We change throughout our lives. Life would be pretty boring if we didn’t develop, learn new things and have new experiences. Even our memories change. They’re not packed in our brains like books in a library, more like the foods in a larder which are taken out from time to time, used and replenished. My own feelings have changed over time and recently I made a fairly important decision.
I discovered I was transgendered (to use the term loosely) when I was in my late 20s. Since 2000, with the support of my dear Lou, I have been “out” and developing my female persona. While I decided that I was not transsexual because I didn’t despise my male body nor want to change it, I did think that I needed to pass as a woman. I think I was quite successful at that, at least from a distance. To achieve the look, in addition to the female clothes, make-up and jewellery I wore a wig and a bra filled with silicone boobs. The wig was a good disguise and the boobs gave me a more feminine silhouette.
For the last three years I have been out just about as far as it is possible to be out. I now assume that anyone I meet knows that I’m trans (even if they don’t) and I have also mixed up my two public images quite a bit. I’ve always felt that I was one person with male and female characteristics but to fit in with society’s expectations I have appeared either as a man or as a woman. Gradually though, my understanding of myself has changed. First it struck me that the disguise offered by the wig was hiding who I was (it was also pretty uncomfortable in summertime). A year ago I gave up wearing the wig and have since had my hair styled in a more feminine manner.
Now I have decided that stuffing a bra to give myself a bust is also presenting a false impression of who I am. I don’t have a bust and I don’t want to pretend I have one anymore. I have decided to just be me – the me that likes to have a feminine appearance wearing dresses, skirts or tunics over tights or leggings with tops in a variety of colours and styles. The me who loves to wear dangly ear rings and necklaces. The me who likes to wear lipstick, eye-shadow and foundation. Strangely, losing the boobs has not made me appear or feel less female (I think) although I now have the fun of choosing styles of clothes that suit someone who is tall, flat-chested, and mature (yes, I need to have regard for my age).
What does that make me? Do we still need labels? Am I transgender or is the term non-binary more appropriate though less well-known outside gender identity circles? Whatever term you want to use, I am the me I am now. Who knows who I’ll be in the future.
After that long ramble here is the tenth (yes, we’ve got that far) episode of Perspective, the prequel to Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design which fills in the career of Jasmine Frame, transsexual detective.
Perspective: Part 10
‘Mrs Gayle?’ Jasmine asked. The woman nodded. ‘I’m Detective Constable Frame. I’m here in connection with the death of William Smith, a friend of your son, Nate.’
A worried expression appeared in the woman’s face. ‘What about it? Nate has answered all your questions.’
‘I thought you should know that two young white men have been arrested for the attack. They are being questioned at the moment.’
Mrs Gayle shrugged but Jasmine thought she appeared nervous. ‘So?’
‘I was wondering if there was anything else you or Nate could tell us.’
‘Such as how the men could see that Nate and Wizzer were mixed race in the dark and the drizzle.’
‘What?’ Now the woman looked confused. She stared at Jasmine in the light from her hallway. ‘What did you say your name was? Frame? Didn’t I complain about you pestering my son.’ She pushed the door closed but Jasmine stuck her foot in the way.
‘You did Mrs Gayle, and I’m sorry about that, but I think that what happened is not quite what Nate has told us.’
The woman was indignant. ‘Nate said those men, well, men dressed as women, attacked him and William and called them vile, racist names. Don’t you believe him?’
‘Not exactly. Not after he’d robbed me.’
‘Not Nate.’ The tone was firm and certain.
‘Yes, Nate and his mate.’
There were thuds of feet on stairs and Nate appeared behind his mother.
‘What’s going on, Mum. Oh, it’s him. The tranny cop. I thought we’d got you off my back.’
‘Not quite,’ Jasmine said placing her weight against the door to ensure it couldn’t be closed.
Mrs Gayle turned to speak to the boy. ‘She, er he, says you robbed her, Nate. Tell me the truth. You still haven’t told me why you were out that late. I thought you were in bed.’
Nate shrugged. ‘I went out with Wizzer.’
‘To hang out together. Do stuff.’ Nate turned away and padded down the hallway. Mrs Gayle followed.
‘What do you mean? Nate. Tell me, I’m your mother.’
Jasmine stepped inside the doorway and closed the door behind her. She was in the house now and she was going to get some answers from the lad.
Nate turned to face his mother. ‘We were having a bit of fun.’
‘After midnight? You sneaked out without telling me so you could have fun with that boy.’
Nate looked over his mother’s shoulder and saw Jasmine standing behind her.
‘What are you doing in our house?’
‘Getting some answers, Nate. Look, I know it wasn’t the two queens who killed Wizzer. Tell me what really happened. Perhaps it was an accident. Perhaps you and Wizzer argued, the knife came out and it was Wizzer who got stabbed.’
‘Na, it was the fucking weirdoes. They attacked us.’
‘Why should they Nate? I’ve seen them. They may have been having a laugh at the drag night but outside in the dark and wet they aren’t the type to go picking a fight with two streetwise lads. Why were you and Wizzer arguing? Was it about your takings – the credit cards, the phones, my cash.’
‘What is she talking about, Nate?’ Mrs Gayle said, ‘What takings? Did you rob her like she says?’
