Jasmine in her own words

WP_20181018_15_35_38_ProYesterday (Friday 20th Oct.) was the closing day of the consultation on changes to the Gender Recognition Act.  When the GRA became law in 2004 it was hailed as a huge advance for transsexual people.  For the first time transsexual people were recognised in law and they acquired the right to change their birth certificates to match the gender they identified with and lived as. The rights of holders of a Gender Recognition Certificate were given further confirmation by the Equality Act of 2010 which included gender reassignment (i.e. those people holding a GRC) as a protected minority.

However to acquire those rights transgendered people have to submit themselves to medical examination. A diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria is the first hurdle. This is followed by at least two years of living full-time in the gender they identify with and the intention to take the medication and undergo the surgery at some point.  When the last occurs depends for most people on the length of the NHS waiting list for gender reassignment (or confirmation) surgery. Further surgery e.g. breast enhancement, facial feminisation, etc. is rarely carried out on the NHS. Thanks to the complexity (and cost) of applying for a GRC it is estimated that only about 5,000 people (transmen and women) have actually received it in the last 14 years.  The total number of transgendered people in the UK is probably somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million. For some time there has been pressure to update the Act and make it easier for transsexual people to achieve their aims.

Many transgender people do not wish to be medicalised and wish to self-declare their gender, if indeed they identify with a binary gender at all. Some transsexual people do not feel it necessary to surgically or medically alter their bodies but wish to have their gender identity recognised in law. Unfortunately, it is not just transgendered people who are involved in this consultation. Women (with some male supporters) have objected to loosening the medical constraints on transitioning and in fact, many women in this group, deny the right of transwomen to declare themselves as women. Most of these opponents to change want the law kept as it is while some, I am sure, would like to see the Act repealed and transsexual people returned to the limbo they existed in before 2004. Their reasons for this position is a perceived threat to women from allowing transwomen to enter their “safe” spaces such as ladies’ loos. I don’t think there has ever been a case, anywhere in the world, of a transwoman raping a woman in a female washroom. If indeed such a case ever occurred it would be ridiculous to tar all transwomen with the same rapist brush. Whatever the state of the GRA there is nothing to stop a man putting on a female disguise in order to attack women anywhere.  A transwoman is not a man in a frock.

The silly thing is that transwomen are on the same side as women in general in wanting to feel safe from attack and in wanting equality in all fields of life. The anger with which some women have attacked transgender people is startling and terrifying.  Some transgender activists have responded in kind and have campaigned to stop the women’s arguments being aired. I do not support that. Freedom of speech means just that, but there is no freedom to hate. All people should have the opportunity to express their opinion and explain their position. They should only be silenced if they threaten another person.

I hope the GRA is simplified and I hope that the women opposing transpeople do not get their way. In fact I hope that women will recognise transpeople as their supporters. I am not transsexual so not affected by changes to the GRA and am not likely to have my wishes answered – i.e. the ability to declare myself of neither gender, or both. Jasmine, however is.  Here is what she has to say.

“Hi, I’m Jasmine Frame. I’m a woman and I can prove it. I have a Gender Recognition Certificate and a vagina. But it hasn’t always been so clear-cut. 

I started feeling that my concept of gender was different to my classmates just before I became a teenager, when puberty was firing off all around me. Prior to that I hadn’t really thought about what I was. I had an older sister, Holly, so I quite happily played girly games like dressing up with her. I wasn’t interested in boy’s sports like football or cricket but I got into athletics at quite an early age. I had friends that were boys and girls who accepted me for being me, but gender rarely seemed to come into it. Then as the boys and girls around me started to change and things began happening to my body It came to me that I was going to be a man and I wasn’t sure I wanted that.  I learned pretty quickly that wearing feminine clothes wasn’t acceptable in a teenage boy so began to do it secretly. Holly was the first one to discover that and she helped me develop my dual persona of James and Jasmine. I realised I was transgender but was I transsexual or a transvestite? I didn’t know.

Meeting Angela at university was a liberation but also, perhaps, allowed me to put off a decision. Angela loved me as James and as Jasmine and was happy to be seen with either. I was happy having sex as a man although with the desire to experience it as a woman. Deciding to join the police in 2004 seemed, at the time, to be a decision time. I would be a man who liked cross-dressing in my spare time. But I was wrong. The need to be female didn’t go away. Angela recognised it as much as I did, probably sooner than me.  So in 2010 I decided to transition and Angela and I parted regretfully. The police, in theory, were obliging but I met obstacles from some of my colleagues. I resigned in 2012 having started on the process of becoming the woman I felt myself to be and set out to earn a living as a private investigator. Now every experience, every medical and surgical treatment, strengthened my identity as a woman (well, there were some cases that forced me to think about my position). Now that I have completed all the surgery I need and want (I have to take the hormones for the rest of my life) I am certain that I am a woman. I can’t say exactly what a woman is, after all, we are all different with various characteristics, personalities and emotions. I can’t give birth and that Y chromosome still lurks in every cell of my body but the X chromosome is there. 

Getting the GRC was a long drawn out process. Living as a woman while still retaining most of my male characteristics was difficult. We are always on edge, wondering if this or that stranger is going to take offence at our existence. Even now when a simple examination  of my lower region would convince most people that I am a woman, I am still wary of the person who looks closely at my broad shoulders, narrow pelvis (only slightly broadened by the fat the hormones move around the body) and somewhat masculine nose and jaw line. Nevertheless, I will stand shoulder to shoulder with women, for women’s rights and equality with men in all fields. I am a woman.”

Read about Jasmine’s transition and life as a woman in the Jasmine Frame novels and novellas.

