by Melanie Brown
Copyright © 2015 Melanie Brown
Rob is taking the big step to start his life as a girl.
This is a continuation of the adventures of Zoe that started in the stand-alone story "A Summer Afternoon". You don't have to read that story first, but it's recommended. -- Ed.
“You have a daughter, Mr. Miller,” said Dr. Crawley as she sat behind her desk, looking back and forth between me, Mom and Dad. “It’s very important that you accept Zoe for who she really is. I can appreciate how difficult it is for you to adjust to the idea that this child you have been raising as your son has rejected her assigned gender. Many families find this very difficult. But for her sake…”
“How can you just declare that my son is really a girl?” interrupted my dad. “Because he says so? My God, he’s a kid! He doesn’t know anything!”
Knitting her brow, Dr. Crawley said, “Please sit down, Mr. Miller and calm yourself. I’ve been a gender therapist for some time now. I can recognize the signs. I have interviewed and questioned Zoe a great deal these past weeks. This isn’t a recent development. She has felt this way at least since four or five years old.”
Blustering, Dad said, “Bullshit! He’s never mentioned this shit before. Yeah, I assumed he was a sissy, but wanting to be a girl since four? That’s just a bunch of crap. He wouldn’t even know there’s a difference between boys and girls.”
Looking worried, Dr. Crawley said, “Please sit down, Mr. Miller…”
With a worried voice, Mom said, “Honey…”
Dr. Crawley continued, “…Gender dysphoric children are deeply aware that something is wrong, even if they can’t articulate it. Things like not being able to wear certain clothing, or having certain toys denied to them. They quickly learn that asking for these things get them in trouble. Some insist on who they are while others, fearful of punishment, repress these feelings for many years.”
Mom said, “What are our options, Dr. Crawley? I want Rob to be happy, but I don’t want him being rejected as a freak or something.”
Dr. Crawley said, “Embrace your new daughter, Ms. Miller. Accept her. Let her explore who she is. Let her be Zoe. She can’t have any surgery until she’s eighteen, but I can give her a prescription that will stop any further development of secondary male characteristics. If she decides in a year that being a girl was a mistake, she can come off the hormone blockers and restart developing as a normal male.”
“Mom. Dad. Please. This is who I am,” I said seriously. “I know deep down that I’m not a boy. Please let me start living as a girl.”
Mom turned to Dad and said, “What do you think, honey? I mean, it’s been pretty obvious over the years that Rob never really fit in. I say we let Ro…um…Zoe try being a girl.”
Dad frowned at both of us and flashed a scowl at Dr. Crawley as he sat slumped in his seat, his head resting on his knuckles. He said, “Are you even listening to what you’re saying? Try being a girl? I’m against this. I really am. I think this whole swapping gender crap is just so much bullshit. Your DNA and…and…chromazoids or whatever don’t change no matter how many dresses you put on. Is it the dresses? Are these sissy clothes what is driving all this?”
I frowned back at Dad and said, “No, Dad. I like girls’ clothes, but I feel that I’m a girl no matter what I’m wearing.”
Dr. Crawley said, “And please, Mr. Miller. Please refrain from using such hateful terms as ‘sissy’. This exact response from you is what has made Zoe hesitate to come forward with this. I think…”
Dad held up his hand and interrupted, “Spare me another speech. Please let the record show that I’m opposed to this, but I know when I’m outnumbered. If Rob wants to ruin his life, who am I to stop him. I’m only his dad!”
Dr. Crawley smiled at me and said, “Well, Zoe. You’re on your way. We’ll get the paperwork going to get your records at school changed as well as your birth certificate, and so on. Congratulations, Zoe.”
“Oh my God! Are you serious?” asked an incredulous Toni over the phone. Toni’s been my best friend for like forever. I’ve shared my desire to be a girl with her for a long time. She’s even helped me with clothes and make-up and even secretly set me up for a date with a guy I’ve had a huge crush on.
“I’m very serious, Toni. Mom and Dad agreed and everything,” I said. “Well, Dad was very reluctant. To get the paperwork straight and to make sure I’m fully ready, I’ll be starting school about two weeks late. I didn’t want to start school as a boy and then just change over the weekend. I wanted to start school fresh as a new student.”
Sounding skeptical, Toni said, “You really think that’ll work? I think there will be some kids who point at you and say, ‘why is Rob wearing make-up?’”
