I’ve commented once or twice about the recent media interest in transgender. It has really been quite frenetic and not, I think, just a consequence of the coming out of Caitlin Jenner and Kelly Maloney. Is the interest serious or merely salacious? I think the increasing confidence of some transsexual women (and men?) to take a prominent position and reveal their natures has generated some of the coverage but there remains a fascination in the diverse that generates newspaper articles and TV programmes.
It is this I think which has given rise to the series of Channel 4 programmes that have been shown over the summer, and which I am gradually catching up on. One concerned “trans admirers”, men who seek trans-girls for relationships i.e. sex. It was quite tastefully done but I don’t think achieved anything other than showing viewers that these men exist. What it didn’t do was distinguish between post-op transsexuals, i.e. women, those approaching surgery or those who live as females but retain their male sex drive. Most of the men were older than the T-girls they pursued. Does that give you a hint at their motives?
Another programme concerned a short summer camp in the USA for trans-children and their families. Actually they were all MtF kids and there was no indication of whether there is a similar facility for FtM children. This was a better programme, revealing the kids as happy girly girls – when they were in the safe environment of the camp and free of the stresses of normal life. It looked briefly at the issue of puberty blocking drugs (I hadn’t realised how expensive they are) and the fact that coupling this with gender confirmation surgery as soon as the person was old enough would mean they could never have their own children as their sperm would never develop.
I have at least two more of these programmes to watch to help me decide what Channel 4’s intentions really were.
Anyway back to the fiction and Jasmine Frame, transsexual detective, although in the current prequel, Flashlight, she is not certain what she is.
Flashlight: part 4
‘Yes?’ Sloane said looking up through bushy eyebrows. He was a grey man, grey hair cut short and a grey suit but his freshly-pressed shirt was dazzling white and his close-shaved face was a healthy pink.
James stood to attention in front of Sloane’s desk, hoping that his uniform looked smart as well as correct. ‘I’m PC Frame, Sir. I have some information about the death you are investigating.’
Sloane looked him up and down. ‘At ease Constable. I remember. You discovered the body of Natalie Peck.’ Sloane said.
James allowed his body to relax but he still felt tense. ‘Me and Gavin, that is, PC Brewster, Sir.’
‘I have your report in front of me, Frame,’ Sloane glanced down at pile of paper on the desk and picked out a single sheet, ‘Well written, comprehensive and to the point.’
‘Thank you, Sir.’ James was surprised by the praise. He’d been told that Sloane was a difficult person to please.
‘Well, what information do you have?’ There was a note of impatience in Sloane’s voice as if the praise wasn’t to be dwelled upon.
‘I thought she looked familiar, Sir, the dead girl that is, and after I went off duty I recalled where I’d seen her.’
Sloane’s eyebrows rose and his eyes examined James’ face.
‘Really, Frame? Where had you seen the deceased?’
‘At the Marquis, Sir.’
‘It’s a dance club, in town, Sir. It used to be a pub, rather run-down, but it’s recently re-opened.’
‘I see. A dance club. Do you frequent such places often?’
‘My wife and I like to dance, Sir, but last week was the first time for some while.’
‘Hmm. What were the circumstances of you seeing Peck?’
‘It was very brief, Sir. She asked me if I wanted to buy some drugs. I said no and walked away from her.’
Sloane frowned. ‘You didn’t report this approach?’
James felt himself turning red. Was Sloane going to discipline him for his failure to respond to law-breaking?
‘No, Sir, I didn’t. I know I should have, but well I was having a good time with my wife. . .’
‘And you thought drugs are so common these days, why bother.’ Sloane finished James’ sentence.
James was shocked. ‘Well, um, yes, Sir. I suppose that may have been how I felt.’
Sloane sighed deeply. ‘That way lies anarchy, Frame. If we treated all laws the same way as you treated the law on dealing in drugs then civilisation would break down. Anarchy.’
Oh, God, thought James, I’m really for it. ‘Yes, Sir,’ he said in a soft voice.
‘But you were having a “good time” with your wife?’
‘Yes, Sir.’ He’s rubbing it in, James thought.
‘I don’t suppose you have many opportunities to spend time with your wife as a busy police constable, do you.’ Sloane’s voice had lost some of its authority and sounded almost wistful.
‘No, Sir, especially as she’s been studying for exams.’
‘Ah, I see. Well I dare say I would have done the same thing in your position.’ James couldn’t believe it. Sloane was letting him off. ‘Is that the extent of your information, Frame, that Peck was offering drugs for sale at this club, what did you call it, The Marquis?’
‘Not quite, Sir.’
Slone’s eyes showed renewed interest. ‘Oh? What else have you got?’
‘Well, Sir. Having remembered where I’d seen Natalie, Angela, that’s my wife, Sir, and I went back to the Marquis last night to have another look. It was a week since the first time.
‘I hope you didn’t blunder around alerting everyone,’ Sloane said.
‘No, Sir. We were very discreet.’
There was a pause, then Sloane spoke. ‘Well, Frame, what became of your private investigation?’
‘There was someone else in Natalie’s place. A boy, offering drugs.’
‘Really. What did you do?’
‘I bought some, Sir.’ James pulled the small plastic bag out of his pocket and placed in on the desk in front of Sloane. ‘I was told it was heroin, Sir.’
