Boiling out of the sky-white flakes they touch your face and vaporize
Eyes held in awe of the world which seems designed to inflict red
A soul tithing to your own personal demi-urge // disaster an end in itself
Pat and sever, kiss and yearn, touch with disgust the coal glowing there
It holds heat — throw yourself at it, unquenched hatred coloring the snowbanks

Spit at his feet, tell her she’s a shitty friend
Tear the paper
Light the photo on fire with a yellow bic lighter from the seven eleven
Go out in the street and scream at the stars that have to be there, hidden behind the storm
I hate you, I said
The interstices of pixels sintering through my retinas like laserlight

I turned to look, but you were gone
A final glow of desperation


Things are good
Things are tragic
Things are desperate
Things can’t feel
Things are nice
I can love them but they don’t love me

Things fall apart
Things are beautiful
Things are reassembled endlessly
Things won’t hurt me
Things can be controlled
You can buy things
You can be kept warm and safe by things
Things won’t abandon you

Things are ugly
Things don’t look you in the eye
In the grocery store
And you can’t look back at them
Because you are ashamed
To see the look in their eyes
That tells you that you deserve the shame
Or nothing
So you never look at anyone

And pad your life with things
And push people away
Because things can’t be destroyed, only broken
Things are your life to the exclusion of hurt
Things are where you lie awake at night
Things are there when you come home
And there your things are
You hug your things
You cry into their soft fur
You can give your warmth to things
And they will return that warmth
But they are not warm, themselves
So if you pour your heart into things
You might not get love
Decide now, between things and a world

Buy things
Fuck myself with things but not feel it
Minimize risk with things
Defend myself with things
Tell things what I need
They won’t tell me
Drive into the desert in things
Show the world who I am with things
Automate things
Someday soon, things will be able to care for me

I go home and choose things
Sort things
Wrap myself in a blanket of things
Go to sleep with things
Things will be fine
Things will be normal


“This house is on fire
Burning the tears right off my face
What the hell did we do?
Tell me we’ll make it through
Cuz you made it easy
You make it easy
To love you babe”

– Easy, by Troye Sivan (modified by me)

Feeling love is hard for me to do, because I hated myself for so long.

My mind says, “This can’t be happening” all the while falling for her.

Because she loves me. So I want to protect her. I don’t want to think that anything bad can ever happen to her. When she crystallizes into being in front of me. There she is. A lover, in the truest sense of the word, the most complete sense.

At night, in the still darkness beside me, I feel her breathe and it makes the bed feel like home. An eternity of warm nightness, brilliant lightlessness, her energy radiating into my heart and healing it by her presence.

In the army surplus store in Arvada, looking at knives and boots and Carhartt hoodies, dusty rose. She is my dusty rose. The smell of her cheek gives life to a part of me I didn’t even know existed.

So I take her to my favorite breakfast burrito place, but curse these stupid roundabouts because they’re making her sick, so I want to cure her. I reach back into all of the medical videos I’ve watched on youtube and pull out some shred of knowledge, half-baked in the hopes of my fucking problem-solving computer person brain, all archives and algorithms and patterns and architecture and I can’t solve it.

So I hug and I kiss her and it feels fucking amazing, and I fight to try to learn to be a human being again, somehow, after decades of lost humanity and sealed suburban lawn maintenance.

Over here are the chemicals I use to kill the dandelions on my lawn so I won’t get fined by the homeowners association that will probably give me leukemia but I have to appear to be the pleasant but athletic man in the childless couple on the corner who cares if I get cancer? Will anyone remember?

She will.

I am glad to not be that man any longer, now I want to be her woman and nothing else matters.

So we cure each other’s cancer with nights and alternate weekends in bed or working on our laptops in the house. I text her from upstairs, “I love you so fucking much come kiss me in the five minutes before my next conference call.”

And I melt when she does.

And the heart opens up like milkweed in the late fall on the trail in the sun, the water of my soul coursing in the creekbed below her, where I kiss her upper thigh in the hip that I worry might hurt too much and I want it to be OK too.

