Tag Archive | Trans Issues

Ten Days

As pride gets ever closer this poem looks at the story of a princess and a trans girl. Only ten days separated me and Princess Diana. Ten days, and different world’s.Though never a royalist it would have been impossible for a trans girl only ten days younger than Diana not to gush over her glamorous lifestyle not to mention wardrobe but sometimes fairytales are not  quite what they seem and at a time when I was struggling to confront my gender identity issues,  her life appeared to be less complicated than mine It is fair to say that perhaps I didn’t  realise how much pressure she was under or how lucky I actually was. As is often the case when I’m finding it difficult to select a suitable choice of title I let a friend make the call for me. On this occasion the friend in question was a member of the Blue Chair poetry family Molly Frawley who agreed with my original choice of title Ten Days as this shows both the few  similarities I had with Princess  Diana and the even greater differences between us. I hope you enjoy what I think you’ll find a thought provoking read. 

Ten Days 

I was never a fan of the Royal Family 

but as a young trans woman coming to terms with my sexuality 

I was subliminally influenced 

by Princess Diana who was only ten days older than me 

you see I  liked the way she carried herself

even though one of her dresses 

would cost ten times my family’s combined wealth

if everyone put all our money together

getting engaged to a Prince on Valentine’s day

seemed like the most romantic fairytale ever 

till I remembered that fairytales only happened in panto 

not to 19 year olds from forgotten housing schemes 

in remote parts of Glasgow 

and to be honest I never fancied her man 

well I couldn’t be doing with a guy

who spent more time talking to plants 

than he did getting in to my pants

no matter how rich he was 

that kind of man could never be my type 

he was more Mr Wrong than he could ever be Mr Right

now I don’t why but I always thought the marriage was a sham

It was too great a contrast 

like David Attenborough meets Wham 

and that it was never going to work in the long run 

Diana knew the meaning of girls just wanna have fun

not just the lyrics 

while his stiff upper lip made him typically British 

and I do mean sexuallly repressed 

when she got married I focused on her dress 

and how I would love to have worn it

for my  wedding to the groom of my choice 

she gave me the strength to admit to myself 

I fancied boys not girls

well I was too busy wanting to be one 

to look at them in that way 

of course, in those days 

If I aired those thoughts folk would have just have assumed I was gay 

nobody even considered girls like me could exist 

so I transported myself to the dream world 

of a girl who was just 10 days older than me

when her death came I was saddened 

though not as surprised as some 

I thought it best to say nothing

play dumb and watch Blair hijack her death 

cry fake tears for the queen of hearts

the people’s princess 

the girl who made another girl smile 

as she showed me style and high fashion

the kind of outfits I would have loved to have worn to the dancing 

if only I had the chance 

but the princess who was only ten days older than me 

was the girl who had everything

until she realised that sometimes princes turned in to frogs

and not every fairytale has a happy ever after 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

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

Speak To The Night

On day 26 of NaPoWriMo my poem looks at women’s safety and is based on the story of what  happened as I waited for a bus on my road from an enjoyable Last Monday at Waterston’s and why I was grateful to have the companionship of another woman at the bus stop as drunks and beggars stopped to give us their chat. Like it or not I do feel vulnerable in this situation and if there is one thing I’ve noticed since I started living as a woman it’s the fact that  you never see men get this kind of unwanted attention. This is as every woman knows one of the perils of living in a blatantly patriarchal society. Believe me the need for feminism in 21st  Century Scotland/ Britain is as strong or maybe even stronger than it’s ever been, I wish it wasn’t but it is. 

 As you can imagine thinking of a title for this poem wasn’t easy which is why I called on the services of my friend and National columnist Nadine McBay who suggested the title should be Speak To The Night which I think describes perfectly how my companion and I felt as the drunk guy approached us, so that is the title I’m running with. 
Trust me when I say that this is a very difficult topic to talk about as no woman should ever feel vulnerable on any streets in a so-called civilised society but the fact is many of us do and that’s why I had to write this poem.   I hope you find it  a challenging and thought provoking read.  

Speak To The Night 

At a bus stop, two women wait 

for different buses to take us

on homeward journies 

in the distance a drunk man appears 

we show no fear 

but hope he won’t stop for a chat 

unfortunately, he does exactly that 

evening girls he says you alright 

the silence broken he speaks to the night 

I worry my tartan tights may attract attention 

he slurs words beyond my comprehension 

my younger companion assures him we are fine 

 eventually he gives up  taking the hint 

we just want to be left alone 

he staggers on convinced we are either lesbians 

or a mother and daughter out for some women time 

as he goes in whatever direction

the wind blows him 

a begger approaches asking if we have any change 

we politely say we have none 

he shuffles on his way 

as we both complain about the unseasonably cold weather

we enjoy a blether 

 about what men would call women’s stuff 

finally a bus arrives 

I feel  guilty on leaving 

a girl I don’t know 

to face the night alone 

and like a mother I pray 

she gets home safe 

© 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 

Soundtrack 

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. 
Soundtrack 

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 

Discovered 

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 

Discovered 

Discovered 

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