Elaine Gallagher has published stories and poems in The Queen’s Head and Freak Circus magazines, the British Fantasy Society Journal, and The Speculative Book and Thirty Years of Rain anthologies. Her short film, High Heels Aren’t Compulsory, directed by Annabel Cooper and starring Jo Clifford, won Best Scottish Short at the Scottish Queer International Film Festival 2015 and was shortlisted for the Iris Prize 2016. She is transgender and has been active in the Scottish Green Party LGBTI+ network, including editing their LGBTI+ manifesto. Elaine is currently studying creative writing at Glasgow University. If you would like to support future work from Elaine, you can do so via Patreon.
I don’t have an agenda, I have an existence.
Who I am, what I am, that I choose not
to apologise for any of me,
but instead put my heart and my soul
into my art and my craft,
to write from my own knowledge,
my own experiences, my own concerns,
my grief, my loss, my fear, my rage,
my outrage at what the world does
to people like me;
if that makes you uncomfortable
then I suggest
you live with it, and learn.
To try to silence me,
that’s an agenda.
To suggest, oh so politely, that I should write
about something else,
that otherwise I am limiting myself –
That’s an agenda.
It’s an agenda of conformance:
that I must fit in to your world, your views;
that you won’t tolerate
that I must sew my lips together;
for your comfort and convenience.
That’s an agenda.
That I am not a person but an agenda,
is a view that’s not uncommon
among the ones who would erase me.
That I don’t fit into your experience,
must be my fault. And of course
I’m doing it on purpose.
Because difference is deliberate,
and my untidy existence
must be expunged.
And if a polite suggestion won’t accomplish it,
then legislation and assault
Because for me,
as for so many others before me,
To be silenced is to die.
When your agenda makes life intolerable
for the trans child,
for the queer child,
They don’t choose to conform,
they choose not to live.
So I have an agenda, yes I do.
I’ll put the whole of myself into my work
whether or not you approve;
my life, my thoughts, my experience,
my fears, my grief, my rage,
and with it I will break your heart.
With it I will make you feel
that fear, that pain, that loss, that grief
that you put me through.
And with it I’ll be visible;
I will not allow myself to be erased.
So that those silenced, isolated children
Can see that it’s okay to live, to love,
to be them;
that your views don’t matter
and that their lives do.
And if by it I change one mind,
if by it I give one child,
hope, or solace,
If by it I save one life
then my work is done.