Read All About It by Skye Bagshaw
I still can't believe I have twins. Twins! Me! That is something special and special things only happen to lucky people. I never really thought of myself as lucky. There was never anything that said WOW about me and nothing extraordinary happened to me.
Well, I guess getting married was like that. It was making my love official. Proof that he also would do anything for me, whatever the cost, for as long as he lived. But it was scary.
Not that I didn't feel ready to commit to Ron forever. I would have given my soul to have done that. But I feared he couldn't possibly love me- despite the years of proving his love- as I didn't love myself.
How could somebody love me? I had short hair, like a boys. I'd always wanted it to grow long and change to a pretty colour, like blond hair, but it stayed stubbornly short and brown. If only my eyes stood out, but I had huge ugly glasses; they took up a third of my face and pointed out to the world that my eyes were like me. Mediocre. As for my weight... well, I had always struggled with it.
I'm not going to lie like most people do, blaming a rare thyroid or a slow metabolism. But I was born with a larger bone structure and that is something you can't really change. As long as you are healthy then you can manage it and stay the same, so it is healthy for you.
But I wasn't healthy. I ate away all of my sorrows. I'm not saying it was comfort food. You still feel like a greedy and monstrous pig after the bingeing. But it just seemed like something to smooth over the rough edges. One thing that I could do for my own pleasure without thinking was eat. A way of feeling independent.
I believe that beauty is inside. But when I see a pretty person of course I feel inadequate. Even if I am just spitting out this spiel to others, it feels good but wrong. I can see everything beautiful about them: how they look, act and their personalities.
With me I come up blank.
Anyway, marriage was a good thing, despite the fear. When Ron said “I do,” it felt like an inner cleansing. All (well, nearly all) of my fear melted away. I could go ahead and enjoy the dancing, and then the honeymoon.
Children were a big thing to us. They would make us a whole family. Make me feel like a real person, instead of an empty shadow. But I was worried I might not be able to give Ron this miracle. What if I was infertile? More people were struggling now with it. What if we weren't compatible? I'd heard of this on rare occasions. What if I miscarried?
But I didn't. It didn't even take me long to get pregnant. I was overjoyed when I found out that I was. It made me feel like if I had failed at everything else, I had something to take pride in.
Or, more specifically, some things. When I found out about the twins I cried with joy. Well, it is everybody's dream and very unlikely to occur. I asked them to double check as there hadn't been any twins in my family so perhaps he was confusing a curvy part of me for life?
But no, he was right! I was having twins. Indentical twin boys.
I saw double the joy and fun. Not only 1 birthday party, but 2. 2 lots of everything. So magical that I couldn't believe it.
It didn't stop me arranging things. I cunningly told everybody I was having twins so they would put in double the effort with my baby shower. That sounds tight, but I wasn't doing it deliberately. I mean I went on innumerable shopping sprees, buying clothes, toys and books (“How to be a Mum,” “The Ultimate Baby Names,”)- I just wanted them to have the best start in life that I could possibly give them.
Pregnancy flew. It felt like I had only been pregnant 5 minutes before labour. I wish that had gone quickly! It lasted forever. And that was only the first birth. My beautiful Brian. Bruce took even longer. I hoped it wasn't a sign that he would give me the most trouble.
But all of the pain, time and effort was worth it when I held them with Ron by my side. We were a family. Complete. Inside I felt a part of me heal. This was my fairytale and I would make it stay perfect.
I hope this goes well. What if something goes wrong? Perhaps I should wait. Maybe the urinating problem will turn out alright. They are just babies and so they are bound to grow out of it.
But what if they don't? I could be selfishly causing them an ongoing torment for the sake of a quick and easy circumcision. Well, easy for them now. If I left it till they were older then it may be very difficult, embarrassing and time consuming.
Oh, I don't know what to do. I don't want to be without them. Nor does Ron. We love them so much. But the problem could escalate and they could...
No, I won't say it. The mere thought of my sons dying breaks me to pieces. I'll never let it happen. I'd rather die. My life doesn't mean much, but theirs does.
So should I just go along with what the doctor recommends? I mean, hello, he is a doctor. That's much more than I have ever been, or will ever be, except being a Mum. Thousands of circumcisions happen everyday. No problem.
They are 7 months old, so they are a good age for it. My twin boys will be fine. My twin boys will be fine. My twin boys will be fine.
