Jasmine makes a decision

It’s ready to go.  Yes, the next Jasmine Frame case, Molly’s Boudoir is available on pre-order on Amazon for Kindle.  Publication date is 30th November for the e-book edition. Order here  (if you’re in the UK).  The price is £2.99 in the UK with relative prices in other markets. The paperback version  will follow soon after.

The events of Molly’s Boudoir, the 4th Jasmine Frame novel, take place several months after  The Brides’ Club Murder. Jasmine has been called for her Gender Confirmation Surgery which will require weeks of recovery and recuperation. Meanwhile events at Molly’s, a shop in Thirsbury (a small town west of Kintbridge) are reaching a climax resulting in a fire and a murder. Tom Shepherd, now a DI, is the investigating officer and he realises that the business at Molly’s requires Jasmine’s input. With the approval of DCI Sloane, Jasmine is invited to join the case as transgender advisor. Despite not being fully fit Jasmine is soon actively involved and pursuing a line of inquiry which leads her into areas of sexual activity that she is unfamiliar with and puts her new female status under test.

With some violence and sexual content, which you may have come to expect from Jasmine Frame’s cases, Molly’s Boudoir takes Jasmine’s story a stage further.

If you would like a free pre-publication version of Molly’s Boudoir in return for a review on Amazon posted on 30th November, contact me here.

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Visit us next week for news of some special offers!

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It’s been a momentous week in the Brexit saga.  It’s total chaos with no-one in power taking responsibility to admit that the paradoxes are unresolvable and the voters must be given the opportunity to vote again, this time with the correct facts.  That’s it. I’m not saying any more. For now.

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Finally here is the next episode of Monochrome, the Jasmine Frame prequel.  The events in this story take place five years before Molly’s Boudoir when Jasmine is still unsure of her gender status.

Monochrome: Part 4

It was a tale Jasmine had read about but had not heard described by the victim. She struggled to accept that it was real.
Angela continued questioning the girl, her tone suggesting she could hardly believe the story herself. ‘Those disgusting men left you alone and drove away?’
The girl nodded. ‘Yeah. Tipped me out of the back, threw my clothes at me and went off.’
‘What did you do?’ Angela asked.
‘Got dressed of course. It was fucking freezing.’
‘Yes, I’m sure it was. What then? Did you set off somewhere?’
‘How could I? I didn’t know where the fuck I was. It was pitch black. I just wandered along the track until I got to this place.’
‘You broke in,’ Jasmine said.
The girl looked belligerent. ‘I didn’t have to break anything. The window was open. I only had to climb in.’
‘You stayed the night? Angela asked.
‘Yeah. There was a duvet on the bed. I rolled myself in it and got warm. I slept. Best night’s sleep I’ve had for yonks.’
‘Why?” Angela said, showing surprise at the girl’s statement.
‘It was dead quiet. I didn’t have the fucking neighbour’s kid screaming all night or my mam moaning. I slept so well I nearly got caught.’
‘By whom?’ Jasmine asked.
‘Some woman. I heard her fiddling with a key in the lock. I just managed to get into the bathroom before she got in. I went out of the window and waited till she left.’
‘It must have been Mrs Williams getting the cottage ready for us,’ Angela said. Jasmine nodded in agreement.
‘Then what did you do?’ she asked.
The girl looked pleased with herself. ‘Climbed back in, of course. The woman had left some food – bread and milk. I really thought my luck was in. It filled me up that did.’
‘So that’s why there wasn’t anything here when we arrived,’ Angela said to Jasmine. ‘I knew Mrs Williams said there would be some basic supplies here for us.’ She turned to the girl “You didn’t leave then?’
The girl shook her head. ‘Why should I? It was nice and warm.’
‘Mrs Williams put the heating on for us,’ Jasmine said.
‘Yeah, I s’pose it was all for you,’ the girl said. ‘When I heard your car, I realised I’d better scat.’
‘But you didn’t go, did you?’ Jasmine said. ‘What did you do for the night?’
‘I hung around outside and when I heard you go to bed, I climbed back into your bathroom, real quiet like. I stayed there until it got light.’
‘You were in our bathroom all night, while we were in the bedroom!’ Angela cried. The girl nodded.’
‘Lucky for you, neither of us needed the loo,’ Jasmine said.
‘I suppose you came back in when we left for our walk,’ Angela said.
The girl nodded.
‘Ate our beans and took my jumper,’ Jasmine accused. The girl smiled defiantly. ‘And I expect you thought you’d do the same today.’
‘Yeah. I got careless though. I wasn’t expecting you back so early.’
‘It was raining,’ Angela explained.
The girl shrugged, ‘Can’t say I noticed. It was nice and comfy staying in. Don’t know what you’re doing going out when it’s this miserable.’
‘We’re getting some fresh air and exercise,’ Jasmine said. ‘How much of our food have you eaten today?’
‘Nothing. Well, just some crisps. I was going to have another tin of beans, but you came back.’
‘You haven’t had much to eat at all since you got here, have you? Not real food. You must be hungry,’ Angela said.
‘A bit. I’m always fucking starving.’
Angela stood up. ‘Well, I think you need a proper meal. I was cooking spag bol tonight. I’m sure there’s enough for three. First though I think we need coffee. Jasmine?’
‘Yes, but don’t you think we should get this girl to the police station?’
The girl leapt up and ran to a corner of the room. She crouched making herself as small as possible. ‘Don’t fucking dump me on the fuzz.’
‘That’s the right thing to do,’ Jasmine said, ‘They’ll investigate and arrest these men who’ve been abusing you.’
The girl shook her head. ‘No! They won’t believe me. They’ll say I just broke into this place to steal stuff. They don’t care about what men do.’
Jasmine realised that as well as physically and sexually abusing the girl, the men had also brainwashed her into thinking that they were above the law, that no-one would believe her story, so it was no point telling anyone in authority. She had read about it in so many cases. How else could so many boys and girls be exploited by so many men?
She approached the girl slowly, held out her hands to her.
‘I’m sorry. Don’t be frightened. I understand. Now I do. Look, we won’t go to the police. Not straight away.’ She coaxed the girl out of the corner, took her hand and guided her back to the sofa.
‘What are you suggesting, Jas?’ Angela said.
Jasmine wasn’t sure what was going through her mind. She started explaining, nevertheless.
‘We’ve got to help her but she’s right. It takes more than one victim telling a story of child sex exploitation before police officers take it seriously. Evidence is needed; not just other victims; things to corroborate their stories.’
Angela joined in. ‘Do you mean, we’ve got to get that evidence for her to be listened to?’
Jasmine nodded. Angela considered. They stared at each other, understanding each other’s thoughts. Moments of silence passed by. The girl watched them both. At last Angela spoke.
‘Okay. We’ll do it. I don’t know how, but I couldn’t spend the rest of our holiday here knowing that we’d handed her back to be abused some more.’
‘And worse,’ Jasmine added.
‘What are you two on about?’ the girl said.
Jasmine faced her. ‘We’re going to try and get your abusers arrested and ensure that when you leave here that you will be safe.’
‘How are yer going to do that?’
Jasmine shrugged. ‘I don’t know yet. We’ll think about a plan.’
‘Meanwhile, I’ll make coffee and dinner,’ Angela said.
‘And you will tell us your name,’ Jasmine said.
‘Er, it’s Nat.’
‘Nat?’ Angela said.
‘My Mum called me Natasha, but Nat could be Nathan too, couldn’t it?’
Jasmine nodded, ‘If you really wanted to be a boy, yes it could. Okay Nat. There’s something you can do while we’re waiting to eat.’
‘Er?’
‘You could have a shower.’
The girl looked surprised. ‘Are you saying I stink?
Jasmine laughed, ‘To put it bluntly. Yes.’
‘I’ll put your clothes in the washer,’ Angela said.
‘I ain’t got any others.’
‘I know that,’ Angela sighed, ‘You can borrow my dressing gown, and some of my clothes. They’re big for you but I don’t think you’ll mind a thick jumper that’s a bit loose on you.’
The girl looked goggle eyed. ‘Are you really going to look after me?’
Jasmine and Angela nodded together.

