Princess or Prince: Stuck in the Gender Binary

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic
Riley did not want to think about this conundrum anymore, but her whole life was a big conundrum. Riley reminisced about her birth or rather the opening of a crib and realized that nothing in her
life was easy or normal and that is a burden of a soon to be ruler. Riley leaves on an adventure to learn about gender and there own gender identity. They visit different realms with each one depicting different ideas of gender. Riley is chased through these realms by a man named Richard who is trying to make everyone conform to the gender binary.

Submitted: August 18, 2019

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Submitted: August 18, 2019

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The Conundrum

Once upon a time, there was a land like our own. In this land of wonder, the people all wear gears and corsets and live in buildings that look like machines. Located here was a young princess named Riley. A month before Riley was to have her coming out party and accept her place as ruler of Marviloiana. Riley kept looking at the dress in the corner she was required to wear for the big event. The bronze gears on the corset shined against the maroon. The skirt with its many layers and ruffles seemed so heavy and full against the sleek design of the corset. Something about the dress didn't feel right. Riley’s mom entered the room and said, “Still staring at that dress” Riley said, “it doesn't seem right.” Upon hearing this statement Riley's mom remembered the struggles she felt when she was getting ready for her coming out ball. It was a time in her life when she presented herself to the world as male and was staring at a tux wishing it was a ball gown. That sinking feeling in her stomach when she concluded she needed to tell the world that she was a girl never completely left the queen. The queen remembers wishing she had someone to tell her what she was feeling was okay and her feelings were valid. In that moment, the queen decided she need to recount that story to her daughter and let her know that she can have a tux made, so Riley can choose to present herself to the world as the person she sees herself as. Riley felt a bit queasy and uncomfortable with the idea of identifying as male. Riley did not want to think about this conundrum anymore, but her whole life was a big conundrum. Riley reminisced about her birth or rather the opening of a crib and realized that nothing in her life was easy or normal. Her mom had no womb to carry a child, so her and Riley’s dad decided to have a magician meld their hair, a piece of clothing from each of them, a napkin with a lipstick kiss, a book of great significance with some calla lilies by the pond to match her mom’s skin, and sand from the water’s edge to match her dad’s skin. Riley reflected upon her childhood and realizing she did not fit either gender. She dressed in both feminine and masculine aspects. She liked both feminine and masculine things. Riley wished more than anything her dad was still alive and could talk with her about this problem. Riley stood up and walked over to the vanity. She picked up the locket on the vanity the bronze was old and dirty. Her finger caressed the olive leaf design and traced over the flower in the middle. Riley turned over the locket to look at the astrolabe, still wondering about the odd design choice. Her dad gave it to her saying “This will guide you on your journey and remember I will always be there with you.” Riley then clicked the top button and the locket sprung open. The left side was a clock and you could see the gold gears grinding behind the ticking needle of the second hand. On the right side, Riley could see herself in the mirror, quickly she turned it over to see the other side. On one half was a compass except the needle kept spinning around and around. The other side was picture of her parents, smiling and looking so happy. Riley closed the locket, carried it over and climbed in bed.