If I say that enough I might be able to breathe again...
It should be over soon. The agony of waiting is unbearable. I can't wait until I see Brian and Bruce playing on the carpet with their toys.
Well, Brian mostly plays and acts as leader, being the dominant twin. Bruce just seems to enjoy watching Brain play and feel part of his game. It's like it gives him a sense of place and direction.
Or is that me assuming what he feels? But in my heart I feel like I know every secret they have. I'm sure Ron feels the same. That unbreakable connection. We will never lose that.
If only I knew what it was like to be an identical twin. My family was never that close. We are civil and can have fun, but we don't feel a huge bond. Despite our love for each other we are as seperate and distanced as we could be.
Well, I'd better tidy their room (we have been smelling their toys for their scent and playing with them to feel close to them) as tomorrow morning we will be picking them up. Then life will go back to normal.
Yes, I'll just do this and then go to be-
Is that the phone ringing? Who would call this late? Could it be that something has happened? Oh no. God no. Please let them be fine. Please God. Please.
But why is my head screaming at me and my heart sinking with each breath I take.
“Hello?” a cool voice on the phone says.
“Hello,” I say, sounding tense.
“Is this Mrs-,” she asks inquisitively.
“Of course it's me. Don't I sound like me? Don't you know my mobile? Don't you know my twins?” I snap, too worried for polite conversation.
“It's just policy,” the woman says, sounding wounded.
“Screw policy. What has policy ever done for me?” I ask angrily.
“Is that you dear? What's wrong?” Ron calls from downstairs.
“Well-,” the woman on the phone says awkwardly.
“Look, are you going to tell me what this is about, or not? Some of us have lives that can't be lead on the phone,” I say.
“It's me dear. Got a call from the hospital. I think it's-,” I say and I stop. How can I say what I'm thinking? How can I say that I know something has wrong, even though I don't know how?
“Coming,” he says, sensing the urgency in my voice and he comes running down the stairs.
“There has been a problem. If you could come in at your earliest convenience,” she says, sounding pitying, just as my husband takes my hand. It shakes. Everything I feared being put into words. I whisper to my husband even though my mouth feels swollen, my eyes sore from the tears and my body shaking. He feels the same as I do, I can see it in his eyes, but he stays strong for me, and says: “We can do it.” But I'm not in the mood to be soothed. I want to lash out and fight.
“What's happened?” I ask loudly.
“We can't say on the phone,” she says, sounding sad.
“You can't say? Something has happened to the light in my life and you can't say? What do you mean you can't say? YOU WILL SAY!” I say shouting. He tries to restrain me but I push him away.
“Get off of me. I don't want you to tell me it will be alright. I just want the boys back. Our boys. My boys,” I say and I fall down on to my knees crying. I'm holding the phone so hard as I cry it is a wonder it doesn't break. The woman has hung up.
I stay in that position for hours, and yet it could be minutes. However long I grieve will never seem enough. It is my fault. Ron rocking me won't change that. My shouting profanities at him, the woman and the medical profession won't change that. I won't change that.
This is all I will ever be. Never will I be able to fix the damage. Nor will I be able to fix my heart.
What has happened to them? What could happen to them? What could the doctors get wrong?
I need to see. Perhaps it isn't as bad as I think or they think. Whatever it is, I need to see. We'll have to get past it together.
“You're not in a fit state to drive,” he says.
“Fine. You drive,”I say determinedly.
“I can't,” he says.
“You can't? You can't get in the car and drive five miles to the hospital? You can't gather up the guts to drive your distraught wife?” I ask, furious.
“You don't think I'm not- You don't think I care? This is happening to me too. But we can't let any of this get in the way of reason,” he says.
“Oh my God! How can you talk of reason? I'll get a taxi if you'd-,” I say.
“No, I'll drive. I love them as much as you. I love them as much as I love you,” he says and he kisses me gently. It numbs the pain, like it has always done, and I hold his hands tightly, afraid to let go.
The car ride is the worst journey I've ever had in my life. I'm sure he feels the same. Any song sounded inappropriate and unbearable, so we decided to switch it off. Conversation is so strained and monosyllabic that we are silent, It is almost a relief when we finally get there. We need the truth, even if it will break us.
