Alice Denny


As a trans woman I’m used to the times when I’m marginalised, 
Abuses can come in so many disguises; 
an insult, 
furtive glances, 
shocked rejection in the tumult 
of love’s tentative dances. 
Being ignored. 
Insensitive questions 
in mocking advances. 
Lewd suggestions. 
Harsh words. 

You develop resilience;
strategies of defence and defiance, 
for boosting self-confidence. 
Even so, remarks or events 
can take you by surprise. 
So when a fellow poet used the phrase 
“Ugly tranny waiting for a train” 
my heart rocked sideways 
I will admit. 
My strained expression couldn't quite mask the pain. 
Tears pricked my eyes -a bit, 
I forced them back -again 
What else can you do 
but smile and get on with it? 

The thing is , what that poet didn’t see 
was the “Ugly Tranny” in the room -it was me.
And I was the one on the platform too. 
I’m the one on the train, 
the one you point out with disdain 
in the Post Office or supermarket queue, 
the woman in Costa you’ll 
strain every sinew
Just to avoid talking to. 

My isolation and vulnerability 
may make me 
an easy target for any of you. 
But I’m used to 
this kind of strife 
because I’ve been bullied for most of my life; 
and I’ve been abused by the best, 
labelled batty-boy, Nancy boy, sexual transgressor. 
Toilet pest, even child molester. 
I’ve been called 
a bad-wigged, whining, transvestite bed -wetter 
by a has-been trend setter, 
would - be woman of letters , 
a toothless tigress who’s grown old and bitter. 
You’d think by now she ought to know better. 

People tell me “Alice, get a thick skin”. 
In fact these small hidings make it delicate, thin. 
And though the “ugly tranny” epithet maybe isn’t so strong, 
“Sticks and stones may break by bones and - names will never hurt me?” 
That playground song? 
It’s just one big lie. 
For words and names come first 
before the sticks and stones begin to fly. 
Then the beating fists rain in. 
The boots, the knives
Shootings, drive byes

Trans men and women are ending short lives
In dark city alleys,
abandoned in lay - byes
and transgender children, unable to thrive
rather than live every day in a lie 
rejected, un-nurtured are choosing to die. 
If only abusers could open their eyes
understand how it feels when you KNOW you’re despised
live in fear of your boy-friend changing his mind
now ashamed of the “Tranny” who sleeps at his side

So if my reply 
is this weak, fleeting grin, 
it merely disguises the sorrow within. 

I can be strong - for tomorrow, 
I’ll take all of those blows on the chin 
Show the world I will never give in,
and over 
and over again 
For this is one battle we are going to win.

Flights, Issue Seven, December 2022