A couple of times this week I have been asked if I mind strangers staring at me or people who know me using my male name. As I am spending the weekend in the company of writers, many who I have known for a few years and who know that I am trans, it is an apt question. I presume that unless one is an attention-seeking extrovert then having someone look you up and down, wondering what you are, is not particularly welcome. It is something however, that I have to expect, especially since I gave up the disguise that a wig offers. I know that anyone who takes a second look at me will question my gender and perhaps conclude that my physical attributes don’t quite go with the skirt or dress, the dangly ear-rings and the lipstick. The problem is that people still have expectations about gender; stereotypes still rule.
Despite all the recent publicity for transsexuals (do I need to name them yet again?) I am sure most transwomen and men still wish to be in “stealth mode” i.e. their past lives kept secret with no suspicions about their gender. Why go through all the pain and bother of building a new identity if you are out as a trans person? The point is I am not TS and am not living full-time as a woman so being trans is part of my everyday life.. To be blunt I am getting close to not caring what gender people see me as. I am happy if they accept me as me – someone who loves wearing clothes that were designed for female bodies, dramatic ear-rings, make up and varnished nails. By dispensing with the wig and having my own hair styled in a feminine manner, I have made a bit of stand, but anomalies remain. I wear a bra and enhancers though I have no breasts (not even man-boobs). My bust is a lie and yet it gives me satisfaction. I use a feminine name when I am “dressed” to boost my feminine credentials. Why? Because I still retain the binary stereotype in my psyche even when I am proclaiming myself as a non-binary, unique individual. I suppose being human is all about the fantasy picture one builds of oneself and it is difficult to see yourself as others perceive you. That is a reason why I appreciate having a partner who will give me an opinion about my appearance and stop me making too much of a fool of myself.
I have said this before – Jasmine Frame is not me. I have however used my experiences and knowledge of transgenderism to build her personality and the situations she finds herself in. She is most definitely transsexual, at least she is by the time of the novels Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design, and is determined to achieve a state of womanhood that requires not just hormone treatment but surgery. The stories explore her experiences but I hope I have made and am making the plots interesting in their own right. Here is part 5 of Perspective:
Perspective – Part 5
‘Off to chase more kids?’ “GG” Gorman called out as Jasmine passed the desk. She didn’t answer afraid that her voice might crack. She pushed the door open and descended the steps to the car park with tears forming in her eyes. It wasn’t the cold that caused them.
She got into the old red Fiesta and sat gripping the steering wheel. What was she going to do without the job to fill her days, and nights? Being a detective was the one thing that took her mind off all the problems of transitioning. At last, she turned the key in the ignition and felt a little grateful that the engine churned into a semblance of life. She drove home paying little attention to the traffic.
The flat was cold. She couldn’t afford to leave the heating on while she was at work, but she put it on now, made a cup of black instant coffee and sat on her threadbare sofa with her coat on, cradling the hot mug.
She didn’t know how long she sat there, occasionally taking a sip of the drink, but when her mobile phone gave out its familiar piped ringtone, the mug had become luke-warm in her hands. She put the mug down and scrabbled in her bag. The small screen of the phone announced that it was Angela. She imagined her soon to be ex-wife holding one of those shiny new smart phones.
‘Hi, Ange,’ she said, trying to sound cheerful.
‘Hello, Jas. I hoped I’d catch you on a Saturday afternoon. You’re not at work are you?’
‘I should be but I’m not.’
‘Oh. You’re not ill are you Jas? You don’t sound right.’ Jasmine wasn’t surprised by Angela’s concern. They’d been looking out for each other for ten years now.
‘No. I’m not ill, just fed up. I’ve been suspended.’
Jasmine explained the events and consequence of the previous night and day. ‘Palmerston wants rid of me Ange, and Sloane’s going along with her,’ she ended.
‘And you’re going to let them push you out? That’s not like you Jas.’
Jasmine smiled. Angela had always encouraged and supported her even when she came to realise that it would mean the end of their marriage, the end of their relationship.
‘I’m not sure I can go on being put down, given the mundane jobs, having my femininity doubted.’
‘You have the right to transition, Jas. You are a woman, even though you haven’t had the, er, alterations yet. You’re a good detective. Sloane knows that.’
‘Palmerston has soured him. He never was comfortable with me changing. I think now he’s looking for any opportunity to avoid having to see me every day. Suspending me is a start.’
‘You can’t give in just like that.’
‘What can I do, Ange?’
‘What you always do, Jas. Stick at it.’
‘Stick at what?’
‘The job, the investigation, being a woman, being yourself.’
‘Look, you said the suspects are two drag queens and the Horse and Barge ran a gay night last night.’
‘It’s an LGBT friendly pub, Ange.’
‘Well, why don’t we give it a look over this evening, Jas.’
‘Yes, you and me. I’ve been busy too and could do with a bit of a social life. You need cheering up. Oh, and we need to meet up.’
‘Because I’ve got a few bits of post for you and you’ve got those documents. You have signed them, haven’t you?’
Jasmine glanced at the pile of large envelopes on the dining table. They contained divorce papers and forms for handing over the house and mortgage to Angela. They were untouched.
‘Uh, yes, of course.’
‘Right, well I’ll pick you up at nine. We’ll swap post and the I’ll run us into town. We can have a couple of drinks at the Horse and Barge and you can have a snoop around for any clues to the identity of those queens.’
‘Hmm. Okay.’ Jasmine wasn’t convinced but the opportunity for an evening with Angela was too good to pass over.