Together we take a deep breath and walk through the giant doors together. As we declare ourselves I feel an inner shouting and also an inner excitement. So close to them! We would be even closer if the idiotic receptionist didn't continue to keep us waiting. But she's finishing up the phatic questions, and is calling for a meeting. Yeah, like seeing the doctors is what we want. This was his idea. I want to lunge at him, but I'd rather do that once we've got the boys.
But he meets us anyway. In his office.
“Hello Mrs-,” he starts.
“Don't “Hello,” me. How dare you? What the hell has gone on?” I ask fiercely and Ron supports me by nodding in agreement with my questions.
“There has been a slight problem in surgery,” he says vaguely.
“We've heard that? What problem? How could there be a problem?”Ron asks, surprising me.
“No surgical procedure is infallible. The hot wire burnt Bruces' penis and genitalia,” he says matter-of -factly.
“Hot wire? What the- Electricity? I though you'd use a knife! What were you thinking? I thought you knew what you were doing,” I say, feeling out of control. Even though it is a relief that none of them are dead and the problem is only for one of them- and not life threatening- it still crushes me. Who's heard of a boy with no penis? Who would be ok with no genitalia? Who would be able to fix it?
“My recommendation was appropriate. This was a rare occasion,” he says indifferently.
“What an ignorant ass! Don't you feel ashamed? You're a failure! What are you going to do about it?” Ron asks heatedly.
“Of course this is a tragedy. But on the whole the success rate is in the majority. We can't do anything about it. You will have to live with it,” he says heartlessly.
“Oh, we will will we?” he asks heatedly, but I shake him.
“Don't! We need to see Bruce and- Oh God! What happened to Brian?” I ask.
“ We didn't operate on Brian. Would you like us to?” he asks.
“Are you sane? Of course not. We want to see them and never see you again. Unless you'd rather we beat you to death or sued you. Quite rightly!” I say livid.
“I'll get it sorted out,” he says, sounding shocked.
“You'd better,” I say.
When they show me I gasp in shock. Bruce looks shocked at my reaction and cries a little. Me and my husband both take one of his hands to soothe him. It's weird how naïve he is about his loss. I thought he would have lost a bit more skin than necessary, but all of it is gone. Useless. Yet him and Brian still have their baby language, not acting the least bothered.
I fall against Ron and he cradles me, as I tickle his hair. Something that relaxes him. Nobody understands how we feel. Nobody can help. Nobody can fix it. They are all useless and ignorant.
I want to shout at the world. I want them to see mt pain. I want to make us the perfect family of four.
Time goes quickly. Too quickly. 8 months since their birthday. It has been 11 months since the accident.18 months since birth. Savouring each day makes you realise how precious life is. But also how fragile the reality is.
I keep expecting some answer to come. Something. I pray every day for some sign that there is hope. But God, the doctors and us two can do nothing for Bruce at the moment. Bruce and his disability... it does feel like he is disabled, and it is technically true. I've asked so many questions in so many ways, but I get nothing back.
Will Bruce ever be able to have his loss reversed? Will Bruce ever feel normal? Will Bruce ever forgive me?
I wish babies could talk. It would be so much easier to know if he was happy or not. But only Brian will know that. They talk lots. And fight over toys.
Especially at their birthday. They each tried to eat the most laugh the most and get the most attention. Does that show they are normal?
I love them both equally. But I am such a hypocrite for always focusing on Bruce. But Brian will be fine. Why would he have problems?
If only there was some answer. That way I could feel like a proper Mum. We could be brilliant parents.
“I believe she is a fine example of gender neutrality. Her operation for man to woman went as intended. Doesn't she look brilliant you guys?” asks a male voice and the audience claps and there are some wolf whistles. What did he say? Operation? I hastily turn it up.
There's a man on it, a Psychologist called Dr Funny or something (he presenters accent plus the babies crying in the background makes it hard to understand) about how gender is a moot point. He says that for the first couple of years of a child's life, they are gender neutral. Gender is reinforced by environment.
What? How can you not now if you are a boy or girl? I'd think you'd have to be pretty thick to not notice the difference between a girl and a boy. If only it were true... but that would still mean it might not work on Bruce. He'd only have about 6 months. But that's still an ok amount of time and a professional might...
