What's Happy About it?

What’s Happy about it?

Author’s note: As those of you who are always good enough to read my offerings (and some of you even better for paying for them :) you will know that most of my work relates to nice people often placed in adverse circumstances. My trademark is goodness, justice and mercy prevails, or at least just enough to give us a happy ending. This time I have tried something different, with not so pleasant people in, well, I suppose the only description could be shitty circumstances.

Does it have a happy ending?

Read it and judge for yourselves (assuming more than one person reads it, that is.)

Please note, the dialogue is undertaken in a Scottish accent, so please bear that in mind and dinna (EXAMPLE) pick me up for spelling and grammar, as I’ve tried to write phonetically where appropriate.

Warning: Contains bad language and violence.


“And take your fucking queer clothes with you, you fucking pervert!”

He threw my suitcase towards me, forcing to duck, flinging my arms up to protect my face. I tried to catch it, but failed; it was just too heavy. It hit the road beside me, bursting open on impact like an egg, spreading my few precious clothes and other belongings onto the wet tarmac.

The front door slammed, leaving me standing, bedraggled, wet, cold and about as miserable as one could get. I could hear the raised voices from inside my home, my mother distraught and my stepfather angry.

Wearily and crying in hurt, frustration and misery, I gathered up my belongings, repacked the suitcase, and turned my back on my past. When you’re at the bottom, there’s not any further to fall. It was at that point, I decided to end it all.

The reason?

I’d taken the advice of my counsellor to tell my mother and stepfather about my condition and decision to transition from Michael to Marla, my maternal grandmother’s name. I’d been diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria two years ago, when I was fifteen. Due to my age and somewhat stormy home life, I hadn’t been able to do much about it at the time.

Now I could, and was; or at least, I was trying to start.

My story isn’t a rare one, unfortunately.

I was born into a dysfunctional, working class family in Lochee, Dundee, in Scotland. My father was on the dole, having been a docker, but had been made redundant when the container port had opened, rendering the docker a man of history. He and my mother had too many children, so I was the youngest of seven kids. My dad said that as you got child allowance for each child, then the more the merrier.

Mum worked as a cleaner, as dad drank and betted the child benefit allowance away. When drunk he had a tendency to hit people, particularly his family and coppers, oh yes, and he was a homophobe of the first order; he hated anyone whose sexuality or gender might be a wee bit in question.


I have no idea, but if you get sent to Perth Prison, you can ask him, for he’s still there, as far as I know.

One night, he put my mum in hospital, but then he put one of the coppers in the same hospital when they arrived to arrest him. He also ended up in hospital, but when he recovered, they sent him to prison. He got four years for causing Grievous Bodily Harm to both my mum and the policeman. Mind you, the kicking the coppers gave him more than compensated for it. They said he’d always walk with a limp after that.

I had been five or six at the time, so my memory of the night wasn’t brilliant. I’d been in bed, so I do remember a lot of shouting and screaming (not unusual), sirens and blue lights (not as usual), but then it went awfully quiet (bloody rare). A neighbour came in and sat with us, but in the morning, a social worker arrived and the three of us left at home were taken to a care home.

My older brother, Steven, two older sisters, Kathleen and Sheila, and I ended up in Strathmore Lodge, a care home run by a retired concentration camp warder called Mrs Brodie. Actually, she’d been a nurse in the NHS, and was probably a nice mum to her family, but we all hated her. She believed that children needed discipline, so she was harsh with all those who failed to meet her exacting standards.

Mum had come home to an empty house, had a nervous breakdown, and so ended up back in hospital. The social services conducted an assessment, deciding she was unsuitable to look after children, so we all ended up under indefinite care orders and destined to remain under the demonic care of Mrs Brodie and staff.
I was twelve when mum was finally given the all clear to have us back. However, Steven had grown up, sort of, following his father’s footsteps when he was chucked out by the social services, got into fights and petty crime and was now in Castle Huntley, a young offenders’ Institution. By that time Kathleen was sixteen and pregnant, but she didn’t know who the father was. It could have been one of six blokes. She was living in a flat down the road with another girl. They were waiting for the council to re-house them.

Sheila, at a year older than me, was fifteen and a Goth. She was a tough nut, into sex (usually with other girls), booze, drugs and violence, when the opportunity arose. She made Mrs Brodie’s life as hard as she could, but as Mrs Brodie was a coward, she took it out on me.

There were three other siblings, Bruce, who was twenty-one and had left home at fifteen. No one knew where he was, but mum thought he was in London, as she got a postcard from him two years ago with a London Postmark. Harry was twenty and had just got a job as an office junior in an insurance office in Perth. We always knew he was the clever one, but he had left home as well. Patricia, or Patty as she was known, was a nineteen-year-old student nurse at Ninewells Hospital. She lived in quarters, and rarely came home.

Oh, I nearly forgot my dad. He did his time, all of it, as he kept getting into fights with prison officers and anyone who looked at him in a funny way. One young man, who was known as Gloria by the other inmates (if you can’t guess as to why, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this) said something to him in the canteen one day. My father almost broke his neck and had his sentence extended by six months.

On release, he limped straight to the local pub, got completely drunk, had a fight and damn near killed a faintly camp barman who told him he might have had enough.

They gave him twelve years for attempted murder, downgraded to GBH with intent. He went back in completely unrepentant. “The fucking poof deserved it!” he had said in reply to police caution.

So, there you have it — our happy home.

Sheila and I were reunited with my mother, but not at our old house. The council decided that as we were no longer a family of nine, we didn’t need that big house any more. We were re-housed into a three-bedroom, terrace house in the next street. There was a three-seater settee and a fridge in the garden when we arrived, and for all I know, they’re still there today. It had rising damp, fungus on the walls and permanently smelled of drains. I hated it.