“Maybe,” I said. “But I need to try. I don’t want to be a distraction and I don’t want to be attacked by bullies either. I just want to be that new girl, Zoe.”
“I hope you’re right,” Toni said. “I’ll pray for you, but I’m afraid the word will get out. Not by me though!”
I smiled into the phone and said, “Oh, I know I can trust you, Toni. I’m worried about someone else though.”
“Cameron?” ask Toni.
“Yeah. I hope he keeps ignoring me like he has the past month rather than make some fuss over me,” I said sadly.
Toni said in a quiet voice, “You never told me what happened between you two. I thought you were perfect for each other. From what you were telling me, you seemed to be getting along, VERY well.”
“Well, I was too ashamed to talk about it,” I said starting to tear up. “I was at Ace Hardware with my dad. I wandered off to look at something and ran into Cameron. Of course I wasn’t dressed as Zoe, but I forgot myself and tried kiss him when we greeted. He freaked and called me a fag and claimed I was trying to turn him gay. When I tried to explain that liking me doesn’t make him gay since he sees me as a girl, he said and I quote, ‘Shut the fuck up, you tranny twink boy. Never talk to me again!’ He then turned and angrily walked away. That was the last time I talked to him. He wouldn’t answer my calls.”
“I’m so sorry, Zoe!” exclaimed Toni. “I had no idea Cameron was such an ass. But I’m sure he just didn’t know how to react. I’m sure he was very embarrassed about being kissed in public by a boy.”
“No one saw us!” I said. “We were in the garden tool aisle. He didn’t have to be hateful to me. He could’ve just said ‘Not here!’. After a few dates, I really started to feel he was my boyfriend.”
Toni said, “He was probably falling for Zoe, but couldn’t handle it when you as Rob came on to him. If you want, I can try talking to him.”
I shook my head uselessly over the phone. I said, “Nah. I’m over him now. Acting that way after I’d given him my heart. No, there are other boys.”
“That may be true,” said Toni. “But, he’s the only boy who knows your secret and doesn’t...well at least didn’t care about it.”
“Boys aren’t everything,” I said sullenly.
Toni laughed and said, “Girl, just keep telling yourself that…”
“Zoe!” I was almost knocked from my feet as I was tackled-hugged by Toni. She was grinning from ear-to-ear. “I’m so happy to see you as Zoe, girl!” It was the first day for me to be back at school as well as my first time to attend as Zoe.
I laughed as I steadied myself. I said, “Thanks, Toni! Oh, me too. It’s a dream come true. I’m both excited and scared out of my mind.”
Toni looked me up and down and said, “Have they cut anything off yet?”
I rolled my eyes and said, “For the millionth time, I’m not old enough for surgery! And don’t ask that! Sheesh. Besides, we don’t have the money, anyway.”
Toni said, “Well, to me you’re a girl regardless. And don’t be scared. You’re a natural.” She took a step back and looked me up and down. “I approve. You have learned well, grasshopper. Did your mom do your make-up?”
Frowning, I said, “I did it myself. I have you to thank for knowing what to do, though.”
Walking with me towards the school, Toni said, “So, how’s your dad taking all this?”
“He hates it,” I said. “I think he hates me. I’m hoping he’ll come around, but right now I’m not holding my breath.”
Frowning, Toni said, “Well, he just needs to get over it. He has a beautiful daughter that he’s just ignoring!”
As we walked along, I caught the movement of somebody running up to us from the side. I turned and was surprised to see Jonah running up to us.
“Zoe!” shouted Jonah, one of Cameron’s friends I met over the summer. I had fancied Cameron as my boyfriend even though we only dated a few times during the summer.
When Jonah got closer, a little out of breath he said, “Hey, Zoe. You transferred over to our school! That’s so cool. Tell me you’re a cheerleader!”
“Hi, Jonah,” I said, a little annoyed he saw me. “Yes, I’m at this school and no, I’m not a cheerleader. I wasn’t here to try out last spring.” Cameron had told Jonah that I attended the school across town to explain why they had never seen me before. But of course they had all really had seen me…I had to be a boy of course last year.
Pointing at me and walking backwards, Jonah said, “Catch you later, Zoe. Good to see you again!” He then ran up the steps to the main entrance and disappeared inside the school.
Toni laughed as she looked over at me. She said, “Do you know him?”
I nodded and said, “Yeah. He’s one of Cameron’s friends. You’ve seen Jonah before.”
