Tag Archive | Secrets

Secret Cinderella

With Glasgow Pride coming up next weekend it’s no surprise that this month’s edition of Extra Second is focusing on sexuality. As I’ve been billed to perform I thought I had better get cracking and write some poems on the topic. In this one I travel back in time to the summer of 1974 and recall the day I  started secondary school and the first real stirrings with regards to boys and being aware of being a socially awkward trans teen before I knew the term for it. I’ve given it the title Secret Cinderella, I hope you enjoy the read .

Secret Cinderella

It was the day that Nixon resigned 

and the Bay City Rollers made number one on Radio Clyde 

when I started high school

I tried so hard to fit in and be cool 

it didn’t work 

I wanted skirts not the trousers that were my fate

I hated being made to be a boy 

I couldn’t play the part 

my heart wasn’t in it 

there were limits to my acting skils 

I tried to play football but would sooner hang out with girls 

talk about what really mattered 

make up, boys, and teenage dreams 

the centrefold in that week’s Jackie magazine 

but when you lived in the schemes 

these stirrings had to be calmed if not completely quelled

Catholic or Protestant both guilt trips 

had the same destination 

a one way ticket on the road to hell 

and a child of a mixed marriage would be condemned to it twice 

secretly I would wear tights and dresses 

when nobody else was watching 

well Scotland was a different place back then

where men were men and no boys were ever allowed to cry 

even if denying the truth would have them climbing bedroom walls 

the secret Cinderella’s who never even made it 

to the school disco let alone the ball 

and wouldn’t kiss Prince Charming till their 40’s 

© Gayle Smith 2017



On day 23 of NaPoWriMo I take a wander back in to my 1970’s youth and look at the  world of gender roles and how they impacted on me and girls like me who were growing up knowing we were different from the so-called societal norms. Though it would be  easy to look back on those days with the rose coloured glasses of time it would  be a misrepresention of the truth . Trust me in days less liberal than now there were Secrets you had to keep hidden which is why I’ve titled this poem Hidden I hope you enjoy the read. 
Rebel teen 

was never punk 

too much of a boy thing

don’t you know 

loved stage shows and any kind of songs 

except heavy metal rock 

folks would be shocked 

if they knew how much she liked 

summer nights 

 loved grease and wanted to be Sandy

but the beauty school drop out 

was too cool for school 

or the rules that went with it 

she couldn’t cope with limits 

it wasn’t her scene 

though expressing herself as a dancing queen 

was strictly for her bedroom 

with the door firmly locked 

the family would be shocked 

if they saw the  lipsticks and leotards

she kept stashed away 

in secret hiding places 

the boys would blush 

if they saw the smile on her face 

when she thought of them 

but these were less enlightened days 

when Rising Damp and The Walton’s 

were the stuff of teenage television 

ambitions to be different 

were best kept hidden 

or reserved only for the rich 

meanwhile down at the football pitches 

she tried to fit in 

but was never picked for either side 

instead she watched from the back of the goal 

as sweat soaked would be football stars

never knew what she thought of their talents. 

or who she would like to be man of the match.
© Gayle Smith 2017 

Tears And Secrets 

​On day 17 of NaPoWriMo I’ve did what every poet does and let the muse take me where it will. On this occasion, it decided to take me back to a pivotal moment on my journey to womanhood when I decided I had to transition or bust. 

This is an important landmark in any trans person’s life and I was lucky to have a fantastic support network of friends most of whom came from tight knit world’s  of the  spoken word poetry, and traditional music communities. When you add in friends I’ve made through church,  politics, the LGBT scene, and a few others I’ve made along the way you can see I’ve been very fortunate to have the support I have. 

Others however have not been as lucky as me and it’s for them I write this poem in the sure and certain knowledge that had I not been blessed with such a wide and diverse circle of friends the women I described in it could have been me.After discussing potential titles with my friend Jenny Eeles  I have given it the title Tears And Secrets which I hope conveys the struggle faced by many trans people and in particular trans woman I hope you enjoy what I think will be challenging and thought provoking read.  