Curse this fucking Denver asteroid belt that separates us. Time and space have no meaning here. Only entropy running in reverse, making me look younger as I learn what joy is.


nicole ai portrait

I used to float, now I just fall down
I used to know, but I’m not sure now
What I was made for
What was I made for?

– Billie Eilish

Today, I spent the day driving around the roads outside of Denver, kind of aimlessly. It was an excuse to listen to the audiobook of “Inverse Cowgirl” by Alicia Roth Weigel, a woman born with XY chromosomes and complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS). I am fascinated with biology, specifically human embryology, and more specifically, human sexual differentiation in utero. You can probably imagine why: I spend a lot of time thinking about, wondering about, and hoping to find some reason that I am the way I am. Arguably, I’m also a kind of intersex person: I was born with what I can only describe as a female brain in a male body.

All humans start off as intersex. Until seven weeks’ development, we have both female and male anatomical parts. What are called “primordial germ cells” migrate into our abdomens and form undifferentiated gonadal streaks. We have a common genital ridge which, left to its own devices, would form a vagina. Müllerian ducts that would become fallopian tubes, uterus and cervix. The gonadal streaks can become either ovaries or testes. Wolffian ducts can become prostate and seminal vesicles. Labia majora and scrotum are the same tissues, as are clitoris and penis.

Then, at seven weeks’ gestation, genes on the Y chromosome which code for specific proteins become active in embryos with that chromosome. These proteins, in turn, form anti-Müllerian hormone. They obliterate the part of the gonadal streaks which would form ovarian tissue, as well as the Müllerian ducts. From that point forward, the embryo develops as a male child, except in certain rare circumstances. In Alicia’s case, she is quite literally molecularly immune to testosterone, so while the AMH obliterated her female reproductive system and gave rise to testes, the testosterone could not affect the rest of her systems. She was born with a vagina and grew up with female secondary sex characteristics.

We still don’t know what causes trans people to be trans. In some cases, it may be another type of hormonal intersex condition, in my case, I suspect a condition which causes my body to be extremely efficient at converting estradiol to estrone. In utero, exposure to my mother’s natural estradiol may have enabled my body to sequester large reserves of estrone, feminizing my brain. Blood tests seem to bear this out. Or, it could be something else.

In any case, when Alicia was born having had an amniocentesis test saying she would be a boy, and popped out with a vagina, everyone was surprised. Doctors advised removing her testes from her abdomen at an early age. Thus, she was sterilized before the age of one, never given the chance to have biological children of her own.

I never had children, either. First, I thought, by mutual choice with my ex-wife, although now I understand that my desire not to have kids was really a desire not to be a dad. I wish I could have been a mother. When I underwent bottom surgery to help alleviate dysphoria about my anatomy (dysphoria I’ve had since at least the age of two), I was also sterilized, but by my own choice. I didn’t want those things in me any more, making a hormone I do not need or want.

Listening to Alicia describe her sex life in her 20s made me so sad. I mean, good for her, but I felt this deep jealousy. I didn’t have sex until I was 26. I’ve only ever been with two people. I was so ashamed of my body. Transition helped, but now I’m ashamed of my transness, specifically my inability to bear children and the fear of being hurt by a partner who may think of me as “less than” or low status. Or be embarrassed by something about me.

I found myself listening to Alicia read her book, and yearning to have been a pretty blonde girl in my 20s, attractive to guys my own age (now, it seems like the only people interested in me are either men 20 years older than me, or 20 years younger than me. Or men who fetishize me. In many cases, both.)

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which I will spend alone. I am incapable of producing a family with my body. I feel barren and wasted, old and alone. The men I’m attracted to aren’t attracted to me, and I’m not attracted to the men who are. It reminds me of something a girl once said to me in junior high, totally apropos of nothing (or maybe she knew): “Girls don’t like Nick because Nick doesn’t like girls.”

Quantum Polynomial Unicorn Sparkles

“I’ve been tryna give it to you all night
What’s it gonna take to get you all alone?
I just want you here by my side
I don’t wanna be here, baby, on my own”

– Kim Petras, “Alone”

Last night, I went to the Kim Petras “Feed The Beast” show at the Fillmore Auditorium on Colfax in the heart of Denver’s gay district. Probably 75% of the audience were very cute gay men, and the other 25% were a mix of cis women, trans women, drag queens in full regalia, and a couple trans guys.

