The Emperor’s New Chromosomes

The Emperor would be remade;
He felt if he could be a maid
He’d be more loved and find relief.
His maleness brought him nought but grief.

Two doctors showed up sharp as nails.
“Good Emperor, we’ve heard your wails.
Our answer to your royal call?
You need not be a man at all!

“Though chromosomes are X and Y
We’ve learned a hex and this is why
Ex-males can change their sex on cue.
Stop feeling vexed! Be someone new!

“We’ll mesmerize and feminize;
You’ll drop the parts that you despise.
We’ll take this magic wand and wave
And soon you’ll never need a shave.”

The Emperor clapped like a child.
The doctors shared a wink and smiled.
“Transcendence, Set Thy Trammels Free”
They chanted, “Poof! You’re now a she!”

“My skin is soft? No more chest hair?
An empress now! A lady fair!
O, I shall don a gorgeous gown
And show my beauty to the town!”

“We have rare cloth” one doctor spoke,
“Seen only by the smart and woke
But quite invisible to fools
Too low-brow for our leftist rules.”

The Empress tried their magic dress.
She felt undressed. But nonetheless
She did not wish to seem uptight
Nor unenlightened like the Right.

The glass showed manly parts and skin,
But royals are not taken in.
The doctors said “Your dignity
Must be revealed for all to see!

“You’re garbed now as the nation’s queen,
No longer male, and not obscene.
Please tender now our hard-earned pay
For, sad to say, we cannot stay.”

The Emperor, though hirsute still,
Was Empress now through force of will.
The dress she could not see shone bright—
He knew she’d be a splendid sight.

So with this change in attitude
The Empress went outdoors quite nude.
He toured the realm to meet her duty
And all who saw him praised her beauty.

The Andersons had one young son
Who came to see the royal one
Show off her dress and female pride
But blushing, Hans’ eyes opened wide.

“Our naked Empress is a male!”
“Don’t say that!” Dad hissed with a wail.
“We must pretend to buy this tale
Or else we’ll all end up in jail!”

The Empress heard but kept on going
Convinced, despite her male parts showing,
That chromosomes marked Y and X
Are states of mind, like clothes and sex.



Doctor Death

an alexandroid

My patients come to me confused—
__I make them whole.
With godlike skill I’ve not refused
__A single soul.

My prompting, hormones and sharp knives
__Heal hurting hearts.
I surgically create new lives
__And cut off parts.

Yet some despise me with their all,
__With every breath.
I cannot fathom why they call
__me Doctor Death.



Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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22 Responses

  1. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Fascinating application of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” for modern times. This is indeed a well written poem with an appropriate ending that points out that not only is the image in the eye of the beholder, but also in the mind of person involved in such conduct fooling themselves in the process. Furthermore, it seems to speak to the present state of affairs that the father feels compelled to hush the son’s obvious observation.

    • Brian A Yapko

      Thank you, Roy. It seemed like the right fairy tale for our dishonest, gullible and frighteningly suggestible times.

  2. Margaret Coats

    Brian, “The Emperor’s New Chromosomes” is hilarious and magnificent. After reading it, I cannot imagine a better satire on the subject. It might even appeal to some who are opposed to its message, so well does it re-work a classic tale familiar to all. You do not neglect any detail of the story, but translate each into contemporary laughability. The rhythm is perfect, and the very word choices are fun. You put “pride” in its place, and what a riotous fluidity of pronouns! On the serious side of the issues, you point out that a personal delusion does not change biology, and that the efforts of paid “professionals” to achieve the change desired by the deluded person are comparable to the tricks of charlatan magicians. And in this fantasy where no physical harm is done, you leave the laughter open to a healthy recovery of common sense for anyone with a child’s perception of facts. The final juncture of chromosomes, clothes, and sex as states of mind is ironically brilliant materialism as it should be. Bravo!

    • Brian A Yapko

      Thank you so much, Margaret, for this appreciative comment. Despite the frustrating subject matter, I found writing this poem to be great fun. You found everything within the work that I hoped would be noticed (especially that little “pride” throwaway and the essentially random switch from male to female pronouns. There are many, many charlatans out there. How I would like to see them exposed for what they are. As Hans Christian Anderson observed, sometimes it takes a child’s common sense to shake us into acknowledging the obvious.

  3. David Whippman

    Clever stuff, Brian. I wish our political leaders here in the UK would read it; one of them recently replied “Of course” – with a patronising smile – when asked if a woman could possess a penis.

