Is there such a thing as gender stereotypical behaviour? Continuing on from last week’s rant it would appear that certain feminists would say that there is no such thing unless it is learned. On the other hand some trans people deliberately adopt stereotypical behaviour to help them “pass”. And yet. . .
I was sitting in a children’s playground the other day (keeping an eye on grandson) and watched a group of six 7-8 year olds playing on the roundabout and swings. There were four boys and two girls. The four boys ended up in a large swing being pushed by the girls. Boys getting their way? No, it was the girls giving the orders, well one in particular. She instructed the boys to sit in the swing and got annoyed when one wanted to stand up. The girls seemed to delight in pushing the swing. So it was much more the girls getting their way while the boys meekly followed orders. I don’t know whether that observation supports either side of the argument but it was fascinating to watch.
Any way – on to the next episode of Split Mirror, the Jasmine Frame prequel.
Split Mirror: Part 7
‘You’ve seen it? How?’ Tom’s eyes were wide in amazement.
Jasmine smiled with satisfaction. ‘Yesterday when Diana’s car was logged at the layby I asked for the CCTV recordings from cameras nearby. They arrived overnight. I’ve been looking through them. They’re mainly of the approaches to the motorway but there’s only one that includes the layby and that’s at the edge of the field of view. Look.’ She called up the image on her screen. It was a fuzzy night-time picture. Tom leaned forward to get a better view.
‘You won’t have to watch much, Tom. I’ve stopped it just before the van appears, but it’s up in the top right corner. Watch carefully.’ Jasmine moved the mouse and clicked on the play button. There wasn’t much change in the picture although it became slightly clearer. A lorry appeared at the bottom of the screen. They watched it slow down to go round a roundabout and then disappeared off the top of the image.
‘There!’ Jasmine pointed. The blurred form of a white van appeared on the screen joining the road. It pulled across the road and turned right. In a moment it too had gone following the lorry.
‘That’s all there is?’ Tom asked.
‘Yes. I know it’s not much but it’s evidence.’
‘Well, it was a white van, high sides. Possibly a Ford but I couldn’t be certain.’
Jasmine was disappointed that Tom wasn’t more enthusiastic. ‘But it confirms Big Dick’s story and we have a time.’ She pointed to the screen. The digits read 11:09. ’And there’s something else,’ she went on.
‘What?’ Tom peered at monitor as if something might reveal itself to him.
‘The van didn’t turn towards the motorway. That’s why it doesn’t appear in any other of the recordings I received. It headed towards Kintbridge on the A4.’
‘So?’ Tom’s expression showed bemusement.
‘I think it means the driver is based in the Kintbridge area. If he lived elsewhere he probably would have taken the motorway. If I’m right and these three disappearances are down to the same guy in this van I think we’ve got a serial kidnapper on our patch.’
Tom frowned. ‘You could be right but it’s guesswork at the moment. You need some real evidence that links the three missing women and you need the number of that van. What are you going to do?’
Jasmine reached across the desk to her printer. ‘I was printing it out when you came along so I can give it to . . .’
‘Frame!’ Sloane’s voice roared through the office. ‘My office now.’
Tom flinched and almost managed to make his tall frame shrink. ‘I’m glad I’m not in your shoes, Jas.’ He shoved his chair back to his own desk. Jasmine picked up the papers from the printer, and responded to Sloane’s call.
DCI Sloane was sitting behind his desk with the computer screen on for once. DS Palmerston stood beside him, her face thunderous. Jasmine smoothed her skirt down her thigh noticing for the first time that she had pulled on the same outfit as the previous day.
Sloane spoke. ‘Frame! Can you explain this email I have just received from the area Inspector, thanking me for our assistance in the investigation of the disappearance of Diana Stretfield?’
‘Yes, Sir. It’s detailed in my report here.’ Jasmine placed the papers on the desk in front of Sloane.
‘I told you yesterday that it was not a case the Unit would be pursuing.’
‘Yes, Sir. I carried out some inquiries in my own time.’ As Jasmine spoke she could feel an eruption building. Sloane’s face grew redder and he duly exploded.
‘Your own inquiry! May I remind you, Frame, that the only inquiries you are supposed to follow are those on my or DS Palmerston’s instructions.’
‘Yes, Sir, but . . .’
‘No buts, Frame. If you want to continue in this unit, in this force, you obey orders. Have you got that?’
Jasmine gulped. Was he going to dismiss her? ‘Yes, Sir.’
‘Thanks to your interference, Inspector Sharpe seems to believe that we have taken on the search for Ms Stretfield. Denise tells me that you have linked the Stretfield case to two other disappearances.’
