Poetry from Continuum

It has been a wellness practice and a therapeutic outlet for me to write against the grain of society’s perceptions of masculinity, femininity, male, female, woman, man and the norms, expectations and standards of these identities. As someone who has evolved in identity over the last 12 years as a stud/butch, a two-spirit, and now a shapeshifter, I understand and live the fact that everything is not what it seems or what the world says it is supposed to be. Life is a continuous cycle of evolution and change. I have experienced judgement, criticism and pain around these identities, even from those close to me and women who have claimed to love me. This series of poems expresses my need to further love and validate myself. Most importantly, to remember I have a place in this world.

I Am A Stud

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I used to get funny stares in locker rooms.

My classmates would turn away from me as they would change clothes.

They were uncomfortable for it was known I

was that masculine woman.

The type of woman that wasn’t welcome in their homes. The

type of woman that never wore panties or thongs.

The type of teenager who used to sag her pants to

her knees

So she could feel that cool breeze

Flow in and out of her boxers.

Hanes and Fruit of the Loom written

just under my navel.

Yes, I am that woman.

A wild child, having grew up in a house

full of feminine women.

A tomboy at heart yet an innocent little girl at mind.

Not knowing my act and repetitions

would become a definition.

This was new to me, as I grew to be…

A Stud.

Scribed into my blood at conception

I was never too soft not to roll around in dirt.

Never too hard not to cry when I was hurt.

I grew to be that woman. No

manicures or pedicures.

I became a deviation from the norm.

Getting complaints from women

Who claimed that I taint their image.

Looks of pity from guys,

Who think we disguise what it means

to be a man in their eyes.

We are despised,

Told we are far from the real thing.

Since there exists no woman who can take their place

And, there exists no woman who cannot like Men They

say we lie to get by and think

we compete with and imitate them.

Female friends who didn’t want to

be seen with me in public, Afraid

of the rumors and lies

That would begin if seen in my presence.

Yet behind closed doors,

they became my lesbian whores.

Hiding me from their friends and parents.

They were too embarrassed to cherish…

My demeanor.

As long as it was kept a secret,

they’d reveal themselves to me.

I’m here…

And I am a Stud.

And, I wear the scars of every stud

that has come before me.

Enduring beatings that left them with broken ribs

and empty baby cribs.

I wear the scars of every stud that has come before me.

That stud that was told she could not raise a child

with a woman,

because she was not the man of the house.

Those studs that had to lie and use gay men as alibis,

standing arm and arm on wedding cakes.

Those studs that were told

they would never see the day

a woman legally weds another.

Studs that have been ostracized by co-workers

and disowned by their mothers.

I wear their scars.

“Ag”. “Dom”. “Stud”. “Butch”.

Whatever she called herself

as she stood upon a broken foot.

Shattered bones caused by those who do not

understand and said

“Look! I’m Just being me!”

Never allowing her pride to be took

Or her balance on this Earth to be shook.

I wear the scars of every stud

that through blood sweat and tears…

Worked hard for the chance for me to be… ME.

Studs that have been raped by men

who were trying to prove a point.

Studs that have been cursed

by the military and every church,

Then were forced to question their worth.

Studs that have to endure the rude

who see them as gender confused.

Studs that get hated on and disrespected

by some ignorant ass dudes.

We are pilots. We are lawyers.

We are doctors. We are cooks.

We are scientists. Musicians. Soldiers. We are books.

We’ve been through it all

and through it all we’ve learned to do it all.

I wear the scars of studs who date other studs and

have to be told by their own kind

that it doesn’t make sense.

The studs that aren’t too caught up in the label

to allow their woman to go down on them.

The studs who wore tuxedos to prom

and full suits to work.

The androgynous souls that Native “Americans”

see as Kindred spirits.

Studs that prove genetics are synthetic. I

am a Stud.

I have walked through many hallways 

With braids, locs, and bald fades… Proud.

Though I’ve heard whispers from within the crowd. With

our low-pitched voices.

Tones deeper than our sisters’.

Everywhere we go we’re mistakenly referred to as

“sir” or “mister”.

Walking into public bathrooms with

our timberland boots.

Causing discomfort to those who suppose that we are

confused about the sign on the outside of the door.

Unable to fathom our identity so we are the enemy

when we step into their vicinity.

Causing straight women to become bi-curious,

for we touch with a softness.

Softer than a man’s hands.

They can’t resist the way we strap up

and perform better than any man can.

Studs who want their chest to stay flat.

Sporting snapbacks and wave caps.

Wearing ties and Stacy Adams to work.