Mum couldn’t get a job as she was on diazepam or something for depression. When not semi-comatose on the medication, she spent most of her time (and money) at the bingo, One day, whilst at the bingo, she men a man called William Macallum, an out of work electrician. Surprise, surprise, he’d been made redundant for continual tardiness and drunkenness. She was a one, my mum!

They didn’t bother getting married, but he moved in and the told everyone that they were common-law husband and wife. He was on the fiddle with benefits, I think, so would lose some if he got married.

Ever since I’d been able to think for myself, so about four or five, I knew I was a girl in a boy’s body. You couldn’t tell anyone, because perverts didn’t exist in my family. My father would have killed me with little hesitation, this isn’t an exaggeration, believe me, his history would back me on that one.
Therefore, I told no one, not even my sisters, from whom I occasionally borrowed clothing and makeup. It was hard to get the time and space to dress, particularly in care. Mrs Brodie, being a strict Presbyterian would have probably burned me at the stake, so I learned to channel my misery and exist. It wasn’t a life, but an existence.

Due to bad genes, poor diet, suppressed stress, and a host of other reasons, I was a sickly child and a late developer. Educationally I was adequate, but without the motivation and encouragement, I saw no reason to do anything except survive from moment to moment. Even that was doubtful. I first thought of suicide when I was ten. For some minor misdemeanour, Mrs Brodie or one of her minions had locked in the cell, which was actually a cupboard under one of the stairwells in the care home. It was too low to stand up straight, but not long enough to lie flat. I had to sit in darkness on the bare boards until they let me out. I decided that you could have life, as oblivion seemed quite attractive.

I never did though, obviously, but hardly a day went past without me thinking about it.

Things didn’t improve when I was back home. I was a small thirteen-year-old, and attended the local comprehensive school. Sheila was supposed to go, but didn’t, so we had the truancy officer round every week. I had more opportunity to dress now, but Sheila’s selection of clothing was mostly holes and mostly black. Not my taste, I’m sorry to say.

Every moment of every day, I wanted to be a girl. I read a good deal, any and all biographies from the library about trans people. We didn’t have a computer, but I spent time at school researching transsexuality, transgenderism and any other trans on the Internet. I knew what I was, but there seemed no way for me to do anything about it.

After lasting only a couple of weeks, Sheila told us her name was now Mortitia and moved out, having left school with no qualifications of any use and moved in with her Goth lesbian lover in a small bedsit in Caroustie, up the coast a way. Her girlfriend worked in a tattoo and piercing shot, so Sheila, sorry, Mortitia went to work with her. This left me alone with my mother and William, the man she insisted I call my stepfather. William had far too much in common with my real father, so there was little change in my life. I went to school; I came home and spent most of my time in my room or visiting what few friends I had. Some days, I just walked in the park.

The one positive thing to happen was that William liked his porn, so we got a computer and broadband. It was through this that I managed to find a help and support group, which in turn led me to a sympathetic doctor.

Okay, Dr Garside practised in Edinburgh, so it was a fair way for me to travel, bearing in mind that I was only fifteen at the time. When I eventually managed to save the bus fare and get over to my appointment, I discovered that it was not unusual, sadly, for people to be in similar circumstances as me. I was no longer the only one suffering.

It was a great help for me to meet others in a similar boat. I had thought that I was the only person who felt the way I did, but the Internet showed me that was very wrong, and that there were hundreds, if not thousands of people trapped in a body and a life that was not what they wanted or would ever choose.
Our condition (for want of another word) is not one that we caught from others, or developed, as one develops a habit, as is believed by the ignorant in our society. I never wanted to feel the way I do, and had I been given a choice, I’d have politely declined it, and just got on and lived a ‘normal’ life (oh, how I hate that word!). I never got a choice, it just happened and as I got older, the conviction that I was in the wrong body became stronger and stronger.
Some, I learned were ‘cured’ by successful counselling and therapy. Others seemed to control their compulsions and managed to get along fine in the body in which they had been born. Many, it seems, went for the transition and SRS. Well, I had reached a crossroads in my pathetic life, which, I gather was not unusual either. I found myself between a rock and a hard place.

The other thing I found out was that the suicide rate for transsexuals was very high.

On the one hand, I had no family or network of friends, no money, no job, no aspirations and no hope. Even if I was free of what I felt, my future looked bleak in the current economic climate, so with my problems, bleak was too nice a word for where I was at. I was too young for the NHS to pick up the tab, and with no parental support, that was a non-starter.

On the other hand, no one would miss me, so if I was no longer around, I would hurt no one, cause anyone grief and simply be gloriously relieved of my suffering. Not much of a choice really, was it?

The doctor was, as I said, sympathetic, but the law firmly tied her hands. As I was only fifteen, there was a limit to what she could do for me without parental knowledge, cooperation and approval. At that time, my mother was barely conscious, due to her anti-depressants, William would never help in any way, shape or form, and the social services couldn’t give a shit. I received counselling from one of the volunteers at the centre, who was very kind, but when faced with my background and personal circumstances, she was way out of her depth. Most people she encountered struggled with their gender identity problems, but I had to face violence, drug abuse, drunkenness and open hostility from every quarter.

I persuaded the doctor to prescribe a regimen of androgens to block the on-set of puberty, until my legal guardians or I could make decisions, when I reached the appropriate age. She was unwilling to give me hormones, because I wasn’t old enough to make a decision like that.

What bollocks!

I knew exactly what I wanted. However, now I was seventeen, she said she could start me on oestrogen. Before she’d give me them, I had to convince her and the psychologist that I was a suitable case, so I had to undertake the real life test to initiate transition. That was the point I was at when things came to a head.