……………………to be continued.

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Jasmine hears a tale

Phew! A majority of Americans have slowed the Trump/Republican goosestep towards right wing dictatorship.  I don’t fully understand the American government system but with the Democrats winning the House of Representatives perhaps a stalemate will ensue. Just so long as the Law of Unexpected Consequences doesn’t operate and something occurs that no-one wants or expects. Trump’s press conference fracas is one.

To home, and an article in last weekend’s Guardian. It concerned the work of the Tavistock Clinic in London, which assesses and treats children with gender dysphoria, together with the recent ITV series Butterfly, which told the story of a family with an MtF child. I was disappointed with the Guardian’s editing of the piece. It struck me that it allowed a group of people, largely parents, to spout untruths as if they were facts with no real “balance”  (how you can have balance between truth and lies I don’t know). The main complaint against the Tavistock was that it doesn’t provide a service for 16-25 year olds. Well, no it doesn’t.  16 year olds are adults in terms of medical care and, yes, we know there isn’t enough cash in the NHS to provide care for all the people with gender issues. The Tavistock itself has seen its number of patients rise in the last ten years from under 100 a year to nearly 2000. It certainly doesn’t push children into non-reversible treatment. Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS) is not carried out on the NHS on under 16s.

Butterfly was a relatively sensible look at the issue and was advised by Mermaids, the charity for transgender children. Only in the third and last episode with a bit of fraud and a dash to the USA did it get unrealistically dramatic. The arguments for and against Max/Maxine were well-rehearsed and generally answered. It showed how long it takes for a child to get an appointment to be assessed. It showed the depth of the questioning to understand the cause and degree of motivation of the child, and it showed that patients are not immediately handed drugs to delay puberty. It exercised the view (spoken by a grandparent) that perhaps Max was a just a gay boy and showed that that was not the case but revealed that at least society has moved on to largely accept teens can be gay.  It dealt with the question about whether being a girl was truly Maxine’s idea or whether she had been pushed into it by her sister and mother who had accommodated or encouraged her wish to dress girly.

The critics of the show missed all these vital scenes and put forward all the false arguments that show that they were displaying their own prejudices and not considering their own children who may have gone through the trauma of gender dysphoria. To make the points once more:

  • Gender identity is not sexuality. Gender is about who you feel yourself to be. A child with a male body may feel themselves to be a girl or vice versa. Some, like myself may feel themselves to be somewhere in between, not identifying with the stereotypes at either end of the gender spectrum.  Sexuality is about who turns you on, who you want to fuck.
  • Gender identity and therefore, in some children, gender dysphoria, arises from the age of 3 or 4. Perhaps 1% of the population feel a mismatch between their physical sex and gender identity. This feeling may become a realisation that they are trans or gender-queer at any age.
  • Children are quick to learn what their parents, families, society, consider important, or disgusting or unspeakable. Becoming gender dysphoric is not sudden, but someone, even a child, may keep it to themselves for years before something forces them to reveal it.
  • Unless you are adult and have lots of cash, you cannot change your physical or legal gender quickly. The NHS is so hard-pressed it may take a year to get a first meeting with a gender specialist.  There will be a long period of assessment before any treatment is offered. There are many opportunities to turn back. Only if the patient is found to be mentally stable will an adult be allowed to go for GRS.
  • The number of children who have revealed that they are transgender, or gender-queer has grown ten-fold in the last few years but they still make up much less than 1% of their age-group. They and us older gender-questioning people are a tiny minority. Only by the understanding of the vast number of people who have never questioned their gender, can we have our right to life upheld. Traditionally the support of gay people has been important but with some lesbians siding with the radical feminists who deny that transwomen are women, the unity of the LGBT+ community is not secure.

