Joshua Jennifer Espinoza


Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is a trans woman poet living in California. Her work has been featured in Poetry, Denver Quarterly, American Poetry Review, Poem-a-Day, Lambda Literary, PEN America, The Offing, and elsewhere. Her full-length collection THERE SHOULD BE FLOWERS was published by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2016. She is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at UC Riverside. Source

A Guide to Reading Trans Literature

We’re dying and we’re really sad.

We keep dying because trans women

are supposed to die.

This is sad.


I don’t have the words for my body

so I’ll say I’m a cloud

or a mountain

or something pretty that people enjoy

so if I die

people will be like “Oh, that’s sad”.


Be sad about that.

It’s okay to be sad.

It is sad when people die.

It is sad when people want to die.


I sometimes want to die but I don’t!

I’m one of the lucky ones.

You can feel happy about that.

It’s okay to feel happy about that.


Now pretend this is very serious:


History doesn’t exist.

My body doesn’t exist.

There’s nothing left for you to be complicit in.


It’s okay for you to feel happy about that.


Now pretend I am crying

right in front of you,

opening that wound up just for you.


Now pretend you can feel my pain.


Now pretend something in you

has been moved, has been transformed.


Now pretend you are absolved.





Literary Movements:

Spoken Word

Anthology Years:




Death & Loss

Humor & Satire


LGBTQ+ Experience

Literary Devices:


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


the use of irony to mock or convey contempt