‘Oh, shut up, you old slag.’ Nate shoved his mother against the bannister of the stairs and advanced towards Jasmine. She crumpled onto the floor. He slipped his hand in his jeans pocket and pulled out an object. A blade sprang from it.
Jasmine retreated until her back was against the door. Nate approached holding the knife out in front of him.
‘The little wimp tried to keep more than I gave him.’
‘You gave him?’ Jasmine didn’t understand, ‘You were divvying out the takings?’
‘Yeah, of course. Wizzer did as he was told, usually, but then he started to whine about deserving more.’ He shoved the knife forward. Jasmine winced and pressed back against the door. Even the sight of a knife made her tremble.
His mother picked herself up and reached a hand up to Nate’s shoulder.
‘Don’t you speak to me like that, Nate.’ She grabbed his shoulder and tugged. Nate span around, the blade sweeping in a large arc, an arc that intersected with the woman’s midriff. She let out a cry and crumpled to the floor. Blood spurted out onto the carpet.
Nate leapt across his mother towards the door to the kitchen. Jasmine ran after him, taking one step over the fallen woman and diving for the boy’s legs. They fell to the floor, the knife falling from his hand as Nate’s head crashed against the kitchen door. Jasmine recovered first, knelt with a knee in the boy’s back and pulled his arms behind his back. She regretted not having her set of handcuffs with her, but she wasn’t on duty and they were sitting in the drawer of her desk at the Police Station.
Nate wriggled. Jasmine pressed harder against his back and gave his arms an extra tug. He squealed.
‘Lie still or I’ll do you some real injury,’ Jasmine said. ‘I’ve got to get some help for your mother.’
Nate subsided. His mother groaned and writhed.
‘Stay still,’ Jasmine ordered, ‘or you’ll bleed to death.’ Jasmine was worried that that was exactly what was happening. She had to get help. Jasmine’s shoulder bag had miraculously remained around her neck. With her spare hand she fumbled in it for her phone. One handed she dialled three nines and requested an ambulance and the police.
‘Can I trust you not to run, while I try to help your mother,’ Jasmine asked. The boy grunted something like an affirmation. Jasmine let his arms go and shifted her weight off his back. She turned to look at the woman. Her jumper and leggings were soaking with blood and Jasmine could see that more was seeping out onto the floor. The woman was haemorrhaging to death. Jasmine pressed her hands against the area of the woman’s abdomen from which the blood seemed to be leaking hoping to stem the flow. It was all she could do until the paramedics arrived.
There was a scrambling, shuffling noise behind her. She turned her head to see what Nate was up to. A blow caught her temple, wrenching her neck. There were bright lights amid darkness. The darkness won.
There was another hammering on the door. Jasmine struggled to her feet and turned the knob of the lock. The door swung open. There were two paramedics and a uniformed policeman.
The paramedics looked at her, their eyes wide. They made to move towards her.
‘No, not me. I’m fine. It’s her,’ she pointed to the woman on the floor. The paramedics pushed passed her and descended on Mrs Gayle.
‘What’s happened here?’ the officer asked.
‘Mrs Gayle was injured by a knife held by her son. It was an accident but he’s run off,’ Jasmine summarised. She put her hands to the side of her head which felt sore. She was trying to make sense of what Nate had said.
‘And who are you?’
‘DC Frame. I came to question the boy.’ Jasmine searched in her pocket for her warrant card then remembered that Tom had relieved her of it.
‘DC eh? Where’s your partner?’
‘I’m on my own.’
The PC’s eyebrows rose. ‘Who is your senior officer?’
Jasmine couldn’t avoid saying it, much as she wanted to. ‘It’s DS Palmerston. I think she’ll be at Kintbridge police station.’
‘I’ll get on to him.’
‘Oh, OK. Are you alright? You look a bit pale but I guess that’s not your blood,’ he nodded to the staining down the front of her jumper and skirt.
Her neck ached and there was a lump on the side of her head. She took a deep breath.
‘No, I’m ok. Perhaps I had better be getting back.’
‘I don’t think you should leave until your superior officer arrives. Let me give her a call.’
‘Oh, alright.’ Jasmine leaned against the wall of the hall felling dizzy and nauseous. She listened to the officer speak into his radio. After a minute or so it sounded as if he had been put through to the DS. Jasmine could hear her high-pitched whine of a voice expressing surprise and anger. The conversation finished.
‘She says she’s coming,’ the PC said, ‘she sounded a bit surprised that you were here.’
The officer looked at the backs of the paramedics bent over the woman. ‘Is she going to be OK?’
‘I don’t know,’ Jasmine said, ‘but don’t you think you should put out a call to pick her son up.’
‘Oh, yeah. That’s right.’
Jasmine described the young man and the officer passed on the details to the headquarters staff. She sat on the stairs while the officer talked and the paramedics worked on Mrs Gayle. She was wondering whether she had got the story wrong. She had thought that Wizzer was the boss and Nate the lackey.
The PC finished talking as there was the distant sound of another siren. Less than a minute later, Jasmine saw through the open doorway, an unmarked car screech to a halt next to the ambulance. The easily recognisable figure of DS Palmerston got out and strode towards the house. The street and vehicle lights were enough for Jasmine to see the anger on her face.