The Wizard

A few days later a tux Riley could use for her coming out ball arrived at the palace. Riley tried on the tux and it did not feel right. She liked the colors and the gear embellishments on the sleeves and the fact it had pants, but it still did not make her feel like herself. Riley then tried on the dress to compare the two. The dress did not seem to fit her personality either. Riley changed back into her everyday clothes. She admired how she looked in the hi-lo tunic over her tight straight legged pants. She thought this represents me, it has aspect of both male and female but is neither at the same time. She sat on her bed and stared at both the dress and the tux. She was undecided. She looked at the tux, she had anxiety about identifying as male for the rest of her life. When she looked at the ball gown she had similar anxiety about being female. Riley stood up and started pacing. She went over to her vanity and picked up the locket again. She held it in her hands and turned it over a few times wishing he was here to help her make this choice. Suddenly, Riley had the feeling she should visit her father's trusted advisor, the wizard. Riley knew it was against the rules for her to leave the castle this close to her coming out ball, but she knew the only way to get answers was to see the wizard. She opened her window and remembered it was many years ago since Riley climbed out this window, but as she stepped out it came back to her. Within a few minutes Riley reached the ground and darted to the gazebo by the pond. She looked both ways then ran around the pond and darted from tree to tree through the woods till she reached the stable. Riley entered the side door of the stable and opened the gate for her stallion, Ann. Riley then grabbed her brown leather saddle, placed it on Ann and together they walked outside. Riley mounted Ann and galloped away into the woods. After a short ride, Riley met the trail that lead to the wizard hut. The trial had small star markings every few feet. The closer Riley got to the hut, she started smelling old books mixed with smoke. Soon after Riley could see the hut, the arched entryway made from books. The main house looked like a sphere made up of smaller spheres and reminded Riley of bubbles floating together. Riley dismounted the horse and led Ann to the nearby shed for her to grab water and some food. Riley walked to the front door and knocked gently. The wizard yelled “knock louder” from inside the house. Riley knocked a little harder. The wizard yelled again “knock louder”. Riley banged as hard as she could on the door. The wizard swings open the door and exclaims what do you want my dear Riley, it has been a long time since you have come to visit your dads’ dear old friend and your godfather the wizard. Riley starts talking about her dress/tux dilemma and continued to ramble on. When Riley was out of breath and her mouth was so dry she could no longer speak, that she looked at the wizard and started crying. I just don’t know what to do she said. I came here because this stupid locket made me think of my dad and more than anything I wish he was here to help me but he’s not. The closest thing I have to him is you, can you please help me? The wizard jolts himself more awake and said, “The only person who can help you is you.” The wizard takes the locket from Riley and holds it up by its chain letting it swing back and forth. With his other hand the wizard takes out his wand and hangs the locket from the tip. He spins the locket quickly. The locket comes off the end of the wand and hangs itself around Riley’s neck. Riley instinctively grabs the locket with her hand. The locket feels warm underneath her hand and the warmth cause Riley to look down. The locket was glowing a soft yellow color. “You might want to open that” Said the Wizard whimsically Riley opens the locket and sees the compass glowing with a steady needle. Follow your heart, listen to your gut and the compass will do the rest, go, go, go…. You need to go now! Said the wizard as he swirled around kicking up a storm of blue and purple glittery dust. Riley quickly jumps on her horse and starts galloping away.

When Ann could no longer run, Riley dismounted. She looked around for a minute and saw she was in a grove of trees, whose branches were bent over, and the tips were lightly touching the ground. When the wind blew the branches would swish like the dresses at balls. Riley looked at the compass and it was spinning around and around again. Frustrated Riley gripped the compass tighter like she was about to throw it. Riley yelled and stormed underneath one of the trees, she collapsed next to the tree in a fit of tears. As Riley looks through the branches she is reminded these trees are weeping willows and laughed at her own irony of picking these trees to weep under. Riley sat up and wiped her face. She opened the locket once again and thought about the conversation she had with her mom a few days ago. She thought about the dress and the suit and the conflicting feelings she had about neither one feeling right. Riley thought about how much she missed her mom and how her mom was able to come into her own without needing the help of others. At that moment the compass stopped moving and pointed to the tree behind her. Riley stood up and started to walk around the tree. The compass continued to point to the tree, Riley became frustrated again and this time she swung at the tree and her fist disappeared into the tree. Riley jumped back in surprise, then stared at the tree. She stepped forward and poked the tree; her finger disappeared. Riley looked at the slender tree trunk and realized if she was going to continue her journey she couldn't take her trusted horse with her. Riley went over to Ann and petted her gently. Go home Ann, I will be alright without you said Riley. Riley gave Ann one last hug before she walked back to the tree. Riley took one deep breath then step forward into the tree.

Genderifica

All of a sudden Riley was falling and tumbling. Abruptly there was a loud thump as Riley hit the ground. Riley stood up dazed and confused as her eyes brought the world around her into focus. She was sitting at the top of hill looking down. Below her Riley saw a village with a large square green in the middle, with a tall castle situated all by itself at one end. On the opposite end was an almost equally large building however more plain in design. The other two sides had rows of houses, all lined up in perfect squares and extending outwards on either side. This village was peculiar because outside of nature everything was either blue or pink. Riley looked around bewildered about what she was doing here. Riley decided she needed to find out, so she stood up and started walking down the hill.

As Riley got closer to the village, she noticed everyone walking around was wearing pink or blue. Riley became even more confused and then she realized all of the women and girls were wearing pink and the boys and men were wearing blue. Randomly, a woman stopped and stared at Riley and shouted, “Why are you not wearing the proper attire?” The rest of the town stopped and stared. Riley felt like she was going to crawl out of her skin. “uh… umm.. I… I… I did…. didn’t…. Riley pauses and takes a deep breath to regain her composure. “I am sorry, but I didn’t know there was a dress code” The woman was obviously still mad, but there was a glimmer of fear in her eyes, as she hissed “There is no excuse for your ignorance.” Riley frozen in shock couldn’t even process she had taken a step back. Before she knew it, the crowd was quickly separating, and the people were bowing. They looked pale and there was fear in their eyes. Riley felt like her heart was going to leap out of her chest as her eyes met the person that instilled so much fear in the people around her.