I suppose the androgens were better than nothing, but the drugs weren’t intended to initiate any development of secondary female characteristics. All it did in effect was keep me from getting a deep voice and developing like all my contemporaries. Although I didn’t start developing the curves that I wanted, I retained my soft facial features and high voice, so I was more girly and stood out as being effeminate. Believe me, you don’t want either of those on the estate where I live.

I couldn’t dress, except on those rare occasions when I was alone, and not in danger of being discovered. Fortunately, my mother spent all her time either at the bingo or watching TV. William was a hard drinker, so that got him out of the house quite a bit. I’d lock my door and create Marla. My hair was long, while my figure was slender, without the natural curves, but also without the masculine broadness. I was soft featured, and now adept at applying makeup. I thought that I could pass. The clothes I bought from charity shops, so they weren’t ideal, but they were feminine and mine. No one else could see, so it didn’t matter.
However, William walked in on me once when he returned to get some more drinking money. I had to run fast to escape. He had been so drunk that his memory of the event seemed to be vague, so I managed to get away with it, but it stopped me dressing at home.

I’d take a small bag to public toilets and change in the ladies; then go for long walks dressed as a girl. It liberated me, but also nearly got me killed by a group of boys who chased me through the park. I am still unsure what they wanted, but I’d like to think they thought I was a girl and only wanted to rape me. It was just as well they didn’t catch me.. I had to run fast on that occasion too. My nerves couldn’t take much more of this.

The crunch came one Christmas time, when William found my clothes while was searching my room for money, presumably, as we never got into the reasons why he was there. I returned from school, early in the afternoon, where I was studying for A levels. I had a study period, so I was looking forward to some time by myself at home. This was unusual in my family, as I not only still went to school, but had progressed beyond GCSEs. On forcing open my battered little suitcase, which I kept under my bed, he had found my stash of girl’s clothes, shoes and make up, so was waiting for me when I got in.

“What’s all this?” he said, pointing at the pathetic collection which he’d dumped on the kitchen table.

“None of your business,” I’d bravely, but stupidly said.


I never saw it coming, so the punch to the side of my face knocked me off my feet and across the kitchen.

“Yer a fucking poofter, aintcha?”

“It’s not like that, you’d never understand,” I said, trying to stand up and rubbing the side of my head.

“No, no like what? Ye like putting on them claes an’ letting some other poofter stick his cock up yer bum?”

“No, I never….”


I went down again.

“Git oot o’ ma hoose, ye fucking pervert!” he shouted.

It wasn’t actually his house; it belonged to the council and my mother’s name was on the rent book. I wasn’t about to argue the point, as I feared for my life as it was.

At that moment, my mother appeared and asked what was going on.

It was at this point I tried to tell them that I was planning to start transition after my exams. My counsellor would be pleased, so where was the silly sod when I needed him? I never really got the chance, for neither listened. My mother wouldn’t understand and William wasn’t interested in listening.

“The wee faggot, I’m chucking the wee bastard oot!”

And he did.



I walked slowly down the road in the drizzle, with my head hurting like buggery, from where the bastard had clobbered me. He had big fists, like hams, they were. I only hoped his hand hurt more than the side of my face, only I doubted it. With dusk falling, the sky was grey, the buildings were grey, the road and pavements were grey, hell, even I felt grey. All the colour in my world was in my suitcase and without any light; it might as well not exist at all. Even the Christmas decorations in other people’s homes seemed drab and colourless.

The really sad thing was I had nothing of value in my room at all, now. Not even a favourite teddy bear. All I had were the clothes on my back and a few second-hand girls’ clothes, some girl’s shoes and a little makeup in my case. I had no coat, no money, nowhere to go and no hope.

I walked past a church. It’s Christmas, the time that Hope was born! A sign told me in big black letters.

Yeah, right!

Despair hit me like a very slow, but inexorably moving freight train.

Hope? What hope?

The few reasons I had retained for not killing myself before had now been shattered, as I now literally had nothing to live for at all.

Still clutching my case, I just walked. My mind was numb, so I had no idea where I was going, and neither did I care. It was December the 19th, it was cold, wet and bloody miserable, and so I just walked.

Dundee has undergone extensive redevelopment over the past few years, but when in a grey mood, it might as well have not bothered. I found myself on the banks of the river Tay, so I must have walked for ages.

In his epic poem about the Tay Bridge disaster, William McGonagall once described the Tay as being Silvery. It wasn’t so much silvery as … you guessed it,… grey. The tide was out, so all one could see was grey mud. The water in the middle, some distance from the shore, was grey too, so it was hard to see where one finished and the other started. It’d take me several hours to drown in that, I thought. Then I looked down-stream, spying the bridge stretching across the gulf between Dundee and the County of Fife on the southern side.

The Bridge.

That’d do.

It wouldn’t.

I walked to the bridge, to find that they’d thought of that, so made it extremely difficult for anyone to gain access to the bridge if one wasn’t in a car. The CCTV and other security arrangements would enable Big Brother to see anyone long before one got to a point where one could jump with any degree of certainty that one might just hit water, and not mud. In addition, the height, although substantial, was not quite high enough to guarantee death. I had no intention of living on as a quadriplegic!

The rain started to gather momentum, so as I sat on a wet bench overlooking the Tay, I went from damp to completely soaked to the skin.

I sneezed.

“Fuck!” I said.

It’s a small word and not particularly attractive, as words go, but it is exceptionally loaded with emphasis and meaning. It’s a whole lot better than, “Blow,” or “Bother.” I know they say it’s rude, but hey, it described not only how I felt, but also what life had done to me. I was, and pardon the expression, completely fucked!

Leaving my case by the bench, as I didn’t really give a monkeys if someone stole it, I walked several yards down to some railings, which were clearly designed to prevent unwary people from falling in the water. Except that, the eight-foot drop looked down onto a bit of tired grass and lots of mud. If you fell over this, then all that would happen is you’d get covered in mud and seagull shit and require a good bath!