I always feel like a space alien at these types of events. I spent the vast majority of my life pointedly avoiding anything that was remotely queer-coded. I was afraid of the community for the same reason I was afraid of putting on women’s clothes or doing my makeup or painting my nails: Because it felt like an indulgence. A permission-granting exercise from which there would be no coming back. I suspect that same fear is a large part of what keeps so many others closeted, and doesn’t allow many queer-spectrum people to explore parts of their own identities and sexualities.

That room was full of joy and queerness. Acceptance and love and passion and gaiety. Singing, dancing, grinding, kissing, hugging, sweating, waving fans at each other, sharing drinks and vapes and selfies. Shouting along at the top of our collective lungs, hands in the air:

“King of hearts
You gon’ keep on playin’ ’til you go too far
No one in the world could ever be enough for your love
Baby, you keep on playin’, oh, baby, c’mon, ah, ah”

I try to make smalltalk with the kids standing in line behind me in the cold, waiting to get in before the show. I’m probably 25 years older than them. My makeup artist had to cancel my session so I did my own makeup, which I’m terrible at. They all have immaculate drag makeup on. After eight straight hours of zoom meetings at work, I barely had energy for mascara, rainbow metallic lipstick and blue glittery sparkle tears that I put on with my finger in the car, parked on Downing and 14th. We’re talking about what everyone went as for halloween, and I show them my Troye Sivan costume. One of the guys says, “Ooooh cute! Masc for masc” and my heart tries to break for a half second.

Girl, please. I’m in a form-fitting zip-up jumpsuit with my tits out. Yeah I’m not as effeminate as 80% of the boys here, but I’m still undoing decades of suppression and trauma. Anyways, I was cute too.

In the moments between smalltalk and songs, I hit my vape and think about why I have a hard time talking to people. It’s the shame. And the my brain is full of thoughts about OAuth and SAML, the threat that quantum computing poses to traditional cryptosystems, and how to anchor trust in a massively distributed world. Five percent is taken up by knowledge of fashion, hair, makeup and miscellaneous other of life’s most important concerns. So I observe.

I look at how people greet each other, eyes wide, arms offered forward in an invitation to embrace. Couples kissing. Groups exchanging deets. Facial expressions and body language that I can’t even imagine how I would start to make my muscles try to replicate. Hands in my pockets. Look at phone, hit vape, open snapchat and take selfie.

Think about how I’m 25 years older than everyone else.

Get asked by a sweet queen if I’m going to Charlie’s afterwards, I say yes, he says he’ll buy me a drink. I’m his favorite person because I let him hit my vape.

I walk back to my car alone. I don’t have the energy for Charlie’s.

But let me tell you, what I discovered in that room is that everyone has an inner unicorn. Life is better with glitter and sparkles. We all only have one life, so be gay. Do crimes. Grind on the dancefloor. Some day I’ll go to Charlie’s.

Memories of My Childhood as a Girl

When I was five years old, I went to a preschool called Kinderfarm. It was in an old farmhouse east of town, with goats, chickens, bunnies. Lots of kids my age. I was a bit of a solitary child. I tended to play by myself. Coloring, playing with toy cars, dolls, action figures, digging in the sandbox while talking to myself.

One rainy day, while sitting on top of the indoor playground in the big room, a boy came up to me wearing a Denver Broncos football shirt. He really wanted to talk to me. Like, he needed to talk to me. I was low-key ignoring him, but he wanted to know what sports teams I liked. I didn’t know any sports teams. He said, “OK, what do you like to do?” I said I liked to go camping. I started telling him about the nice lady park ranger I met that summer, camping with my family in Arizona. How she told us stories …

“OH THE RANGERS! I like them!” And he proceeded to talk at me about baseball. He was very upset when it became clear I had no idea what the fuck he was talking about. After a while, I realized that he was talking, yet again, about sportsball. I remember thinking something along the lines of, “What is going on with this creature? He seems totally alien. Why is he not understanding what I’m saying to him? Why is he obsessed with sports? Can’t he talk about painting and nature like a normal person?” Well, that, but in 5-year-old.