‘Right. Nine it is then.’ The call clicked off. Jasmine sat staring at the phone. What could she possibly find at the pub. Denise Palmerston and the team would be there now questioning the staff. They had probably already identified the two queens. She looked again at the heap of formal letters. Perhaps she had better deal with them before Angela arrived expecting them completed.
Jasmine added her signature to the final sheet of paper and put the pen down. Her scribble hadn’t changed even though her name had but putting her mark on these documents was the final sign of the end of her former life with Angela. In a few months the divorce would come through, and very soon Angela would be the sole owner of the house they had bought together. Angela could afford it now that her business career was advancing at speed. Jasmine wondered what sort of career future she had. Not much by the way things were going and yet she had all the expenses of her transition to come unless she relied on the NHS for everything, in which case it would be years before she became the complete woman she dreamed of being.
She put the documents ready to hand to Angela and then went to the kitchen to find something to eat. There was some pasta and some pesto and that was about it. It would have to do. After eating she considered what to wear as she was going out with Angela. They were going to a supposedly safe and welcoming venue so she decided to be as feminine as she could. She went to her bedroom and stripped off her sensible work suit. She dug out a short sleeved, fluffy jumper which had shrunk a little in the wash. It clung to the enhanced curves of her breasts and ended just below her ribs. No matter, she was proud of her flat stomach even if she didn’t have a waist to crow about. She decided that despite being November she would not wear tights, but pulled on a multi-coloured mini skirt that revealed her thighs. From the back of her wardrobe she dug out the knee-high boots with the three inch heels and tugged them on her legs.
She looked in the mirror. Tarty yes, but she felt feminine. Long hair wasn’t really possible for a police officer so she still had a fairly short blonde bob. She brushed it up and back combed it to give it a little more volume. Some colour to her eyes and cheeks and a bright red lipstick completed her look. Now she just had to wait for Angela to arrive in a couple of hours’ time. Her little-used portable TV provided some entertainment.
It was ten minutes to nine when the doorbell rang. Jasmine glanced at her watch to check and smiled. Angela was always on time. She opened the door. Angela looked her up and down, raising her eyebrows.
Jasmine responded, ‘Yes, I know, it’s probably not an appropriate look, but I feel like making a statement.’
‘And what statement is that?’ Angela asked, smiling as if she already knew the answer.
‘That I’m a girl.’
‘I’m not sure it will say that when you’re in a gay pub, but if you’re happy. . . Here’s your post.’ Angela handed over a slim pile of letters. Jasmine glanced at them noting that most of them were probably junk mail. She dropped them onto the table and picked up the thicker heap of documents.
‘Here’s the stuff you needed. All signed.’
Angela took the envelopes into her arms. There was a sad look on her face. ‘I know what it means, Jas, but it is what you want, isn’t it?’
No, she didn’t want to lose the one woman she had loved, and she didn’t want to lose the comfortable life they had had together, but all this was necessary if she was to be the woman that she wanted to be in law.
Jasmine nodded. ‘Come on, let’s have some fun.’ She picked up her bomber jacket and bag and stepped outside the door.
The main bar of the Horse and Barge was dimly lit and almost empty, but it was warm after the cold, and damp of night-time Kintbridge. Jasmine shucked off her jacket and held it over her arm as she and Angela approached the bar.
The round-faced barman smiled and said in a sing-song voice, ‘Hello ladies, what’s it going to be tonight?’
Jasmine didn’t have to ask Angela. She knew their favourite drink from many nights out together, particularly early in their relationship.
‘Two white wine spritzers please, with soda.’
The barman turned away to make the drinks.
‘I’ll get them,’ Angela said.
‘No, I can still afford a drink even if I’m suspended. You go and take a seat.’
Angela shrugged and walked off. The barman returned with two large glasses half-filled with white wine. He held the soda dispenser above the glasses and squirted the fizzy liquid into each glass.
‘You’re a bit early for the entertainment,’ he said. ‘We’ve got a live band on at ten. A punk lesbian outfit. Should be a laugh.’
‘Oh, I thought it was a drag queen evening,’ Jasmine said innocently.
‘That was last night.’ The barman peered at Jasmine, ‘You don’t look as if you’re that type?’ Jasmine smiled. Was that a compliment? He didn’t think that she looked like a gay bloke dressed as a parody of femininity? What did he think she was? Probably not a real girl but TS or TV? It didn’t matter really, not tonight.
‘No, but I was expecting to meet a couple who are,’ she replied.
‘Well, there’s always a few in. Perhaps your friends will arrive later when things warm up.’
‘Were there many queens in last night?’
The bar man chuckled. ‘’Were there many? The place was heaving with them. It’s quite a joke actually because I had the police in here earlier asking me to describe two of them.’
‘The cops said that two queens were involved in a bit of argy-bargy along at the car park.’
‘Were you able to help them?’
‘Nah. You couldn’t see anything here last night for stiletto heels, false tits and beehive wigs. I told the pigs I didn’t have an inkling which pair they were after.’
Jasmine didn’t like being referred to as a pig but wasn’t about to give herself away
‘You didn’t help them much.’
‘I can remember the days when they’d raid a place like this packed full of gays and lezzers and guys in bras and suspenders. I give them as little as I can get away with.’
Jasmine dropped her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. ‘Do you know who the police were interested in?’
The barman leaned forward. ‘Well, I can’t be certain, but I went outside for a breath of fresh soon after one and two of the guys came out and staggered off down Dock Lane. All the rest were still having fun when we chucked out at three.’
…………….to be continued