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg…………………………

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Jasmine is still away

Not much to say this week as I want to get on with the fiction.  However. . . as I accidentally opened a A….. Prime account last week we decided to watch the much-praised Transparent before I cancel it – the Prime account, that is.  I’d really wanted to see Transparent for its representation of an ageing, transitioning MtF transsexual.  Having seen 6 episodes I am disappointed. The trans bits are fine and in fact Mora seems to be the only normal person there.  It’s just that her kids are dysfunctional – the son is a sex addict, the elder daughter is (re-)discovering that she is a lesbian married to a bigoted husband, and the younger daughter (apparently the brightest) is a drug addicted weirdo (that is not being prejudiced because I haven’t quite worked out what her angle is). The programme has a lot of gratuitous sex while lacking laugh-out-loud humour.  Also I didn’t know that American college professors were so well off. Although retired, Mora is apparently able to hand over her amazing house to her kids while going to live in a small apartment.  So, not the enjoyable, thought-provoking exercise I was hoping for.

……………….

IMGP5764Here is another of my writers’ group efforts from a few years ago. The task was to follow the first paragraph that was given to us. As you can see it turned into a sort of parody or pastiche of a type of detective story (not Jasmine Frame). I’m not sure whether it counts as a complete story or an incomplete novel(la) but it is a bit longer than my usual blog offerings. Enjoy it, if you can.

 

 

