Introducing Andrea Lee

by Andrea Lee

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    This is a collection of poems all about my personal experience with gender and coming out as trans. If you are for any reason unable to afford the album, and especially if you are a trans teen or kid, send me a message through this bandcamp and I'll send you a copy. This is about reaching people, not making money

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about

Introducing Andrea Lee is my first EP album, consisting of 5 poems. These are all about coming out as trans and how I identify. It will release on or before March 1st. The price is $4.10 in recognition of the fact that 41% of trans people attempt suicide. All proceeds from this album will go towards transition related things such as makeup and clothes for myself.

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released March 1, 2016

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about

Andrea Lee Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Andrea Lee Plank is a spoken word poet / computer geek living in Bethlehem, PA. Andrea identifies as a nonbinary transgirl and uses they / them pronouns. They are attending Northampton Community College.

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Track Name: Introducing Andrea
I sort out my thoughts through my poetry

In them, I am living more authentically

I do not expect to for people to change today

But I am taking the name Andrea, and pronoun they

I do not know where this journey will end

But whether you are a stranger, family, or friend

I would like you to join me on a poetic journey

As I figure out who I am supposed to be

I don't expect to be a spoken word star

But when I look back at my life this far

I would like to use my talent for words

To say the things I wish I could have heard

And teach trans people that it's ok to be you

And maybe learn that it's ok to be me, too
Track Name: Purpose of a Life
If a stranger asked me what I do with my life

I’d say that I’m studying computer science.

But if you asked me what I’ve done with my life

Above all, I’d point to my poetry

The disconnect between what I am doing

And what I am most proud of

Makes me question my future

A feeling I’ve gotten used to

I’ve been living the last few months without even a real name

So it's only really a minor speedbump

That I probably picked the wrong field of study

But the key to writing good poetry

Lays more in my ability than it does in pursuing a degree

But I could make this into my life’s journey

I am privileged enough to have been given the ability

To use my words with reasonable clarity

But you cannot write an emotionless poem

Art requires joy, and it requires sorrow

And where one goes, the other will follow

And often, my poems are windows into my soul

Used to drag out thoughts I never knew were mine

I never feel more authentic than I do when baring

My troubles in front of people who see themselves

In some small part, of the story I tell

Whether it's in the unsteady, shaking leg,

A nervous tic granted by genetic chance,

My muscles cursed forever to betray my mind

Or in that mind. Racing, never still

Always wondering

What next, what next, oh god, what next?

Speeding towards the perceived certainty

Of its own failure to be apart of this society

I stop.

I’m not wrong, I hope. It better be society

Otherwise, what can I ever be?

I know that I’m right

but I know I’m not right inside

Forever plagued by thoughts of disaster

Racing away from a pain that cannot be traced

to one specific incident but no less real

A feeling, forever, of disbelonging

Never fitting the expectations of those around me

But when I write, people understand me

Saying that that my words have made a difference

And if my words are already making a difference

What else can I do to contribute to society not monetarily

But by making something of a truer reality

In the heart, and the mind

My logical brain must accept that this matters

For the intangible impact is far greater

Than the one that can be measured.

Am I willing to be paid in kind words from strangers?

Is knowing that I touched a heart

Worth a loss of supposed productivity

A very different life from the one I once planned to lead

But already, it is rushing towards me

This is what makes me stand proud,

I live for those 5 second interactions,

the awkward intimacy of the post show thank you

Where two lives acknowledge

That they have walked the same roads

I can remember every one clearly

Keeping a mental list of people who have thanked me

Reminding me that helping their lives make mine matter

And sometimes I daydream, thinking maybe one day

My poetry could save a life

And that idea, is worth giving up everything.