“That’s Jonah?” asked Toni looking confused. “Wow. I didn’t recognize him with his long hair and beard.”
In a loud whisper to my side, I heard, “Psst! Hey. What the hell are you doing?”
I looked to my left and there almost hiding behind a tree was Cameron! I knew I’d have to deal with him sooner or later. I guess it’s best to deal with him now.
“Hey, Cameron.” I said as I took a few steps towards him. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”
Toni walked up beside me and said, “Hi Cameron. What’s up?”
Scowling, Cameron hissed, “You know what’s up! Rob. What the fuck? What are you doing here dressed as a girl?”
I re-adjusted the notebook I was carrying to position it defensively in front of me. I said, “Rob doesn’t exist anymore, Cameron. I’m Zoe full time now. I’m even on hormones.”
“This is stupid Rob…um, Zoe…whatever. Just plain stupid. You don’t think anyone is going to notice?” Cameron spoke to me in a very angry tone.
“I hope no one notices,” I said. “I’m trying to be stealth. That’s why I’ve not been to school until today. I didn’t want to start school as a boy and then suddenly one day show up as a girl. Most people ignored me before, so I’m hoping nobody will miss Rob. I know I don’t. And if someone does recognize me and calls me on it, I’m prepared. I know what I will say. Principal Stonewall says he’ll stand behind me.”
Cameron stepped closer to me and said, “That’s all fine for you. But what about me? All my friends know I dated you. They’ve seen us kiss, for God’s sake! And if someone says ‘Oh look! It’s Rob in a dress!’ they’re going to know that I kissed a boy! They’ll think I’m gay or something!”
I tried not to shout as I jabbed my finger into Cameron’s chest, “You knew who I was when we went to that movie with your friends. You knew who I was went you asked me out not once, but three times! And you knew who I was when you kissed me! So don’t give me any of that shit. Just remember. Deep down, you knew you were kissing a boy!”
Sneering, Cameron said, “So, if you’re a boy, why the skirt? You know, I had you pegged for a twink from the start. I can’t believe I let you trick me into dating you!”
“Trick you!” I was so angry I actually slapped him. I didn’t think it was hard, but the palm of my hand stung. “How can you say that?”
“What do you think?” asked Cameron as he rubbed his face. “You all acting like a girl after Toni made you look like one. Look, I gotta go. Just stay away from me, okay?” Cameron spun on his heel and ran up into the school entrance.
Toni opened her purse and pulled out a tissue. She said, “Now don’t start crying. You’ll ruin your make-up and Cameron just isn’t worth it.”
“You’re right,” I said, sniffling.
“How was your first day at school as Zoe?” asked Mom as I wandered into the kitchen looking for a snack after coming home from school. School was about a fifteen minute walk from my house.
I shrugged as I removed a soda from the fridge. I said, “It was good, I guess. I was completely accepted as a girl. That’s good because that’s who I am. But in a way it’s bad because I don’t think anyone remembers Rob.” I sat down on one of the chairs at the kitchen table.
Sitting down next to me, Mom said, “Well, honey. That’s probably for the best. Yeah, that’s sad about Rob, but you don’t want him holding you back. You’re free now, Zoe. I’m happy to have a beautiful daughter.”
“Thanks Mom,” I said. “I wish I could hear Dad say that.”
Mom gave me a weak smile and said, “He’ll come around. I’m sure of it. Just give him time.” Mom took a deep breath and I guessed what she was going to say next. “Did you see Cameron?”
I closed my eyes tightly hoping to hold back any tears. I said, “Yes. He now hates me.”
Always the optimist, Mom said, “Oh, I doubt he hates you.”
I looked over at Mom and stared her in the eyes. I said, “He does, Mom. He does. He’s very afraid that I’ll be exposed and that his friends will all think he’s gay because he dated and kissed a boy.”
Mom said, “But you’re not a boy. Not inside.”
I shrugged and said, “You know that. And I know that. I mean, right now sure, yeah, I’m accepted as a girl. But if word got out, they’ll say, ‘oh, you’re a boy!’ They won’t believe me. All that matters is that I have a penis. Then everyone will hate me.”
Again trying to be positive, Mom said, “Or…they might not believe anyone that says you’re a boy because by then they’ve totally accepted you as Zoe. My God, I’m your mother and I have a hard time remembering that you weren’t born female. I mean, you’re almost a girlie-girl.”