He walked so fast it almost looked like he was floating. He wore black straight legged pants made him appear taller even though he was not much taller than the average person. He was wearing a blue shirt had puffy sleeves that buttoned around his wrists and a tight black vest. Attached to his shoulders was a blue cape flowed out as he walked. He stopped abruptly right before Riley, his piercing blue eyes stared down at her. His skin was snow white and like snow his voice was cold and unfeeling, “Where are you from and what are you doing here, furthermore, what are you wearing?” Riley opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. “I am talking to you and you need to answer me” hissed the man. Riley took a deep breath and stuttered “My name is Riley, I come from the land of Marviloiana” Riley did not want to tell the man she was in fact the princess of Marviloiana. The man looked her over once more and said, “follow me… let’s get you into the right attire” The man put his arm around Riley and they started leading her toward the castle. “My name is Richard, and I am the supreme ruler of Genderifica, the land you are presently standing in. It is a requirement that while you are here that you are to learn all the ways of this land and conform to them. I have worked hard to make this land perfect with no misunderstandings. Everyone in blue is male and everyone in pink is female. Every relationship must be between a male and a female. This helps people who are looking for their significant others, so they know exactly where to look and what to look for.” Richards face seemed to get redder and his voice progressively got louder as he was telling Riley about the rules of his kingdom. To relieve some of the tension, Riley joked “Have some personal experience with that?” Richard turned to her and glared. Riley gulped nervously. “In fact, I do” He said, “It was many years ago, but I fell in love with a girl, she was beautiful, and her skin was perfectly smooth and reminded me of chocolate. She even had a great personality, so kind and compassionate” Richard paused for a moment, lost in the thought of this woman. “So, what happened” Ask Riley enthralled with his story. Richard snapped back to reality and his anger reignited “Well you see she tricked me, on our first date, we were getting coffee and she told me she was born a he, can you believe the abomination of that. That man tricked me into falling in love with him, to turn around and tell me he was a freak of nature.” Riley wanted to say something, but she didn’t know how to express what she was feeling. Riley felt so bad for the woman in this situation and she really hoped her mom did not have to face this kind of bigotry. Before she knew it, she was walking up the steps and into the castle. Richard barked “Get Mary and get this woman a pink dress as soon as possible” Richard turned to Riley “I will walk you to your room and let you get ready for dinner” They took a left down a pink hallway; a couple turns later they arrived at a door. Richard swung open the door and behind it was a hideously pink room. It was so pink, Riley thought she was going to vomit. She turned back to Richard and thanked him for his hospitality. Richard told Riley dinner is served promptly at 6:00pm and he shut the door. Riley walked slowly around the room taking in all the horrifying pink. A few minutes later she heard a knock on her door. “Come in” She said. In came a woman holding a pink, fluffy dress. “Here you go my dear, If you need anything or have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask” The woman turned around and before she took a step forward Riley asked “What is your name” The woman turned back and and said “My name is Mary”. “It’s nice to meet you” Said Riley “If you don’t mind I have one more question” “Shoot” Said Mary. “You may not know the answer, but do you happen to know the name of the woman who destroyed Richard and this kingdom.” Riley asked, hoping she could track this woman down to apologize and show her some kindness. Riley learned from her own mom how difficult it is to be your true self and to have others see you the way you see yourself. Riley, lost in her thoughts she almost didn’t hear Mary answer with “Diana, she was from a different kingdom. If you don’t need anything else, I have to go get ready for dinner.” Diana, Diana, thought Riley, then she realized it was her mother’s name and that her mother also had chocolate skin. I wonder if that’s the same person, nah it couldn’t be this world is far to large for it to be my mother. Riley continued to justify the idea that this woman was not her mother. It was starting to bother her that this man could be so judgmental. It bothered her even more that this woman could be her own mother. Riley started pacing, so aggravated with this man. She looks at the dress sitting on the bed and she became angrier. Why do I have to wear this stupid pink dress? Riley picks up the dress about ready to throw it across the room and instead she collapses in a puddle on the floor hugging the dress and sobbing. Here she was in a strange land, in the castle of a judgmental man who is forcing her to wear a dress that she will be uncomfortable in because she does not fit his standards of being female. She felt like she did not fit anybody’s standards for being female or male. Then came a knock on the door and it startled her. She regained her composure and asked, “Who is it” “My name is Jamie and I wanted to let you know I am here to escort you to dinner.” “One minute” said Riley, Riley quickly changed into the terrible pink dress, then she swings open the door and is met by a man in a blue suit. “You look like you have been crying honey” Said Jamie, “Here let’s get you cleaned up and show the world how confident you are.” Jamie leads Riley into the bathroom. He grabs a washcloth and runs it under warm water then wipes Riley’s face with it. His touch was so gentle. Next, he grabs a dry towel and dabs her face. “There much better, why don’t you tell me why you were crying love?” said Jamie. “I don’t feel comfortable talking about it” said Riley “Does it have to do with girls wearing pink and guys wearing blue?” asked Jamie. In that moment, Riley felt like Jamie peered into her soul and understood her. With a sign of relief Riley said “yes, how did you know” Jamie smiled and said, “Can you keep a secret?” “yes of course I can” said Riley eagerly. “I truly identify as a woman, I dress this way and act ultra-masculine, so I could marry the woman I love. This isn’t me, but I love her so much I would do anything to be with her including presenting myself as being male. In reality, I am more of a tomboy and prefer to dress more on the masculine side even though I don’t want to be male.” Said Jamie “In many kingdoms across the land, there are female-female relationships and they are accepted, however in this one we have to mimic heterosexual relationships. We do this by one partner dressing and acting masculine and the other being more feminine. In these types of relationships, the masculine person is usually referred to as Butch and the other one is referred to as Femme. I hope one day these terms will no longer exist and I can just be myself. This is the only kingdom where a relationship requires one person be masculine and the other be feminine. I am pretty sure that I have done enough rambling for the two of us, and we are almost late for dinner.” “Don’t worry about it” said Riley “I like learning more about this topic, I am trying to figure out who I am, and I know without a doubt that it is not this.” Riley looked down and her and Jamie started laughing. Dinner was the most awkward situation I have ever attended. Thought Riley, first I had to sit in a pink chair and listen to this pompous man tell me how I should act and behave. I need to get out of here, I hate this place. Riley changed back into her regular clothes and opens the door. Standing on the other side of the door was Richard about ready to knock. Before Riley had a chance to speak. Richard started yelling at her “You are supposed to be wearing pink. I knew you were trouble when I first laid eyes on you. You are the daughter of the deceitful and inhuman creature from all those years ago. I thought I could teach you the right way to behave and act but apparently the rotten apple doesn’t fall far from the lying tree.” Richard pushed Riley back into the room and locked the door. “I will be back with the guard to escort you to the dungeon until your execution day.” Riley started freaking out and pacing back and forth. She had no idea what she was going to do. Riley just realized there was no windows in her room and she was trapped.

