I’ve been saying it, as others have, for a long time but now there is scientific support – there is no such thing as a male or a female brain and no support for the binary view of gender. The results are reported in this week’s New Scientist magazine (Brains are not male or female, New Scientist p.8 issue no.3050 5/12/15). 1400 brains of people aged from 13 to 85, were scanned and could not be sorted into two categories, male and female. People who identified as either male or female shared some but by no means all of 29 features thought to be associated with gender with a spectrum of responses. Qualities that have been associated with one gender or the other such as obsession with sex (male), gossiping (female), mathematics ability (male) were found to be no predictor of gender. The research team concluded that there are not two types of brain and “that we all lie along a continuum of what are traditionally viewed as male and female characteristics”.
It appears that we are all individuals and while our particular characteristics will determine our gender identity it is cultural influences which have forced people into the gender straitjacket. Those influences are very strong as was revealed in article in last week’s Guardian where even children’s nurses were testing language development by choosing gender stereotypical topics regardless of the particular interests of the child.
The moral is, do not accept any statement of the sort “Men are from Mars and Women from Venus”, or, only a man can read a map. That is complete, utter, nonsense. And resist being forced into classing yourself as either male or female if you feel your are neither, both or in-between.
There. Now onto the next episode of Flashlight, the Jasmine Frame prequel to Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design. We’ve reached part 10 and Jasmine makes her first tentative appearance as a plainclothes police officer.
Flashlight: Part 10
James stared into the wardrobe. What did he have that was suitable to be worn as a female detective? Female uniformed officers wore pretty much the same outfit as the men but in plainclothes they were more diverse even if a dark suit was the most common choice of both genders. It wasn’t a dilemma that had influenced Jasmine’s shopping pattern previously.
He had to make a decision quickly because he didn’t want to keep Milla waiting. She was sitting in their lounge, catching up with DC Money on her phone. What would Angela think, he thought? Another woman witnessing his transformation into Jasmine Frame.
He made his choice and pulled a plain dark blue skirt from the wardrobe and a light blue t-shirt from the chest of drawers. He stripped naked and quickly pulled on knickers, sheer tights, and bra. She tucked in her silicone breasts and put on the skirt and t-shirt. Jasmine looked in the mirror. It was a sensible enough outfit for a police detective, especially if she put a light jacket over it. There was another necessity – make-up. She hurried into the bathroom and quickly applied foundation, eye shadow and lipstick. It was a familiar routine and she could do it without much delay. Finally, back in the bedroom she pulled the blonde wig on to her head. She didn’t like wearing it but with her hair cut short for her male look, the wig aided her femininity. She slipped her feet into a pair of black pumps and emerged into the lounge.
‘Well,’ Milla said looking up from her phone. ‘I don’t think I would have recognised you as being PC Jim Frame. You look great. Most women detectives favour trousers. . .’
‘I don’t have any female trousers – not for the summer anyway.’
‘That’s OK. I sometimes wear a skirt. Are you ready?’
‘Yes.’ Jasmine checked her pockets again; keys, phone, notebook, warrant card – except she wouldn’t be able to show that – handcuffs.
‘Right, let’s go. I’ve got Amy Baker’s address from Keith.’
Jasmine followed Milla from the flat, locking the door behind her.
‘How’s DC Money getting on with his investigation?’ Jasmine asked as they went down the stairs.
‘He’s made some progress. He’s spoken to a couple of his informants and apparently the regular drug dealers are on edge because of the new stuff appearing. No leads on Natalie’s killers yet though.’
‘It could be dangerous if there’s a drug war starting,’ Jasmine said.
They reached the car and quickly set off for the address that Milla had received. Jasmine recognised that it was just a few streets away from where she and Gavin had found Natalie Peck’s body.
They pulled up outside the three story Victorian terrace house, now split into at least five flats.
‘This doesn’t look right,’ Milla said pointing out the broken glass in the bay window of the ground floor of the property.
Jasmine got out of the car and looked into the garden. There was a drawer on the untidy lawn with knickers and bras spilled out of it. Milla ran up to the front door. It was open. Jasmine followed her into the hall of the building.
‘This is Amy’s flat,’ Milla said pointing to the door which had a number 1 on it. It too was ajar. Milla tapped. There was a groan from inside. Milla pushed the door open. Jasmine saw at a glance that it was actually just a bedsit with kitchen, living space and bed all in one room and that it was a mess. Cupboards and drawers were open and their contents strewn over the bed, floor and small sofa.
Amy was lying on the floor. Jasmine recognised her but as she knelt by her side she saw that she did not look the same as she had in Natalie’s flat. There was a darkening bruise around her left eye and a small trickle of blood from her swollen nose. She was stirring, trying to sit up.