    • Brian A Yapko

      Thank you very much, David. As for the U.K. politician who said “of course,” there are just as many — if not more — such politicians in the U.S. It’s a shared fiction fueled by fear or opportunism. Either way, it’s hard to argue with gender at the microscopic level. It is embedded in each one of our cells. Given the chromasomal basis for gender, anything the doctors do to manipulate breasts or genitals is an outside job at best. It’s window-dressing which, though drastic, is virtually meaningless. It would be like painting your skin and saying “poof” — I’m a different race. This is one of the reasons why the demand to recognize a trans woman and a birth woman as identical is as pathetic and outrageous as it is dishonest. And why, pray, is this even necessary? Why is it so horrible to simply acknowledge that a trans woman is, in fact, a trans woman?

      • David Whippman

        Well, acknowledging it is not at all horrible to a sane, reasonable person. Trouble is, the extremists are setting the agenda, and our governments lack the backbone to stand up to them.

  4. Cynthia Erlandson

    I’m laughing out loud at the “empress”, Brian — this is truly hilarious! There are so many excellent parts, but I think my very favorite lines are the ones with the opposite pronouns: “He toured the realm to meet her duty / And all who saw him praised her beauty.” Thank you for the laughs!

    • Brian A Yapko

      Thank you so much, Cynthia! Those particular lines had me in stitches when I wrote them. They seemed so random and illogical. Which, I suppose, is the point.

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    Brian, these are two very apt and pertinent poems for our times. The first touches upon a major psychic delusion of our day — namely, that how one feels and how one chooses to define oneself are always superior to objective, impersonal facts. A recent writer in Chronicles has called this the consequence of “therapy” culture, or the crackpot idea that “how you feel” and “how you react” are the only criteria for truth. A stupid relative recently said to me “How else can I determine what is real, except by what my emotions tell me?” I replied to her “I suggest you let your husband drive the car home tonight.”

    The second poem deals not with self-deception, but with sheer criminality. I hope that someday in the future the definitive book will be written about how a huge number of American doctors — out of sheer greed — have become murderers and mutilators.

    • Brian A Yapko

      Thank you very much, Joe. We’re on precisely the same page regarding subjective versus objective experience. My identifying as an airline pilot doesn’t make me qualified to fly a plane. People who are savvy learn fairly early in life to look at what people do and not what people say. We also discover that feelings are not facts. I therefore put very little stock in subjective claims and far more in that which is verifiable. I’m not saying subjective experience is irrelevant. But it cannot be accepted on face value. “I didn’t mean to do it” is the defense of every murderer who has existed since Cain. Subjectivity has to be moderated by common sense and reality checks. And it better have a damn good basis for contradicting objective evidence.

      As for the malfeasant medical providers and those who abet them, I too hope that the criminality of these horrible enablers is eventually brought to light and called to account. Eventually it will happen — once the fog of delusion lifts.

  6. Joshua C. Frank

    Both of these are great, as usual!

    The first is basically a modernization of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” taking the original and applying an update of the basic concept (like my own “A Modernization of ‘To His Coy Mistress’”). It’s perfect for today’s world, where people have to agree with a man when he says he’s a woman, or vice versa, in order to appear virtuous, and few have the guts to speak the truth. I especially love the deliberate haphazard switching of pronouns.

    The second is an interesting comparison; I remember when Dr. Kevorkian made the news by participating in assisted suicide, earning him the nickname “Dr. Death.” Just as the left thinks assisted suicide is not murder because the victim gives consent, they think similarly about genital mutilation. What they don’t seem to realize is that people can easily be manipulated into giving consent to anything. Anyway, I also love the use of the alexandroid form.

    • Brian A Yapko

      Thank you very much, Josh! Yes, having the Hans Christian Anderson story to work with as a jumping off point made writing this much easier — and in a way, much more fun since I had a good sense of the distance I wanted to cover by the time I got to the end of this longish poem. And I wanted the crux of the poem to be the father’s words of warning where, as you point out, people who want to be perceived as virtuous or who are afraid of social disapproval “must pretend to buy this tale.” As you and many others know on this site, there are consequences to telling the truth.