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Layout 1I have received the final formatted versions of Molly’s Boudoir back from Alnpete and so it is go for publication of the Kindle version on 30th November with the paperback version available soon after. I’ll be sending review copies very soon so if you would like to receive one (free in return for an Amazon review on 30th Nov.)  then please contact me here.

The third episode of the Painted Ladies prequel short story, Monochrome, follows. We’re getting to the nub of the story here.

Monochrome: Part 3

Jasmine and Angela waited for the girl to begin but she seemed intent on gazing at Jasmine. Jasmine was impatient to hear her story but before she could urge her to talk, the girl spoke.
‘Are you trying to be a woman?’
‘I’m not trying to be anything,’ Jasmine answered irritably.
“Yes, you are. You’re a bloke but you’re dressed like a girl and wearing a wig.’
Jasmine sighed. ‘I’m trans. Sometimes I’m female and sometimes I’m male.’
The girl screwed up her face. ‘That’s weird.’ She turned to face Angela. ‘But you let him fuck you?’
Angela frowned. She wouldn’t be perturbed by the coarse language but Jasmine wondered how she would answer.
‘We love each other, that’s why we’re married. Jasmine has issues about her gender, but that doesn’t bother me.’
The girl looked puzzled. Which of those concepts troubled her Jasmine wondered – her muddled gender identity or being in love.’
‘You’re a girl,’ Angela said gently. Jasmine thought the statement wasn’t as obvious as it might be because while she was obviously physically female she had a masculine look about her. ‘but you dress boyish.’
‘I wish I was a guy,’ she said.
‘Why?’ Angela asked.
‘Things are easier for boys.’
Jasmine’s impatience won through. ‘Enough of this. What’s your name and why are breaking and entering our cottage.’
‘It’s not your cottage. It’s a holiday place.’
Jasmine waved her hands in frustration. ‘Okay, yes we’ve hired it. But while we’re here it’s ours. Now answer my questions.’
‘I was here first,’ she said.
‘What do you mean?’ Jasmine asked.
‘I was staying here before you arrived the day before yesterday.’
‘Not legally you weren’t. How did you get in?’
‘Through the window in there, of course,’ she pointed to the shower room. The room which Jasmine had thought was too small for anything but a kid to get through. In fact, she wasn’t much more than a kid.
Angela spoke softly, ‘Tell us why you were staying here. Why aren’t you at home?’
The girl snorted. ‘Home! Why I should I stay there? Damp hole and a drug-addled mother. That’s my home.’
‘Where is it?’ Angela asked.
‘Haverfordwest.’
‘That’s twenty miles away,’ Jasmine said. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘They dumped me here.’
‘They?’ Jasmine and Angela said in unison.
‘The guys that shoved me in their car and drove here.’
Jasmine’s eyebrows shot up. ‘Some men abducted you?’
The girl shrugged. ‘Nah, not really. They’d had enough of me.’
‘What do you mean, love?’ Angela said, her question hesitant as if fearing the answer.
‘Enough of pouring cider down my throat and fucking me.’
Angela gasped and Jasmine reached for the girl’s arm. ‘Do you mean that? These men were having sex with you?’
‘Yeah, that’s it. They took it in turns.’
Jasmine felt as though she was in her nightmare. She was back at the police station in their claustrophobic cubicle going through computer records and websites. How many times had she heard this story; a young girl being passed between older men, given alcohol or drugs and made to have sex with them.
‘No, it can’t be happening here too,’ Jasmine cried.
‘Doesn’t it go on everywhere?’ the girl said calmly.
‘Didn’t you say no when they asked for sex?’ Angela asked.
The girl laughed. ‘They didn’t ask. They just did it. Okay at first they were nice, gave me cider and some new clothes. I felt really grown up. Then they started to touch me up. Well, that’s fair enough isn’t it. You gotta pay for stuff. Then they wanted me to feel their cocks. I wasn’t in a position to say no, was I. There was four of them and just me. And I was woozy.’
‘This was a few days ago; before they drove you out here,’ Angela said, her face white.
‘Nah. That was months ago. They moved on to fucking since then.’
‘The same four men?’ Jasmine enquired.
The girl shrugged, ‘Them and others. They sort of passed me around, took their turns.’
‘But what did your family do about it?’ Angela said in an anguished tone.
‘I told you. I’ve only got me Mam. She’s out of it most of the time. They gave her some stuff to keep her quiet.’
‘What about school?’
‘I went most days.’
‘Didn’t the teachers wonder what was wrong with you?’
‘There wasn’t anything wrong with me. Except for a hangover now and then.’
‘But you were being raped by all these men.’
‘Yeah, well that’s normal isn’t. It’s what blokes do. It’s what girls are for innit.’
‘It damn well is not,’ Angela said. ‘You should have gone to the Police.’
‘Why? What would they do? Do you think I was the first and only girl these guys had? The fuzz couldn’t give a fuck.’
‘Some of us do,’ Jasmine said.
The girl looked at him with wide eyes. ‘You’re a cop?’ Jasmine nodded. The girl laughed and laughed and laughed.
‘What’s funny?’ Jasmine asked feeling as if she was missing something.
“A tranny cop! That’s a brilliant joke,’ the girl said through her continuing giggles.
‘They don’t know I’m trans,’ Jasmine admitted.
‘Oh, you’ve got a secret too. What will happen if the bosses find out about you?’
‘Let’s get back to you,’ Angela said. ‘If these men have been, um, using you, why did they dump you out here.’
The girl looked at Angela with sad eyes, sad that Angela should ask such a stupid question.
‘They got fed up with me.’
‘Bored with having sex with a minor,’ Jasmine said.
‘Maybe,’ the girl shrugged, ‘there’s always another little tart to fuck. But, the main reason was I made them do it.’
‘What did you do?’ Angela asked.
‘I cut my hair and started dressing in jeans and sloppy shorts instead of the little dresses they liked to see me in.’
‘Why?’
‘I thought that if I looked more like a boy they’d treat me like a boy.’
‘Why be a boy?’ Jasmine asked.
‘I told you. Boys have it easy. They get to give the orders, have the money and the girls.’
Angela spoke. ‘You thought that if you looked like a boy, men would treat you like a boy.’
‘I s’pose that was it. Stupid really. Didn’t go as I expected.’
‘Why not?’ Jasmine asked even though she thought that the girl’s scheme was wildly optimistic.
‘They knew I was girl, didn’t they, and some of them liked the idea of fucking me like they did boys.’
Angela let out a gasp as she realised the extent of the abuse the young boys and girls experienced. It was all too familiar to Jasmine and she felt sickened to be hearing it from the girl’s own mouth.
‘Is that what they did?’
For the first time the girl looked embarrassed. ‘Yeah. They hurt me. I lost it a bit.’
‘What do you mean?’ Angela said.
‘I hit one of them.’
‘What did they do?’ Jasmine asked, nervous of the expected answer.
‘Slapped me around. Not on my face of course, not somewhere obvious. Shoved me in a van with my clothes and dumped me out here.’