Stonewall

Suddenly, the wall opened, and Jamie poked her head out. “It is time for you come with me.” Riley was so relieved to see Jamie, that she quickly followed her. On the other side, was a tunnel made of stone. “We need to hurry and get you out of here” said Jamie. Riley was practically running down the corridor to keep up with Jamie, then they climbed down the ladder and landed in a small puddle. “This way, keep up, we are almost there” Said Jamie “These tunnels exist underneath the city, so people like me, and my wife can escape if we are found out.” Riley heard voices up ahead, as she got closer she saw a handful of women, some of them were wearing blue others were dressed in pink. “What is going on here” said Riley. “Every 6 months we have the ability to get some people out of this kingdom and bring them to a place where they can be themselves” said Jamie “My wife is the leader of this new land and this is the last batch of us to leave. I hope one day we can return and be accepted but until then we are on our way to Stonewall.” In that moment a carriage pulls up, “everyone it’s time to get in and lay down, as close together as you can” orders Jamie. Once they were all situated, hay bales were placed on top of them. Then they were on their way and Riley fell asleep rather quickly. Riley woke up by the removal of the hay bales. Riley sat up and stretched. She looked around her to see a town full of people and Riley wondered how long she had been asleep. Riley climbs out of the carriage “Follow me” said Jamie “I want you to meet my wife” They bounded up the steps of an unassuming building and through the front door. “I am home my love” said Jamie excitedly as she ran to her wife and pulled her into a warm embrace, kissing her passionately. Riley felt super awkward and turned away. “This is Riley, Riley this is my wife Sandra” Said Jamie “It’s nice to meet you” said Sandra “What brings you to our neck of the world” Riley explained about how she ran away to find herself and got in trouble in Genderifica. Sandra looks panicky at Jamie and said “Why did you bring her here? We can get in a lot of trouble if they find her here or even all of us here” “I couldn’t just leave her there” said Jamie. The two of them started arguing back and forth. Riley was uncomfortable with this altercation and was trying to muster up the courage to interrupt. When a young girl barreled through the door and shouted, “Richard sent out a Raven looking for Riley, if they find her here we are all dead.” Riley looked around at the people that would be affected if she stayed. Then she spoke up and asked for a cloak. “Where are you going to go” ask Jamie as she placed the cloak on her shoulders. Riley opened the compass around her neck and said “this will guide me to my next location. Don’t worry I will be in touch. Thank you for all your hospitality.” Riley then gave Jamie a hug, pulled up the hood of the cloak and looked at the compass. This time she was thinking about getting as far away as she could from Jamie and these women. More than anything she wanted to protect them from Richard. With this thought in her mind, the compass spun around then stopped. Riley started following the compass, as quickly as she could. When she felt like she was a safe distance away she looked back thinking if the world changed their views than Stonewall wouldn’t have to exist. She continued walking for what seemed like hours and the sun dipped below the horizon. Riley wanted to stop and take a break, but she was afraid Richard would catch her. All of sudden there was a loud screech from above. Riley quickly looked up and saw a black bird and she was quickly reminded of the raven the woman warned her about. Riley quickly looked down and started briskly walking. She wasn’t paying enough attention to where she was going and almost walked off the edge of a cliff. Riley looked down at her compass and thought this can’t be right. The compass was telling her to walk off the edge of the cliff. At that moment a black raven swooped near her head and knocked her hood off. The raven screeched again and flew back towards Riley, appearing to get larger almost big enough to carry her. Riley became frightened and knew she had to get out of here.