Air force ones and fitted caps on weekends.

Us studs… We go through pain, tease, and torment.

Forced to be dormant, but dormant-more or less it

is for the best.

Cause I’ve tackled teen pressure

and took extreme measures,

To just be… who I… am.

Our bond is dying and it is time to revive it.

We must flip the bandwagon over

and school the kids who ride it.

Cause our existence is universal.

I don’t go to any rehearsals for this shit.

This is isn’t an outfit I put on for the act.

You can’t wear this shit for a day then hang it right back on your rack.

This isn’t a pair of shoes that can fit anyone

who wants to wear them.

Cause I am a Stud.

You may not hear me on your mp3 or see me on MTV,

But I’m here, though people choose

to ignore our many talents.

With a stud state of mind in this day and time, I

refuse to wait in line to be heard.

It is our day to shine and it begins with these words.

Through the hesitance and negligence.

Having been viewed as some sort of freak show.

It’s ok, cause WE KNOW.

And proudly I wear the scars,


We are infinite beings, existing by innocent means.

We are the ones who can implement

both queens and kings.

And if there is mystery in that

then you don’t know the history of that. I


Two Spirit

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I live in a world where everything is black and white.

You’re either this or that.

Nothing outside or in between.

Before I reached my teens

my brain was trained in these extremes.

A mental wall was even built to

separate kings from queens.

Boys wear blue. Girls wear pink.

Leave emotion to you. Leave it to men to think.

Women are weak cause women feel.

Men are strong cause men build.

I arrived on this planet

in my most natural androgynous form.

Yet, everyday I’ve been subjected

to man-made societal norms.

In a world where women

are to submit and let men be in control I

had to find my own place

since I don’t fit in with gender roles.

Ever since I was small I knew I was different.

I was my mother’s pride and joy

but I remember wishing I was a boy.

By the time I could dress myself

to when adolescence reached its peak

I began to express myself but was only seen as a freak.

It has been some long hard years on

this journey to be me,

I struggled with my identity ‘til I found a home in LGBT.

Getting harassed and being stared at

just seems to be a part of who I am.

But androgyny has existed throughout the history of man.

Before Europeans came with their religion

and their disease…

The Natives looked to beings like me

to meet the community’s spiritual needs.

With psychic abilities, we were healers, metaphysicians

And, medicine men.

These androgynous souls referred to as “two spirits”

were evident then.

We weren’t ostracized but monopolized

as village leaders in our existence.

We were social workers and adoptive parents,

and weren’t seen as any different.

We were marriage counselors and communicators

beyond the lines of physical dimensions.

There was no “LGBT”.

There was no separate community to mention.

So, what happened?

How did we go from being accepted to being neglected?

How did we come to be “sodomites”

from which we were praised and much respected?

We were glorified as seeing the world

through the eyes of both sexes.

Then, Europeans came along

with their standards and objections.

Females are submissive. Males are dominant.

Gender roles and standards are prominent.

Men give. Women receive.

Society just moves along with ease.

We’ve been shut out by man-made dogma

and forced to exist in gender confines.

Yet, there are still a billion “me’s”

society now chooses to leave behind.

We’re so caught up in distinctions, the

blacks and whites of stereotypes

We’ve forgotten that beyond gender, beyond titles…

We’re all just light.

We’re so much more than our physical bodies. It doesn’t always matter what

you see.

For, even Buddha was a little feminine and Jesus was as pretty as me.

I think it’s interesting how those who hate me most tend to have Bibles in hand.

Yet, their God speaks to me in a frequency that supersedes what’s written

by Man.

I am strong and I wear pink. I’m emotional but I also think.

I’m the yin and yang of those who have lied just in order to survive.

The world will not stop spinning just because beings like me exist.

It is a gift of the most high

to be one who relates to both sides.

Why should I be subjected to and accused of morale famine?

When in the days of indigenous man, they took us and made us


I am nature and nurture.

My queerness has taught us to be fearless.

So, I won’t deny my two spirit

for the uncomfortable who fear it.

I define my duality. I don’t let others do it for me.

We come from different walks of life

and there is no specific walk that is right. So, the next time you want to

close a door. The next time you want to put me in a box. Keep in mind I

specialize in keys.

Keep in mind I specialize in locks. I am the gray area…

And, though I feel there are no boxes for me to check… Don’t be mistaken. I still look

damn good in a dress.


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I redefine, redesign, and realign.

Transform in ways that free your mind.

King and Queen in balance. That’s a hell of a talent.

Reborn of Source. Like tree to vine. 