……………………………..to be continued

Jasmine’s calm disturbed

Another falls. The voters of another supposed free democracy have fallen for the strong talk of a right-wing, authoritarian nationalist. Brazil joins the other largest, most powerful nations in choosing (?) one such – USA, China, Russia, India. Back in the 1930s when nations fell by arms or the vote to fascists – Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal – there did remain a group of democracy supporting allies – the UK and its dominions, the USA, France (until 1940). Now though, I wonder if there will be any nations with clout left to stand up for internationalism, tolerance, peace, and the future of the planet. Definitely not the UK under a Conservative government.

I noticed somewhere a comment that 1/3 of the USA distrusts the media and thinks that the press are “enemies of the people”. There was surprise at this as if only Trump supporters think the media are biased. On the contrary I, and I expect many like me, distrust and abhor the rants of such as Fox News, the Daily Mail, The Sun, the Daily Telegraph et al. Even the BBC with its emphasis on balance rather than evidence-based truth gives us an extra push down the slide into chaos and disaster.

The problem is the silent majority who don’t support the rabble-rousing populists. They will remain silent and comfortable in their own cosy if a little hard-pressed worlds while minorities like immigrants, gays, trans, are first denigrated, then denied rights and finally eliminated. When a senior female policewomen says that the police don’t have the time or the resources to fight hate-crimes against women (that’s what misogyny is, after all) then you can see where we heading.

Yes, I’m pretty depressed about the new this week.

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WP_20180927_16_21_24_ProSo, to relieve the gloom, a reminder that Molly’s Boudoir will be available as e-book and paperback shortly and if you would like a pre-pub pdf version free in return for an Amazon review then contact me here. And here is the second episode of the new prequel, Monochrome.

Monochrome: Part 2

She stirred and realised that she had been asleep after all. She spread her legs expecting to find Angela’s but she was the sole occupant of the bed. Her eyes opened.
‘’Morning James, or is it Jasmine today?’ Angela entered the bedroom carrying two mugs. ‘You are awake?’
‘Um, yes. What time is it?’
‘Gone nine.’ Angela placed one mug on the table on Jasmine’s side of the bed.
‘It’s a long time since I’ve slept in this late when I haven’t been on nights.’
‘That’s good. You’ve looked exhausted for weeks. That’s why you, both of us actually, needed this holiday.’
Jasmine nodded. The pressure of the work in the PPU, short-staffed as it was, had meant little time off let alone weekends. The nightmares were just one symptom of her stress. The chance to take a week’s overdue leave had been grabbed.
‘I know,’ she replied, ‘and thanks for your suggestion in the night. I am Jasmine until James has to go back to work.’ That was a prospect she didn’t want to think about for a few days.
‘Good. Well take your time, drink your coffee. I’ll do a fry up and then we can get out and look around.’
‘Fine, but first come here. I may feel feminine but this body still has male responses.’
Angela laughed and dived under the covers.