Tears And Secrets 
He was never the type to step too far from familiarity 

let alone experiment with gender or  sexuality 

at least not in public 

worried about others and their opinions 

he kept his secrets behind closed doors 

until the bottle of pills that  lay beside him 

meant it could be ignored no longer 

this was stronger than anyone thought 

ready or not he had to face his fears 

and through a river of tears

explain to those he loved 

that she was who he wanted to be 

it wasn’t for glamour 

 she wasn’t blessed with the figure 

to be model material

she just wanted to live her life her way 

she wasn’t gay or playing dress up 

this was who she was 

the girl who asked Santa Claus 

to make her like mammy 

finally out in the open 

as the river became an ocean 

the waves crashed against the sand 

the road to understanding started 

in a hospital ward where a young nurse painted the nails 

of the aunt she always knew 

but kept secret from family and friends 

and on trend with style advice 

© Gayle Smith 2017 


On day 14 of NaPoWriMo My poem looks at the importance of music in creating memories and shaping who we are. I have given it the title Soundtrack I hope you enjoy the read. 

A musical journey through my teens 

when dreams were left unshared 

by girls like me 

with no-one to confide in 

closets were the hiding place 

where I found the personal space

to keep me safe 

the 70’s were not the time 

and Glasgow was not the place 

for those born in one gender 

to say they wanted to be another 

I had many fights with my mother 

on this and other issues 

where she wanted me to keep my opinions

to myself 

but I knew staying silent would not be good 

for my mental health 

anyway , I digress 

this was a night 

when I thought of party dresses,

I never got the chance to wear 

it was a time for shared memories 

for women of a certain age 

as Jackie the musical took to the stage 

 the theatre came alive 

a chorus of voices sang about Dancing On A Saturday Night 

whilst dreaming of puppy love with Donny 

the story of our lives

 told through the eyes of the leading character in the play 

my only criticism was that there were no Bay City Rollers songs 

to get the audience singing along 

not even shang -a lang 

the song that got me wishing 

I was kissing Les  McKeown 

behind the bikesheds 

in my school lunch break 

as teenage lust replaced all previous crushes 

from now on I wanted boys to hold me close 

kiss me in the back row of the movies

and be  the kind of boyfriend 

my parents wouldn’t approve of 

to me this show was more than just a night at the theatre 

many of the songs contained within it

were signposts on a journey 

the soundtrack of my life 

the songs that helped to make me 

the girl I was and the woman I’ve become 

© Gayle Smith 2017 


For the next 30 days my blog will be  focused almost entirely on poetry as I make my now annual attempt at the poetic marathon that is NaPoWriMo.My first poem of this year is on one of my earliest memories of being out in public as a woman. This resulted in a potentially embarrassing moment as I was discovered by a friend, however the night a happier than expected ending as I found out the friend concerned was embarking on the same journey herself. I have given it the title Discovered I hope you enjoy the read 



In the early days of my journey

by someone I didn’t want to see in my little black dress 

nervous ,  I panicked 

blushed like a  guilty teenager

who had been caught  kissing 

that boy her parents didn’t like 

I fled towards the door 

tried to make a sharp exit

 It didn’t work he caught up with me 

said I should come back for coffee 

and a chat 

before going for peer support 

quickly my embarrassment faded 

he disappeared 

it was almost time for the meeting 

cheered up I made my way upstairs

I went to the ladies and found her 

discovering herself 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

My Mother’s Daughter 

On Mother’s Day I have written this poem in tribute to my late mother  Mary Russell as a thank you for being a better role model than she ever knew. I have given it the title My Mother’s Daughter I hope you enjoy the read. 

My Mother’s Daughter

It happens on  the fourth Sunday of lent 

the date for mothering Sunday never changes 

on this day when we remember our mothers 

with chocolates cards and flowers

we celebrate who they are

 and what they have brought to our lives 

as for me I remember a woman 

with whom I have more in common 

than I would ever have thought 

my mother was a women of her time 

she found it challenging 

that I wanted to be a girl 

and grow up to be a woman like her 

though maybe an updated version 

this was something she couldn’t understand 

convincing herself my identity was just a phrase 

I refuse to blame her 

she worried what her neighbours would say 

I tried to explain wanting to be a girl  

was not the same as being gay 

which she classified as a sin or a waste 

depending on the looks of the man 

a kind heart hidden beneath her apron 

my mother was an amazing cook 

feeding us with with soups, stews, and steak pies 

empty plates never lie 

but show the proof of her skills 

when I asked to help I was told 

cooking was for girls 

boys should play games 

that teach them to be men 

she worried what they would think 

if they ever knew 

her son preferred pink to blue 

liking Donny and the Bay City Rollers 

would have served as a hint to some 

as would my stockpile of Jackie 

and other magazines of the day 

but my mum was content

 to stay in her bubble 

being a trans teen troubled

by the manufactured sense of self 

I was forced to create 

left emotional scars and a bond 

which though fragile was still strong enough to survive 

knowing the truth was no barrier to denial 

as I gained confidence I gradually stepped out 

 in bars, and clubs 

the kind my mother had heard of 

only in stories on TV or in the press 

the fact I went dressed to ‘ these places’ 