Well, look at the woman. She used to be a man. She's so beautiful. Really convincing (her face looks a little masculine, although I can't explain why, but maybe that's because I know, she still looks fantastic). The way she looks, acts and dresses! She puts me to shame. Perhaps it could work. What other thing is there to try?
The man sounds so confident. He makes you believe in him. I'm sure he'd help us if he could. Thank you God. This is a dream come true. An answer to my prayers.
Dear Dr Money
Hello. We are the parents to 18 month old twins (identical) Bruce and Brian. We are hoping you can help Bruce with his gender identity, as at 7 months his penis was accidentally castrated in circumcision. He doesn't look like a boy any more, and we believe seeing Brian who was not operated and still has his penis will confuse him about his identity.
(Signed) Janet and Ron Reimer
Wow. There must be a God. What a piece of luck! Of course I feel bad for the twin- Bruce was it?- but in the long run I will be able to help him whilst proving my theory at the same time.
This is just the thing I need. Any critics will have to accept humble pie when I do this. If- when!- this works on identical twins they will accept my theory. About time too! To think that this one study- against all of the other incredible ones I've done before- will make all the difference is exciting and annoying. It makes me feel vulnerable. Twins are the things that could help or hinder me. They could be jewels or dynamite.
Still, this is for a greater purpose. I may be able to fully understand why people are gay if I prove my theory. They must think that they are the gender that that level of attraction is normal for (a boy fancies a boy because he thinks he is a girl. It also explains why there are inter-sex people. In the womb (and this carried on to 0-2 years of development) they do not identify as either gender, another confusion causes a change in genitalia and hormones.
Yes, there must be more to gender than chromosomes. Now I get a chance to prove it. Imagine how much good it will do. People can no longer suffer with confusion. I have the key to enlightenment.
Where is my pen?
His reply still makes my heart sing. It sounds so easy and simple. He must be a genius! All I have to do is treat Bruce like a girl. Brenda. And not tell her, as then it will fail. Why would I tell her?
But when we met he repeated this, making it clear to me that it is an important point.
I can teach her to be a girl. I'll make her the prettiest dresses (all the family will, Ron is such a brilliant knitter although he would never let me tell anybody) and but her the girliest toys.
This is so exciting. If only Ron looked as convinced. He seems 5% unsure. We need to be 100% united if this is to work. We can't come across confused or that will confuse her.
Bless you Dr Money. He's a saint for talking about putting in all of this time and effort for discussions and meetings. We've met a winner.
What is wrong with her? Why is she believing this hot shot so easily? For all he's so well known I've never heard of him” I'm glad too. Who wants to know a pompous git?
I wish she'd involve me in things. I know she loves me but she excludes me. Why didn't she shout for me to watch the program too? She calls me for nappy time, but she doesn't call me for good things.
I love Bruce (Brenda now. What kind of name is Brenda?) and Brian as much as she does. But I don't let it cause me to be irrational and hot headed. Maybe it comforts her. Or is could be her Clinical Depression.
It don't feel comforted. A big part of me believes that there is some truth in it because there has to be something. But a part of me thinks we're all just puppets for a big idea.
But what if I'm wrong? Can I say anything either way?
Brian and Brenda are 2 Years Old
Every day is a challenge. Marvellous, but non- stop. Babies don't understand “5 minutes,” or “I'm tired.” They only understand what they want. I love it, but I know I'll never feel 100% used to it. Or competent.
Time makes it easier. And Ron. Without him I... Well, he's wonderful. I don't understand how other people manage it on their own. With one baby it would be hard. But twins...
It is more the constant struggle to feel like normal and good parents that is the hardest thing. You have to get the perfect balance of something that is unpredictable. I constantly ask myself: How can I be a good wife and Mum? How I can be a housewife, wife and Mum? How can I balance everything?
At first it was really hard for Ron and I. We were so shocked that it caused us to be constantly on edge with each other. We seemed to either always argue, or remain indifferent to each other by constantly doing other things. It seemed easier than saying: “I feel like this is all of my fault and you blame me. I hate it that you aren't supporting me now. I love you.” It was also easier than admitting how freakish we felt when we tried to explain to our family about the change and they didn't understand. We felt rejected by them and we rejected each other to feel we had some control.
But it is better now. We went for a meal out to talk about everything (while my sister babysat) and we made a breakthrough. It wasn't necessarily what was said, it was just the fact that I felt he was listening to me with an open mind. We realised we still had a connection.