They had an exhilarating walk northwards along the coast path. Jasmine was grateful for her body-warmer over the tunic and leggings because while sunny and dry there was a chill north-easterly blowing. They returned to the isolated cottage with its views over the cliff before the October sun had sunk to meet the sea.  The room that was dining room, lounge and kitchen was cosy. Angela began to fill the kettle while Jasmine headed into the compact shower room which formed the only other part of the ground floor. She shivered. The small window had become unlatched and was flapping in the wind. Jasmine secured it, leaving just a small gap for fresh air to enter.
As Jasmine emerged, Angela was tutting.
‘I thought I brought four tins of baked beans. We had one this morning but there are only two left.’
‘Perhaps we left one behind.’ Jasmine chuckled, ‘Surely a commercial accountant can count beans!’ They both laughed as they drank coffee.
They ate, drank wine, played cards with a pack they found, read and talked but by nine they were both ready for bed. They climbed the steep wooden steps to the mezzanine bedroom in the roof. To make room, Jasmine decided to store the clothes she had travelled in as James in the suitcase.
‘Have you seen my jumper?’ she said.
‘Which jumper?’ Angela asked while undressing.
‘The red one I was wearing yesterday. It should be with the jeans and shirt. I took them all off at the same time.’
Angela sniggered, ‘Maybe James put it away for once.’
Jasmine shrugged. ‘I can’t think where. Oh well, it’ll turn up.’ Naked but for her knickers she crawled under the duvet.

Relaxation and exercise resulted in another good night’s sleep. Jasmine awoke the following morning refreshed, and, like Angela, ready for another exploration of the coast. They set off eagerly, southwards with the wind behind them. By midday, however, the cloud cover increased, spots of rain became showers which grew in intensity and wetting effect. The breeze became a gale, which made walking along the sometimes precipitous cliff path difficult if not actually dangerous. By then they had turned back, bending into the north-westerly. Jasmine held her hand to her head to keep her long blonde wig from flying away like some rare seabird.
Jasmine was grateful when she saw the grey smudge of the cottage appear through the ground-hugging rain clouds. They ran the last few yards up the field to the front door. Angela pushed the door open, stepped inside and cried out.
Jasmine pushed passed her and saw a figure rise from the sofa and run to the shower room.
‘Hey! Stop!’ she shouted and leapt across the room. The bathroom door slammed in her face. She pushed it open and stepped inside. The short, slim person already had head and shoulders outside the window and was wriggling to get hips through. Jasmine grabbed the feet and tugged. The intruder had no way of resisting and slid back inside. Jasmine dropped the feet and grasped the waist, dragging the youth to the floor. He twisted and squirmed but Jasmine used knees and arms to hold him firm.
‘Stop! I won’t hurt you,’ Jasmine said. The youngster lay still. Jasmine looked at his short, brown hair, red jumper, James’ jumper, torn skinny jeans and worn trainers. Then she looked again. There were humps under the jumper. Breasts? Was it he or she?
Jasmine stood up, watching carefully for any further bid to escape.
‘Come on, get up. What are you doing here? Why are you wearing my jumper?’
‘Take it easy, Jasmine,’ Angela stood in the doorway, ‘she’s a kid. Looks like she’s been having a hard time.’
Jasmine saw the bruises on her face, and the marks on her wrists. Was she a kid? Teenager certainly. Thief?
The girl got to her feet slowly, looking all the time at Jasmine. She was shaking.
‘Come here love,’ Angela said reaching out for the girl’s hand, ‘You look worn out.’
She allowed Angela to guide her back into the lounge. She sat on the sofa with Angela beside her and Jasmine standing over her. The girl gave her quizzical look.
‘Are you a bloke?’ she said.
Jasmine frowned, saw the girl was looking at the top of her head, raised her hand. Her wig was lopsided. She felt a moment of panic at being exposed. PC James Frame’s short, masculine blonde hair should have been hidden by the shoulder-length tresses. She straightened the wig roughly.
‘It doesn’t matter what I am. Who are you?’ Jasmine’s failed to keep her tone in her upper register. The girl’s eyes showed terror and she shrank into a ball on the sofa. ‘I’m going to phone the Police,’ she went on looking for her mobile. ‘They need to know about this thief.’
‘Can’t you see she’s scared stiff, Jas.’ Angela put her arm around the girl. ‘You see things in black and white.’
‘But what’s she doing breaking into our cottage?’ Jasmine felt the anger bubbling inside her.
Angela hugged the trembling teenager.
‘Let’s hear from her before you bring in the heavy mob.’ Angela spoke softly to the girl. Won’t you tell us what you’re doing here?’
The girl glanced at Jasmine, gazed at Angela, swallowed and said. ‘Okay, if it stops you calling the fuzz.’

………………………….to be continued.

Jasmine in Monochrome

This time last week I was in Chester at FantasyCon, the annual meeting of the British Fantasy Society. It was held in a smart, large hotel in the centre of town and was pretty busy. It was my first time at a purely fantasy event but since my September novels are more fantasy than anything else I thought it would be appropriate. I had a very pleasant day meeting some nice people but was surprised that there were fewer cosplayers than I’ve seen at other events.

I attended the launch of three new books published by Elsewhen but only managed one other session as I found that I was involved in three myself. The first panel discussion was on Young Adult and teenage fiction. First of all, we agreed that the difference between YA and adult stories was the lack of explicit sex in the former with less-graphic violence. My fellow panelists went on about the teenage years being the time when people were finding their identity and tackling issues. That is true but it seemed to me that they were suggesting that adult life is not like that. I am quite sure that many teenagers live quite content lives, many are certainly confident and not all are troubled bundles of insecurity. What’s more, I don’t think it stops when you become an adult (actually, does that happen at 18, 21, 25, 30+?). When I look back at my comfortable life unaffected by unemployment, tragedy (both parents have passed on but that is not unexpected), or ill-health (touch wood!) it doesn’t look as though I have had troubles to face. But those of you who have read this blog for a while know that I have long had questions about my gender identity and in the last eighteen years, thanks to the support of Lou, I have tested and changed my self-image. I think many other people of mature age will also have “travelled on a journey” of self-discovery. In fact I think that if as adults we remained the people we were at the end of our teenage years we’d be pretty boring stick-in-the-muds.