I looked over at the water and mud. Some sea birds, looking damp and bloody miserable, looked back at me from some muddy lumps, which could be mud covered grassy mounds or rocks a few yards out, as if to say, “Did ye no bring bread?”

I watched them for a moment, feeling detached and kind of numb. My head ached abominably, so I hoped nothing was broken. Then I thought how apt, if I died of compression and a fractured skull, they could nick the bastard for murder. My only regret would be not being able to watch William get sent away to be with my bastard father.

I leaned back and stared at the sky; the grey sky, from which moisture seemed perpetually propelled towards me, just to get me just that little bit wetter. Any more and I’d be classified as a liquid in the periodic tables.

It is mildly hypnotic, watching rain fall into one’s eyes. I never heard her arrive.

I became conscious that I was no longer alone by accident really. A particularly large raindrop hit me square in the middle of my right eye, and it bloody hurt! Flinching and rubbing my eye, I caught a shape huddled against the railings to my left.

I felt embarrassed now, for here was me, contemplating ending everything, so the last thing I wanted was an audience. I glanced round for my case, as I forgot exactly what I’d done with it.

It was then I heard the sobs.

Glancing around, they could only be coming from the shape against the rails, as we were the only people here, and I was past crying.

I was about to leave, but something made me stay. Thinking about it now, some time later, I still don’t know why I stayed; after all, I didn’t know her and she didn’t know me. Why she was here was none of my business, as my life was none of hers.

Still, something made me stay. Hell, it made me go over to her.

“Are you all right?” I asked. I mean, what a fucking stupid question. Of course, she’s not all right. Why the hell would she be here on a day like this sobbing her heart out? My God, I’m so bloody stupid at times.

The sobbing continued with no reply. There wasn’t even an indication that she’d heard me, so I prepared to leave, again.

Only I didn’t, did I?

I stayed.

I looked at her. It was hard to get any idea of who she was or what she even looked like, as she was wrapped up in the most awful, shapeless garment I’d ever seen, with a big woolly hat covering her entire head and most of her face, right down to her neck.

How did I know it was a girl?

Her feet were tiny.

I mean, isn’t that one way to tell? Those reading this who struggle to pass, will know that the hands, feet, nose and throat are three of the main giveaways. I couldn’t see her nose or Adam’s apple, but as I could see her feet, I saw she was wearing girl’s boots and I guessed they were a size four or five.

Considering she was a bit shorter than me, say five foot five, my conclusion was that she was a girl. Added to the sound she was making; it sounded, well, just girly.

Stuff it, I’m not Sherlock Holmes, but in the end, I was right.

I leaned on the railings next to her, trying to see her face.

She had her gloved hands over her face, leaning forward on the top rail. The gloves were those multi-coloured, knitted things with a thumb and one section for the fingers, mitts I think they’re called. Anyway, the mitts prevented me from seeing her face.

“Hey, nothing’s ever that bad,” I said.

Where the fuck did that come from? Of course, things can get that bad, or ever worse, as I well knew. What a pillock.

The sobbing just went on, still with no sign that she was aware of my presence.

My addled brain couldn’t come up with anything else to say, so I just stood next to her, staring at the grey.

I’m not sure what I thought about, but I may have been wondering who she was and what had happened to make her so depressed.

It’s a funny thing, but for the first time in months, if not years, I was actually thinking about someone else’s problems.

It was a unique experience for me. I’m sure there may be those reading this that may identify with the way being trans-anything makes one amazingly introspective and, well for want of another word, incredibly selfish.

That isn’t a criticism, but an observation based on personal experience. For when every bastard seems out to get you, and if they’re not, they would if they could, you really do have to look out only for yourself. All my life I was forced into being something I wasn’t, either because it was expected of me by society, school, friends, family and the whole bloody world. I was never allowed to be the real me. I had to be something else because of them. Their happiness depended on me being what they wanted me to be.

Did it bollocks!

What about my happiness?

I didn’t say to my Dad, “Hey, dad, do you mind not drinking and beating up everyone who looks at you funny, because it makes me unhappy?”

I didn’t say to my step father (who wasn’t) “Hey, William, can you not watch porn for a while, and let me use the computer so I can read some stuff about my gender reassignment surgery tonight, because it would make me happy?”

Anyway, I’m waffling again, sorry.

Back to the girl.

What do you say to someone at the bottom?

I had a brilliant idea. I suddenly wondered what I’d like a complete stranger to say to me, as I was at the bottom too.

It took a while to decide, but in the end, I came out with it.

“Hey, I know it’s tough, shit I’m there too, but believe me, you’re just as important and anyone else.”

The sobs didn’t stop immediately, but they started to lessen.

“That’s it, isn’t?” I said. “They just don’t believe we’re important!”

The sobs stopped this time.

I said no more, I daren’t move, just stared out over the water. It was getting very dark now, so I couldn’t see the water, but I could hear it, lapping gently on the shore as the tide came in. I sensed she was looking at me.

“What do you mean?” she asked, eventually.

I still didn’t look at her.

“They treat us like shit and make us be what they want us to be, so we get walked over. We, that’s you and me, are important, even as important as them, so why the fuck can’t we live our lives our way?”

She said nothing, but at least she wasn’t crying any more.

“It’s a shitty world,” I said.

“Aye,” she said. She had a small, soft voice; a nice voice.

Neither of us said anything for a while. I was cold now, as the damp had soaked through my clothes and the wind was chilling me off. I must have shivered.

“You’re cold,” she said.

I nodded.

“How long have you been here?” she asked.

“All my life,” I said, but then realised that she was speaking geographically, while I was thinking in emotional and spiritual terms.

I sensed her confusion, for I still hadn’t looked her way. Now she wasn’t crying anymore, my own misery returned like a soggy blanket, threatening to suffocate me.