As for family, we just showed them what Brenda looked like now (which seemed to make her feel uncomfortable as she cried, and Brian looked curious before joining in crying too) and talked about Money. They understood more, even if they were still confused.
The twins confuse Ron and I. Some day we will think it will work, because Brenda will look pretty in her dresses (her hair is getting longer and it has a lovely natural curl) and play with her dresses (which causes Brian to avoid her, especially when she plays weddings with her toys. He often looks like he is frustrated by her) looking very happy. Some days she will glare at her dresses and tots, and will run about bare and steal Brians' toys. On these occasions Brian may either seem confused but happy and let her play and seem grateful for her company, or he will seem angry and push her away. Brenda then either cries or fights back.
Is this usual behaviour? Am I doing enough for Brenda? Am I doing enough for Brian? Am I doing enough?
Money says that he is pleased with the progress, how she is acting like a girl. He only mentions how this is successful so I guess the other things don't matter. Well, I'm not a Psychologist- I never even went to university. He must know more. He must be right.
He's got to be.
Brenda and Brian are 3 Years Old
I want Brenda to go away. I hate her. She is no fun. Well, she is a girl. Well, some days she is. On the days she isn't she's no fun either. Do I want her to play with my toys? She has her silly toys to play with. My toys are called my toys for a reason. They belong to ME.
She's so weird. Those dresses... Eurgh. Girls are so weird. Why do they like yucky things? Because girls are the worst and boys are the best. She's not a proper girl though, I get flashes sometimes...
It's noisy. The room is crowded. Everybody is looking at us. There are hats on our heads. What else? Oh yeah. A cake. People are singing “Happy Birthday,” and we smile. Just one cake and just one set of clothes. We wear the same colour and have the same hair.
What happened? Those days happen, but its changed. There are two cakes, two sets of clothes, hairstyles and presents. Two people. Everyday is like that now. It feels so weird. But I barely remember how it was before.
Maybe I'm weird. I could have caused all of this to change. People often look ay me. Too often. I feel like I am an animal at the zoo. Why do my parents look at me so often? Why do they look at me less than Brenda?
What is it with Brenda? Why has she changed so much? Why are they so interested? They seem so excited when she plays with her silly dolls and dresses. But she hates it. Why does she still do it? She doesn't always do it. She sometimes take her dresses off and plays with my toys.
Or at least she starts to. I let her if I want to see her happy and like she used to be. When she was... like me. But I don't if I just want to be alone. Then she either cries or fights.
Girls don't fight. Girls don't play with boys. Girls don't play with boys toys.
But I feel like I am breaking the rules when I upset her. I feel like people look at me less than her because I'm less important so I need to make her happy. If I don't then something bad will happen.
Or I will lose a part of me.
Stupid girl. Stupid family. Stupid everyone.
When will things not be so cloudy? In my head and in my family? When will somebody give me an answer? The voices don't help. Her girly toys scream at me that “I'm wrong,” and echo “Girl,” “Boy,” and won't leave me alone.
I love my toys.
Brenda and Brian are 3 Years Old
“Brian! What's wrong?” I ask, as he's looking around open mouthed.
What's he looking at? I can't see anything. Mummy says this is an attention thing and I shouldn't think about it. But I do. I have to say it again for him to listen. He looks at me in surprise and then gasps as if he's been burnt.
“What?” he asks, sounding weak and his eyes look dark and scared.
“I was asking you about playing. Then you did that,” I say feeling shaken.
“Playing? Playing with your girl toys?” he starts nervously fumbling his words and shaking. “I never want to play with you. Your toys are bad. Get them out!” he shouts at me. I cry feeling rejected.
“Mummy says it's bad to shout. Daddy told you-,” I start.
“Mummy can-,” he says a bad word that Daddy said when he tripped over the phone wire. “GET OUT!” he yells.
I run away, scared that he might hurt me. Not in a playful way either. Recently he's been different. He has these weird moments. Looking around. Shouting. Cursing. Moving away from me. He's weird with my toys. Before he just laughed at them. Now he either moves away from them and covers his ears, or he frowns and tries to break them (pushing me when I try to stop him) and then cries, looks around and covers his ears.