WP_20181018_15_35_48_ProI also gave my “Cavorite to Coaxium” presentation which is as much SF as fantasy but that didn’t seem to bother the organisers or the small audience.  Finally, I sat on a panel discussing “queer characters” in fiction. I can’t recall any particularly queer characters from recent fiction (Orlando by Virginia Wolff – recent?) except for my very own Jasmine Frame, but I’m not that interested in seeing queer characters featured because they are queer. I want to see LGB, trans and non-binary characters in roles traditionally given to straight characters with being queer part of their personality not a plot device. I feel that one problem is that some queer authors are so involved in queer culture that they miss opportunities to bring in a wider readership. The bulk of the population still does not understand the terms or what people stand for; education is still a necessity. With the backlash from the right-wing gathering pace in some places, trans and non-binary people, in particular, need all the support they can get.

Molly’s Boudoir, the 4th Jasmine Frame novel is now in the final stages of preparation for publication. I am planning a publication date of 30th November.  A reminder that if you would like to receive a free pdf pre-publication version in return for an Amazon review on 30th Nov. please contact me here.

And now, at last, a new Jasmine Frame short story, Monochrome, well the beginning anyway. It is set in late 2008 when Jasmine was 25 years of age, well before the time that  Painted Ladies is set.. It follows on from Pose written earlier this year and comes before Flashlight written in late 2015. I hope you enjoy it although perhaps enjoy is the wrong word for this short episode.

Monochrome

October 2008

1

They passed before him in a never-ending file. Children, teenagers, boys, girls, white, black, brown, each bruised, bloody and naked. He wanted to leap up and stop them moving, to hug and hold each and every one; but he couldn’t. He was stuck in the chair, an office chair with five wheels, arms and a backrest that should move to support his back but didn’t. There were no bonds holding him down but nothing would make his legs work. One boy, about eight years old with short black hair stepped out of the line and came towards him. His skin was pale except where it was coated in blood or dirt or both. He reached out his hand in supplication. The rest of the parade had disappeared. It was just the boy standing on a featureless plain. Grey walls closed in from the distance. Close they came until they framed the boy. The box resembled a computer screen. Still the boy appealed to him. James cried out. A wordless cry of frustration and pain.
‘There, now. It’s only a dream,’ a voice whispered in his ear.
An arm reached across his chest tugged his shoulder. He rolled over. His cheek came to rest against soft flesh. He opened his eyes to darkness. Where was he?
The images of children faded into memory from whence they had come, and he remembered.
‘I’m sorry Ange. Did I wake you?’ He slid a hand down her naked body feeling the familiar curves and the warmth of her skin.
‘It doesn’t matter,’ Angela said. ‘Was it the same dream?’
He nodded, his head moving against her breasts. ‘It’s those pictures of the children. They just don’t stop. They’re always there behind my eyelids.’
‘You need to rest. You’ve been working too hard.’
‘We’re on holiday, aren’t we?’ The bedroom of their rented cottage was familiar again.
‘Yes, but I don’t think a fortnight by the sea will be enough for you. You can’t go back to that job again.’
‘But there’s so much to do in the PPU. All those children being abused, exploited and hurt.’
‘I know, love, but let someone else take over. You’ve been doing it for eighteen months now.’
‘Seventeen.’
‘Close enough. You’ve hardly had a break. You need a change. If you don’t apply for a transfer I think you may be damaged. You do agree, don’t you?’
He held her tight. He knew she was right. The stress of investigating child sexual exploitation cases online had been building for the last year. They had had successes, arrests, convictions, websites removed, but the number of cases kept on increasing. The evidence he had uncovered, the images, the videos, were constantly in his consciousness. He knew Angela was right. If he carried on, then he would become mentally ill. The message requesting a transfer was sitting on his laptop waiting to be sent.
‘I want a transfer to CID,’ he said, ‘but they’re not recruiting at the moment.’
‘Then go back into uniform. Another chance to be a detective will come along. I’m sure of. It.’
‘Perhaps.’
‘Go back to sleep. And remember, we’re on holiday. You don’t have to be PC James Frame for the next two weeks. You can be Jasmine all the time if you like.’
Jasmine smiled and hugged Angela tight. What would she do without her to soothe and support her?

…………………….. to be continued.

Jasmine in her own words

WP_20181018_15_35_38_ProYesterday (Friday 20th Oct.) was the closing day of the consultation on changes to the Gender Recognition Act.  When the GRA became law in 2004 it was hailed as a huge advance for transsexual people.  For the first time transsexual people were recognised in law and they acquired the right to change their birth certificates to match the gender they identified with and lived as. The rights of holders of a Gender Recognition Certificate were given further confirmation by the Equality Act of 2010 which included gender reassignment (i.e. those people holding a GRC) as a protected minority.

However to acquire those rights transgendered people have to submit themselves to medical examination. A diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria is the first hurdle. This is followed by at least two years of living full-time in the gender they identify with and the intention to take the medication and undergo the surgery at some point.  When the last occurs depends for most people on the length of the NHS waiting list for gender reassignment (or confirmation) surgery. Further surgery e.g. breast enhancement, facial feminisation, etc. is rarely carried out on the NHS. Thanks to the complexity (and cost) of applying for a GRC it is estimated that only about 5,000 people (transmen and women) have actually received it in the last 14 years.  The total number of transgendered people in the UK is probably somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million. For some time there has been pressure to update the Act and make it easier for transsexual people to achieve their aims.