“I was kicked out of my house a couple of hours ago, I guess,” I explained.


A natural question, but I still laughed.

“Because I’m not what they want.”

“Know the feeling.”

Silence prevailed once more.

“I couldn’t get onto the bridge,” I said.

“I know, I tried that the last time.”

That hit me hard. The last time, then she’d been this low before.

“How many times?” I asked, genuinely curious.

“Five or six, I can’t remember.”

It wasn’t said with any emphasis, just as a number, a very sad little number.

What could I say?

I didn’t say anything. She did, though.


I had a little laugh, but with no humour, just the irony of the situation.

“This is my first.”


It’s funny how a small sound can mean so much.

“So, why?”

“Why what?” I asked.

“Fuck, I don’t know, why everything?” she said. Her voice sounded stronger.

“Why am I trying to end it? Well, just there’s no fucking point in going on. Nobody gives a fuck, and I don’t want to be what I am anymore. How about you?”

“I couldn’t take the beatings and punishments.”

I glanced at her then, seeing something of her face. I say something because all I saw was a severe black eye.

“Fuck, who did that?”

“My dad; who did yours?”


“Yeah, you’ve a great big bruise on the side of your face.”

I put my hand to the spot. It hurt.

“Was it your dad?”

“Oh no, he’s in jail. This was done by the man who moved in with my mum.”


I hesitated, unsure if I was ready to share this shit with a total stranger.


“If you don’t want to…” she said

“No, it doesn’t matter now, does it? He found my clothes.”

She frowned, trying to work out what I meant.

“I’m transgender, I’m stuck in a male body and I want to be a girl, okay?” I said, rather too aggressively.

“Oh,” she said, laughing a little, which made me angry.

She sensed it.

“That’s not why I’m laughing. You see, my dad found a letter I’d written to my girlfriend.”

“Oh.” It was my turn.

“You see, he’s a minister in the church and she’s in the choir. He blames me for tempting her to sin, so tried to beat the demon out of me.”


“Aye, he thinks that if you’re gay, you’ve been possessed by demons.”

“He’s a nutter!”

She laughed again, but with no humour.

“So what are you going to do?” I asked, genuinely curious.

She shrugged, saying nothing.

“Is this why you’ve tried before, to, you know?” I asked.

She nodded.

“Not the same girl?”

“No, the first time was when I realised I liked girls, and was stupid enough to tell him, thinking he might understand and be able to help. He held me down, poured boiling water over me to purge the demon from me and then belted me. I took pills that night.

“After they pumped my stomach out at hospital, they said I was depressed and gave me pills, so I walked about in a fucking mist for the next few months. I was off school and kept a prisoner at home. I flushed the pills down the toilet and didn’t take them, so I tried again, several times after that, but each time they found me and took me to hospital. They don’t let me near pills, razor blades or heights now,” she told me, rolling up her right sleeve to show me a four-inch scar running up the wrist.

“I missed the artery.”

“Fuck!” I said, shocked. I thought I had it bad.

There didn’t seem anything either of us could say at this point. At least she wasn’t crying any more. I shivered again, or rather, started to shiver all the time, but a bit more violently.

“You’re freezing, you need to get out of they wet things,” she said.

“All I’ve got is the stuff in the case, and they’re girl’s stuff.”

“You can’t stay in the wet ones. You’ll catch your death.”

I laughed.

“That’d work,” I said.

Even she smiled.

“Fucking stupid way to go, though.”

We both laughed, and it was a surreal experience; two people in the sewer of life laughing at their own misery.

She took my hand, pulling me towards the public toilets that stood a hundred yards away.

“Gat in there, there’s no one about.”

It was nice to get out of the wind, even if it was in the smelliest public toilets in Dundee. Still, the ladies were better than the gents, marginally.

I was cold, but there was no warm running water available. The hand-wash was a hole in the wall, together with a soap dispenser and blow heater, all behind a stainless steel panel.

I was able to strip off and dry myself with an old cardigan from the suitcase. I then dressed, using the stuff from the case. I used the layer principal, in that it might keep me warm. It also padded me out, giving me curves that I didn’t have. I stuck my head as far into the hole as I would go, and pushed the dryer button repeatedly. Then I was able to brush out my almost-dry hair, which was long enough to reach my shoulders.

She watched, saying nothing. I wasn’t at all self-conscious with her, which was weird, as I never liked changing in front of anyone.

I attempted to get my strange mixture of slightly damp clothing into some semblance of order. I had a pair of tights over some panties, with a bra stuffed with more tights. I had a tee shirt under a sparkly top and a skirt that was probably too short. Ideally, jeans would have been better, but I didn’t have any, and my school trousers were soaked through. I had a coat, something I bought in a charity shop on a whim, and it was probably the best buy I’d made. It was a ladies, black leather coat, which came down to my knees. It was reasonably warm and more waterproof than anything else I had.

“Those shoes will be murder for yer feet,” she observed, nodding at my high heels.

“They’re the most comfortable I’ve got.”

“They look like stripper’s shoes. You don’t have to dress like a tranny.”

“Duh, I am a tranny.”

“Even more reason not to dress like one. Most real girls don’t, so why should you?”

I didn’t have an answer, so simply shrugged.

“That coat’s all right, though. Where did you get it?”

“ £9.99 at a charity shop, Oxfam, I think.”

“Looks good. Better than what’s underneath. Don’t take it off.”

I felt embarrassed.

“Do you have make up?” she suddenly asked.


“Can I do it for you?”

“If ye want.”

“That way I won’t slap it on wi’ a trowel, like most drag artists seem to.

“I’m no a drag artist.”

“Hmm,” she said, obviously unconvinced.

“I’m not, I hardly ever dress.”

So, in a grotty little public convenience, under a single florescent light, she made up my face, as it had never been done before. She was the first person that I’d told about my secret, but it gave me a chance to see her face properly for the first time.

