Copyright © 2012 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
Nowt as Queer as Folk.
The house was perfect, a semi-detatched built in the 1930s which had been nicely renovated without destroying the original features, such as the fireplaces. The cul-de- sac featured some dozen houses, and this one, was at the end. There was a drive and garage and an enclosed garden. It was just perfect, and the conservatory was what he’d always wanted. Life was going to be so good.
Robin had been left a hundred thousand pounds by his grandparents, it had been in trust until he reached twenty five. It had meant he could pay a deposit of half the value of the house–which was what his grandparents had intended, although they were hoping he’d have settled down and married by then.
He’d started a new job, which was temporary, as a nurse practitioner. The unit he was working on paid enough to meet his mortgage and other overheads and he even managed to save a few pounds. He needed to furnish his new castle and that would take time. He had the basics, a bed some chairs and a table and he’d seen what looked like a reasonable second hand Welsh dresser in pine, in a shop near his work.
The neighbours an elderly couple seemed very pleasant though they were surprised he didn’t have a car, just two bicycles–a racer type with drop handlebars that was so light, you could pick it up with a finger–and a hybrid with a carry-rack and panniers. He used it for shopping and to go to and fro to work.
He had a couple of weeks off to settle in, and soon had the place organised so he could find things easily and sort out the garden. He painted the wooden fences which he was pleased to see were in good condition and he was looking forward to sitting in the garden, though he considered the conservatory would get rather warm, but it was somewhere to sit in the summer evenings to read or just relax.
His neighbours, Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom, call us ‘Eric and Eunice’, weren’t quite the archetypal curtain twitcher, but they didn’t miss very much, and pleaded being interested in their young neighbour.
Such things as: did he have a girlfriend, or when was he going to get one? Were asked in a well meaning way but Robin felt they were intrusive and he always told them the right one hadn’t come his way, just yet. They told him to get rid of the ponytail, and he politely declined. He had lovely hair and was going to keep it. They also told him to put on some weight, but he was happy being on the thin side of skinny. He ate very well, if perhaps frugally, keeping his portion sizes small.
Relationships weren’t something he was interested in–not short term at any rate, because Robin had other priorities. He was going to become Robyn as soon as he had a few more things worked out. He was seeing a gender specialist and was hoping to transition by the end of the summer. Already the hormones were having an effect and his boy breasts had become enlarged and he bound them flat during the day or wore a sports bra.
He was slowly building up a wardrobe, though he felt frustrated that he couldn’t wear them as often as he’d like, he was stuck with his uniform for work–a blue tunic and pants, under which he always wore a vest and his sports bra or crepe bandage. Unless he was working in the garden, he’d change into some more feminine clothes, let down his hair and perhaps put on a smear of lipstick.
He was so dressed, sitting in his conservatory doing some dressmaking–his grandmother had left him her machine–when the doorbell rang. He ummed and aahed about answering it when it rang again.
He was partly irritated, it had been a long day at work, and all he wanted to do was get home and relax, he was also trying to insert a zip in a skirt he was making and it wasn’t going right. Irked when the bell rang again, he went to the door, his heels clicking on the wooden block floors in the hallway. He opened the door and there stood Eunice with a dish covered with a napkin.
“I just made...oh, who are you? Is Robin there?”
“It is me, Eunice.”
“Oh my goodness–um–never mind, I have to go, bye.” She almost leapt over the wall between the two houses.
Twenty minutes later, the doorbell rang again and the door was also knocked. Robin had just about cracked inserting the zip when the noise started. He went to the door and there stood Eric, his face red as a beetroot.
“Just what d’you think you’re doing frightening my wife half to death?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You know what I mean, you bloody poof.”
“What d’you mean?”
“It’s obvious why you’re not married isn’t it? Bloody fairy. You keep away from us, d’you hear?”
Before Robin could respond or invite him in, he turned on his heel and walked away. Robin shut the door, he was shaking as he leaned against it and tears weren’t far away. He had to leave the zip, he was too upset and after making a cuppa, which he sipped with shaking hands, he phoned his friend Madge.
Madge was an older woman who’d seen right through Robin to the girl inside, she was the receptionist at his previous hospital and they’d become good friends even though she was old enough to be his mother.
“It’s not as if I was doing anything wrong, Madge, I’m in my own house, doing some sewing and she rang the doorbell. I didn’t ask her to come, but it obviously upset her because he came thundering round a bit later and played hell with me.
“I mean who gives them the right to blast me like that in my own home, I wasn’t hurting anyone, was I?” He was now reduced to tears. “I mean, I’m not doing anything wrong, am I?”
“Course you’re not, luvvie, you watch it’ll blow over and someone else will get their attention. Besides, you’re still going to transition this year aren’t you?”
“I don’t know if I can cope with people like that, Madge, it’s so unfair–I’m not doing anything wrong.”
“Robin, you have to be tough if you want to do this. You’ve already lost your own family, don’t make it all be in vain.”