Fabulousa

So, she closed her eyes and jumped. Instead of falling Riley felt like she was sledding. Riley decided to open her eyes and see a shiny city come into view. Riley then slid across the ground, she quickly sat up rubbed her eyes and looked at the beautiful city in front of her. There was a shiny pointed building, looked like an onion overlooking the bay and shined against the dark sky. There was a main street had tall buildings with many balconies covered in flags and streamers. There was nobody in the streets and Riley was unsure where she should go. Riley wondered if she could use her compass to find a suitable place to sleep. She opened the compass and imagined a nice warm bed. The compass spun around and pointed towards the castle. Riley walked up to the front door of the castle and knocked. An ordinary woman answered the door “Can I help you?” she asked, “My name is Riley, I’m not from this land and I was wondering if I could have a place to sleep.” “Sure, come in” said the woman. “Follow me” The woman led her down a dark corridor and turned down another one. Then she opened a door towards the end of the hall. “I will get you tomorrow morning for breakfast, sleep well” She said. “Thank you so much for your help …. Excuse me what’s your name, I feel like a terrible house guest not asking your name sooner. “said Riley anxiously. “My name is Grayson, don’t worry about it you must be tired from your long journey, good night.” Grayson said as she closed the door. Riley climbed into bed and as soon as her head hit the pillow she fell asleep. The next morning, Riley woke up to someone knocking on her door. She quickly sat up and said, “come in”. Grayson opened the door and said “It is time for breakfast” Riley climbed out of bed and followed Grayson down the hallway. Everything so far seemed rather ordinary to Riley, it reminded her a bit of being at home. After a few turns, they were standing on the back porch overlooking the water. There was a small round table and there was a man and a woman sitting across from each other. On the table there was some pancakes, jelly, bacon and muffins. Riley took a deep breath and the smell of coffee and pancakes remind her of breakfast with her family. Riley realized how much she missed her family, especially her dad. For a moment Riley considered going back home but was quickly reminded she did not belong at home because she could answer whether she was male or female. “Have a seat dear” said the woman startling Riley and bringing her back to reality. Riley sat down and looked at the man and woman across the table. “My name is Hadley, and this is Henry, we are the King and Queen of Fabulousa. Welcome, enjoy yourself and eat lots of food. I wish you had caught us on a better day where we could spend more time showing you around.” “I wouldn’t want to burden you anyways” Said Riley rather quickly because of her nerves. “Oh honey, don’t be so nervous. We want to hear all about why you are here and how we can help you” Said Hadley. Riley looked down uncertain about telling these people the truth. It backfired on her in the last kingdom and she was uncertain if Richard was still chasing her. Riley could hear her heart pounding and she felt shaky and hot. Riley’s eyes darted around the room then she decided she could not tell them the truth. They looked completely ordinary, which means they could be friends with Richard and the last thing Riley wanted was for Richard to find her. “Are you alright” asked Henry. Interrupting Riley’s thoughts. “Oh, yea I am fine” Said Riley sheepishly “I am touring other kingdoms to experience different cultures.” “You came to the right place if you are looking for something fabulous” Said Hadley. “Don’t tell her” interrupted Henry. “Let her experience it for herself” “Experience what?” Asked Riley. “Wait and see, you won’t believe your eyes!” Said Hadley and Henry in unison. “If I could just interrupt” said Grayson “You all are going to be late getting ready, I can talk care of Riley” Grayson shooed the king and queen out the door, then started to clear the table. “When I finish doing this we can go shopping for a bit and eat lunch in the town. “ “I am absolutely exhausted” Said Riley “I can’t believe we have been shopping for four hours.” as she collapsed in the chair. “Where did everyone go” asked Riley. “They are getting ready” Said Grayson. “Ready for what?” Asked Riley. “Wait and see” Said Grayson. They then ordered a couple of Chai Teas and a few sandwiches. As they were eating their food the sky began to turn a purple-pink. The wind began to blow, and Riley swear she saw the wind sparkling. “Look over there” said Grayson the castle began to spin and change shape. When it stopped, Riley noticed it had changed its shape into a beautiful silver swan. The breast of the swan opened and out came the king and queen. Except they looked so different. They were wearing these ornate costumes; extreme makeup and their hair was tied up in a massive updo. They were so glamorous and confident it took Riley to realize the king was in a dress and wearing four-inch heels. Music began to play, and the streets came alive with people dressed like the king and queen. Performing on their balconies like it was their own stage. There was dancing, singing and there is glitter covering the streets. A woman came up to Riley. Riley was so in awe of her makeup, long eyelashes and sequin dress she did not realize the woman was asking if Riley wanted to join her. Riley looked around and was like “Me… I am not dressed properly to join you.” “The king and queen have prepared a fabulous outfit for you back in the castle.” Said the woman. Riley quickly stands up and walks rapidly towards the castle it took her a moment to realize the woman and Grayson could not keep up, but it did not matter to Riley she saw this moment as an opportunity to see if the costume the king and queen had picked out for her was the answer to her dilemma. When she got close to the swan she realizes she has no idea how to get in since it changed shape. “This way my darling” called Henry as he pointed to the door beneath the wing. Riley practically sprints through the door in excitement. She gets to her room and sees a top hat, a glitter beard and a purple tux with coattails. Riley stares moment in confusion, this allows for Grayson to catch up. “Wow you must be excited, let me help you” said Grayson “go change into the tux and I will do the rest.” Riley goes into the bathroom and puts the tux on. She became disheartened because it gave her the same feeling the first tux she put on did. She left the bathroom and went back into her bedroom. “What’s wrong, I thought you were excited to join in with the festivities.” said Grayson. “I was but …” And Riley began to sob and explain her big dilemma. When she was done, Grayson said “That is one of the great things about being a citizen in Fabulousa. For a few hours every day, you can have a whole new alter ego and be someone else. Now let’s do your hair and attach this beard.” When Grayson finished Riley looked at herself in the mirror. For the first time, she got to see herself completely masculine. “Now go be this person,” said Grayson.