“I just don’t want everyone to hate me. I want to fit in with the other girls. At lunch today, I sat with Toni and some of her friends. They all accept me,” I said suddenly smiling. “We talked about boys, music, movies, boys, books…they actually read books! It was great Mom. But…and this is a big but…what if I get invited to a sleep over or something. I know they won’t do a slumber party like they did when they were twelve or thirteen. But they still have sleep-overs.”
Mom laughed and said, “Now don’t start making up worries! If you get asked to one, go. Just be careful.”
“You’re right, Mom. No point in worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet.” I said.
Mom just sat at the kitchen table and stared at me for a few moments. I said, “Is everything okay, Mom?”
Mom smiled at me and said, “I’m just surprised to see the difference since it’s only been a few weeks and this being your real first day in public as Zoe.”
I looked at Mom with a puzzled expression. I said, “What are you talking about, Mom?”
“The way you just stand and the way you move that I can’t help but notice,” Mom said. “You’re happy, Zoe. You seem to be truly happy.”
“Hi. You must be new because I’ve never seen you before,” said a girl sitting down across from me and Toni at lunch. “I’m Nicole Wood. Your name is Zoe, right?” I remembered her from last year. She’s a cheerleader and one of the popular girls. A real bitch.
I finished swallowing the bite of salad I’d poked into my mouth and said, “Yeah. This is my second day. Nice to meet you, Nicole. This is Toni.”
Nicole smirked and said, “I know who she is. You do look kinda familiar though. Anyway, welcome to Hamilton Burger High. I just wanted to let you know you can always sit with us when you’re ready to move up to friends who can help you get what you want.” She grinned at Toni and walked away.
“It’s nice to know I have a backup plan,” I said, watching Nicole walk away. Toni punched me in the shoulder.
“I hate that bitch,” said Toni shaking her head.
“I don’t get why she invited me to her clique. She doesn’t know me,” I said before spearing another piece of salad.
“Because you’re new. And pretty. She wants to sink her claws into you and turn you into one of her worshiping little bitches,” said Toni with a scowl.
“I thought she’d never leave,” said a rather tall boy standing next to our table. “Mind if I join you?”
Toni looked up at him with a grin and said, “Sure!”
He extended his hand after setting his lunch tray down and said, “I’m Johnny Mantooth. I saw you sitting here yesterday with my old buddy Toni. I said to myself, I bet she’s new to this school. Toni suggested yesterday that I introduce myself to you.”
I forced a smile and shook the offered hand. “I’m Zoe Miller. Nice to meet you Johnny.” I shot Toni a dirty look and she just grinned.
“I’m on the basketball team. I hope to see you rooting for us when our season starts in November.” He studied me for a moment, even raising his hands to form a box with his fingers like you see parodies of movie directors do and squinting at me. “You know, I think you’d make a great cheerleader. I think you can still tryout.”
My face flushed and I said, “Thanks. But I’m just not that outgoing.”
Johnny grinned as he took a bite of his burger and with his mouth full said, “Aww. I bet you are. I think you’d be good.”
Grinning at me, Toni said, “I keep telling her it’s a great way to meet guys.”
Swallowing the wad of food in his mouth along with a gulp of soda, Johnny said, “That’s probably true. Seems like those cheerleaders always have a boyfriend to hang on to.”
I smiled and said, “Well, I’m just trying to get through school.”
Johnny laughed and said, “I’ve heard that before! Hey, I gotta run. Nice to meet you Zoe. I’ll see you around.” Johnny got up quickly walked briskly out of the lunch room.
“I’m going to kill you!” I said to Toni. She just laughed. “Who’s next on the list to greet me? Captain of the football team?”
Toni shook her head and said, “Nah. He’s dating your new buddy Nicole.”
“Stop trying to fix me up with boys, okay?” I pleaded. “I can’t really date anyone and you know it.”
“I know. But boys are still fun to talk to and flirt with. Flirting seems to be all I get to do anyway,” said Toni.
“You can have Johnny. He’s already a bud of yours!” I said grinning.
“He’s kinda…um…intense. But you have to admit, he is cute,” said Toni.
“Just hold it right there, bitch! Where do you think you’re going?” called a female voice from behind me as I was going out the school’s front door. I turned around and saw that it was Nicole.
“I was just going home. I…” I started to say, confused by Nicole’s obvious anger.
Nicole walked up quickly to me and shoved me out the door. I almost lost my footing as I stumbled backwards down a few steps. Pointing at me while yelling, Nicole said, “You skanky cunt! What do you mean stealing my Zane?” About five of Nicole’s closest friends gathered around her.
