The NBJC Blog

Inviting In: Royce Hall

'Lock(her) Room'
Age 4.
I burned holes into the lifeguard’s
Eyes with the deepest stare of disturbance possible
when said to me, “You stand with the girls, not the boys.”
Separation by sex.
Boys entered one locker room. Girls, the other.
I stood still. Burned holes into the lifeguard’s
At age 4. I asserted the power to ignore
all forms of addressing me as female
Separation by sex.
Diluted in waters as deep as the pool we raced to.
Forced to wade in a suit that was incorrectly assigned –
an anatomy that wasn't mine – but given.
A path for which I was socialized
with no consultation for the decision
I knew early on I was different.
She's on my birth certificate but we never related
Just as the swimsuits I hated
I used large caps to hide my long strands
and rolled up socks to create a bulge in my pants
At age 4. The girls sat.
But I discovered myself standing in front of the toilet
on Meridian Road hoping to hold
something more than the flattened
pubic region in my hands.
I'd known nothing of void until
I wiggled through s/he
Slid through boy/girl
Held my breath through her/him
Minimized to "rough"
Settled on tom/Boy
The boy in me is all I've known,
even when I stood still.
Burned holes into the lifeguard’s eyes.
The boy in me is all I've known
when I thought I should drown him for the sake of others’ comfort
or to quiet my classmates’ giggles
when I thought I should cut him
thin his majesticness in the face of every lifeguard
encountered in this life.
who will adamantly point to the line and say
“You stand with the girls, not the boys.”
who will loudly question me on days I don't "pass"
On days when it seems I'm not dying to be me 
when it seems I'm not transitioning to be me
when scientific terms haven't enough means to define me 
when strangers don't view what I've always seen 
when my energy is innocently felt ambiguously
when intersectionality is environmentally foreign as a topic
when men of my kind must fit easily into boxes
created by those who'll rarely speak of us in public and with pride 
when the rare occasion takes place of being miss-taken
when dropped chins and whispers signal I'm walking in the wrong direction
According to a stranger, a LifeGUARD. 
I have embraced my evolution
disconnected from the FTM
and accepted myself as
a Man who understands life's transitions
To my younger self:
ask mama to cornrow your beautiful mane
Stand in the line that you know
Be certain
Follow the instructions of how to move
through this current of Life, with no guards
stay in Your lane
find the best stall
dress in your trunks
secure your locker of belongings
strut with your chest out
and when the whistle is blown
dive into those waters without shame
know that your existence is not problematic
Come up for air when necessary
On your back when you need to rest
Admire the light
With a smile as deep as those waters
Burn holes into every lifeguard’s eyes
And know that you are no
double entendre
Be the sun,
a star.
-Royce Hall