The Necessity of a Raincoat

It was 3 a.m. I’d missed the last bus. I hadn’t enough money for a taxi and it had started to rain.  My raincoat was hanging in the hall cupboard at home.
My mother always said, ‘don’t forget your raincoat, you never know when you might need it’.  She was right.  It was one of the essential tools of my trade.  Mine was not the stereotypical trench coat.  Pale beige with concealed buttons, it had two diagonal outside pockets.  It just reached my knees, a compromise between the possibility of wet trouser legs and being able to run, and it had a thin collar just wide enough to put up and stop raindrops dripping off the brim of my hat.  I can’t say I was that attached to it as I had a habit of going through raincoats rather rapidly.  Keeping rain off was just one of its assets but it was not much use in the cupboard when I was stranded five miles away.
     I hadn’t intended leaving home without it of course but I didn’t get much choice in the matter. It was nine o’clock; the theme tune to Softly, Softly, Taskforce had faded out and I was thinking of bed – you have to make up for the night work sometime – when there was a sharp tap on my front door.  I opened it and found myself lifted off my feet by two goons, 6 foot and 18 stone, the pair of them.  They carried me kicking and squealing to a car, a big one, a Wolseley I think.  They shoved me in the back seat and got in, one on each side of me.  The driver drove us off with no hesitation.
“Hiya boys,” I said trying to appear relaxed about being dragged out of my own home.
“Shurrup,” Gus, on my left, said, or it may have been George; with identical crew-cuts and black suits, they were easy to get confused.
“Where are we going?” I tried again.
“Shurrup,” said George, or it may have been Gus, and for added emphasis showed me his fist complete with brass knuckle duster.  I had a fair idea where we were headed unless this was my last trip in which case I was bound for a shallow hole in a remote field.  I was somewhat relieved when we headed into town and not at all surprised when we drew up at the “Golden Chip”; not a fish restaurant but the town’s brand new casino.
The two burly boys marched me down an alleyway, through a side entrance and pushed me into a dark space.  The lock clunked and I groped around finding that I was in a small store room.   I tried out my locksmithing skills, such as they are, but was defeated.  In fact, it was rather a secure door for a simple store room but the smell suggested it was used for holding animate or previously animate stock rather than mere paper goods.  I sat down on the concrete floor to wait, knowing that my kidnapper was intending me to stew for a few hours.
It was gone 2 a.m. by the luminous dial of my watch when the door was flung open and my two friends dragged me out blinking into the dim electric light.  They escorted me up a couple flights of scruffy stairs to their boss’ office and stood me in front of them facing his large oak desk.
“Hi, Boyd,” I said cheerily, not adding the ‘Big’ that usually went with the occupant of the leather chair behind the desk.  He tended to get a bit sensitive about his nickname.  5 ft 4 in his built-up shoes, big in stature he certainly wasn’t, but he was big in the business of fraud, extortion, and any other illegal activity you care to mention.  Big Boyd was the biggest big man in town.  He’d even bribed the council planning officers to turn the town’s third best cinema into a casino.  He wanted to bring 1970s Las Vegas to a part of middle England that hadn’t yet discovered the 60s.
He glared at me from the tiny dark eyes under his thick bushy brows and Brylcreamed black hair.
“Henley, isn’t it; private dick,” he sneered.
“Joe Henley,” I nodded, almost adding ‘at your service’ but there was no way I wanted to be in his service.
“You’ve been snooping,” he said.
I didn’t answer.
“I don’t like people nosing around my property, particularly good for nothing losers like you.”
I was a bit offended by his assessment of my skills but still I said nothing.
“What’s your story?” he went on, his neck beginning to turn pink as his level of frustration grew.  I didn’t speak while I tried to think of a suitable answer.
“Look, you may think you’re tough,” he went on, “but my lads can soon have you chatting away as if your life depended on it.”  He didn’t add ‘which it may’.  Actually, I’m your original ten stone weakling, so being tough is not one of my attributes.
I felt hot breath on the back of my neck as Gus or George panted with anticipation of a bit of violent recreation.
“I’m on a case,” I said at last.
“Aren’t you the lucky one.  I’m surprised anyone would choose you to pack a case let alone solve one,” he laughed at his little joke and Gus and George chuckled.
“It’s a missing girl,” I went on ignoring his banter.  I thought I might as well tell him as I was damn sure he knew the story anyway.
“So why have you been snooping around my business?”
“She was last seen coming into this place.”
“Hundreds of people come here every night.  The Golden Chip is a popular recreational establishment.”
“But most come out again.  This girl apparently didn’t.”
“Oh, come now,” Boyd smiled and shrugged, “Everyone leaves sometime.  She probably went off with some new friends.”
“Perhaps,” I conceded.  It was exactly those new friends that I was concerned about.
“I’d certainly know if someone was hanging round when we closed up, so you’ve no reason to be concerned on that score.”  He gave me his widest smile, the one that reminded me of a crocodile just about to snap.
“None at all, as you say.”
“Well, I’m glad that’s settled.  Gus and George will see you out with a little reminder of what we think about snoopers.” He nodded to my companions and dropped his head to read some papers.  I was lifted by strong hands under my armpits and carried out.  We returned to the side entrance.  I suppose I hoped to be just thrown out but Gus and George were keen to carry out Boyd’s final order.  How do you brace yourself for a beating?  I’ve never found an answer.  Gus or George held me up and George or Gus hit me in the stomach, first with his right and then his left.  Then they threw me out.
I lay winded for a few minutes before I summoned the energy to haul myself to my feet then staggered to the main road.  It was quiet.  The lucky and not so lucky punters had all left.  The last bus was long gone.  I had no money for a taxi, and it was starting to rain.
       It was gone five when I made it home, wet, exhausted and sick.  My front door was still open and the lights were on but speculative thieves had not made use of the opportunity, which was one cause for celebration.  I crawled up the stairs, pulled off my soaking clothes and fell on the bed.
The alarm clock woke me a couple of hours later.  I flung it off the bedside table feeling like death but forced myself to sit up.  My abdomen ached and I was cold but a long hot shower helped me feel something like human.  I couldn’t face food but a hot, sweet cup of tea brightened up my morning and I felt ready to contemplate the case.
Why was Big Boyd so concerned to warn me off the Lucy Miller case?  Lucy was a nineteen-year-old student who considered university an opportunity to party. To Mr and Mrs Miller, nevertheless, she was still their little princess, as pure and spotless as a fairytale heroine. When Lucy didn’t ‘phone them for a day or two they got worried.  Of course, the police weren’t interested –  how many students ring their parents every other day.  So, the Millers came to me convinced that Lucy was missing. It didn’t take me long to find out that she was.  None of her student friends or lecturers had seen her for days but, as I told Boyd, I had traced her as far as the Golden Chip.  She’d told a girlfriend that she was going there but who she went with I had yet to discover.
Perhaps Boyd thought that his warning would be enough to deter me, in which case he knew me less well than I knew him, especially as I now knew that my investigations had set his alarm bells ringing.   I dressed, took my raincoat out of the cupboard and got the Austin 1100 out of the garage.
I parked a few streets from the casino and wandered down the High Street with my raincoat over my arm. It was a fine, early spring morning.  The overnight rain had cleaned the place up and given it a fresh odour. There were more people around than at 3 a.m., quite a lot in fact, in and out of the butchers, bakers, grocers and hardware stores.  I went into a little cafe opposite the Golden Chip and sat in the window sipping a hot, sweet tea.   Nobody went into or came out of the old cinema building and there was no sign of the big Wolseley or Boyd’s own Roller.  I decided this was probably as good a time as any to do some real snooping.
I crossed the road and looked carefully left and right.  At the end of the alleyway beside the casino I noticed some rubbish bins.  It’s always worth looking at what people have thrown out and my luck was in.  Among the potato peelings and empty whisky bottles was a black and white mini dress.  It was creased and dirty but there no stains that were obviously blood which was heartening. It was Lucy’s.  How did I know?  Well the name tag obviously sewed on by her loving mother gave it away.  If her dress hadn’t left then there was a chance she hadn’t either.  I had to give the casino itself a good going over notwithstanding Boyd’s warnings.
I drew my pistol from the pocket and wrapped the raincoat around my hand.  A raincoat makes a satisfactory silencer and conceals the weapon from casual inspection.  Then I tried the side entrance.   It wasn’t as strong as the door to the storeroom where I was locked up and gave with a good shove of my shoulder. I slipped inside, pulled the door closed and listened.  There were no sounds of movement.  I was hoping that the nocturnal crooks were safely tucked up in bed.   I moved along the narrow corridor trying all the doors.  Most were unlocked and opened to reveal nothing of interest.  I climbed the stairs and searched the upper floors.  I was getting a bit nervous of the time I was taking when I climbed the final flight to the attic rooms.  The first door opened to reveal piles of old film cases and rolled up posters; a treasure trove for movie buffs but not what I was after.
I got to the last low door cut to fit the roof line.  I tried the handle.  It was locked.  I thought I heard a noise and placed my ear against the wood.  There were sounds muffled by more than the thickness of the door.  I stepped back and charged.  The door jamb splintered and I fell through.  Something sharp hit my forehead and I struggled to regain my balance.  I lifted the pistol ready to fire.  The small room, a cupboard really, was lit by a hurricane lamp that had hung from the roof just inside the door and was now on the floor, fuel spilling out, catching alight.  I grabbed my raincoat in my spare hand and beat at the fire, smothering the blue flickers before they became roaring orange flames.   Panting, but reassured that I had not set off an inferno I looked around.  It was pretty dark now but what I could see was pretty significant.  On the floor with ankles and wrists tied, dressed in just knickers and a bra was a young woman.  A pair of tights, hers I presumed, was tied around her mouth.  She was wriggling and mumbling.  Her eyes stared at me, wide open and scared.
“It’s OK, Lucy,” I said, “I’m a friend.  I’ve come to get you.”   I bent down feeling in my jacket pocket for my Swiss army knife.  It took quite a few moments to cut through the ropes around her wrists then I set to releasing her ankles while she tugged at the gag.  At last after much effort she was freed and struggled unsteadily to her feet, shivering.
“Are you the police?” she asked, quite understandably.
“No, and we need to get out of here quick before someone comes back for you.  Put my coat on.”  I offered my raincoat, now a little singed and covered in soot.  She put her arms in the sleeves and wrapped it around her torso.  I grabbed her arm with my left hand and dragged her from her cupboard, leading with my pistol.
There wasn’t opportunity for conversation as we went down the flights of stairs, pausing on each landing to listen for sounds of other occupants of the building.  My heart was thudding in my chest as I anticipated Boyd, Gus and George or any of his other bully boys appearing, but we reached the ground floor without incident and exited through the shattered side door.
The alleyway, enclosed on both sides by tall buildings seemed to stretch to infinity but it was our only route back to the civilised world of the High Street.  I kept Lucy behind me trying to hide or shield her just in case one or more of Boyd’s employees appeared.  I could hear behind me her miserable sniffles and stifled squeals as her bare feet stepped on the sharp gravel.   I dragged her along as fast as I could, waving the pistol in front of me, my trigger finger tensed.  I wasn’t afraid to fire in order to make our escape and thoughts of innocent bystanders barely passed through my head.  I suppose it took us ten seconds to get to the road but it felt like ten years.  We burst out into the hustle and bustle of a daytime shopping neighbourhood.  I pocketed my pistol, drew Lucy to my side and hurried down the pavement, zigging and zagging around shoppers and tradesmen.   No doubt people looked at us and wondered, but we had passed them before it occurred to them to question us.
We reached my parked 1100 and I bundled Lucy into the passenger seat.  I ran around to get into the driving position and had the key in the ignition, engine running and in gear in one smooth movement.  I pulled into the traffic and glanced at my passenger.  She had folded in on herself with my raincoat wrapped tightly around her.
“I want to hear your story,” I said as calmly and kindly as I could manage, “but we must get you somewhere safe.”  The question was where that might be.    My house was the first place Boyd would think of looking when he discovered his loss, and Lucy’s digs would be the second.   A police station would be the normal, respectable answer, but in this town, Big Boyd’s fiefdom, I wasn’t certain of where the loyalties of the boys in blue lay.  I’d rescued Lucy, at the expense of one raincoat but I wasn’t certain I could keep her safe. This story had some life in it yet.
……………………

