Once upon a time

I get to know Alana
she wears leopard print dress
and flaming red nails
she plays the keyboard
in broad daylight
to fight off the blues

We talk about girly stuff
skin exfoliation
hydration mask
hair tossing
and stiletto heels

She tells me about Alan
in corroboree
he wore coloured feathers
and ornamental coverings
he painted white and red bands
across his chest

Alana doesn’t go to corroboree anymore
she cannot bear to see herself
in Alan’s persona with
bare chest and hairy body
she misses her mob
and the land

It is easier to talk about
the Summer makeup trend
balayage hairstyle
slimming corset
and hot pink toes

Writer’s note: This poem was published in Australian Poetry Journal. It highlighted the struggle of being a transgender Aboriginal Australian. They are up against the disapproval of their mobs and elders. The constant feeling of the need to live a double life often adds the stress and mental strain, and subsequently has a negative impact on their mental health.