I'm making my brother mad. That's why Mum and Dad keep a close eye on me. I infect people and make them unhappy. That's why it's all changed. Brian has caught it. Me and my room annoy him because he sees it as danger. Anything to do with me is cursed. Is that why people were surprised when they saw me when I wasn't wearing a dress? Why Mum and Dad are so worried and sad?
I try to please them. They like it when I play with dolls and dresses. I hate it. I want Brian and his games. Or to play games with my toys. But they look sad when I do that. So I mostly don't.
Brian isn't much fun now. He could be before. Now he's weird.
I don't want it to be weird. I don't want to be alone. I don't want to have my toys.
When do I swap back? I can't be a girl. I didn't dress like this. I was different.
Me and Brian were the same.
Brenda and Brian are 4 Years Old
Thank God. Ron and I are starting to relax about Brian. It's been a while since his stage. We kept waiting for it to reoccur but it hasn't/ It must have been a silly attention thing, or curiosity.
It scared the hell out of me.
But we're all strong. At least we're surviving. Naturally we worry. All of the time. But that's the challenge of being a parent. We are all healthy.
Are we happy?
I live each day differently. Some days are good days. Others aren't. They can get so bad that I sit in a room by myself and cry. I'm still so selfish. Maybe I will never fully stop shutting out the world.
But I wouldn't do that everyday. I have to be strong. If I were to count my blessings, something I rarely do, I'd run out of numbers. It's not a perfect life, but compared to everything that could go wrong it is a miracle.
Dr Money is a wonderful man. Ron doesn't like him as much as me, but he appreciated his passion. Only his passion could have saved us. He regularly writes, reiterating his initial advice and congratulating us on their progress. He was the one who said that the Brian thing was a stage and to just persist with Brenda.
She wears her dresses most of the time. She looks like a girl. She is so pretty. Me and Ron can't believe that she and Brian are 4. They change so quickly but we love them just as much. Money cares for them too. In his yearly meetings he records conversations with them. Just to check their progress. But the biggest input is from us. He says that the next meeting, when they are 5 will be important. Their response will indicate more coherently (although they are already quite forward. All of the books we read to them must have helped) how they are responding.
I wonder how long this will last. Not that I'm not grateful. But I wish there was a time scale. I wish there were concrete promises. We have many large hints, but at some point they won't be enough.
There are so many things left on the journey. But we're all tired.
So much planning for this meeting. All of the others were just phatic, but this is very important. These observations and transcripts are crucial. The world needs to see proof to accept my Gender Neutral Theory. I will give it to them. I must.
Otherwise I'm a failure.
Brenda is wearing a dress. She has stained it though. But that doesn't have to indicate a lack of pride in it. No, its existence is the important thing. Just like the existence of Brians' baseball cap is the important thing.
They look the part. But I'm hardly going to take photographs. Photographs! It could be a good idea for the future. Although I don't know what for. Anyway, do they sound the part?
“Which one of you is the boss?” I ask casually. As casually as I can. Their answer will make or break this meeting.
“Well, Brian's boss because he's a boy,” Brenda says. My heart is starting to settle. But is this too simplistic? If it was that black or white wouldn't Brian answer first? Don't overthink it! You can fault anything if you really think about it.
“Are you the boss Brian?” I ask curiously. I'm so curious I feel lightheaded.
“I don't know,” he says vaguely. How can you not know? Its a yes or no answer. For Gods sake, why do I have to work with children? These are supposed to be advanced as well. Kill me now! I'll want to be killed if I get this theory wrong.
“If someone fights do you run away or fight back?” I ask, trying to simplify it for the idiot.
“I fight back,” he says confidently. He's getting there. He might be able to have a real conversation in 10 years time.
“What about you Brenda? Do you fight back?” I ask unnecessarily. She does fight. Her Mum tells me about it. I try to ignore it though.
“No, because I'm a girl. Girls aren't allowed to fight back are they?” she asks. Brilliant answer. If only it wasn't a lie. But it doesn't have to be. She could always change.
“Girls can't hit hard but boys can,” Brian adds. He volunteered information! He's not how his Mum said he was before then. He's grown up then. Good. I either thought it was a stage or he was hearing voices. Glad it was a stage. How would it look if one of my patients went mad?
A brilliant meeting. Good for the book. I'm writing a book about my theory. This supports it. They show different behaviour patrterns and confidence within their gender. If only I could show them about the book. They would be flattered at this age. But their parents...
