Socially loud! Can you hear us?


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 

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.