Jasmine – a new cover

There is no new Jasmine Frame story this week.  I’ve been busy on other matters and anyway, I think a break between stories is probably a good idea.  One thing I’ve been doing is getting all the extra bits ready for the publication of  The Brides’ Club Murder, Jasmine’s third novel. One of these bits is the back cover blurb, which is also what you’ll see when you look up the ebook on a certain website. I find blurbs difficult.  They have to be gripping and exciting enough to attract a reader (and buyer) but not give too much of the plot away. I admit that when I’m choosing a book the blurb is one of the first things I look at and my decision will have a lot to do with what impression the blurb had. On the other hand I’m not sure what it is in a blurb that makes me buy the book. The result is I’m never sure if I’ve got my own blurbs right.

I had to write two blurbs. One for the back cover of The Brides’ and another for the next book in the series, the 4th which I’ve called Molly’s Boudoir. The problem is of course that I haven’t written that novel yet, but I want readers of the 3rd to know that there will be a 4th. It’s a bit like the James Bond films  which end with “James Bond will return” except that I’m trying to give a hint about the plot. I have a plot outline and I know it will take place just after Jasmine’s, at last, had her gender reassignment surgery, but that is it. J K Rowling has said that she had all of the seven Potter books in her head right from the first. I wonder. Were they carefully plotted stories or a vague outline of the story arc over the seven years of Harry’s life that the novels cover?

Nevertheless, The Brides’ will be out soon and some time in the next year or two I’ll get down to Molly’s Boudoir.  So here as a taster is a preview of the cover and blurb for The Brides’ Club Murder.

Layout 1

A country house hotel

A death

Ten suspects

Jasmine Frame has a weekend to identify the killer before the attendees of the Butterfly Ball disperse. She must pretend to enjoy the strange activities of the Wedding Belles, but, with her gender reassignment still some way off she is uncomfortable confined with a party of transvestites. Nevertheless, she relishes a mystery. What drove a member of the group to kill and are they prepared to kill again?

 

You may have noticed that there isn’t a rant, either, this week. There’s plenty to rant about but I think I’m suffering from rant exhaustion. I’m on tenterhooks (what a lovely word – look it up) as to what the future holds but I am tired of people repeating the same observations and arguments about Brexit, Trump, et al. Those of us who oppose those lurches towards a right wing dystopia really have to find new means of achieving a majority and I don’t think more dodgy dossiers help.  I’ve heard it a few times this week – we’ve got to stop talking only to those who think the same as us – but it’s scary getting out there.

 

 

 

Jasmine in lists

I’ve been thinking about misogyny i.e. hatred of women. Some time ago a police force in England announced that it was considering treating acts of misogyny like other hate-crimes of minority groups. This means that all incidents are logged even if no actual crime can be said to have taken place (e.g. swearing at someone can be an offence in a public place but not in a private home). There are enhanced punishments for those convicted of a hate-crime. Women may not be a minority group but they are certainly targeted in various ways, from wolf whistles in the street to rape and murder, simply for being women. This is the indicator of a hate-crime.