This is for the greater good. I didn't tell them because I knew they'd worry. I couldn't leave this. It called to me. I have the chance to reach out to many people.
To leave a mark.
One Gets Better.
One Gets Worse.
Brian is really happy. He's made a couple of friends at school. His stories are all about the good times with his friends. When he talks about action games and jumping into puddles me and Ron smile.He smiles back. He's even happy when Brenda borrows his toys now. I guess he's used to sharing, and he's more accepting of her now. The other day he walked into her room and undressed and dressed a doll when Ron was in there tidying. Ron says Brian didn't seem phased by it.
Brenda is so masculine. She's always messing up her clothes. On purpose. She avoids the bathroom. Her aim seems to destroy every toy she has (including the dolls, dolls house and carriage we bought her for Christmas) or to be very rough with them. She sits in a corner at school playing with her toys. When we ask about it she barely replies, like she doesn't have anything to say.
They barely talk anymore. Brian wants to, but she just pushes him away. She used to cry when he didn't accept her, and now that he does...
What is wrong with her? She's not real. She regularly changes in my mind. I have to be careful not to call her Bruce. I once did and she looked shocked, but I pretended I was calling Brian the wrong name. Was I convincing?
When will we get a break?
“I would say that there's not much chance in persuading this girl into a change of mind. This negativism is the most extreme she displayed on this visit. Last time she was always vernarcle in the way that she hit, kicked and otherwise attacked people in not an altogether playful manner.”
When did I record this? Why? It is so hard to remember the bad things I try to put them out of my mind. If I focus on any bad details this will be thrown out and my name with it. That can't happen. It needs to work. For the cause and for me. I've spent so long on this to not admit there is not a little selfish intent.
What happened? I haven't written anything bad in my diary. I've just written about how the children recently have, according to the mother, been so anxious about my visits that they needed ice cream to persuade them. It is slightly humorous, but worrying.
Have I missed something? They have always been respectful. Maybe it's because they are growing up. Seperating a lot. I need to put this to them in the right way.
Should I seperate them in meetings? Yes. I need to talk to Brenda alone. She needs to be comfortable around me for it to work. She needs to embrace her gender identity.
I will make it so she believes.
She needs to accept that she is a girl. So the things I will ask, the things I will say, may seem inappropriate. But they aren't. I am a good, honest man- really John? Or is that only in your books? Trying to seem so good and intelligent. How can you stand your pathetic self? It makes me sick. Are you still immune to feelings since the numbness of heartbreak? Ah, see I get you John. Unnerve you. Why don't you accept that you are a maniac?- who just wants to illustrate the difference between her and a boy, so she is confident. I want my head to shut up shouting at me. There is nothing wrong with me. Nothing wrong with me. Nothing wrong with me.
Now I just need to breathe. For Gods sake, I'm acting like I'm a criminal. She is waiting on the couch. If she detects hesitation or anxiety it will ruin it. She is just looking for an excuse to ruin my work. Well, I won't let her.
“I've got a good question for you,” I declare, once I am sat down and embracing my normality.
“What?” she asks. Is this compliance? Boredom? Is she tense? How will I ever know what she thinks? Her parents have been struggling, and Brian.
“What is the difference between a boy and a girl?” I ask seriously.
“Well, a girl has long hair and a boy has short hair,” she answers, like I expected.
“What if I have short hair and you have short hair?” I ask, slowly coaxing her to open her mind.
“Well, I have a dress and you have pants,” she says, another typical response.
“That's a way. But there is another way,” I say. She looks resigned as she asks: “What?”
“Take their clothes off. What about a boy when it has no clothes on?How can you tell whether it is a boy or girl?” I say, all of it matter and fact and confident. The thing she needs me to be.
“I don't know,” she says and she shakes her head. I can tell she's bored. I need to interest her more.
“Well, I'll help you. You have a look down here,” I say and I point suggestively as I say: “Between the legs right?” This is a not a rhetorical question. As she looks confused I add: “When you look down there, what is the difference?”
“Flat,” she replies tonelessly. Is this discomfort? I don't want her to feel like this. But she needs to understand.
“A boy has a penis for peeing with, like a little sausage, huh? What does a girl have?” I say.
