with his fingertips. “My mother will be well soon,” he says. “Do not worry.”Before he can stop her, Ianthe presses her face against his chest for comfort. Iphis holds his breath, hoping she will not notice anything unusual. But she does, and instinctively pulls back before reaching one hand forward again to tentatively stroke his chest through his tunic. Her eyes widen as she feels cloth instead of skin, and she looks up at him.“I heard you talking out loud when I came into the cove. You spoke of a truth you were hiding from me. Tell me what it is.”Iphis has never been able to deny a request from Ianthe, so even though he knows that this might end everything, he takes a deep breath and pushes the top of his tunic aside, revealing the thick strip of linen that binds his chest.“This is what you have been hiding?” she asks, as she traces the edges and bumps of his binding cloth with gentle wonder.Iphis flushes with shame. “Yes. My mother lied to my father when I was born, for he refused to raise a daughter but I was born with a body of a girl. The gods were at her birth and promised her that they would one day answer all her prayers, but here I am with the soul of a man and the body of a woman and Isis remains silent. How can our love be anything but hopeless? Cows never burn with desire for cows, nor mares for mares — how can our love be anything but hopeless? How can I be your husband? I would lead you to an empty well with no water to drink. I could never satisfy you.”Ianthe listens in silence, and then speaks. “There is a mare on my uncle’s farm,” she says. “She is the most beautiful mare in the herd, with shining eyes and glossy hair, and she runs like the wind. Many have approached my uncle to ask her to mate with their stallions, but she refuses to go near any of them. She will not stray from the side of another mare, a small, dappled thing, with a bad temper, who prefers to eat all of the apples in my uncle’s orchard and kicks at any stallions who approach her. They are always together. How could you call their affection unnatural, when their very natures draw them together?”“I love you for your soul,” Ianthe adds, touching his chest with the utmost tenderness. “I love you as you are; you have always been a man to me, and soon you will be my husband. And as for how you can satisfy me — I have learned from my older sisters that there is more than one way to receive satisfaction from a man.”Ianthe pulls his hand under her tunic and between her legs, moaning with pleasure as she slowly guides his fingers inside her. Iphis, almost breathless with desire, feels a damp heat between his own legs and an overwhelming need that nearly consumes him until Ianthe places a hand on his chest and shocks him back to reality. Reluctantly, he pulls away from her and struggles to regain his composure so he can explain how he feels.“I want to feel you close to my heart without these lumps of flesh in the way. Every time I breathe, I am reminded of what I am not; your love is not enough. I wish I had not been born a woman — Daedalus made it possible with his magic arts for Pasiphae to mate with a bull, but even he could not transform me into a man.”Ianthe smiles. “We are lucky, you and I. My sisters are married to old men who rarely speak to them. But I am betrothed to my best friend. It does not matter to me what is between your legs. My sisters have also told me that the arts of Dionysus have made it possible for you to satisfy me without the equipment of a naturally born man. You can make me happy, just as you are now. But I can see you are not happy with yourself, and I will not be content until you are. You had said Isis had given your mother her favor in a dream. Why not visit her temple and ask for her blessing? If she promised to help her in her greatest hour of need, surely she will help you.”Iphis frowns. “It is a long journey, three days just to get to the base of the mountain, and another two days to get to the temple grounds.”“Our wedding will take place on the night of the full moon; it is not for a fortnight. There is still time yet for us — I shall pray for Hymen to wait a little longer and for your safe return.”Iphis thinks about the long journey to the temple, of his mother’s silent dreams, of his unheard prayers, Ianthe’s unwavering faith, and holds out his hand.“Come with me,” he says. “Let us go to her together.”


Evening has fallen by the time Iphis returns home, and his parents are asleep. Quietly, he slips into their bedchamber and shakes his mother awake, whispering his plans to visit the temple of Isis and pray for her to grant his prayers.“The journey is long, my child,” replies Telethusa, though she sees the new determination in her son’s eyes and knows she cannot stop him. “You cannot go alone.”Iphis smiles. “I will not be alone, Mother. Ianthe is coming with me. We leave at midnight — I came to bid you farewell.”Telethusa is shocked. “You told her the truth?”“Yes, Mother-in-law, he did,” says Ianthe as she enters the room and takes his hand, slipping her fingers through his and squeezing tight. “He had no choice, for I have an impatient soul. I would not let him hide from me when I have been waiting years for him to finally be mine.”“Thank you for loving my child,” Telethusa replies. “I have often wondered if I made a mistake at his birth, but now I see that Isis has answered my prayers in a way that I did not expect.”Ianthe smiles. “There was never a mistake. I could not be in love with a more worthy man.”