Many men would no doubt say that they do not hate women and the whistles and comments and groping are signs that they are actually attracted to the object of their attention. That is not the point. That sort of behaviour shows that they hate the idea of a woman as an independent, thinking person with the same rights as themselves. The case of Trump (I hope that he will soon be forgotten and we don’t have to keep using him as an example) shows this. Treating any women as a plaything and bragging about it in “the locker-room” or the saloon bar or wherever to other blokes reveals the true misogynist nature of the man.

Of course whenever this kind of crime comes up we are reminded of George Orwell’s thoughtcrime. Is it wrong to think of women in this way? Well, I don’t think people should be prosecuted for their thoughts but I do think it shows that we have a long way to go to educate men and boys that women and girls have the right not to be the object of their attention whether verbal, manual or sexual, at least until they have consented. Education does not mean brain-washing, it means explaining and developing an understanding. It is disappointing if some men still show their misogyny in the way that they talk to other men but it is their actions towards women that should be punished.

A final thought. Some feminists refuse to accept transwomen as women or allies in the fight against misogyny.  I think that though wrong they have some reason for their actions. There are some transvestites (not, I think transsexuals) who reinforce outdated stereotypes of women and think that by dressing as women they can act like the fluffy-headed dolls that they perceive women to be. As someone who feels that I reside somewhere in the middle of the male-female spectrum that attitude appalls me as much as it would any woman.

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discovering jasmine final cover

Murder in doubt cover

Painted Ladies front cover jpegLayout 1

 

 

 

 

 

Following the end of the Jasmine Frame story, Perspective, last week I’m taking a rest this week.  There have now been ten novellas and three novels which are listed below in chronological order

Discovering Jasmine    2000    novella   e-book          James ventures out as Jasmine

Murder in Doubt            2001     novella  e-book          James meets Angela at university (formerly Soft Focus)

Aberration                       2004     novella  unpublished   James living with Angela after uni.

Flashlight                        2009     novella  unpublished  PC Frame seconded to V&SCU

Resolution                       2009     novella  unpublished  sequel to Flashlight

Blueprint                         2009      novella  unpublished  James reveals Jasmine to Tom

Self-portrait                   2010      novella  unpublished  Jasmine starts transition

Close-up                          2010      novella  unpublished   starting hormone treatment

Split Mirror                      2011      novella  unpublished   moves to flat, alone.

Perspective                      2011      novella  unpublished   resigns from police force

Painted Ladies                 2012     novel     e-book/pbk    called in to catch serial killer

Bodies By Design            2012     novel     e-book/pbk    assisting Sloane to trace killer

Brides’ Club Murder       2012    novel     unpublished   solving a country house murder.

Jasmine decides

This may be considered navel gazing but I thought this week I would consider further where I see myself in the gender selection-box. You may be satisfied with just male and female but actually it’s rather more complex than that. First of all let’s get this straight – gender is not sex and gender identity is not related to sexuality. For the vast majority of people sex is determined by whether or not they have a Y chromosome. If you do then under normal circumstances you were born with penis and testicles and a body that from puberty brims with testosterone; if not, then you have ovaries, uterus, vagina, clitoris etc. and at puberty felt the effects of oestrogen. A small proportion of children are born with genetic or congenital abnormalities that render them intersex, i.e. their sex can not be determined at birth.

Gender and gender identity are something  else. As you grow up you become the sum of your genes and experiences. This process doesn’t stop at puberty or adulthood; you change throughout your life. You develop a feeling of who you are and where you sit in masculine-feminine spectrum. For most people this probably isn’t even a question they ever ask themselves. Their gender identity matches their body’s appearance and that’s all that matters. For a considerable percentage of us though, there is a mis-match in the person we think we are and what we look like.

Gender isn’t just male or female. If you think about all the people you know then you will realise that all the men don’t have the same personalities and neither do the women. There is a whole range of behaviour that positions a person somewhere on the gender spectrum.

For those of us who question our gender identity there are a number of pigeon-holes in which we can place ourselves, that’s if we are prepared to be pigeon-holed at all.

Transsexuals – are people who identify with a gender different to their physical sex. i.e. MtF or FtM. For many this feeling is so great that they detest the body that doesn’t fit with their self-image. They may decide to live as the person they identify as which will involve transition and may or may not include medical and surgical procedures to achieve that. Improvements in medicine and changes to the law and societal attitudes have enabled more people to transition in recent years. The media still focusses on celebrity transitions but is less sensationalist thanks to TV shows like Transparent and Boy Meets Girl.

Transvestites – are people who dress up in the clothes of a gender different to their sex. This applies almost exclusively to men dressing as women since in western culture the acceptable clothing choices available to women now include most, if not all, male attire. The thing about transvestism is that it reinforces gender stereotypes e.g. the tarty/show-girl look, the dress-like- Mum style, and so on. The transvestite almost feels obliged to adopt a look that enables them to pass as female (i.e. wearing wigs, false breasts and other enhancements). The term was originally applied to men who dressed up to get aroused so it has sexual connotations that I dislike.

Cross-dresser – means the same as transvestite but tends to be used by those men who dress as women for non-sexual reasons, but in other respects means the same as the above.

Transgender – is an umbrella term that covers all identities and behaviours where perceived gender and physical sex are at odds.

Gender queer and non-binary – are more recent terms adopted by people who reject the traditional labelling of male or female. Their appearance may be difficult to categorise as masculine or feminine e.g. Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst who wore feminine dresses while sporting a full beard.