Many transgender people do not wish to be medicalised and wish to self-declare their gender, if indeed they identify with a binary gender at all. Some transsexual people do not feel it necessary to surgically or medically alter their bodies but wish to have their gender identity recognised in law. Unfortunately, it is not just transgendered people who are involved in this consultation. Women (with some male supporters) have objected to loosening the medical constraints on transitioning and in fact, many women in this group, deny the right of transwomen to declare themselves as women. Most of these opponents to change want the law kept as it is while some, I am sure, would like to see the Act repealed and transsexual people returned to the limbo they existed in before 2004. Their reasons for this position is a perceived threat to women from allowing transwomen to enter their “safe” spaces such as ladies’ loos. I don’t think there has ever been a case, anywhere in the world, of a transwoman raping a woman in a female washroom. If indeed such a case ever occurred it would be ridiculous to tar all transwomen with the same rapist brush. Whatever the state of the GRA there is nothing to stop a man putting on a female disguise in order to attack women anywhere.  A transwoman is not a man in a frock.

The silly thing is that transwomen are on the same side as women in general in wanting to feel safe from attack and in wanting equality in all fields of life. The anger with which some women have attacked transgender people is startling and terrifying.  Some transgender activists have responded in kind and have campaigned to stop the women’s arguments being aired. I do not support that. Freedom of speech means just that, but there is no freedom to hate. All people should have the opportunity to express their opinion and explain their position. They should only be silenced if they threaten another person.

I hope the GRA is simplified and I hope that the women opposing transpeople do not get their way. In fact I hope that women will recognise transpeople as their supporters. I am not transsexual so not affected by changes to the GRA and am not likely to have my wishes answered – i.e. the ability to declare myself of neither gender, or both. Jasmine, however is.  Here is what she has to say.

“Hi, I’m Jasmine Frame. I’m a woman and I can prove it. I have a Gender Recognition Certificate and a vagina. But it hasn’t always been so clear-cut. 

I started feeling that my concept of gender was different to my classmates just before I became a teenager, when puberty was firing off all around me. Prior to that I hadn’t really thought about what I was. I had an older sister, Holly, so I quite happily played girly games like dressing up with her. I wasn’t interested in boy’s sports like football or cricket but I got into athletics at quite an early age. I had friends that were boys and girls who accepted me for being me, but gender rarely seemed to come into it. Then as the boys and girls around me started to change and things began happening to my body It came to me that I was going to be a man and I wasn’t sure I wanted that.  I learned pretty quickly that wearing feminine clothes wasn’t acceptable in a teenage boy so began to do it secretly. Holly was the first one to discover that and she helped me develop my dual persona of James and Jasmine. I realised I was transgender but was I transsexual or a transvestite? I didn’t know.

Meeting Angela at university was a liberation but also, perhaps, allowed me to put off a decision. Angela loved me as James and as Jasmine and was happy to be seen with either. I was happy having sex as a man although with the desire to experience it as a woman. Deciding to join the police in 2004 seemed, at the time, to be a decision time. I would be a man who liked cross-dressing in my spare time. But I was wrong. The need to be female didn’t go away. Angela recognised it as much as I did, probably sooner than me.  So in 2010 I decided to transition and Angela and I parted regretfully. The police, in theory, were obliging but I met obstacles from some of my colleagues. I resigned in 2012 having started on the process of becoming the woman I felt myself to be and set out to earn a living as a private investigator. Now every experience, every medical and surgical treatment, strengthened my identity as a woman (well, there were some cases that forced me to think about my position). Now that I have completed all the surgery I need and want (I have to take the hormones for the rest of my life) I am certain that I am a woman. I can’t say exactly what a woman is, after all, we are all different with various characteristics, personalities and emotions. I can’t give birth and that Y chromosome still lurks in every cell of my body but the X chromosome is there. 

Getting the GRC was a long drawn out process. Living as a woman while still retaining most of my male characteristics was difficult. We are always on edge, wondering if this or that stranger is going to take offence at our existence. Even now when a simple examination  of my lower region would convince most people that I am a woman, I am still wary of the person who looks closely at my broad shoulders, narrow pelvis (only slightly broadened by the fat the hormones move around the body) and somewhat masculine nose and jaw line. Nevertheless, I will stand shoulder to shoulder with women, for women’s rights and equality with men in all fields. I am a woman.”

Read about Jasmine’s transition and life as a woman in the Jasmine Frame novels and novellas.

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg…………………………

Jasmine bides her time

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“Meet the Author” at Wellington (Shrops) Library.

I’ve been reading Grayson Perry’s book Descent of Man. Some people may wonder at a transvestite commenting on the crisis in masculinity. He does, in fact, refer to his lifetime of dressing in female clothes and how this gives him a perspective on the life of a male. I agree with a lot of his points. With the suicide epidemic and mental health issues among men, the poor educational performance of boys, the rise of gang culture and its associated violence, it is obvious that men are in crisis. Perry rightly explains the problems as being due to the change in employment opportunities for men – the loss of physically demanding manual work – and the changes in society as a result of progress in equality (of all minority groups).  He is also correct that men are disadvantaged by their failure to accept equality of women and by sticking to old stereotypes; a world of equality would be, if not a utopia, at least an improvement on today’s environment.  However I lack Perry’s optimism that men are changing and that the adjustments necessary are happening.

Yes, there are more men who share child-rearing, household chores and other “feminine” roles. Yes, many men accept women as their equal, and transgender/non-binary people as “normal”. But, and this is the big barrier to entry to that wonderful fantasyland of equality, a sizeable number, majority or minority I’m not sure, of men do not accept those things even if they make a pretence of doing so. Misogyny, homophobia and transphobia (to ignore, for now, other prejudices) lurk just below the surface and can leap out to bite you given the slightest excuse.