She was pretty, with a pert wee nose and big brown eyes; even with the bruise, I could see she was attractive. She had a tiny nose stud of black onyx in her left nostril and matching studs in each earlobe. They looked nice, particularly compared to my sister who had forty-three piercings last count. Sheila looked grotesque, in my opinion.

She’d pushed back her hood on her coat, so I saw she had dark hair cut short, like Charlize Theron in the Astronaut’s Wife, with Johnny Depp. I thought it looked good on her, but I refrained from saying so. It didn’t seem appropriate.

I flinched as she did something on my face where he’d hit me.

“Sorry, this is going to be a bastard of a bruise,” she said.

“Mmm, hurts like fuck. How’s your eye?”

She smiled. “Sore.”

“What a pair, eh?” I said.

She smiled, but said nothing.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“My real name is Mike, but I want to be Marla.”

“I’m Billi. When did you first realise you should have been a girl?”

“Four, something like that. Billi is unusual, is it short for something?” I said, but it suited her.

“It’s short for Belinda, which was my granny’s name; my mother’s mum, that is. They used to call me Bindy, but I hated that.”


“You’ve got a super complexion, for a boy,” she observed, as she smeared some foundation over my face.

“I’ve been on androgens for a couple of years. It’s supposed to block male puberty.”

“I’ve not met a transsexual before.”

My sister’s a lesbian,” I said, which made her smile, for some reason.

“So, are your folks all right wi’ her?”

“My folks? Shit, my dad is in prison, and my mum is as high as a kite on anti-depressants. Sheila, that’s my sister, fucked off to live wi’ her girlfriend in Carnoustie, just after the bastard that did this came to live wi’ me mum. She was a right bitch when she wanted to be, so William was afraid of her. She didna fight clean,” I said, “They had a fight, one time. He slapped her, so she head-butted him, kicked him in the nuts and raked his face wi’ her nails. He ignored her after that.”

“She sounds like fun,” Billi said, smiling as she did my eyes.

“Yeah, she calls herself Mortitia now, as she’s into all that Goth stuff.”

“I went through that a while back. My dad made me scrub it all off and burned my clothes. I was kept in my room for three weeks.”

“Shit, your old man sounds a right nutter, how come he’s not been nicked?”

“He’s a pillar of the church and community, who the fuck do you think the police would believe, the minister or the stupid wee girl who’s on anti-depressants? Besides, I heard him tell everyone about my mental breakdown.”

“The bastard, why?”

“Because he’s embarrassed that I’m a dyke and wants to blame it on my mental state. He’s now trying to get me private psychiatric treatment in London. That’s why I came down to the river, as he was going to get me sectioned and sent away from anyone I like.”

“Fucker!” I said.

She laughed.

“Fucking fucker,” she said, with a little smile.

A woman came into the ladies at that moment, so stared at us in some trepidation for a moment, but then shut herself into a stall. We said nothing until she came out and left without washing her hands.

“Dirty cow!” Billi said.

“I think she felt intimidated by us.”

“Do you think?”

I smiled. “It’s not everyday you see a man in a ladies’ bog with make up being applied.”

“I hate to disappoint you, but I don’t think she saw that.”


Billi turned me so I could see my reflection in the scratched and vandalised mirror.

“Say hello to Marla,” she said.

I was shocked.

I’d dabbled with make up for a while, so even thought I was pretty good, but it was pathetic compared to what Billi had managed to do with my face. I looked at a complete stranger, and a very feminine one at that. I smiled.

“Aye, you look good, eh?”

“Uh-huh, brilliant; how did you manage that?”

“You’ve got good bone structure and wi’ the thingies you’ve been taking, you’re not that masculine, so it was easy. Your eyes are your best feature, so I’ve exaggerated them. If anyone looks at you, they’ll see the eyes and forget you’ve got no tits.”

“Thanks,” I said, unable to take my gaze away from my reflection. For the first time, my outward appearance almost matched what I felt I should look like.

She smiled. “Nae bother. Don’t move, I need a pee,” she said, going into one of the stalls. I felt a similar urge, so I went in next door to her.

“So, what do we do now?” she asked, in mid flow, so to speak.

“I dunno. I hadn’t planned much, just well, you know.”

“Shit what a pair o’ losers, eh?”


“What’s the time?” she asked, as she finished.

“Dunno, I haven’t a watch.”

“You got any money?”


“I’ve a couple of quid; do you feel like a coffee or something?”

“I suppose.”

She laughed and flushed. I finished my business and left the stall, to see Billi doing her own make up.

I watched for a while, admiring her handiwork. She was good at it, covering her black eye very well.

“Can I ask a personal question?” I asked.


“With Sheila, she went off boys because she was raped in the children’s home. What’s your story? Have you always gone for girls, or what?”

She paused, with her mascara brush poised over her left eye.

“A lot of things really. I think because I’m afraid of my dad, and found my mum was sympathetic and so gravitated towards women for security and comfort. Then she died, so I was left with my dad and older brother, so to balance things out I looked for women to help me. One of them was a lesbian and, well, let’s just say she made me feel good about myself and was very gentle. Most of the men and boys I met were cruel or too rough. They frightened me.”

“Yeah, I can understand why. They frighten me too.”

She looked at me from the mirror, smiling at me.

“Aye, and I can see why. You’re no a boy, are you?”

I shook my head.

I had a thought.

“Do I frighten you?” I asked.

She laughed, shaking her head.

“As I told you; you’re no a boy!”

I watched her as she finished making up her face. She’d completely hidden the bruise, so looked very attractive.

“De-nah!” she said, triumphantly.

“That’s brilliant, how come you’re so good at that?”

“I’m training as a beautician, so I was going to do it professionally.”

“How old are you?”