Riley stepped out of the swan and started walking and dancing like she had done it for hundreds of years. Henry approaches Riley and asked if she wanted to dance. They began to dance and put on a show for everyone who was willing to watch. Riley felt great, to the point where she almost forgot she was struggling with her identity. The sun began to set, and the magic seemed to fade from the air. Riley walked with the king and queen back inside. “That was an amazing evening, “said Riley. “Come with us honey the real beauty is about to start.” Said Henry as he led Riley to the balcony. There was a faint glow on the horizon where the sun had recently departed. The stars started shining brighter as the light from the sun disappeared. After a few moments, the sky began to light up with streaks of green, blue, pink and purple. It was the most beautiful sky Riley had ever seen and she was lost in the moment, about to nod off. “I think it is about time for you to go to bed,” said Hadley “You are 100 percent right about that” Said Riley as she struggled to stand up. Grayson escorted Riley to her room, helped her clean off her makeup and get ready for bed. It only took a few moments for Riley to fall asleep.

The next morning, Riley woke up and stretched. She looked around the room and noticed she had a fresh set of clothes laid out on the chair in the corner. Riley got dressed and exited out the door. She followed the corridors to go to breakfast. As she got closer she heard the familiar voices of Henry and Hadley. The third voice was masculine and sounded oddly familiar to Riley. She peeked around the corner and to her surprise Richard was sitting at the table. “Why don’t you come in here and join me, little girl?” Said Richard. Riley stood in fear for a few moments before she turned around and started running. She ran out the front door and down the sidewalk. She took a breather and she heard a screech above and noticed Richard’s raven. Riley opened her compass to see what direction she should run to get out of the kingdom. Riley knew if she stayed then she would be captured by Richard. Riley started running again this time following the arrow on the compass. Before she knew it, she was standing on the edge of the lake. Unsure if she should continue walking forward, she heard the screech again. Without a second thought she started walking and was engulfed by the water.