Jasmine put her arms around her shoulders.
‘Do you feel OK to move, Amy?’ Jasmine said. ‘Where does it hurt?’
‘All over,’ the woman moaned. ‘Ow, my head.’ She put a hand to her forehead, gently touching her left eyebrow. Her hand jerked away. Jasmine helped her to her feet and put her onto the sofa.
Milla was searching around the room, turning over the belongings scattered everywhere.
‘How long ago did this happen?’ she asked.
Amy looked at Milla, ‘Not long. A few minutes? I may have been out of it. Who are you?’
‘DC Sparrow. This is DC Frame.’
‘What are you doing here?’ Amy asked in a shaky voice.
‘Can I get you some water?’ Jasmine said, moving to the kitchen area.
There was broken glass and crockery on the floor and around the sink unit and work top. Jasmine stepped carefully and found a glass that was in one piece. She washed it under the tap and filled it with cold water. She returned to Amy and handed it to her.
‘Who was it?’ Milla asked.
Amy took the tumbler from her lips. ‘I don’t know. Two men, one black, one white, young. I’ve never seen them before. Why did you come?
‘We came to ask you some more questions about Natalie Peck.’
‘Is this related to what happened to Natalie?’ Jasmine asked.
‘I don’t know,’ Amy said, ‘Why did Natalie die?’
‘We think she was killed by a drug gang,’ Milla explained, ‘What did you know about Natalie’s drug dealing?’
Amy shook her head slowly. ‘I don’t know anything. I told that other detective that.’
‘Well, what were the men looking for when they turned you over?’ Milla pressed.
‘I don’t know,’ Amy repeated.
DC Sparrow pressed on. ‘Were they looking for the drugs that you have been selling?’
‘I don’t,’ Amy glared at Milla with her left eye partly closed. ‘I don’t know what they were looking for.’
Milla sighed. ‘I think we’d better get you to A&E, Amy.’ She turned to Jasmine and handed her the car keys, ‘You take her. I’ll stay here and call in soco and some officers to keep an eye on the place. I’d better get Keith down here. We’ll need to speak to the neighbours in this property and next door. See if anyone saw anything.’
‘Okay. What should I do when I’ve got Amy to the hospital?’ Jasmine said.
‘Stay with her. It doesn’t look as though she’s poorly enough to be kept in but that eye needs looking at. I’ll come and join you as soon as I’ve handed over to Money.’
‘And it gets me out of the way,’ Jasmine said.
Milla stepped closer to her and whispered, ‘Yes, I know you don’t want other officers to see you, but get to know her more. There must be a reason why the drug gang came looking for stuff here. Do they think she was dealing too?’
Jasmine bent down to speak to Amy. ‘Do you feel OK to come in the car. We’ll get the nurses to sort you out?’
Amy nodded and pushed herself painfully from the sofa.
Jasmine gave her a helping hand towards the door. ‘Do you want a coat? It’s quite warm out but we don’t want you feeling shivery.’
Amy pointed to a heap of coats fallen behind the door. Jasmine picked out a light waterproof and handed it to Amy. They left the flat with Milla already speaking rapidly into her phone.
Jasmine put Amy into the passenger seat then they drove off towards the hospital.
‘Have I met you before?’ Amy said still sounding a bit groggy.
‘No,’ Jasmine lied, ‘but I know you were a friend of Natalie Peck and were supporting her through her transition.’
‘Had you known her long?’
Amy spoke slowly, ‘We met at a support group, a couple of years ago. I was getting over my g.r.s. and she was hoping to start.’
‘She must have been grateful to have you helping her along. It’s a long and difficult process.’
‘Was there anyone else? Family, friends? Did she have any financial support?’
‘No, no-one, nothing. A few people we both knew, other TSes, but no-one close.’
‘Some odd jobs. Employers don’t want trannies, especially when they’re stuck in between.’
‘What about you? Have you got a job?’
Amy snorted then groaned. ‘Sort of. Cashier at the supermarket. But they only want me on nights. Zero-hours contract. You know. Like it or lump it.’
‘I understand. Natalie must have found money a problem. The NHS doesn’t cover everything a transitioning trans-woman needs and neither does job-seeker’s allowance.’
‘You seem to know a lot about transition,’ Amy said, turning her head painfully to examine Jasmine. ‘Are you. . .?’
‘Transitioning? No.’ Jasmine stared at the traffic ahead, ‘But I understand how Natalie could have been driven into drug dealing.’
‘She wasn’t on drugs – not that sort of drug anyway.’
‘I know but she was selling them to people who were.’
‘I don’t know anything about that.’
‘Somebody thought you did.’
They pulled into the hospital approach road. Jasmine found a parking space then helped Amy out of the car and into the A&E department.