“I don't know,” she says sounding as uncomfortable as before.
“She has a flat. A boy doesn't have that. They're both different. They're both different,” I say emphatically.
She looks down as if ashamed. Why am I so useless?
Isn't there an easier way?
Why do I have to see him? He makes me go all shaky inside. Isn't there anyone else?
But even my family don't get it. I am so unlike my Mum. Any other girl. But I am so like Brian that it scares me. I don't want him. He never wanted me. Not really. He put up with me.
People put up with me. They don't want me. I am a freak. The book he gave me shows it. I'm going mad. Why else would he give me a book of women giving birth? It sickens me. I guess that must be the wrong reaction. I am wrong.
So is he though. He's gross. He's more disturbed than I am. Has he read this book? Enjoyed it? I want to shout that I will never see him again. But I don't want to say why. I don't want to talk about the questions. I don't want to talk about the book.
I don't want to talk at all.
The Stubborn Brenda
I eat, work, play. All day, every day. I avoid people, contact and communication as much as I can. They confuse me. Don't understand me. I understand that I won't ever understand how to be normal again. That is freeing.
I don't need to listen to other people. Or to my confusion or pain. Silence is bliss.
Brenda won't talk. But I hear. It's like the dolls. When they stopped it came back after a while. Something else. Feeling like everything was louder. The sound rushing to my ears and making me jump and cover my ears. Well, a couple of times when I was in my room and overheard the TV downstairs. At least nobody saw. They would have seen it and though: “He's a freak,” and it would have screamed loud at me. Then it would probably echo until it did it so often that it was the only undertone biting at me. Closing off the rest of the world. But soon I got used to it. Not fully, but I don't react noticeably. But when it happened (not everyday, on strange occasions when I was either really aware or really tired) it still causes me to ask the same things and want to ask out loud the same questions.
Anyway, now I hear her. Not Brenda. Her voice. What she is feeling. Not her. Something outside connected to my head. I can't work out why. When I'm alone (no one can know, this is my secret) I touch my head, trying to figure out where it is, but I can't. It's deceiving me. Always wanting me to fail. Expecting it. But I won't give in. I won't show people otherwise it will laugh at me.
It sometimes does. It chants: “Brenda hates you,” and echoes it before shouting: “FREAK,” and then laughing. I want to cry. I want a head transplant. Its ruined mine. Poisoned it.
When will it stop?
Never. It enjoys my pain. The world hates me.
She always looks hunched over nowadays. In her eyes I see defiance. That won't do.
But it's how she is now. Her parents are exasperated by her. She is very dysfunctional. Brian is little better. Apparently he often has a tortured expression- or something like that- like he is trying to concentrate on something out of reach.
Look what I have to work with!
But I must work with it.
“That reminds me of something else I want to talk to you about. You know already the way you were made down there, you're not exactly the same as other girls, are you? Well, I have a message for you about it. Here at the hospital we can fix it up and make it look as its supposed to look. Fix it up so that when you sit down to pee it does straight down the bowl instead of splashing. How old would you be when you were ready for that?”
“I don't know,” she says quietly, reluctantly answering.
“How old are you now?”
“Seven,” she answers emotionlessly.
“Well, maybe by the time you were 8 years old we can let the doctor in the white coat look down there? He's the one who'll be doing the operation to fix it up. Last year a man had a look down there and maybe next year it will be ok for the other doctor to have a look down there. The one who'll fix it up,” I say easily.
“I wouldn't do that,” she says hesitantly.
“You don't have to if you don't want to. When would be a good age for the operation?”
“13,” she says slowly, drawing it out in her confusion.
“Thirteen? We'll see about that. It might be a bit late,” I say worried.
She seems to sink in to herself.
I'm so scared. Like I was when that doctor looked at me last year. I don't want anyone to see me because they will react like these people did when Mum showed them. Shocked and repulsed.
What do I need surgery for? My heart works. My kidneys do. My lungs do. Why do I need to change myself? This will change me, I know it.
Just because he has his ideas I do not have to go along with them. Or with anyone's. I am who I am.
Even though I am a freak. My head is just masked in black. I want to lie down forever. No longer a slave to duty. I'm so tired.
© Copyright 2016 Skye Bagshaw. All rights reserved.
Book / Children Stories
Poem / Other
Short Story / Young Adult
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