Andro-Isles

Riley was surprised that she could still breath as she continued to slide further and further down. She then hit the bottom and looked around. This land was wavy and curvy. The building was at odd angles and the sidewalks and balconies had many curves. Riley looked around at the people. She noticed right away they were wearing yellows, greens, purples, and reds. She saw a person walk by with a beard, but they were wearing a dress. “What are you looking at?” They asked rather harshly. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare, I’m new here and well I don’t know where here is” ask Riley “This is the Andro-Isles, where gender is as fluid at the sea or exists in harmony like the sun and moon. My name is Finn and I use he/him pronouns. I am also the king of these islands, let me introduce you to other people on this island. Finn wrapped his arm around Riley and they started walking together. With each step Riley saw many different people and many different clothes. As she looked at the store windows everything seemed to have no gender assignment. “I would love to go shopping here” thought Riley “These are my types of clothes and style” “Well that is exactly what we are going to do” Said Finn excitedly. He turned the corner so quickly the Riley almost lost their balance. Finn held the door open for Riley and gestured for her to enter the store. Riley quickly walked in and paused as she became overwhelmed with the number of clothes she liked. It was feeling that Riley had never had before. “This is the best feeling,” thought Riley. A person came up to them and Finn stepped forward and gave them a hug. “This is my good friend, Ambrose.” Said Finn. “I go by they/them pronouns and it is a pleasure meeting you. “said Ambrose as they shook Riley’s hand. “Hi, it is a pleasure meeting you.” Said Riley nervously “I do not want to offend you, but could you please explain pronouns and what you meant when you said where gender is as fluid at the sea or exists in harmony like the sun and moon.” “We can do that” exclaimed Ambrose and Finn. “Where to start?” asked Finn. “I think we should begin with gender,” said Ambrose they turned and looked at Riley “When people are born they have a set of reproductive organs. These are people’s biological sex, in other kingdoms they think that their biological sex dictates their gender. Under this assumption, there are only two genders. You are either male or female.” Finn interjects “Except for here in the Andro-Isles, we used to have 63 different genders across a large spectrum. We have since learned that gender is fluid and it can change and fluctuate, so we created a community where you can express yourself however you want and whatever makes you feel the most comfortable.” “This is why when we introduce ourselves we also include our pronouns.” Said Ambrose. “ There are many different pronouns, He/him/his, She/her/hers, They/Them/Theirs, Ze/hir/hirs.” “Don’t forget about Xe/Xem/Xyr, Ve/ver/vis, Per/Pers, Ae/Aers” Said Finn “I know it can be a bit overwhelming but if you mess up a person pronouns apologize or correct your mistake we are pretty understanding here.” “I think I understand,” said Riley as she breathed a sigh of relief “More like you just realized who you are” said Ambrose. “I would recognize the face of relief anywhere.” “Well I am pretty sure that we need a new outfit to go with realizing who you are.” said Finn “I am thinking something in black with a little purple” Finn started sorting through the racks, he picked up clothes held them up to Riley, if they passed his seal of approval then he handed them to Ambrose. Riley followed Finn as he weaved in and out of the racks. Then there is was the prefect top, Riley pulled it off the rack. It was purple with black leather accents across the bodice. This shirt had a high neckline that opened to a diamond across her chest that accentuated the sweetheart neckline of the corset. “That shirt would look spectacular with these leather pants” exclaimed Ambrose “Let’s go try these on, darling” Ambrose looped his arm around Riley’s and lead them towards the fitting room. Riley tried on all of the clothes and they decided to go with the purple top they found on the rack with the leather pants. Riley walked out of the dressing rooms and exclaimed “My name is Riley and I use They/Them pronouns” “Well Riley, you might want to put shoes on first.” Said Finn. “You are probably right” Said Riley laughing a little bit. Riley walked over and picked out a pair of black flats. “I am ready to show the world the new me” said Riley as they almost fell over putting on their new shoes. The three of them stepped out of the store and started walking down the street. Riley felt so confident in thereself that they could not stop smiling. As quick as the happiness came it was gone. Riley was so lost in the moment they did not notice that there was a raven circling overhead until it swooped down and grabbed her.