That is the first time I remember seeing strongly gendered behavior that absolutely baffled me. It is the first time I remember someone making a strong assumption about my likes, desires, interests, and knowledge, based solely on what I looked like. Over the years, there would be many more instances of this kind of thing, but each one was more subtle and nuanced, masked by the increasing knowledge of who the world expected me to be. With each such interaction, I got better at bullshitting.

“Haha! Of course I don’t want to try on that dress, that’s silly!”

“Haha!” Of course purple and pink are not my favorite colors!”

“Haha! Of course I don’t want to put on the rest of this makeup after putting on that mascara. That was just a joke! Haha that’s gay!”

“Haha! Of course I am not absolutely fucking mortified at watching “The Birdcage” with my family and being envious of the queens!”

“Haha! Of course that woman I fantasize about while having sex is who I’m imagining fucking, there’s no way that that woman is me and I’m fantasizing about being fucked, as her!”

Now tell me, what exactly is a “Nugget” and which type of ball are they concerned with?

You Have 30 Days To Buy a Subaru Or Risk Being Able to Find Your Car In a Parking Lot

The weather is like it was the summer we moved here
Not really summer
I tell her

I say to the ghost of her in my bedroom
Wet and cold
Green and lush

The west opens before us
Jill driving our BMW at 100 miles an hour
Out of Nebraska
Welcome to Colorful Colorado

Eight years ago
Most of our marriage
We break into our own house
Celebrate the crime with Illegal Pete’s

I wait for the train on the Sixteenth Street Mall
Wondering if this will be a good life for us
Staring into a future
It looks back with tears in its eyes

Summer begins
Not really summer
I tell her
Without you

A Journal Entry

I remember thinking, back when my voice was changing, “you are going to have to have a lot of surgeries if you want to fix all the stuff that’s about to go wrong with you.” I remember feeling my skull/jaw/back of my head as they changed shape throughout puberty and into college, feeling increasingly sad as I could feel the bumps and change in size of various protuberances.

And, sure enough, yes, I have had to (and will continue to have to, for a while) have a lot of surgeries. I never imagined that I could actually do what I’ve done. I thought it would be impossible. It turns out that it was “only” very, very, very hard.

On top of everything else, yesterday, I was coming back from a post-op at Denver Health for my revision bottom surgery, and someone pulled out in front of me in traffic and I slammed into the side of their truck. I had the right of way.

My brand new (a month old, exactly) bright red, beautiful, 2023 Toyota Crown Platinum Hybrid Max turned its dashboard red and told me it was emergency braking before I even knew what was happening. Klaxons started to sound in the car. I hit the brake but discovered it was already at the bottom of its travel, ABS pulsing furiously. I remember seeing the side of the black truck approaching fast. I was going maybe 30 or 35 MPH. The pyrotechnic hood ejectors on the hinges fired and the hood rocketed itself into a position so that it could cushion the potential impact of a pedestrian, the seatbelt pretensioned itself and as I heard the crunch-thud of the impact, it started to ease out the tension as the airbags (steering wheel and knee) fired. I was dazed. The car filled with gunpowder smell from the airbag deployment. I remember blinking, seeing bright white midday light filtering through millions of little particles of rocket propellant and fiberglass in the air (fabric shreds from the airbag) seeing the asian characters printed in diffuse, hardly readable, red, stamped on the white fabric of the airbag, slightly dingy from soot. Feeling remarkably uninjured, surprisingly uninjured, and then looking down at my wrists and seeing bright red welts raising. Thinking, “huh, I wonder what caused that? Oh, right, the airbag. I hope my boobs are ok” Immediately worried about my breast implants. The car klaxoning warnings very loudly both inside and outside the vehicle. Toyota telematics emergency person on the line. My watch dinging from Megan and Jill responding almost immediately to emergency alerts generated by the impact detectors in my Apple Watch. Me telling the telematics person my name. Them misgendering me repeatedly. In my dazed state, saying, “I’m not a sir, I’m a m’aam!” Getting misgendered again, even after telling the person that my name is Nicole Roy. Telling them, “please, my name is Nicole and I’m a transgender woman, PLEASE call me ‘ma’am’!” And the person apologizing, and then continuing to misgender me because of my voice.