“Seventeen, you?”

“The same,” I said.

“”So you left school at sixteen?”

“I was crap at they subjects. I just wasn’t interested, which annoyed my dad even more. I got a job through one of the women that came to church. You’re still at school, then?” she asked, nodding towards my soggy school uniform that was on the floor.

“Not any more, it seems.”

“So, what will you do?”

That question brought it all back; all the despair, the anguish, the pain and the complete lack of hope.

“Fuck knows.”

“How about a coffee to start?” she asked, so I nodded.

We left the toilets arm in arm. I looked at the dark sludge that was the river. The rain had changed to a damp drizzle, making the street lights seem fuzzy somehow.

“What are you thinking?” she asked.

“I came down here to kill myself, so I think I might do just that!”

“What?” she asked, shocked.

I held up my school uniform.

“Billi, meet Mike. Mike, say bye-bye to Billi,” I said, walking over to the railings and throwing over my uniform, complete with personal papers and other things in the pockets, onto the mud banks below.

“With any luck, someone will find it, assumer I’ve topped myself and go snooping to find out why. One of the neighbours might just grass him up for being a vicious bastard and get him nicked for something.”

She smiled.

“I like your thinking, but that doesn’t tell me what you’re gonna do?”

“Get a coffee and take each minute as it comes.”

She held out her hand to me, so I took it gratefully.


The windows were all fugged up, but I felt better than I had done for ages. The little café was full of workers who were waiting out of the rain for the buses that left from just round the corner.

I was surprised that it was only four-thirty, as it was already dark, so I expected it to be later.

We sat in a corner, at a small square table, with the ubiquitous salt, pepper, vinegar and ketchup in the middle. I was very aware of what I was dressed in, but Billi kept reassuring me that I looked fine, as long as I kept the coat done up. She had enough to pay for two coffees and a doughnut each. I hadn’t realised how hungry I was, so was trying to collect every last bit of sugar off the plate with my finger.

“Hungry then?” she asked with a smile.

I nodded.

“I was gonna do it this time, you know that?” she said very quietly. With the general hubbub in the café, there was little chance of being overheard.
I looked up at her, nodding.

“Me too.”

“I suppose I have you to thank, for bringing me away from the edge,” she said, playing with her cup.

“Aye, you did for me too.”

“You look good you know?”

“So do you.”

“I mean it; you look like a girl, and a pretty one at that.”

I smiled.

“So do you.”

“I thought you didna like girls?”

“Who told you that? I just said I was born into the wrong body, I never said I don’t like girls. I’m like you, I fucking hate men!” I said, looking round in case someone overheard.

She smiled again, her eyes meeting mine.

“When I look at you, I don’t see a boy.”

“That’s a good job, as I’d have been strung up by now if everybody did,” I said, with a poor attempt at humour.

We sat and enjoyed each other’s company and the coffee for a while.

“Ha’e ye no money at all?” she asked.

I shook my head.

“I’ve a bit in the bank,” she admitted.

“I don’t want your money,” I said.

“I’m no gonna give you any. We need to have a plan, and, well, I was gonna ask if you want to come wi’ me?”

“Plan, what plan?”

“Any plan. I can’t go home, an’ you can’t go home, so we have to have somewhere to go, so we need a plan. Two people can get on better than one in this world. We need to look out for each other, for no one else will.”


She rolled her eyes at me.

“We can’t stay in Dundee, can we?”

“I suppose not, but where the fuck can we go?” I asked.

“That’s why we need a plan. First we need to list our assets, and then look at our options.”

This was all rather too organised for me. I’m a reactive sort of person.

“Okay,” I said, just to keep her happy.

“Fine, then what assets do we have?”

“What do mean by assets, money and stuff?”


“I’ve got fuck all, just my case and a few clothes you disapprove of.”

“We can change that.”

“Not without money we can’t”

“I’ve got a bit in the bank, so we can realise that with my cash card. I’ve got my car..”

“You’ve got a car, why didn’t you say so?” I interrupted.

“You never asked. How do you think I got here from Invergowrie, flew?”


I hadn’t thought about it.

“We could go to Edinburgh,” I suggested.

“What’s in Edinburgh?”

“My doctor, the counsellor and the LGBT centre.”

“Do they arrange emergency housing at the centre?”

“I have no idea, but I should think they would know where to look if they don’t.”

“What time do they stay open to?” she asked.

“I haven’t a clue. I just turn up to appointments. They’ve all been in the morning.”

“What’s the place called?”

“Uh, LGBT Centre for health and something, I think.”

“Have you the address?”

“No, but I know you get off the number 108 bus and walk.”

“Why didn’t you go somewhere in Dundee?”

“Because I didn’t want anyone finding out what I was doing.”

“Okay, we can look it up on the internet.”

“I guess.”

She took out a mobile phone, a smart phone, like an iPhone, but wasn’t. She fiddled with it for a while. I had a phone once, but it got stolen.

“Is this it?” she asked, showing me the details on the screen.

“I think so, yes.”

Okay, then we have an address and phone number. Look, they’re open until seven tonight. If we leave now, we can be there by seven.”

“It’s a long way and then there’s the rush hour.”

“Then we sleep in the car and go there in the morning. Look, it may not be a brilliant plan, but it’s a plan, okay?”

“Fine,” I said, anything for peace.

“Come on then,” she said, standing up. “Our future awaits.”


I carried the groceries up the stairs, as the bloody lift was out of order, again. Still, at least I was able to carry stuff now, as I’d not been able to do much for the last few weeks. When I reached the front door, I was puffing away like an old steam train. I rested for a moment, before getting my key out of my bag and opening the door.

“Billi?” I said.

There was no reply, so I went to the kitchen, dumped the groceries and went to the bedroom.

I stood by the door for a moment, watching her sleep.