Androgyny – a mixture or union of male and female (hermaphrodites with male and female sexual organs are androgynous). Previously, a woman who adopted a male appearance was labelled as androgynous (think flat-chested, short-haired Twiggy, or Tilda Swinton) but now the process is being reversed, with males adopting a feminine appearance without seeking to change or enhance their body shape.

wp_20160919_09_48_13_proHaving thought I was a cross-dresser and occasionally wondering if I was transsexual I now feel that I fall into one of the last two categories. I don’t want to mimic a stereotype of a woman but I like the choices in dress, accessories and make-up that woman have available. How I look may make observers question what they see but I am no longer trying to fool them into believing I am something that I am not.

……………………..

So, to the final episode of Perspective, the Jasmine Frame prequel to Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design (available from me and all good bookstores). Jasmine is definitely transsexual, by the way. This episode sets Jasmine up for Painted Ladies but, who knows, I may be able to fit in another story.

Perspective: Part 12

Jasmine listened as Palmerston went over the case with reports from Tom Shepherd, Terry Hopkins, Derek Kingston and the other members of the team. Not once was she asked for information or a comment. She sat in her chair feeling increasingly as if she wasn’t really there, that her position as a detective in the Violent and Serious Crime Unit was a dream.
The meeting didn’t last long. DS Palmerston wrapped it up and the group began to disperse to deal with other work. DCI Sloane started to move towards his office. He beckoned to Jasmine.
‘With me, now please, DC Frame,’ he said. Jasmine stirred herself and followed him.
Sloane took his seat behind a desk covered with piles of files and the computer monitor and keyboard gathering dust on the side.  Jasmine stood in front of the desk feeling a little like a naughty school boy, or girl, summoned for punishment by the headmaster.
‘It’s up to the CPS now,’ Sloane said as if continuing a conversation from another time and place, ‘Gayle will probably be charged with manslaughter but as he is still legally a child, he’ll be free soon.’
Jasmine blurted out, ‘What about the injury to his mother, carrying an offensive weapon and the robberies?’ She regretted her words immediately. It sounded as if she had a grudge against Nate Gayle. She was still pretty sore about being mugged and she thought Nate knew what he was up to despite his tender year but she didn’t actually have any ill feelings towards the boy. DS Palmerston was the hate figure in her eyes.
Sloane replied calmly, ‘We accept that Mrs. Gayle’s injury was an accident. As you heard, certain items were found in Gayle’s bedroom that did not belong to him but we have no statements from their owners and with William Smith dead it’s unlikely that the CPS will pursue that aspect of the case.’
Jasmine nodded. She didn’t totally agree with her DCI’s conclusions but perhaps now was not the moment to press her opinions.
‘The outstanding matters relate to your involvement, Frame,’ Sloane continued. ‘Your continued interference, even after suspension, was insubordination at the highest level. Indeed, it could be argued that Mrs Gayle’s wounding was partly caused by your presence in her house without her permission.’
Jasmine opened her mouth to complain, but Sloane held up his hand to stop her and went on. ‘Yes, I know your actions helped to slow the bleeding and you called for assistance, but you should not have been there or anywhere in the vicinity. Explain yourself, please Frame.’
Jasmine took a breath. ‘I’m sorry, Sir, but I felt that DS Palmerston was following the wrong line of enquiry. She ignored what I had reported about my, er, meeting with Gayle and Smith, and my opinion on the involvement of the drag queens.’
‘The DS was following procedure and collecting evidence and statements,’ Sloane growled.
‘And excluding me, Sir, as she had done on every case she has been in charge of since she joined the unit.’
‘Are you accusing Detective Sergeant Palmerston of discrimination, DC Frame?’ Sloane’s neck had turned a shade of crimson and the colour was rising up his cheeks.
‘Now that you mention it, Sir, yes I think it is. She doesn’t like me or what I am and doesn’t want me working with her.’
‘You are deluded, Frame. DS Palmerston is a very able officer who makes efficient use of the resources and personnel that are available.’
‘She hasn’t made efficient use of me, Sir.’
‘The trouble is, Frame, that since you began this, this, what do you call it, transition, you see prejudice everywhere.  I thought you had the makings of a good detective once. . .’
‘When I was a man?’
‘Well, since you put it that way – yes. Having decided you want to be a woman you have been distracted.’
‘I didn’t decide to be a woman, Sir. I am a woman. I decided that I needed to live in my true identity instead of continuing to live an act.’
Sloane’s upper lip crinkled and his eyebrows rose. Was he disgusted or merely confused?
‘Look here, Frame. I know that we as your employers have to allow you to do this thing of yours but in my opinion your performance as a member of this unit has become less than satisfactory and in particular your disobedience with respect to DS Palmerston is unprofessional in the extreme.’
Jasmine was unable to stop herself. ‘Unprofessional. That’s rich. She’s the one who is unprofessional, side-lining and undermining me at every opportunity.’
‘That’s enough,’ Sloane roared, his face now approaching beetroot colour. ‘You will remain suspended while your future in this unit, and perhaps in the force, is considered. I do not want to see you again in this office or station until you are summoned to explain yourself. Is that clear?’
Jasmine matched Sloane’s lack of restraint. ‘You can stick your summons, Sir. I’m resigning.’ She turned and marched from the office holding her head up. She heard gurgling noises from behind her but didn’t turn to see the look on Sloane’s face. She stared straight ahead as she crossed the larger office but saw in her peripheral vision that the whole team was gazing at her. There was silence. No one called to her and then she was through the door and walking down the corridor.
It was a mile or more to the Gayle’s house. Her car had been left there the previous evening when she was taken away by DC Kingston and she needed it back.  It was a dull, chill, winters’ day but Jasmine appreciated the fact that it was dry. Being wet would have added one thing more to her list of miseries.
Did she have to resign on the spot in front of Sloane? Shouldn’t she have given it some thought, awaited the outcome of inquiry into her behaviour? No, she could guess what the result would be if DS Palmerston had any influence over it. She would be demoted at best, kicked out of the police force at worst. Pleading that she was a special case because of her transition was not on; she wouldn’t make that excuse, but she couldn’t think how to overcome Palmerston’s prejudice. She didn’t want to give up her dream job but she was convinced that she had done the right thing. There were implications; she knew that. Being without a steady job didn’t just mean she had no source of income for everyday living expenses, it also meant that she wouldn’t have the funds for the treatments she needed during her transition. What would be the reaction of the Gender Clinic? They might think that she was mentally unstable and refuse to support her through the process on the NHS. It could put back the changes to her body that she needed for years if not for ever.
By the time she saw the old red Fiesta sitting outside the house in the otherwise deserted street, she was thoroughly miserable. The car was inside a cordon of blue and white tape that blocked off the pavement as well as the front garden of the Gayle’s house. There was a solitary police officer standing guard at the front door. He looked up as Jasmine approached as if woken from a reverie brought on by boredom. He watched her step over the tape and approach the car. She put the key in the lock and pulled the door open.
‘Hey, what are you doing?’ he called out, advancing down the garden path.
‘Taking my car,’ Jasmine replied.
‘It’s in a restricted area.’
‘I know; I came here in it last night.’
‘You can’t move anything from a restricted area.’
‘Yes, I can when it has nothing to do with the case and belongs to me.’
‘Who are you?’
‘Detective Constable Frame.’ How many more times would she say that, she wondered.’
‘Frame? I think I know that name.’ The PC had stopped at the gate and looked nonplussed.
‘Look, if you’re anxious, call in to your boss and check that it’s alright for me to take my own car away.’
‘Er, yes, I’ll do that.’ He muttered into his radio. Jasmine leaned on the roof of her car with the driver’s door open.  There were a few minutes of two-way conversation including a hiatus while the officer waited for a reply. Finally, he stood up straight and looked happier.
‘They say that’s alright. You can take the car away.’
‘Thank you,’ Jasmine gave him a broad and appreciative smile.
‘I’ll undo the tape for you,’ he said, moving to the front of the car and unwinding the tape from the bollards. Jasmine got in, inserted the key and turned the ignition. Now was not the time for the car to refuse to start, she thought. The starter motor groaned and the engine fired. She puffed out the breath she had been holding. Then she waved polite thanks to the PC and pulled away.
As the car warmed up her mood improved. She was her own boss now, not bound by police regulations and hierarchy. She would pursue the idea she had had a day or two ago – become a private detective. Surely, there would be lots of demand for someone with CID experience. Of course she would be a success. Also, there was the proceeds from the sale of her share of the house to Angela. It wasn’t a lot but it would provide some capital for her business until the revenue from successful investigations came in. What should she call herself? She thought about it. Frame Investigations – that was it. She smiled. A new life beckoned as the independent female private eye.
…………the end.