For years, Telethusa has kept a secret altar for Isis in a secluded corner of the courtyard behind the house. After Iphis and Ianthe leave for the temple, she walks to the altar and removes the sacred ribbons from her hair. Her eyes are wild as her thick curls tumble to her waist, and she raises her hands to the stars and prays.“Oh Goddess of the Nile, patron of Pharos, Lake Mareotis, and Paraetonium, help me quell the fear in my heart. Long ago, you came to me in a dream and bade me to save my daughter’s life and raise her as my son. Against all odds, I have done so, and now he comes to you with a request of his own. Now, at the hour of his greatest need, please heed his plea!”Though the stars remain silent as the wind rustles through the trees, Telethusa imagines that she hears the silvery jingle of a tambourine and hopes that her prayers have been heard.


The journey to Isis’s temple is not difficult, but it is long, and in the heat of late summer, both Iphis and Ianthe are exhausted by the end of each day. But far from the prying eyes of their families and nosy neighbors, the forest provides them with an ephemeral Elysium that shields them from the outside world. With no one to overhear them and a new optimism borne of renewed hope, they revisit the plans they made as children and create new ones for the future.After five days, near dawn, Iphis and Ianthe finally arrive at Isis’s temple. It is secluded and serene, and a divine ambiance permeates the air. “She is here,” Ianthe whispers, squeezing his hand before she lets go and pushes him forward. “I can feel her presence. She will answer you.”Iphis walks toward the altar and raises his arms. “Great Isis, you promised my mother that you would answer her prayers in her greatest hour of need. You heeded her prayers, and now I come to you as her son in my own hour of need. I was born with the soul of a man and the body of a woman, and I pray to you to transform me. Please, help me become the man I know I am inside, for I cannot be a good husband or son until I am happy with myself.”As Iphis completes his prayer, silence echoes across the room. And then, just as he turns back towards Ianthe — the doors tremble and the altar of Isis stirs, her moonlike horns shimmering with light as the sound of a tambourine echoes through the empty room.Ianthe watches with fascination as Iphis’s strides grow longer and his features sharpen, and even his hair seems cut to a shorter length. He is delighted at his transformation and the new lightness in his chest, and as he runs towards her, Iphis feels a new vigor and strength rush through his veins and a sense of completeness he has only ever dreamed of. Finally at home in his own body, he exclaims with happiness and is overjoyed to also discover a deeper resonance to his voice.As Iphis pulls Ianthe close for a euphoric embrace, she smiles and nestles her face in his chest, now as flat as he always dreamed it would be. “I can feel your heart right by my ear,” she says, with wonder.Iphis beams as dawn finally breaks, and the world is flooded with sunshine.


Together, the young lovers arrive home to much pomp and circumstance, for the people of Phaestos are delighted to celebrate a wedding after so many bad omens have delayed the nuptials for months, and there is no mother happier than Telethusa to see that all of her prayers have been answered as she places the bridal wreath of hand-picked wildflowers on Ianthe’s head and blesses their marriage.By the silvery light of the full moon, Venus, Hera, and Hymen assemble close to the nuptial torches and accompany Iphis the boy to the altar as he finally weds his beloved Ianthe.

Bio

Priyanka Bose is an Indian American writer, artist, and photographer based in NYC. A Fulbright Scholar born and brought up in the Midwest, their creative work centers queer perspectives on love and friendship. Their culture writing and creative nonfiction can be found at AV Club, Catapult, The Takeout, and other publications. They are currently writing a short story collection that follows the evolving relationships between four young Indian American women from childhood to adulthood. Find them on Twitter @mspriyankabose or at their website, http://priyankabose.net.



“out of the black” by conor thew

“come here”, he says, and i quickly obey
feigning reluctance, but masking a promise.
a hand on my waist.
he shivers –
a game only starts when someone makes a move
a new day is born, and yet starts with a death.
i cover my mouth
he claws at my back
i brace my hands on his chest just to hear his heart flutter
he groans
to be alive is to sin, to sin is to be loved.
he drives his hips into mine
but no words escape me
his eyes open as mine close and i reach for him –
patchwork bruises make art of his tender canvas.
i dare not look back
his skin catches the sun, and i know it must be ending
i would stay in this moment forever
(to sin is to be loved)
with hand in pale hand, we come out of the black.

Bio

conor thew (or gravesgate on twitter) is a 21 year old writer and filmmaker from the uk. writing this poem about about his boyfriend, and about finally feeling able to express himself in a submissive role (without feeling forcibly feminised or vulnerable), he hopes that this poem will shed some light on the joy within trans masculinity in all its forms, especially in a society that constantly pushes against us.