She looked so tranquil and beautiful. She moved, frowning in her sleep, pushing the covers off with one hand. She was naked, so I smiled, as we both slept in the nude, it was more erotic and, hell I don’t know, just nice.

I leaned over and kissed her.

She opened an eye.

“Hiya, all right?” she said.

“Just, those bloody stairs are murder.”

“Lift out again?”


She sat up, so the covers fell away, revealing her swollen breasts and large abdomen. I put a hand on her belly.

“Baby okay?” I asked.

“Fuck the baby, she’s kicking me black and blue. I tell you, Marla, this damn thing can’t come soon enough!”

I kissed her tummy, so she stroked my hair.

“What’s the time?” she asked.


“I’ve been asleep for two hours. How was work?”

“Not bad, I had a new one today. He’s trying to pluck up courage to tell her folks.”

“What’s the reaction going to be?”

“He doesn’t know, but I think his mum has guessed.”


“He left his girl’s clothes under his bed and his mum found them. He tried to say they belonged to a friend, but he doesn’t think she believed him.”

“Not quite the reaction you got.”

“True, that’s why I make a good counsellor.”

“And that you’ve been through the surgery and everything.”

“Yeah, but I’m the only one that’s going to be a daddy.”

“No, you’re a mummy too. We’ll both be mummies. Anyway, how’re your bits?”

“Okay, as long as that lift isn’t out for long. If I’d known how much these damn things hurt my back, I’d have thought twice about having implants."

“You look good though, I like them,” she said, gently stroking my left breast.

I lay on the bed next to her and we kissed for a while.

“I love you so much, Billi,” I said.

Smiling at me, she just kissed me again.

“You make a gorgeous girl.”

“So do you,” I said.

“I have to get up, as I’ve a client coming in half an hour.”

“Is that the girl who’s got her twenty-first party tonight?”

“Yeah, Sarah. Her dad’s booked a big hotel, so she wants the makeup just right.”

“Are you up to it?” I asked, nodding towards the bump.

“Aye, I’ve a week to go.”

“You might be early.”

“Nah, I’ll be fine. I need a shower, put the kettle on, lover,” she said, heading for the bathroom and scratching her bum. She looked gorgeous.

I walked into the living room, tidying up a little, as we would have company soon. The spare bedroom had been converted into a makeup studio for Billi to use when she worked from home. I made sure the heater was on and that there were no dirty cups lying about. I opened the curtains a little, and looked at the view for a moment.

Looking north, the Firth of Forth was just visible, so I could see both bridges from here. It was a good flat (when the lifts worked) and one we’d been in since we arrived in Edinburgh, two years ago this Christmas, almost to the day.

The centre had been closed when we arrived. I’d been right, the traffic was terrible, so we got into Edinburgh well after seven. I called the emergency number and contacted a counsellor. They got us a bed and breakfast for that night, and then we went when they opened in the morning.

To cut a long story short, because of the unusual circumstances for both of us, they got us on our feet. Billi was in instant demand as a makeup adviser, so got a job almost immediately. My doctor started me on hormones, which took me down the road that concluded a few months ago when I came out of hospital as close to being a woman as anyone who’d been born male could get. In fact, my boobs were now larger than Billi’s, which pleased me.

My counsellor managed to get me into a local college, so I could finish my A levels and start a counsellor’s course. That was an interesting time, as I was the only transgender student on my course, and no one guessed until the end of the course when I admitted that I was hoping to have SRS just after graduating.
Now I was studying part time for a degree in psychology, and had worked full time for the last two months at the centre as a counsellor for the transgendered.
Before you’re thinking that Billi’s baby was mine as well, you’d be wrong, as much as I’d like it to be. The androgens and oestrogen had ruined any hope of me producing sperm, so we’d approached a gay male friend and arranged a donation. We’d also formed a legal contract, just so he was clear that there was no legal obligation on his part after the birth, with no legal rights and entitlements as a father.

He was still a good friend, and so we knew that he was not only willing to be a good uncle, but also a great fairy godfather.

Neither of us returned to Dundee, for we knew there was nothing there for us now. We had not had any contact with our respective families, and had never attempted to contact them.

I had changed my name to Marla Kinnaird, the same surname as Billi. The day my new birth certificate arrived in the post was the best ever.
I made the tea and put the groceries away. I heard the shower stop and the bedroom door slam, so knew she was getting dressed when the doorbell rang.
I answered it.

“Hi Marla, is Billi ready?” the girl asked.

“Hello Sarah, she’d just getting changed. Take a seat. Do you want a tea or something?”

“Can I have a cold drink, a squash or something?”

“Sure, orange?”

“Whatever, fine, ta.”

She sat on the settee and watched as I made her drink.

“I think you’re amazing,” she said when I handed it to her.

I frowned.

“How come?”

“Billi told me about you. I’d never have guessed, not in a million years.”


She looked worried.

“You don’t mind me knowing?”

“No, it’s who I am. I’m not ashamed of it.”

“Good for you. Are you excited about the baby?”

Very,” I admitted, smiling.

“She said you both know it’s going to be a girl, are you pleased?”

“As long as it’s healthy and got all the bits it wants.”

“Not like you,” she said smiling.

“I’m just fine now,” I said.

Billi came in and took the mug of tea I handed her.

“Ready?” she asked Sarah.

“Yup, I was just telling Marla that I’d never have guessed.”

“She’s great, isn’t she?” Billi said, kissing me.

“What are you guys doing this Christmas?” she asked, as they went to the back room.

“We’re getting hitched, we’ve booked the ceremony for Christmas Eve and then we’re gonna come back and make love all night,” she said, winking at me.

“We’ll probably be down the maternity ward all night. She’s due on Christmas day,” I said.

“Wow, what a present!” said Sarah.

I looked at Billi and she looked at me.

“Yes,” we both said.

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