Jasmine in Perspective

logo c/o Herefordshire FACE Values

logo c/o Herefordshire FACE Values

Herefordshire Pride was a great success. Lots of people turned up and had a great time. I must admit to giving up in the evening when the music started getting loud (what it is to be an old git). Now we are looking forward to a bigger, bolder event next year. Why do I say bolder?  Well, this year’s event was confined to the Booth Hall (and later the Venue). The general public of Hereford probably had no idea anything was happening. That was fine but one purpose of Pride is to show the public that we (that is anyone who is LGBT) have the confidence to be seen in public; that we take pride in our diversity and that we have confidence that our neighbours accept us for who we are. I’d like to see Pride expanded to include any and all minority groups that wish to take part. We need it to show that the British populace accept difference. There that’s my opinion.

Looking fetching (?) in my Pride T-shirt

Looking fetching (?) in my Pride T-shirt

Speaking of which I was impressed by the interview that Hari Nef did for Elle magazine. The magazine itself is pretty lacking in ideals or intellect but Hari came over as someone who has strong views about her identity. Born male she identifies as being female, sort of. Although taking female hormones, she does not seem to be in a rush to complete GR surgery and really would like to ignore all the gender stuff to just be herself, wearing what she feels like. That sounds strange when she is a cover model sought after by some top brands but she seems to like the dressing up lark and the posing and also wants to be an actor (she has had small parts in shows like Transparent). I hope she is allowed to be who she wants to be, especially as she gets older.

And so to my main business which is writing.  I’ve had a somewhat disturbed week (we’ve had men in to refurbish our shower room). I’ve spent quite a bit of time contemplating where Cold Fire (my September Weekes novel) is going with the result that I’ll probably ditch the latest 1000 words I’ve written.  But I have a plan. . .

I have, however, also decided to start a new Jasmine Frame story – another novella prequel.  The first part of Perspective is below. It is the tenth prequel and will be the last chronologically (there are still plenty of gaps in the previous few years of Jasmine’s life for more) as it describes events and circumstances leading up to the setting for Painted Ladies. While I have an outline of an outline I do not know how long it will be or quite where it will go, but here it is – part one.