The worst was yet to come

Riley was so scared, she started squirming and fighting to get free. Riley was so scared and disoriented she could not even pay attention to where she was going in case she could escape. The raven swooped down and deposited Riley on the steps of the palace. Two guards dressed all in blue grabbed Riley and dragged her down to the dungeon. They shoved Riley into a cell with a pink dress. Riley was pretty sure this was the same dress she wore the first time she visited the castle. “Get dressed in this and if you don’t we will cut those clothes off of you and whip you until you agree to wear that dress.” Said one of the guards. Riley was so afraid of them, they quickly got dressed, and folded up the brand-new outfit they got and before they could finish they started to cry. Riley wished they could be anywhere but here with this repulsive man. “I am glad you decided to listen to us” one of the guards said as he opened the door “Richard wants to put you on display as his new trophy.” The guard smirked as both of them yanked Riley to their feet and clamped a pink rhinestone collar around Riley’s neck and led them upstairs. They entered the throne room and the guard passed the leash off to Richard. “Have a seat my little pet.” Said Richard with a smirk. “Spread the news around that we have converted the princess of Marviolsa to a prefect princess pet.” Every day for a week Riley was brought to the throne room where they sat next to Richard. This week felt like a full year for Riley. Every day was the same and Riley felt so miserable and hopeless in the pink dresses they had to wear. Till one day when Riley’s mom walked into the throne room. “What do you think you are doing to my daughter, Richard.” said Riley’s mom. “I am glad you decided to join us Dane.” Said Richard “We both know that is not my name or my identity.” Said Riley’s mom. “Do not come in here thinking you are normal and that you did not try to trick me all those years ago, Dane. You are an abomination changing yourself and making yourself appear feminine even though you are a male.” said Richard “Richard, I merely changed my outside to reflect the person I am on the inside. This is me, I was just born into the wrong body and it took me several years to figure out this this was the person I am meant to be. I am a queen of a very successful country, I was married to an exceptional man and together we created that beautiful girl standing next to you. I am a female and I never tricked you. I was honest that I had not completed my transition yet when we went on that date. You saw what you wanted to see. You saw me as an abomination even though I am valid and am my true self. I wish you got to know the real me, before you ran back to your kingdom and created this mess of strictness and conformity. “Said Riley’s mom “I am not a scary person and you have nothing to be afraid of by allowing people to be themselves. It is a lonely life you have been living here.” At that moment the pink and blue on the walls dimmed. “You are just trying to trick me again!” yelled Richard and at that moment the blue and pink wall shined brighter than before. “I can see, I will not get through to you at this moment.” said Riley’s mom “Please have a room made up for me and fetch me a set of pink clothes to wear for tomorrow. In addition, I would like my daughter to have a room and a bed this evening. Tomorrow morning, we will talk again.” The next morning at breakfast Riley sat to the left of Richard, so he could hold their leash. After a few minutes, Riley’s mom walked into the room wearing a blue suit. “I see what you did here Richard” Said Riley’s mom with a scowl “Those clothes look terrible on you and do not fit right.” Said Richard quizzically at that moment it dawned on Richard the person standing in front of him was actually a woman and that she in fact never tricked him to begin with. When Richard came to this realization the color on the walls began to fade and the walls dividing the kingdoms began to crumble. “I am sorry I didn’t believe you.” said Richard. He unfastened the collar around Riley “Can you please forgive me?” “Yes, and it is a good thing we have a party planned and we can celebrate the reunification of the kingdoms and the coming-out party of this princess,” Said Riley’s mom as she put her arm around Riley. “Are the rulers from the Andros-Isles going to be there? “asked Riley. “Well now they have the ability to get to our kingdom I expect so.” Said Riley’s mom gently “Once we are back in the palace getting ready I will see about finding them for you.”

Embracing Your True Self

Back in her room at the palace, Riley realized there mom still did not know about their new identity. Riley was still deciding which outfit to wear when there was a knock at the door. “Come in” said Riley. Through the door walked Finn and Androse. “We thought you could use a new outfit for this occasion” exclaimed Androse as they unveiled an outfit like the one Riley had in the Andro-Isles except this one was brown, maroon and bronze and had little gear and chain accents. “This would also be a good time to come out as your true self as you accept your role as the new ruler of Maravilosa.” said Finn

Riley thanked them and when they left the room. Riley put on their new attire. They stood just inside the door as the palace shaking in anticipation of hearing their mother introduce them. Riley peeked around the corner and saw all the people they met on their journey. It was through them and the people before them gave Riley their strength to walk forward after their introduction and address the kingdom. “Today, I will take my place among the great rulers before me. Like them I will take council from those wiser than me and I will also leave my mark on this great kingdom. Starting today, my name is Riley and I am not a part of the gender binary. I encompass aspects of both male and female. From now on I will use they/them pronouns and referred to as the ruler of Maravilosa instead of prince or princess. I encourage all of my subjects to be themselves and to learn about people different to them.” stated Riley

Riley then took a step back. Their mom reached her arm around her and whispered in their ear “I am so proud of you." 


© Copyright 2020 Sarah Beattie. All rights reserved.

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