It is amazing, the sci-fi, artificial intelligence, miracles of safety in modern cars. I wish I had not had to find out how amazing they are, first-hand, but I’m grateful for them.

The Denver Police Department 911 dispatcher, and all of the fire/EMT/police on the scene *all* immediately and without asking or prompting, correctly gendered me the *entire time*. Thank you, city and county of Denver.


Let me feel the breadth and depth of life
Seeing the path laid before me by my own spirit
Unafraid of the darkness
The moon glittering on the hills and streams

Let me yearn for freedom but not power
Awake in the days when life proves my worth
A scent of sweet pea blossoms glowing in the evening
Smoke rolling in from distant mountain fires

Let me be settled in a time and place of my choosing
A home full of love and joy
A garden of sunlight to bask in
Passion cooking on the stove, a hug and a kiss the fountain of days to come

Let me breathe life into others and they into me
Listening to their stories and joining their path for a time
Divergence becoming a gift, knowing we may never see one another again
Taking their stories with me and spreading them like seeds

Let me cast spells into the lake of time
A rose in my right hand
The iridule of a mussel shell between thumb and forefinger
Intent of my heart to wind a cosmic spring

Let me cast forth my power into the night of the universe
Unearthed and desolate
A span of iron forged in the cores of ten billion suns
Harmonic foam scintillating with the radiation of me


She came out in the summer of 2020, when it was no longer bearable to remain submerged in fake masculinity. She had grown unimaginably tired of the ever-increasing levels of effort it took to maintain that façade. To look at herself in the bathroom mirror in the morning and try not to cry at the sight of stubble and receding hairline, broad shoulders and square jaw.

So, bit by bit, she told her wife, her friends, her family and her colleagues. And then she changed her name.

The next summer, she and her wife got Blizzards at the Dairy Queen on Arapahoe Road, on a warm summer night. They feasted in the red smoky haze of the forest-fire twilight overlooking the city center from fifteen miles south. And then she saw it: A pulse of blinding light high above the core of the urban front-range, and she told her wife of the vision. She tried to put it out of her head.

She thought the whole process of transition would probably take about two years, and she was right.

Alone, in the winter night, in her hospital bed just south of downtown Denver, no wife and no friends by her side, IVs slowly dripping Vancomycin and narcotics into the vein in her right arm, she watched the news of the invasion on her iPad.

This evil old boomer is there on live TV, bashing her. Literally blaming what she is for his monstrous acts of war:

“Do we really want … it drilled into children in our schools … that there are supposedly genders besides women and men, and [children to be] offered the chance to undergo sex change operations? … We have a different future, our own future.”

She cannot believe what she’s hearing. She kept it inside for so long, and she only just became brave enough to show up as herself. It seemed like maybe the world was becoming more accepting. And then this.

She tried to kill herself in March, but didn’t want to make her family sad. She couldn’t bring herself to do it.

Months passed, more surgeries, more friends lost. The pandemic started to ease. She went to Europe for work. People smiled at her out in the world. She was only pointed at and called a “boy” by a few people that summer. She drove through Texas to prove to herself that the world wasn’t as scary as she had feared. It mostly went OK.

In August, she survived an attack and carjacking by a man wielding a knife. Physically unharmed, mentally obliterated.

Work was OK, almost all she had left, sometimes.

She went to a concert with her ex-wife, it was fun. Afterwards, she cried for two days about what she had lost. She asked to be put on antidepressants. And then more antidepressants.

At Christmas, she kissed a girl for the first time as herself. Held hands. Both hands. Stared into the eyes of this person and saw a soul staring back at her that she hoped would melt into her own. The two of them becoming one, slowly, over time. Learning from each other, sharing with each other. Adventuring together through the rest of their lives.

They were happy, these two women who had to fight for everything they had, had to fight to be themselves.

It was a sunny, July day in 2024, and they were out on the trail, they loved to run together. They were both pretty slow, but they didn’t care. As they crested the ridge overlooking downtown Denver, they both stopped to catch their breath, and to peer through the leaves. And then a bright light

And then they were gone.