      As a former Michigander, I knew that Dr. Death was the moniker that was given to Dr. Kevorkian. But when I considered doctors prompting little children (“Do you sometimes which you were born a girl?” Don’t you want to play dolls with your sister?”) and how that leads to puberty blockers and hormone therapy and, ultimately, amputation, I became enraged. Again. Such doctors might not lead directly to death but, in the end, I wager they will lead to more self-harm than had they not enabled psychiatric delusions. Those who identify as transgender do clearly have a higher suicide rates than the norm, but when will cause and effect be properly addressed? Suicidal ideations are the result of mental illness. So what do the doctors do? They choose the low-hanging fruit. Instead of teaching a person how to keep body and soul together, they actually accept the validity of the delusion, cater to that mental illness and manifest the fantasy — treating bodies as if the work they do on a person is carpentry. And in the end — after the hormones, the surgeries, the expense and the other fallout — that poor patient still has to live with himself because the cause of soul-sickness is NEVER an outside job. This is tragic enough among adults but feeding this type of mental illness in prepubescent children is not only criminal — it is monstrous.

  7. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Brian, as ever, your poems are an absolute privilege to read with the added benefit of making me feel sane in a world gone crazy… and what a title – ‘The Emperor’s New Chromosomes’ had me laughing before I’d got to the first line. I love all smoothly employed poetic bells and whistles which serve to enhance the insidious idiocy of this insane ideology. Your closing words: ‘chromosomes marked Y and X/Are states of mind, like clothes and sex’ is so ludicrous, I hope it opens a few eyes. There are deluded dimwits out there who believe a baby’s sex is determined by the brain!

    ‘Doctor Death’ is chilling. I am intrigued by the alexandroid form and your excellent poem has me wanting to try it out. In very few words you paint a tangible picture of a ghoulish figure that makes the Child Catcher look like Mary Poppins. Very well done indeed! Thank you!

    • Brian A Yapko

      Thank you, Susan, for this generous comment! I’m always so pleased and proud when one of my poems gets your approval! I have to admit that when I came up with the poem title I laughed out loud and then the poem just flowed. Sometimes the muse allows an idea to just click. I would love it if my poem were to make people think and reconsider the false logic that has led them to the double conclusion that gender is a psychiatric phenomenon and a mere social construct. They have eyes they do not trust, hearts that are so concerned with not hurting feelings that they’ll gladly enable a lie, and poor critical thinking skills which make them gullible. I would not want to be stuck on a desert island with a single one of these people because they have neither judgment nor willingness to do the hard thing. They wouldn’t survive a week.

      I look forward to reading your forthcoming alexandroid! It’s a neat form which I’d never heard of let alone attempted until I read read C. B. Anderson’s informative 2017 article on “How to Write an Alexandroid” on this site. It’s a neat form which allows you to get a lot of information out very economically.

  8. Shaun C. Duncan

    “The Emperor’s New Chromosomes” is a perfect repurposing of a classic tale which seems more relevant now than ever. I particularly like the repetition of the single rhyme sound in the penultimate stanza as it adds a sense of urgency which reflects the father’s desperation.

    The second poem, “Doctor Death” is as chilling as the first is amusing and forms a nice contrast. The issue of transgender too often revolves around the often comical actions and demands of the patients themselves whilst the medical workers facilitating these horrors escape notice. I’m not familiar with the form but it works neatly for the subject matter, since this doctor’s psychology is not one you’d like to sit with for too long.

    • Brian A Yapko

      Thank you very much indeed, Shaun! I am especially pleased that you noticed the single rhymes of that penultimate stanza because I intended that as the “take-away” stanza which describes the frightening social pressure that is being wielded against those who are simply speaking common sense. I believe that forcing people to deny the evidence of their own eyes and common sense will have dire consequences in the future.

      As for Dr. Death, I had never heard of this form either until I scrolled the SCP page and on the drop-down menu where it describes different types of poetry forms there it was: alexandroid. So I figured I’d give it a shot.
      Thank you again, Shaun, for reading and commenting!

    • Mike Bryant

      This is heartbreaking Brian… the medical/military/government complex has much to answer for.

      • Brian A Yapko

        Absolutely, Mike. They remind me of heroin dealers trying to encourage people to become addicts so that they keep the addiction engine chugging away. Encouraging people to simply do what they want to do in the name of self-fulfillment destroys lives when those people have poor judgment and mental illness. And troubled children have no judgment at all. They can’t drink till they’re 18, they can’t vote till they’re 18. They can’t serve in the military till they’re 18. They can’t enter into contracts that are not voidable until they’re 18. But some confused kid says he or she wants to transition, and the liberals vociferously scream for “gender affirming” care — care which will ultimately be undone or which will destroy more lives than it saves. So many liberals disdain foreseeability and consequences in the name of “compassionately” supporting the self-expression of people they think they understand yet really don’t. But they’re so nice.

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