by Ari X

Since becoming displaced nine months ago, I’ve gotten 12 tattoos. 

The biggest question after “what are they?!” is always, “how do you afford it?” Albeit phrased in a gentler, kinder manner. 

I have spent more money on hormone replacement therapy and my medical fees than I have on tattoos, shaky injections of ink resting among the hormone oil seeping through my muscles. Panthers, tigers, rabbits, cows – my skin houses the ark of a bestiary. These tattoos have turned my body into a home just like every prescribed needle I’ve stuck into my thighs. 

Big, on my chest, there are three words: GOD IS TRANS. My friends laugh, tell me DOG IS TRANS. And I laugh with them. This is the currency of our performance. A child approaches me to tell me tigers are their favorite animal, and pokes the snarling tiger on my arm. A grandmother pets the two-headed calf on my bicep and shares a poem with me. I treasure each touch because it heals me even when I have gone weeks without hormones and I can feel the anxieties of my bones re-moulding to their birthright. This bestiary of a body is my protection as I hop between trains and subways. Strangers nod with their chins down when they see my arms. They roll up their sleeves, unspoken language between our bodies, as if to say, my skin also carries stories. Our ink is fluid, wordless. 

God is trans, in the scars we share with each other. In the shields we mold into our skin, that self-transformation by needle. We share this transformation, me, in God’s image.