But realizing that I have that desire

To help, to nurture, to save

Reminds me that I’m not as bad of a person

As I let myself believe that I am

So yes, maybe one day, my poems save a life

But its very well that life could be mine
Track Name: The Binary
Being trans is celebrated in a person
As a series of before and after pictures
Showing a progression from what they were
To what they are becoming
Ignoring the fact that to them
That’s what they’ve always been.
My gender is preceded by the word identity
As I explain to people.
That I feel like a both girl and a guy, yet neither .
I identify. I feel. Never “I am”
These carefully chosen words I use
To justify my existence not just to cis people
but to members of our own community
that claim I am not trans enough
because I don’t hate having a penis.
I do not identify with a gender
I am my gender
My pronouns, are not a preference
And my name.
I give you the privilege to speak it
And if my gender doesn’t make sense to you,
then get in line, because I puzzled over it first
Every day is an exploration
Of who I am and what I want to be
It’s ironic that as someone non binary
I spend so much of my life coding
I suppose it’s a type of therapy
Computers depend on logical thinking
There is no room for these feelings.
Because as much as I know that I’m queer
I know that it would be easier
Were there no doubt about who I am
Were the world as simple
And as black and white
As the 0s and 1s which
Comprise the code that I write
Their very shape representative
Of the biological boxes we try to escape
Arbitrary separators that ignore the fact
That there are a million numbers between 0 and 1
And 7 billion genders between male and female
I see gender more like a favorite color
You cannot explain color except in terms of other colors
And this world is still insisting that everything is pink and blue
And I am not saying just that my favorite color is purple
But that color is an indistinguishable spectrum
And maybe my concept of orange is your blood red
So why do we keep trying to sort people into these boxes?
Even through metaphor, we see pink as a gay color
Why are we so obsessed with making everyone
Not just pick between two options
But pick the right one based on what
the general area of your pelvis looks like
I get it society, the bits down there are fun to play with
But if you still can’t understand
that this cisgender system is harming my sisters and brothers
Then maybe you need to stop and think
If the ability to know someone’s genitals by looking at them
Is really more important than the lives being lost
Because if you still don’t see why this matters
Then I want you to own up to your opinions
Look me in the eye and tell me
That you don’t see me as a person
That your discomfort is worth more than my life
Even knowing that there is a 41% chance
That I will die by my own hand
Leelah’s name is not written on her tombstone
And if I died today I wonder what would be on mine
Track Name: Why Andrea?
The answer to the question no one is blunt enough to ask.
Why Andrea? Such a simple change. Just a switched letter.
Down and left on the keyboard. Rolling off the tongue.
Similar enough to not confuse, easy to explain.
Andrew is now Andrea. Oh, HE’s trans? They’ll say
But my birth name is just a coincidence. Happening to lay so near
to the name of the person I was always destined to become.
Inspired by the person who has shaped so much of who I am.
Their name, Andrea, their way of expressing, poetry.
Their words, part of the reason I am even still alive.
I too was halfway through a letter to my own mother
When their lines returned to my mind
Their reminder, through poems, other people feel this too.
And their idea, that I can live as my own example
And if I can just give one person another reason to live
Then that’s enough, and my debt will be repaid
To the ones that refused to let me leave
and who I can no longer properly thank
So instead, I thank Andrea, and do it with pride
Saying yes, this, them, this is who I’m like
theoretically unrestrained by the society’s boxes
Yet still able to feel their crushing pressure
Which we can only relieve with the outlet of our poetry
I would gladly drop everything I have
If I thought that my poems could make half the difference
That theirs have to me.
But where would I start? Tumblr and open mic nights
Are a far cry from a career in poetry
There is no training in becoming a shaper of words
Adequate enough to test whether I could “make it”.
Sure, I’m a decent poet, but where is the line
between notes and a bit of applause,
and something much bigger?
Maybe I make this my passion
And hope that one day, fire catches.
Their words, truly shaping who I am
Just as they always have
Track Name: I Am Transgender
I am transgender, and when I first read this poem,
I had never spoken those words out loud before in my life
Even now, after multiple coming out talks
With people that I know will support me
I lack the conviction in my identity
That I wish I had
I’ve discussed the topic often,
But I always try to cushion the idea,
explaining to my mom that I am discussing in therapy
The slight possibility that I might be trans.
Language chosen carefully to hide the fact
That this is not possibility, but reality
I am trans. And I am fucking terrified
I can count on one hand the number of times
I have dressed in public in a way that would suggest
that I am anything other than a cisgender male.
Yet when I am asked the question “where do you see yourself in 5 years”
I can’t picture a future in which I can keep up this facade
not upset by the cliche of my body,
But by the gender role into which I am so easily sorted
Never questioning what was between my legs
But instead wondering why I identified so strongly
With a gender that I still do not feel like I have the right to claim as my own
Knowing as I tell him, though he’ll never admit it
That I have just broken my father’s heart
Not because he doesn’t know what this means
But precisely because he understands
That in this society, I have just exposed myself to hate
And every father just wants to protect his child
Yet at the same time, I recognize the incredible privilege I have
That I worried about whether my parents would respect my pronouns
Rather than whether or not they would continue to shelter me
And that might seem like hyperbole
But speaks of a very real trans reality
In which peace, not violence, is out of the ordinary
I know in my heart that I want to transition.
But due to my indecision I don't know if I ever will.
After all it took me 5 years just to pierce my ears
Afraid of giving away that I do not conform to the notions of masculinity that have long been imposed on me
But gender is not, and should never be
Defined by one’s body
And transition is not a destination
But a lifelong journey that is still full of danger at every turn
My gender is not the one that I was assigned at birth
And that means
I am transgender