I think it is clear that all the so-called “populists”gaining power around the world at present are unreconstructed cavemen at heart. They want a return to the “golden days” where “real” men controlled everything and everyone, when women knew their place and spent all their lives in child-rearing and drudgery. They’d like to see weirdoes like gays, trannies and people of different races confined to ghettoes or not suffered to live.

The fact that so many authoritarian males have seized power recently, the USA, Russia, China, Hungary, Turkey to name just a few, should be a warning to us that the gains in acceptance and equality of the last seventy years are not secure. The backlash starts with little things e.g. The US government refusing visas for unmarried partners of embassy workers when gay marriage is still not permitted in many states; in the UK it is now permissable for shopkeepers to refuse to serve you if they don’t like your message even if it is not abusive or threatening; increasing arguments about the use of gendered toilets by trans people, and so on.

To oppose the rollback of equal rights, minorities must show solidarity with each other. In this situation women are a minority as much as the transgendered.

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A reminder, that Molly’s Boudoir will be published soon. To get a free pre-publication e-book copy in return for a launch day review, write to me here.

This week I was asked if all the Jasmine Frame stories involved a murder of a transperson. Well, yes and no. When I began writing Jasmine stories I realised that she needed an emotional involvement in her cases.  That means that each plot, each murder, should have some gender identity component. But gender questioning covers a whole lot of different issues and  I have tried to make each of the Jasmine stories quite different. Here is a brief (and not comprehensive) guide to different “flavours” of gender identity issues.  Can you guess which stories each is found in?

transgender – a general term for everyone who has gender identity questions.

transsexual (transwoman, transman) – a person who feels that their gender identity is different to the sex assigned to them at birth.  They may or may not transition to live in the gender they identify with and may or may not proceed with medical and/or surgical treatment.

transvestite – a person who enjoys wearing female clothes either privately (sometimes secretly) or in public but does not live permanently as a woman. Originally the term implied a fetish for female clothes. Cross-dresser is a synonym which lacks this psychological definition. Some transvestites have an attraction for particular items of female clothing such as corsets, wedding dresses, high heel shoes.

draq queens – people (mainly men) who dress in an exaggerated form of female attire usually for entertainment purposes. They may be gay or straight, but are not often transgender.

she-males – men who dress in female clothes and may live as women but retain their male genitals to have sexual intercourse with men or women. Some may have breast enhancement to give themselves a female figure.

sissy – men who are forced (usually willingly) to wear certain forms of female dress e.g. French maids, tarts, little girls.

gender fluid/gender queer/non-binary/androgynous – a person who does not accept the binary nature of gender, rejects male and female stereotypes, and may adopt an appearance that is both male and female or neither.

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Jasmine needs reviews

Layout 1I am reversing things a little this week to make an appeal for reviews of the Jasmine Frame books. As I have reported previously, the next novel, the 4th, Molly’s Boudoir, is about to be published.  I am hoping for a launch date for the e-book and paperback around the end of November – just in time for Christmas!  I’d would really like to get some publicity on Amazon for this event and that means getting reviews. First of all, if you have read any of the existing three novels or the three novellas then please, please write a review on Amazon. For Molly’s Boudoir, I will send a prepublication pdf version free to any of you who contact me, in return for a review on the publication date.  Send me an email here if you’d like to take part.

The Jasmine novels are set in and around the town of Kintbridge.  In Molly’s Boudoir the main action takes place in the small town of Thirsbury, west of Kintbridge.  Kintbridge is a fictional version of Newbury in West Berkshire and Thirsbury is modelled on Hungerford.  All the locations in the books are based on real places but I give them different names so I can make small changes to suit my plot. It also doesn’t help that the town centre pub mentioned in Painted Ladies disappeared a few years before I published the novel because the whole area was redeveloped into a new shopping centre. For me Kintbridge is still the Newbury of the 2000s.

…………………….

I have never understood hate aimed at groups of people that share a characteristic whether it is racism, homophobia, transphobia or whatever. There are individuals that one doesn’t get on with or dislikes (I can’t think of anyone at the moment), but not whole groups, with the exception of the Brexiteers in parliament, Trump supporters in the Republican Party, and  autocrats running various countries. When I say “understood” perhaps I mean “don’t empathise with” because that sort of hate is, I think, a sign of weakness. Misogyny is one such hate. Are some men so fragile that they cannot bear a woman to match, or exceed them in any way? To hate half the human race seems to me to be an admission of inadequacy. And yet it is still very common and indeed with the rise of the populists/autocrats, is increasing. It is not just a feature of the alt-right. The Soviet Union made much of giving roles to women that were unknown in the west at the time – engineers, pilots, cosmonaut – but how many women did we ever see in those pictures of the leaders of the politburo watching parades at the Kremlin.  There are as few prominent women at the top of the Labour Party as there are in the Conservatives. I would like to see true equality where the gender of any individual is an irrelevant factor in anything that they do or say.

WP_20180913_14_43_11_Pro (2)Another hate I despise is that which suggests that giving trans people rights somehow lessens the rights of women. A piece on the Thursday PM on Radio 4 was, I feel,very one-sided. A male spokesperson for the radical feminist view that transwomen are not women was allowed to spout his distortions of the truth while Ruth Hunt of Stonewall was berated for not controlling trans-activists who respond to this garbage. Hunt pointed out that Stonewall policy was to support the current law of the land i.e. transwomen in possession of the Gender Recognition Certificate are legally women in every respect. This was the first time that I have felt that the BBC did not stick to its famous “balance”. A warning – denying that trans-people have particular rights denies every individual the right to be themselves.

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