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The Colours of Womanhood – Alva Holland

You say a rainbow doesn’t work for you, my extraordinary girl whose birth tag said ‘male.’

‘How many colours do you need?’ I ask, thinking my power over rainbows might be as infinite as my love for you. Knowing that while you changed, nothing changed. While you battled, there was no war; not between us.

‘It’s not the quantity of colours that matters,’ you say. ‘It’s that I can’t find my true colour there.’

The blue of your newborn body as it warmed in the incubator. The yellow of the threatening jaundice. The eventual pink, that delightful squishy pink. The red of your colic. The purple, black, green and yellow of the bruises you endured as you grew, fell, picked yourself up, fell again.

You’re not falling now. You’re growing into yourself, the person you know you’re meant to be. You want us to see you for who you are. Please understand our reluctance to let go of our boy as we learn to accept a daughter, a girl Granny was certain I was carrying until you burst into the world, surprising her.

You say Granny was right all along. You tell her this in whispered tones as you place flowers on the earth. You say Granny knew your colour.

You want to make your own rainbow. I tell you yes, you can do this. You’ve created the template; you’re filling in the lines. Wavy, squiggly rivers of fused colours – a self-portrait.

You say your tattoo is not a rebellion but a statement. You watch the ink seep into your skin, into the depths of you. I watch the spread of your smile. I know this change, this chasmic leap into womanhood won’t be easy, but you will not be alone, my extraordinary girl. My favourite colour is you.