trans womanhood, in colour

Jia Qing Wilson-Yang

with love to all of us in life, spirit, remembrance, and struggle

i. for St. Marsha P and every Miss that took hits

i am the flower that grows out of the cliffside
overhanging the lake on thin soil
birthed by lichen that digested rocks
that i might bloom in her body

i am the flower growing out of the cliff
will you pick me as proof of where you’ve been?
moved by my beauty
inspired by my resilience

will you display me so that you may walk forward
on your helping path
telling the world about flowers on cliffs
in thin soil
as you wait for recognition        
in practical cloaks of humility and common goodness?

will you dry me out
pressed in the pages of a book
hidden from the light and wind
that once fed me

but now would destroy me?

or will you leave me behind
lying on the ground
my strong stem
my careful bloom

i am the flower that grows out of the cliffside.
a beacon. a prayer.
a target.

ii. the many metamorphoses of white butterflies

mechanic musician messenger mail
              “men” who
teacher trainer technician trade
doctor dentist dealer dean
              the cocoon
engineer electrician elected elite
              to face
cyclist clergy caretaker cop
              the camera

reflecting on the metamorphoses of white butterflies
and where the camera finds focus. tells me
white butterflies can do anything

the colourful ones are just pretty.
that’s why you catch them.
pinned up collections dusty in museums.
              these lost tribes gave special place to transvestites,
              why they were even       revered.

but white butterflies flock to cameras like milkweed
centring themselves for the benefit of others. tells me
white butterflies can do anything in this modern world

the colourful ones are just pretty.

the metamorphoses of white butterflies
with all their possibility
tells me
a narrow path
with the brightness up
and the contrast high
sharper lines and brighter whites

tells me
these cameras aren’t helping me
nearly as much as they are entertaining you

iii. the stars are not courageous for shining,
              they always do;
we must turn out the lights to see them.
OR i’m having second thoughts about being on your panel.


i know your intentions are good
it’s just that i don’t trust them.

stop telling me i’m brave and courageous
courage implies consent.

Jia Qing Wilson-Yang is a writer and occasional musician living in Toronto, Ontario. She's a mixed-race trans-woman working on an upcoming novel with metonymy press ( She is very excited to have her poems included in this particular issue of this particular magazine. 

More from the Reading Room

Currently on Newsstands

  • Room Vol 40.1: Food
    Room 40.1, Food
    Edited by Rose Morris, Kayi Wong

    In this issue:

    Sarah Beck, Ashwini Bhasi, Kat Cameron, Lucas Crawford, Dora Dueck, Marilyn Dumont, Rebecca Fishow, Veronica Fredericks, Rachel Jansen, Jane Kirby, Alexis von Konigslow, Lee Lai, Tess Liem, Alice Lowe, Tanis MacDonald , sab meynert, Silvia Pikal, Marika Prokosh, Keyu Song, Sylvia Symons, Ivy Tang, Carol Wainio, Kayi Wong, Catriona Wright, Nicole Xu