‘Yes, Sir. It’s in my report,’ Jasmine pointed to the papers in front of Sloane. ‘I emailed a copy to DS Palmerston a few minutes ago.’
‘There’s very little evidence,’ Palmerston said, ‘Just three women missing from PSEs, one of them a trans women, and a white van as a possible common factor.’
‘All three women are transsexuals?’ Sloane asked.
‘No, Sir,’ Jasmine replied, ‘It’s incidental that Diana is trans. She is almost indistinguishable as a trans-woman. She’s completed her gender reassignment.’
‘But it is your pre-occupation with trans individuals that caused you to obey my orders,’ Sloane said.
Jasmine nodded. She knew that she was sensitive to trans affairs. ‘I was concerned for Diana Stretfield, Sir. I wanted to confirm my suspicions.’
Palmerston spoke. ‘According to your report, Frame, the two witnesses at the local PSE knew she was trans.’
‘Yes, but they had met her on a number of occasions. There are still small giveaways, wide, shoulders, narrow hips, that may give away a trans woman on repeated meetings. But the abductor is not a regular. He presumably took the woman that was making herself available for sex.’
‘Hmm,’ Sloane mused, ‘Since you have put us in this position, Frame, I am not going to embarrass the Unit by telling Sharpe that he is mistaken. DS Palmerston will take harge of the case with assistance from DC Shepherd. You will provide office support, Frame, and coordinate with the officers responsible for the other two cases.’
Jasmine nodded but said nothing. Inwardly she groaned. Palmerston, had stepped in to take charge of her case and pushed her to the side-lines, again.
‘What you need to do, Frame,’ Sloane continued, ‘is to identify the white van and trace the driver. I do not want this case occupying my officers for long. You also need to consider your future in this Unit. Now go!’
Jasmine backed out of the office, leaving Sloane and Palmerston talking quietly. She walked passed her desk and Tom’s, her pace increasing.
‘Jas?’ she heard Tom call behind her as she left the office at a run. She rushed down the corridor to the door marked Ladies, pushed the door open and was relieved to find the washroom empty. She went into a cubicle, sat on the loo seat and sobbed. Of course she knew that Sloane was right. Going to see Debbie Stretfield and visiting the doggers was silly and against protocols. On the other hand, if she hadn’t followed her hunch then there would be little being done to find Diana. Now if they could trace the van driver quickly perhaps there was a chance of finding Diana alive. It was the threat to her position and her career that worried her most. It was one thing that meant almost as much to her as transitioning. She had had to give up her marriage to Angela and their shared house but he didn’t want to give up being a detective. Losing her job might cause her gender consultant to delay her reassignment and it was slow enough as it was.
Jasmine sniffed and stood up. She would just have to knuckle under to Palmerston’s orders and do all she could to solve case. Diana must come first not herself. She left the cubicle, went to a washbasin and splashed water onto her red cheeks. The door opened behind her and crashed closed.
‘What are you doing here, Frame?’
Jasmine turned to see a furious DS Palmerston.
‘Taking a break, Ma’am,’ she said.
‘I said what are you doing, here?’
Jasmine was confused. What did the woman mean? ‘I don’t understand,’ she admitted.
‘This is the women’s facilities, Frame.’
Jasmine had a suspicion where this conversation was going and she didn’t like its direction.
‘I know, DS Palmerston. I’ve used it since the Chief Constable approved my transition. I’m a woman.’
‘That’s what you say. You’re not a woman unless you have a cunt from birth. A real woman has to fight to get to where I am. A real woman understands the way the world works. You’re not a woman. You’re a plastic imitation, a Barbie doll. Why don’t you just leave.’
Jasmine struggled to remain calm but she knew she had to respond. ‘My body may not be right yet, but I am a woman and I’ve known it for a long time. I’m sorry that you can’t accept my legal right to declare my gender as female. I remind you that the law accepts that I am a woman and in a year or two’s time I’ll have my GRC.’
Palmerston stiffened and clenched her fists. ‘Don’t quote law at me. I passed my exams. You haven’t even taken yours. Whatever the law says you will never be a real woman with the experiences of a real woman.’
Jasmine felt full of confidence. Palmerston was on the edge and knew it. She just had to control her own temper. ‘I can’t say what other people experience whether they were born with female bodies or not, but I do know what I feel and I do know that anyone who denies my rights will have to answer to the Chief Constable, a court or an industrial tribunal.’
‘We’ll see about that Frame. Any more insubordination like this Stretfield case and you’ll be out and it will be nothing to do with your skirts and false boobs. I’ll have you, yet. You just watch me.’
‘Oh, I will.’ Jasmine brushed passed the DS and left the washroom.
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon