“Jenny, come in please.” Dr. Debbie Burke said as she entered the waiting area for the office of the Program for Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota. The person she just asked to come back is not a patient, but the partner of one. Dr. Burke had tumbled into one of the most unique situations ever presented to the Program. A young man had begun to question his gender. That was not unusual. The unusual part was that at the same time, he and the girl entering the counselor’s office had begun a relationship. As time went on the young man began to identify as a woman more and the relationship with the young woman intensified. The two were in love and living together. Then last week happened. The young woman had left town and the young man was discovered by his father and the reaction had left the young man almost broken. The calls to this office had gone unheeded. However something magical had happened. The girl returned and the young man had pulled out of his spiral. But now changes were beginning and the young man now wanted to be a young woman. And his girlfriend stated she was 100% behind the decision. That is what this meeting was about, to make sure that she knew what she was getting into.
Dr. Burke waved Jenny to the couch and took a seat in her standard chair, but this time without her notebook. Today was about making sure that Jenny was aware of what was happening and what she could look forward to. Debbie liked both Jenny and her boyfriend/partner Alexa. She had seen the love the two shared many times, but yesterday when the two of them came to her office it was something much more. It was almost a spiritual connection. When Alexa told Debbie the story of her father’s rejection, Jenny seemed to feel every bit of the pain Alexa described. When Jenny talked about her trip home, Alexa displayed the same frustrations Jenny must have felt as she tried to make it back to the person she loved. And when Debbie found out about the events with Alexa and her father, she expected to find a defeated boy and a girlfriend trying to do everything to comfort him. Instead she found two women in love who cared about each other and supported each other.
“Jenny, thank you for coming. This is a bit unusual for me. I have never asked a partner to come in and have the discussion you and I are about to have. But you and Alexa are the most unique couple I have ever come across. My scientific mind does not believe that there is such a thing as soul mates. But you two seem to disprove that theory. I like the two of you and I want to help. Now you say that you are in full support of Alexa as she begins this transition, are you sure of that?”
Without a second of hesitation, Jenny answers the doctors question. “110% in support. I want Lex to be happy. I want her to feel comfortable in who she is.”
“You are aware that she will go through some difficult times. People will mock her and ridicule her. Will they be as mean as her father was the other day, probably not. But they may be. Some people cannot understand why someone would want to change their gender. She will need a lot of support and understanding. Are you willing to be there for her?”
“Of course. I love her.” Jenny replies, almost miffed at the doctor for doubting her convictions.
“But Jenny, that is a lot for someone as young as you to take on. How old are you? Twenty-One, Twenty-two? Life is tough enough for you at this age but to take on the things that Alexa is going to go through will make it extra hard. You are going to be asked to be even stronger than you have already been. “
“Debbie, I have thought about those things a lot. I see it already. I think Alexa has told you about those two dipshits that live in our building. They have been harassing her for months now. And I am sure it will get even worse next week. But we can handle it.” Jenny states confidently.
“But how about the views people will have of you. I do not think you ever considered yourself to be a lesbian before, but that is what you are about to become.”
“I know. We both know. But we don’t care.” Jenny’s confident statement does not surprise or even concern Debbie. That was not the point of this little get together. She just wanted to have Jenny realizes what is happening.
“I can understand that you may not care about how society as whole views the two of you. Being gay or a lesbian does not carry the same stigma as it once did, but there are still people out there like Mr. Quinn who will not take kindly to you for those views. And what about your family? Have you explained to them what is going on?”
Jenny looks down and in hush tone answers “No I haven’t.”
Debbie presses on in this line of questioning “How do you think they will react?”
Jenny takes a moment to answer. She could lie to the doctor and tell her that her parents would be fine. But she respects her too much to do that “My mother would put on the act of being shocked by it all and then act like it is OK. In reality she would be appalled. She is a true limousine liberal. She acts like she is supportive of gays and lesbians but reality it disgusts her. My father would probably handle it better. But I really don’t care what they think. They have been so distant since my sister died. I don’t really think they would care what I did. Besides they don’t really count. The one person who does count is already on my and Lex’s side.”
“And who may that be” Dr. Burke asks.
“My grandmother. She’s the true head of the family. She loves Alexa. Well, she loves Alex so I can’t imagine she wouldn’t love Alexa. They bonded at Thanksgiving. She was the one who told me to come home. I talked with her the other day and she was extremely worried about Alexa. Heck she didn’t even asks about me” Jenny says with a smile.
Debbie laughs when she hears about Jenny’s grandmother, but she knows the story of Jenny’s sister and a little of how Jenny’s family works from previous sessions with Alexa. But she needs to be assured of some of the other things.
“Being a lesbian is going to be the least of your worries, but it does seem that you are unconcerned. But what about if Alexa decides to start HRT? You say you will support her, 110% percent you said. But what of the, uh, physical changes. Are you prepared for those?”
Jenny begins to blush. As open as she acted she was really a shy girl. Katie would never say that but Alexa had brought that out in her. The ‘physical’ part of the relationship had been somewhat new to her. She had a boyfriend before, but they didn’t make love. They had sex. It was nothing like what she and Alexa share. The tenderness was so much more different than the few times she had been with Trey. He just cared about his needs. Lex though had always cared about Jenny’s as well as her own. She thought hard as how to explain this to Debbie. “Um, yes we have talked about it, but what we share is so much more than the uh, typical, um relationship. It is much closer, more tender.”
“What about if ‘things’ start to, how do I say this. What if things stop working? Will you, Jenny, be able to deal with that?” Debbie asks as gently and politely as possible. After all she does not want to scare the girl but her goal here was to give Jenny insight as to what may happen.
“We have talked, but we will learn. That’s the part that is going to be the hardest to explain. Yes we are physical and I am not going to lie I do enjoy it. But it’s not just ‘that’ that I, we enjoy. It’s how much we care about each other that makes it so special. We will just have to find new ways to continue to show that love.” Jenny replies. This is the weirdest conversation I have ever had Jenny thinks to herself, but one she feels she must have so she understands everything Alexa is about to go through. And herself as well. She is as much a part of Alexa’s journey.
“You do realize there could eventually be diminished loss of function due to the hormones. Yes, Alexa may develop breasts, her skin will soften and smooth out her curves. And we can work together to find a way to keep things working the same if that is the way she wishes. I just want you to know the possibilities. There could be some other effects that you may not be prepared for though,’ Debbie says. She is about to enter a territory that could sway some decisions so she knows she must tread lightly. “Jenny, there is one other side effect I need to discuss with you. It is not something that normally happens but has been known to happen. And I am not going to say it will happen to Alexa. When a person begins taking things like estrogen, the chemical balance of their body begins to change. One of the areas effected is their brain. It starts to process things more like a woman. Patients do become somewhat moodier and there can be a loss in sex drive. But one thing that has happened, but not all the time is that, shall we say, preferences change.”
Would helping Alexa cause her to lose her? Was she about to agree to support someone who would reject her? Her mind began to spin. But it seems like it always comes back to one thing. She loves Alexa. She took a deep breath and said to Debbie that she understood what she was saying. “I am willing to take that chance. As I have said all along, I love her Debbie.” Wiping a tear from her eye, Jenny whispers. “I love her.” After pausing to wipe away a tear Jenny spoke up a little more. “I don’t know what Alexa has told you about me. My family is not something I care to talk about. Partially because we are wealthy but also partially because I really don’t care about them, except my Grandmother. Did Alexa tell you about my sister?” Debbie nodded at Jenny’s question. “Abby was the most important person in my life. It was pretty much just the two of us. My parents were and still are too pre-occupied with their own lives to care about their children. When Abby died, I said I would never let anyone get close again. I built up walls. Sure, I had a boyfriend but I didn’t love him. I didn’t love anything. I pretty much became a stuck up bitch. Then Alexa came along. I always liked Alex, but something about Alexa blew me away.
Jenny paused and started to search for the right thing to say that could explain how much Alexa meant. “When Alexa came into my life it was incredible. I couldn’t believe the things that I started feeling. The day we spent together when we met you at the coffee shop was magical. I had never felt so alive. And it just kept getting better, all because of this beautiful person named Alexa. She taught me to love again. Alexa has become more than just my partner. But you know what, that is the perfect word for us. We are a team. I don’t plan on losing her. Ever. I will be there at her side through all these changes.” Jenny paused as her emotions began to take ahold of her. The forceful attitude she just showed led her into an even more emotional outburst. “Do you know what the worst day of my life was? It wasn’t the day my sister died. I couldn’t do anything about that because I wasn’t there. It was last Saturday. The person I cared for more than ANYTHING in the whole world was hurting and I wasn’t there! I blamed myself! I caused Alexa’s pain and I wasn’t there! I will not allow anyone to ever hurt her again” The emotion that Jenny was showing became too much and she broke down in tears. It took her a moment and several tissues to gain control of herself. Looking up at Debbie she wipes a tear from her eye and whispers. “I love her.”
Debbie started to lose her professional demeanor at that point. She stood up and walked back to her desk where she pulled a lace handkerchief from her purse and dabbed at her eyes. As a professional she knew she was not supposed to become emotionally involved with her patients. She took a moment to gain control of herself before she sat back down. Debbie’s thoughts were all over the place. She took a deep breath and tried to re-gain her professional bearing. “Jenny, I did not mean to scare you. I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of what could happen. I will be here to help both you but I think you should retain a counselor as well. You are going to need someone to talk with on an individual basis. I can recommend someone if you wish. I know that you are going to ask me to do it, but I do not know if that is wise. As a couple, I will always be available to the two of you as a couple, but Alexa will always be my primary concern in this. She is a lucky girl. Not only does she have a great support system in you and Katie, but to have the love you give her makes her one of the most fortunate people I have ever know in this business.” As soon as Debbie said this she knew it was not enough. Once again, her personal feelings for the love these two shared was clouding her professional judgement.
“Thanks” Jenny says as she blushes. Dr. Burke smiled as she saw this and reflected on the girl currently sat in front of her. When the two had met, Jenny seemed like a very nice, but somewhat aloof person. She had felt Jenny was hiding behind a facade. At that time, she knew nothing about Jenny’s sister. But as Debbie had the chance to spend time with Jenny she saw something else. Debbie has noticed the change in her. Seated before her now was a loving, caring person who was happy. She was a girl in love. And love that was being reciprocated by her partner. Taking a moment, she addressed that issue.
“I do wonder how Katie puts up with you two. You two never want to leave each other’s side. I can understand with Alexa. You have become her biggest supporter and have helped keep her sane. But when I asked you to leave yesterday, you look like I had told you that you would never see her again. Do you feel that way?” Debbie asked the young woman
The mood Jenny had been in instantly changed for one of embarrassment and sadness back to the cheerful person that had entered her office. “Debbie, as I just said, she is the world to me. As soon as I got on the airplane for Florida last week I was a mess. I knew I had made a mistake leaving Alexa back here. I didn’t know that it was going to be as bad as it was. The only reason I made it through that day of hell was I knew that I was getting back to Lex. Since I have been back I don’t want her gone for too long. She has changed me in so many ways I can’t begin to explain. And it‘s not just the opening up. She has taught me to cook! I would never even though of that before. She has taught me to have fun again and taught me to care about others. There is only one thing that hasn’t been able to change in me.
“What is that?” Debbie asked.
“I am still a completely jealous bitch.” Jenny said, almost like she was proud of that. Jenny went on to explain the situation with Alexa’s co-worker Dannii. How she had confronted her just prove that she was the ‘Mama bear’ and the Alexa belonged to her. “It felt good to show that ginger who Alexa belonged with. That’s why I call myself a jealous bitch. And that’s not going to change.”
“Jenny believe me, we all can be that way.” Debbie said with a chuckle. That lightened the mood in the room immensely. Debbie could see what appeared to be relief wash over Jenny’s eyes as she was starting to comprehend that nothing bad was to come of this meeting. Dr. Burke picked up on this as well. “Jenny, were you scared to come in here today?” Jenny could only nod her head. She was still a little scared of what Debbie was going to say about her and Alexa’s relationship. Debbie picked up on that right away. With a chuckle, Debbie assured Jenny not to be scared. “I might get paid to crawl around people’s heads and help them. But one thing I will always stay away from is the love two people share. And even if I did, I would never try and keep the two of you apart. You two are special. You were meant to be together. All though I could see where Katie could be revolted by the two of you at times.” Jenny giggled at that.
“I guess we are a little over the top. But we love each other so much and I will admit that another thing Lex has brought out is a playful side in me. Katie rolls with the punches pretty well, even though there are times I feel bad for her having to deal with us. But she does keep us in our place at times. She even came up with a nickname for us when we get to be too much.” Jenny said. Debbie looked at her as waiting for an answer. Jenny piped up with “Jexy. Combination of Jenny and Lex. I think it’s cute but it drives Alexa crazy. She’s getting better with it though. The groaning about it has minimized.” Jenny’s giggling about this turned into a full throated a laugh as she explained her girlfriend’s feelings on the nickname.
“It is a cute name. I might have to tease Alexa with it next week. Well Jenny, thank you for coming in. Once again, I did not mean to scare you. I just wanted you to be aware of some of what possibly lies ahead for you two.” With that Debbie rose from her chair. “Do you and Alexa have big plans for New Year’s Eve?”
“Not really. Just going out to dinner to AJ Dunham’s. The place where Katie works and then back to our apartment. We over did it a little right before Christmas, so our clubbing days are on hold for a while. How about you? “Jenny asked.
“Nothing much. Getting together with a few friends. When you get to be my age, celebrating New Year’s Eve is not as much fun.” Dr. Burke giggled at her own comment. Thirty-Five was not old by any stretch of the imagination. But she felt she had matured beyond the craziness. “When you get to be my age you will find out the morning after a night of partying is harder to get over. Enjoy yourself tomorrow. And Happy New Year. Please tell Alexa and Katie the same. I will get you the name of a counselor for you after the new year.”
Jenny reached over to shake the doctor’s hand. “Happy New Year to you too. Thank you for all the help you give Alexa. She is such a special person and to have someone like you take such a special interest in her has made both of our lives much easier.” And with that Jenny went to leave but not without turning and waving ‘Good-Bye’ once again. Debbie once again sat behind her desk and pulled out a notebook and scribbled down some notes. As she thought of who would be a good counselor for Jenny, one name kept creeping back in her mind. Debbie Burke. She decided that these two deserved all the support they could get. She had taken a real liking to both of them. She knew she wanted to help them both. It might not be the most ethical thing but it was the best thing for these two. Jenny and Alexa were going to get all the help and support they need. Ethics be damned!
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