only proved I was easily led 

a target for some sex maniac to take to bed 

chance would be a fine thing I suggested 

she should have remembered 

I was her daughter I had her morals 

and wouldn’t do anything I felt to be wrong 

it wasn’t the way I was raised 

Sundays were the post, the roast , and songs of praise 

so it should be no surprise 

that I’m now in the pews on Sunday mornings 

like her friends in the area I grew up in  

though on the fringe of the city 

it had that village mentality 

it was the kind of place 

 where gender and sexuality were never discussed 

eventually we watched the Chippendales together 

though  I blushed when 

 I told her about the first time  I kissed a man

and liked it because it felt right 

I went in to detail about that night 

I confessed that though he was younger than me 

 it was me who made the move 

I didn’t wait to be asked

there was a difference between being nice  and being scared 

I wasn’t prepared to sit back and wait 

being respectable was over rated I claimed 

now no longer ashamed

 I was sharing mother – daughter secrets

though it had taken me  till my forties  do it 

even in private 

publicly she maintained my identity was a phase 

she was scared of what the neighbours would say 

that mattered more to her generation 

than it does to mine 

I remember the night she zipped me 

into my wine tafatta dress

her smile said more than any words ever could 

I was the daughter she knew wanted 

even though she could never admit it 

not even to herself  

it wasn’t her way 

I think of her on mother’s day 

and thank her for meals served with a diet of rules 

most of which I still respect 

I am my mother’s daughter after all 

© Gayle Smith 2017


Stiff Upper Lipstick 

Hey Readers  In this post I share a poem on the topic of mental health from highly personal perspective which is that of identity  in particular relating to gender. As  a trans woman, I do not believe nor have I ever done that my gender identity is a mental health issue, but I do believe  where an identity is repressed it can trigger this type of issue and I will openly admit that coming out and living as my real self probably saved me from not only an episode but from a complete meltdown. It is with this in mind I have written this poem on pressure to conform to what society sees as the acceptable cultural, social, and political norms and why sometimes you have to defy them to be truly happy and live the best life you can. I’ve have given the poem Stiff Upper Lipstick as challenges the dangerous and potentially damaging myth that people in the UK are not allowed to show emotion and must remain controlled at all times. I hope you enjoy the read 
Stiff Upper Lipstick 

you must keep a lid on emotions

it’s for the best 

you understand 

you were raised in the British school of thought 

Scottish identity suppressed 

deemed unworthy of recognition 

by those and such as those

who fantasise that a united kingdom 

can be anything other than a fairytale 

these people ignore reality 

any discussion of sexuality 

would be bound to make them blush 

god help them with gender identity 

to them  it wouldn’t matter

if you knew from an early age 

your body didn’t match your  brain

preferring pink to blue

tights to socks

and skirts to shirts and ties

a conservative society tried to downsize your dreams 

as parents, teachers, and youth leaders 

focused on  reinforcing the dominant cultural theme 

boys were boys and girls were girls 

you couldn’t be somewhere in between 

let alone change sides

someone born a boy 

couldn’t dream of a big white wedding

let alone being a bride 

this was something you had to hide 

and you couldn’t complain 

you had to  wear stiff upper lipstick 

whilst reading secret copies of girl’s magazines 

you kept hidden under your  bed 

and only you knew why your face went red 

when you saw that boy you liked 

and had to keep the door to your heart closed 

even if you wanted to open it 

and show the world 

the girl you knew was real 

feelings ignored but never quite crushed 

you blushed as you went in to your room 

dressed yourself in your mum’s old clothes 

and wore stiff upper lipstick 

as your heart cried tears 

and you longed for a kiss from a prince.

@ Gayle Smith 2017