Back to a familiar subject – the media and transgender. In the last couple of weeks there have a been a few items that have given me cause for thought. First was Jenni Murray’s comment that trans-women aren’t real women. I haven’t heard the full context of what she said but it seems that she fell into a trap of disclosing her prejudice. My first thought was what does she mean by a real woman? It can’t be someone with breasts and a vagina because many trans-women have those. Perhaps it’s the presence of ovaries, but what about the women who have had them removed for various reasons – do they cease to be real women. I can’t think of a single feature or lack of it that makes a woman real or fake unless we’re talking about the possession of two X chromosomes (even that is complicated by various chromosomal abnormalities). I’m sure Jenni doesn’t want to lump all women together in some outdated stereotype but she is reinforcing the stereotypical view of women with her discriminatory opinion.
Victoria Coren Mitchell did a piece in the Observer on Jenni Murray’s comment. I can’t recall her main point, if there was one, but she seemed to be commiserating with Jenni for being trapped in one of those topics where voicing an opinion is not allowed. The situation where speakers get banned from university campuses because their views may cause offence. We ought allow ourselves to be offended and respond with a reasoned argument and not close our minds to the views. I am offended my nearly every statement that emerges from this Conservative government, but that’s another matter. I don’t agree with shouting someone down simply because I think they are wrong. So I think Jenni Murray should be responded to but not gagged.
Which brings me to my last point. There has been some discussion about Ricky Gervais. Apparently, he made fun of transgendered people, specifically Caitlin Jenner, in a comedy skit. Was it offensive? I think we all need to be able to laugh at ourselves and perhaps all comedy has a degree of offence in it. Being transgender has its ridiculous moments but I don’t like being ridiculed. My rule is to replace “trans” or some other term for a minority group with “black” or “disabled”. If the joke becomes offensive to those groups then the original was obviously offensive too.
That’s enough of that. Don’t forget to go to the Jasmine Frame publications page to find out about the new novel, The Brides’ Club Murder. Here however, is the next episode of the prequel novella, Darkroom.
Darkroom: Part 8
They arrived back at the mainline station and having checked that there was no train for Diana until after four a.m. they took the short walk back to the hotel. Diana stood in the middle of the room and stared, vacantly at the double bed.
Jasmine pointed at the couch under the window.
‘Look that’s a bed too. There’s spare pillows and blankets in the wardrobe.’
‘Why don’t you lie down and have a rest. We’ll make sure you get to your train,’ Angela said. Diana nodded, went to the couch and sat down. She took her shoes off and lay on her side, tucking her legs up against her chest.
Angela took the blanket from the wardrobe and lay it over Diana.
‘There you are. Get some sleep if you can.’
Diana muttered a kind of thank you and lay with her eyes open.
Jasmine unzipped her dress and let it drop to the floor. She covered her underwear with a thin dressing gown and got into the double bed. Angela copied her and quickly climbed in beside her.
‘I hope Diana is alright,’ Jasmine said, looking at the curled-up figure.
‘I don’t think her head injury is serious,’ Angela whispered, ‘She was walking okay from the station, but I’m sure she’s troubled by what happens.’
‘I suppose we’ll see if she wants to catch the early train.’
‘Are you going for the train?’ Jasmine asked as quietly as possible to avoid disturbing Angela.
Diana froze as if she had not expected to hear her voice.
‘Yes,’ she said.
‘I’ll come with you,’ Jasmine said, swinging out of bed. ‘I don’t think stations are pleasant places in the early morning.’
Angela’s spoke her voice groggy with sleep. ‘I’ll join you.’
‘Sorry, I was trying not to disturb you,’ Jasmine said.
Angela gave her a tired smile, ‘I wasn’t sleeping very deeply.’
Jasmine pulled on the skirt and a thick top she had worn on the previous day’s journey and Angela quickly dressed too.
‘There,’ Jasmine aid, glancing in the mirror and deciding her make-up would do for a dark, cold morning, ‘We’re ready.’
‘What’s up?’ she said, ‘There weren’t any problems earlier.’
‘My train’s OK,’ Diana said, ‘The cancelled trains were heading south. I’m going east.’
‘South?’ Angela queried, ‘That’s where we were isn’t it? Where the club is?’
Jasmine nodded. ‘I wonder what’s happened.’ They escorted Diana to her train and saw her through the barrier. Just before boarding her carriage, Diana turned and raised a hand.
‘I hope she’s safe?’ Angela said as she waved in return.
‘Safe, yes. Feeling safe, probably not. I think it will be a while before Diana is confident enough to take another night out; as Diana at any rate.’
Angela nodded and they turned away to return to the hotel. As they crossed the concourse, Jasmine saw a railway worker walking on a path that intersected with their own.
‘Why are all those trains cancelled?’ she asked.
The middle-aged man sniffed and looked at her. His eyes showed that he suspected she wasn’t a real girl. ‘Body on the line.’
‘A body!’ Angela gasped.
The man shrugged. ‘Happens all the time. Driver reports hitting something and when we turn up we find bits spread from here to Timbuctoo.’
‘Suicides?’ Jasmine asked.
‘Mostly. Selfish cunts who don’t care what it does to the driver. Sometimes though they’re dead first.’
‘What do you mean?’ Angela said.
‘Handy way of getting rid of body isn’t it. Have a train mash up the corpse for you, if you’re a murderer, that is. The gangs and criminals do it to cover their traces.’
Jasmine found certain thoughts running through her head.
‘Where was this body found?’
‘Why you lost one?’ The railway man chuckled. ‘I can’t say exactly,’ he went on, ‘somewhere down towards The Tower.’
‘That’s. . .’ Angela began. Jasmine grabbed her arm and dragged her away.
‘Thanks. We’ll have to wait till they’re running again, ‘ Jasmine said, walking away and leaving the railway man staring after them.
They were back inside the hotel before Angela spoke again.
‘That body. . .’
‘Yes, I know,’ Jasmine interrupted, ‘it was found near where we were.’
‘The club, the Engine Shed, was right on the lines.’
‘Of course, it was.’
‘You don’t think? Surely Debs didn’t intend. . .’ Angela froze as they climbed the stairs.
‘. . .killing the guy who attacked Diana and me.’ Jasmine shook her head. She didn’t want to entertain the thought. ‘Look, we don’t know that this body on the line was him. It could be just a coincidence. The man at the station says it happens all the time.’
Angela was shaking now, her voice cracking. ‘But Debs said she would make sure he didn’t trouble girls again. She got her men to take him out the back exit. That probably opens onto the railway lines.’
Jasmine wrapped her arms around her and urged her up the stairs.
‘She wouldn’t be so daft to dump him close to the club. As I said it’s probably a coincidence.’
They returned to their room and quickly stripped off their clothes. They fell into bed arms enclosing each other. Soon Angela’s breathing showed that she was asleep but Jasmine kept on thinking. What had Debs meant?