Perspective: Part 1

‘Giss yer money.’
Jasmine froze with her hand on the key in the car door lock. She turned slowly. The yellow glint of distant streetlights on the blade caught her eye first. Not a big blade, a short kitchen knife, but enough to pierce her duffle coat, jacket and blouse if thrust hard enough. It hovered a foot from her stomach, on the end of a dark arm attached to a dark, hoodied figure, shorter than her.
‘What did you say?’ she said, feigning incredulity while several thoughts passed through her head in quick succession. First, was why at this late hour she had chosen this small, deserted car park behind the main street. The answer to that was easy; it was close to the 24-hour store and convenient for getting back to her flat. The second question was more problematic. How to get out of this situation? The knife made the solution difficult. She hated knives. They disturbed her; stopped her thinking straight. But he was just a kid, it should be easy for someone as experienced as her to overpower him, knife or no knife.
‘Giss, yer money, now!’ he repeated in a voice barely broken.
‘Why should I?’ Jasmine responded. Not the most sensible thing to say.
‘’Cos I’ll stick this in yer if yer don’t.’ He wobbled the knife for effect. Jasmine thought about it. A knee in the balls would probably end it, except he was out of range. She’d have to get closer to him; to the knife. She straightened up, taking a firm grip on her shoulder bag, edged closer to him.
A blow hit her right kidney. She let out an involuntary ‘oof’, and fell back against the Fiesta. She twisted to look at her assailant. Another kid, almost invisible in the dark, with a fine mist of freezing drizzle in the air. He was wearing a dark hoodie too. At least he didn’t have a knife. She didn’t fancy her chances taking on two determined young thugs, especially with a knife in the equation. Running wasn’t an option with her back against the car and the two kids in front of her.
‘What do you want?’ she said, unnecessarily. The knife-holder had already said what he wanted.
‘Yer bag,’ the kid with the vicious punch said. Slowly and reluctantly she dropped the bag off her shoulder and handed it over.
‘There’s nothing much in there for you,’ she said and added, ‘I don’t carry cards.’  Actually her bankcards were with her warrant card in an inside pocket of her jacket.
‘Just want cash,’ the lad said looking inside the bag. Jasmine looked from him back to the knife-wielder. His head was cocked as if thinking; obviously an unusual activity.
‘You talk funny,’ he said.
‘What do you mean?’ Jasmine said before realisation dawned. She’d forgotten to raise her tone.
‘You one of ‘em trannies?’
‘What do you mean?’ Jasmine said thinking, you stupid fool. Now he’s going to knife you because he’s scared of blokes who wear dresses; afraid that his mates will think he’s gay because he spoke to a guy in a skirt.
‘I got her purse. Come on Wizzer,’ the other boy said. He held up Jasmine’s purse like a trophy and tipped the bag up before dropping it to the ground. Lipsticks, powder compact, mobile phone, all the other bits and pieces that had accumulated in her bag fell and rolled across the tarmac.
‘It’s not an ‘er it’s an ‘im,’ the knife-boy said, ‘a fuckin’ perv.’
‘Forget it, Wizz. I’ve got her cash.’ He ran away.  The knife wobbled a moment then withdrew, its carrier turning to run after his mate.  He shouted, ‘Tranny, tranny, tranny,’ as they disappeared into the night on the other side of the car park.
Jasmine stooped to pick up her bag and all the loose objects. She stuffed them back in then turned the key in the lock and got into the car. She sat in the driver’s seat, hands gripping the steering wheel, shaking. How useless could she be? Defeated by two young thieves. Okay, she’d only lost a bit of cash. What was there in that purse, five, six pounds? Not a great loss in financial terms but her self-esteem had taken a greater knock. She turned the key in the ignition and was grateful when the engine started.

The flat was cold and dark with that ever-present scent of damp. She flicked the switch to illuminate the lounge and carried her small bag of shopping through to the kitchen. She emptied the bag and look at the meagre supplies – a sliced loaf, a jar of instant coffee, a tin of baked beans and a few blackening bananas.
She should really phone the station and report the theft. A boy carrying a knife, perhaps ready to use it, shouldn’t be allowed to continue his criminal career. She took her phone from her bag. Strange that the boy didn’t nick it. Perhaps it was too old, not being one of these new smart phones. It was something when not even thieves wanted your stuff. She put the phone down on the worktop. It was too late. She couldn’t be bothered to go through all the hassle of reporting the incident. Perhaps in the morning. She didn’t feel like eating anything either, not now, not at this late hour, not after her day.
She trudged through to the bedroom, shrugged off her coat, shivered, quickly undressed and pulled her nightie over her head and then put her coat on again. She lay on the bed and pulled the duvet over her, curling into a foetal position to get warm.
It hadn’t been much different to many other days although the mugging added an extra degree of misery. She’d got through her shift without screaming at DS Palmerston, just, but that feeling of frustration, of being side-lined, had filled her while she performed her routine duties. That was it “routine”. She was supposed to be a detective, detecting, but all she did was watch a computer screen, filling in forms, filing data, watching CCTV recordings. Her only legwork was up and down the stairs to the evidence store or the front desk where she got a cold shoulder from “GG” Gorman. Palmerston and Sloane had reduced her to the office drudge, no more than a filing clerk. The next round of sergeant’s exams would be coming around soon but what was the point of taking them when she was never given an opportunity to practise her skills.
She’d protested, pleaded, to Sloane to give her the responsibility her position justified. He’d listened to Palmerston’s arguments and dismissed her appeal. The reason? He was giving her time to settle into her new identity. In other words, he and Palmerston thought she was unstable, untrustworthy, an embarrassment, an awkward transsexual. Yes, she was still in the early stages of her transition; her voice control, as the incident with the muggers showed, was uneven; the hormones made her moody, sometimes sick. Her male body was fighting the feminisation and she was, probably, years away from surgery. She felt a mess, and here she was alone in a cold, grotty, rented flat while Angela, her onetime and still, beloved, continued to enjoy the comforts of their house. That was another thing – the divorce. Angela wanted her to sign all the papers that would separate them financially as well as matrimonially.
She groaned, sighed, and slowly drifted into the troubled sleep of the exhausted and depressed.
…………………