Cover Photo: A view of the River Tiber in Rome
Photograph by Gabriella Clare Marino/Unsplash

Starting Testosterone During Ramadan Led Me to the Sacred in My Trans Self

Before testosterone, few people ever saw me cry. Now tears come in hot floods, as though some tender, unlanguaged creature has surfaced inside me.

I. Hidden Cities: Olinda

The Thirty Names of Night

Whatsoever wears the shape of anything in existence

has come from the shadow of the beautiful Simorgh.

If Simorgh unveils its face to you, you will find

that all the birds, be they thirty or forty or more,

are but the shadows cast by that unveiling . . .

Do you see? The shadow and its maker are one and the same.

Invisible Cities Maybe I’m practicing perfect detachmentMaybe I’m closer to God.

II. Cities and Signs: Tamara

L’Aurora delle trans cattive The Dawn of the Bad Trans

Your life,your real life. life vita hayat‘omr life‘Omr

III. Cities and Memory: Isidora


IV. Cities and the Sky: Beersheba

At least in Europeyou’re safe.

Its water is ritually pure and its dead are lawful.

V. Cities and the Dead: Argia


VI. Cities and Desire: Despina

We made from water every living thing.

VII.Continuous Cities: Cecilia


  All night long, all day, the doors of Hades stand open.

  But to retrace the path, to come up to the sweet air of heaven,

  That is labour indeed.

VIII. Cities and Eyes: Valdrada


IX. Thin Cities: Zenobia

Zeyn Joukhadar is the author of the novels The Thirty Names of Night, winner of the Lambda Literary Award and the Stonewall Book Award, and The Map of Salt and Stars, which won the Middle East Book Award and was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards and the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. His work has appeared in the Kink anthology, Salon, The Paris Review, and elsewhere, and has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He guest edited Mizna's 2020 Queer + Trans Voices issue and is a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers as well as a mentor with the Periplus Collective.

Photo credit: Sara Deidda, 2020.