I rise to the challenge of communal ignorance.

Extending branch of the olive

For a history acknowledged.

I am universal expression, but human born.

Meeting of many intersections, true to form.

I refuse to pick a side, by your rules I won’t abide.

I set aside your gender pride and let it ride.

Side to side, up and down, back and forth.

Two-Spirited Shamans and Navajos have passed the torch.

Tribal history mentions me

Non-categorical victory.

I get out of all your boxes. Like Lauryn and locksmiths.

Just how time differs. Us paradigm shapeshifters.

Cycle in and out of skin like face lifters.

I am attached to nothing, yet connected to everything.

Like werewolf to full moon, commit to change like wedding rings.

Not to be mistaken for deceivers in shape.

Color trickery in the grass, hard to see all the snakes.  

I can tell when it’s natural, I can tell when it’s fake.

A time-traveler from the past, before evolution and apes.

I live to bend, the many rules I transcend.

Overflowing like water at Dams end.

Breaking walls, breaking barriers

Flooding your town with this truth

Replanting trees of acceptance with gold at its root.

Blocking seeds of deception, for I’m old in my youth.

Our ancestors would shapeshift to behold fruit.

There are few things you can call me, that I haven’t been at least once.

I am all things. Through the days, and week’s months.

I am all queens. Thrones growing from tree stumps.

I am all kings. With blood of deceased monks.

Identify with many cultures yet deprived of any vultures.

One minute I am Buddha, the next I’m a soldier.

Neither guilty or innocent. I can pass for my benefit.

For, I know I’m of the stars like astrophysicists.

I am Godly, demonic, beastly, and human.

Neither a front or an act. I am fluid.

I am Harriet Tubman. Huey Newton. And Elon Musk.

A scientist and freedom fighter of Cosmic dust.  

Dating back to mythology.

To performing artists and Ptolemy.

I am the center of my universe. Symbolically.

In control of my senses. Power over my defenses. 

Of myself, I am ruler. Like centimeters and inches. 

Spirit animal. Differential.

Radical. Multidimensional.

Play all sides, fight all fights…

With collateral nonconventional

Sabbaticals are intentional

As I navigate metamorphosis.

Magical are the rituals of the Hijras. The proportionate. 

Kinnars of song and dance, with deluxes of muxes.

Those from ancient land, wearing both dresses and tuxes. 

…I liberate myself from societal bondage. 

Free my existence from your labels, for growth is constant. 

*Shifting like Hindus and Krishna, 

Validated by the universe,

Not these humans here on Earth.

This is a gift, not a curse. 

Life and death is one in the same. I die as I rebirth.

I’m a vegan. A talking head. 

But, also Negan, the walking dead. 

Revelation as my design, through portals of the Dao. 

Both natured and divine, the immortal of the now. 

All that is, is in process of endless change.  

Yet they judge and condemn, say forward progress is strange. 

So, this is food for my community, 

We must end these showdowns. 

Of those bending and transcending pronouns. 

Zhuangzu once said we are liberated beings. 

So, I’m a king and a queen. But I’m not, I’m all things. 

Enlighten my people to this progressive movement. 

They deny our history and I’m here to simply prove it. 

Day Alter. Day drifter.

Skinwalker. Face lifter. 

Redefine. Redesign. Realign. 


About Author

A native of the Universe, Joann “Paradigm” Roberts, aka “The Jovian”, was born and raised in the Chicago area. A poet/MC and musician/producer; Paradigm is a 3-time slam champion as well as a Hip Hop educator and teaching artist for at-promise youth. She promotes healing, self-reflection, awareness, and liberation by blending STEM with the expressive arts and is known for her laid back, mellow stage presence that is complimented by powerfully cosmic wording. Paradigm travels all over the U.S. and overseas, performing music and poetry, as well as facilitating Hip Hop and poetry workshops that encourage healing and self expression in others. She harmonizes topics in physics, metaphysics, and philosophy for purposes of engaging in meaningful dialogue, creativity, and spiritual growth. In addition to speaking at many colleges and universities, she has opened for Cornel West and performed on stage with Reggae artist Pato Banton. Paradigm also does feature performances at various events such as slams, open mics, festivals, and retreats. The arts aside, Paradigm dwells in her passions for traveling, mentoring inner city youth, piloting small planes, and spending time in nature. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Engineering-Physics with a Philosophy minor at Chicago State University and earned her Private Pilot License at Southern Illinois – Carbondale. Paradigm is currently working as a Flight Test Engineer for the US Navy and is set to begin graduate study in Aerospace Systems Engineering.