“Zane? Who? You mean Zane Carlson?”, I said totally confused. Zane Carlson was the captain of the football team that Toni had told me was dating Nicole. “I haven’t stolen anybody. I haven’t even talked to him.”
Wagging a finger at me, Nicole said, “Yeah, right bitch! You’ve only been here two days and you’ve taken my boyfriend! You’re gonna pay!”
“Yeah bitch! You’re gonna pay!” said one of Nicole’s toadies.
“Are you mental?” I shouted. Nicole’s toadies all gasped in unison. “I haven’t even seen this Zane.”
Nicole stepped down a few steps to stand in front of me. She sneered, “Oh yeah? Liar! How did you know his last name? You’ve only been here two days!”
I took a step back and said, “Um, Toni pointed him out to me.” It was a lie, but plausible.
Scowling something awful, Nicole said, “She’s next on my list. Zane sent me a text saying he’s breaking up with me. He’s found someone new.”
“How do you figure that’s me?” I said fearfully.
“Because it is,” said a voice from behind Nicole. We all turned to see a grinning Zane Carlson bounding down the steps towards me. “We have a date Friday night.” He slid his arm around my waist. I stepped away from him.
“No we don’t!” I protested. “You never asked me for a date!”
Zane laughed and said, “Well, not yet. When you know what the answer is, why bother with the question?”
Nicole shouted, “Your ass is grass, bitch! I knew you were lying!”
I took another step back and said, “I never said I’d go on a date with you!”
Grinning, Zane said, “You don’t have to. I’ve never been turned down yet. It’s a given.”
Nicole started crying. “You bitch! How could you do this to me? Especially after I offered to let you sit with us at lunch!”
“For the billionth time, I didn’t steal your boyfriend!” I shouted. “This is the first time I’ve talked to him in my life! I don’t want to date your boyfriend!”
Zane leaned in toward me and said, “You’re not going to humiliate me in front of everyone by turning me down. We have a date for Friday! Come get in my car, I’ll take you home.” He touched my arm.
“This is just plain crazy! I’m not getting in a car with you! And we’re not going out!” I shouted.
Zane leaned in again and whispered, “You really want to walk home with that angry mob behind you?”
I looked over at Nicole and her friends. One of the girls flipped me off and shouted, “Bitch!”
“You might be right,” I said nervously glancing back towards Nicole.
Zane extended his hand so he could lead me to his car.
“What the crap is this about?” I shouted at Zane after closing the passenger door to his car. “I’m not dating you! I mean, like how dare you?”
Zane started the car’s engine. He glanced back at Nicole still standing angrily in front of the school with her fan-girls. He glanced over at me and said, “You are Zoe, right? I think you’re the only Zoe in school, so I’m pretty sure I got the right one.”
“You didn’t answer me!” I shouted. “My second day at school and I already have an enemy that hates me and I didn’t do anything! Why did you do that?”
Zane laughed and said, “I wanted to make Nikki jealous. And I’m doing you a favor.”
I folded my arms as Zane drove his car out of the school parking lot. Scowling, I said, “I think you succeeded in making her jealous. But it escapes me how having her want to kill me is in my favor?”
Zane grinned and said, “Well, for one thing, she won’t keep trying to get you to join her little bitch coven. And by dating me, you’ll increase your cred with the other girls.”
Frowning, I said, “I don’t care about any of that stuff. I just don’t want to get beat up.”
Dismissing my comment with a wave of his hand, Zane said, “She’s not beating anybody up. Look, Nikki’s been taking me for granted. She needs to learn that if she wants me, she needs to work for it.”
I just stared at this boy for a few moments. I said, “That’s insane! Getting her to hate me isn’t going to help you. And I don’t care if she dates you or not!”
Zane shrugged and said, “She’s not going to date me. You are.”
I folded my arms tighter against my breast and said defiantly, “No I’m not. You just can’t demand someone date you. I mean, you’re just an asshole.”
A shocked expression crossed Zane’s face. He said, “An asshole? I’m giving you a ride home. Would an asshole do that? I’m taking you out for dinner and a movie Friday. Would an asshole do that?”
Zane parked his car along the curb outside my house. I got out and as I slammed his car door, I shouted, “I’m not going out with you!”
“You’re going on a date with Zane Carlson?” asked an incredulous Toni over the phone.
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