Sloane stared at the packet. ‘Very good, Frame. How much did it cost you?’
‘Eleven pounds, Sir.’
Sloane pursed his lips and nodded. ‘About the going rate. We’ll see if you can be re-imbursed, Frame. Paying for illegal drugs is not a normal expense for uniformed constables.’
‘No, Sir. Thank you, Sir.’
‘Where did you come across this drug dealer?’
‘In the loo, Sir. It seemed to be where he and Natalie had set up shop.’
Sloane nodded again and thought for a moment. ‘By the way, you keep referring to the deceased as Natalie. That wasn’t his birth name. The body was that of a man although I understand from the friend who entered the flat with you that he disguised himself as a woman. Perhaps it was to hide previous criminal activity.’
James was confused by Sloane’s thinking. ‘Um, I don’t think so, Sit. Natalie was a transsexual.’
‘No, no, Frame. He still had his male genitalia. I’ve seen the body on the slab.’
James couldn’t help himself. ‘I realise that, Sir, but Natalie was waiting for Gender Reassignment Surgery. She had transitioned and was living full time as a woman so Natallie was her real name, now.’
Sloane’s eyes had widened and his eyebrows had climbed up his forehead. ‘I thought you said you had only a fleeting meeting with the victim as this club?’
‘I did, Sir.’
‘You talk as if you knew him well. All this stuff about transitioning or whatever you call it.’
‘I didn’t know her, Sir, but I have known girls like her. Her friend who let us into the flat told me about her while we were waiting for the SOCO team to arrive.’
‘You know girls like her? What do you mean, Frame?’
James stopped mid-breath. He’d gone too far, almost revealing himself to Sloane. ‘Uh, at places like the Marquis, Sir. There’s always some trans girls around.’
‘Yes, Sir. I’ve chatted to them from time to time. When I’ve been with Angela of course.’
‘I see, Frame.’
‘I think the dealer I bought the heroin from was a trans-man, Sir.’
‘Really, well I want a full report on your exploits last night. It looks as though we’re going to have to take a careful look at the Marquis.’ Sloane looked down at the papers in front of him. James waited. Sloane looked up. ‘Well, that’s all, Constable. Haven’t you got work to do?’
James snapped to attention. ‘Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir.’ He turned away and marched from the office as straight-backed as he could.
James returned to the locker room where he met his partner, Gavin. They chatted as always about football. Well, Gavin talked about Reading FC, his first love, and James listened, as usual, occasionally making noises to keep Gavin thinking he was interested. Of course all blokes are keen on soccer aren’t they? He couldn’t let it be known that he was more interested in the colour of lipstick that one of the female PCs was wearing, or the summer skirt that he was considering purchasing. He spent every day trying to fit in as one of the lads and every day feeling he’d failed but his colleagues didn’t seem to notice.
After a short briefing, Gavin and James went out in a patrol car, following routine calls like sightings of a known criminal wanted for missing his meeting with a probation officer, and reports of drug taking in the park. There was nothing like yesterday’s discovery of a body. It was early afternoon that they returned to the police station for a few minutes of lunch. As they entered the station the duty sergeant stopped James.
‘The Boss wants to see you, Frame’ he said.
‘The Boss? Inspector Metcalfe?’ James said wondering why he was being called for.
‘Who else? You’d better get to his office pronto,’ the Sergeant went on. James told Gavin to go on to the canteen while he climbed the stairs to the Inspector’s office. He tapped on the door and was invited to enter. Inspector Metcalfe, a dark haired man in his early fifties, shorter than the average police officer, was looking at the large board displaying the deployment of his officers.
He turned to face James and spat out a succession of short statements, and one question. ‘Ah, Frame. I’ve received a request from DCI Sloane. He wants you seconded to his team. This drug death investigation. Not sure why he wants you. It’s only temporary. A couple of days I hope. We’re undermanned as it is. Are you interested in plainclothes work?’
James struggled to follow Metcalfe’s quick-fire speech. He heard the final question first. ‘Yes, Sir, it’s in my file.’ In fact it had been his ambition since before joining the police force to become a detective. Then the rest of the Inspector’s speech penetrated. Sloane wanted him on his team. Just for a short time, but he was excited. He was actually going to join an investigation team. He saw himself wearing a suit, a skirt suit – Jasmine Frame, the detective.
‘Well, don’t stand there, Constable. Get to Sloane now.’
He shook his head to erase the fantasy. ‘Yes, Sir.’ He turned and hurried from the Inspector’s presence and headed for Sloane’s temporary office. Once again he knocked on the door and received the order to enter. The room was fuller this time. Apart from Sloane there were two other plain clothes officers taking up the small space around the white board. One of them was a man, a little younger than DCI Sloane, but obviously a police officer with a considerable period of service. Beside him was a young woman who looked a similar age to James.
‘Frame, come in,’ Sloane said waving James to join the group. ‘Meet DCs Money and Sparrow. They are on my VSC team.’ The two junior officers looked at James but he was unsure who was who. They shuffled to the side to make room for James. James stood beside them feeling uncomfortable. The man turned to him and offered a hand which James shook.
‘Keith Money,’ he said.
DC Sparrow gave James a guarded smile. ‘Hi,’ she said.