He had a flashback to his childhood, he wanted dolls and tea sets. His parents couldn’t understand, and when he enrolled to do the nursing course–a woman’s job, his dad was very upset. When six months ago, he announced to his family that he was seeing a gender specialist, they had a pink fit. Over the next few days, they tried to work out where they’d gone wrong–his mother was in tears and so was he. His father went bright red and looked as if his head would explode at any time, and his younger brother, who knew a bit about his hiding bits of female clothing in his room, simply shrugged but decided he didn’t want a poof for a brother. In short, his family closed the door and apart from his trust from his grandmother, who’d died the year before, he was effectively an orphan.
His grandmother had recognised that he was an unusual little boy but didn’t discourage his feminine ways, instead she built on them, teaching him things like how to knit and the basics of sewing. She taught him how to make cakes and to cook some basic meals–he loved going to stay with her and when she presented him with her sewing machine the last time they’d had a weekend together, he was delighted but confused.
She had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died within weeks, he never saw her alive again. He’d started his nursing degree and was devastated when she died. He sat alone at the back of the church at her funeral, his family ignored him and he went back to his room and wept for days, he was so upset.
Now, some seven years later, he was a registered nurse specialist in trauma, although he was temporarily working as a nurse practitioner, sometimes called a nurse prescriber. He was building up to a crisis–that of transitioning–and he needed to get practice in being out and about as a woman.
He wasn’t good at making friends, people seemed to think he was gay, which he wasn’t, he didn’t know what he was, sexually, but emotionally he was a woman and that was how he wanted to present himself.
The incident with the Ramsbottoms passed on. They ignored him if he was off to work or muttered insults if he wasn’t. He began to ignore them and try to get on with life. He began going out at weekends, just to get practice in being a woman and he felt he was doing reasonably well, even using a ladies loo. He began to see his consultant in his new role who complimented her on being very convincing.
Then things began to take on their own momentum–Robin’s dream job came up–a vacancy for a nurse specialist in trauma arose at the busy district hospital, plus it was on significantly more than the present job.
Robyn went for it, deciding to come clean if she was offered the job, but insisting to take the job up as a woman. She was offered an interview and was head and shoulders above the next best candidate. The consultant surgeon admitted his astonishment at the interview. “Miss Priest, you’re an extremely well qualified nurse specialist, so what the hell are you doing working in a GP practice dealing with colds and pimples on bums? We need people like you here at the front line.”
“D’you want to know the truth?” she asked him.
“You haven’t been struck off or anything, have you?”
“No, Mr Darrowby, the truth is I’m transsexual, and I’m in transition, I was waiting to get back into trauma when I’d completed the job.”
Darrowby looked at his two interview colleagues. “Is that a problem?” They both looked back and shook their heads. “When can you start, young lady?”
Robyn nearly fell off her seat and burst into tears. “When would you like me to?”
“How much notice have you to give?”
“A month, I think.”
“Okay, sort it out with personnel–or human resources or whatever they call themselves these days–bloody idiots the lot of them–make sure you don’t have any breaks in your service, affects pensions–or at least it did my wife–she’s a nurse too.” He proffered his hand and Robyn shook it. Then he stood up, the interview was over. “Well folks, we’ve got a trauma nurse–good oh–now back to the grindstone, eh?” Twenty minutes later he was sipping tea as he discussed how they were going to put back together the sorry specimen of manhood who’d come off a motorbike at ridiculous speed trying to outrun a police BMW.
The month for Robyn was frantic. Human resources had been helpful and advised her to do a name change, advise bank, tax man and all the other ten zillion officials who need to know–not least the registrar of the RCN and the other official bodies.
She was seeing her consultant weekly, who was really pleased with the way she’d managed to survive the pressure. The GP practice were saddened to be losing him, and when he explained about returning to his real career and also his gender problem, they were surprised. “We all thought you were gay, oh well, if it’s what you want to do, good luck–and if you get fed up with trauma, come back and see us, I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman, you’re a damned good nurse.”
Transition day came and went and Robyn, a few days later, started at the hospital. It took a week or two to learn the ropes again, it was different from her previous hospital but no one seemed to turn a hair at her appearing as a female, and the unit manager, a Mrs Gregory, who’d been on the interview panel, sorted out problems like toilets before she started–“Use the ladies, the rest of the women do.”
It was two weeks after starting at the trauma unit, when Robyn, was sitting in her kitchen eating a tuna salad and reading the newspaper, when the doorbell rang and rang and the door was also being knocked. Someone was definitely trying to attract her attention.
She went quickly to the door and upon opening it found Eunice Ramsbottom there, and in a state of agitation.
“Come quickly, it’s Eric...”
“What’s happened to him?” Robyn asked as she followed Eunice into the neighbour’s house. It became obvious what had happened, Eric had fallen down the stairs and somehow dived headfirst through the glass in the door surround. He was groaning and bleeding in similar quantities.
“Phone the ambulance, Eunice–NOW.”
Eunice dithered but managed to find the phone and give a coherent address and description of the problem. Meanwhile, Robyn had been into the kitchen and grabbed a handful of tea towels and hand towels and was engaged in trying to stop the bleeding.
In the eight minutes the ambulance took to arrive, Robyn had stopped or reduced all the bleeding, assessed Eric for shock, and tried to reassure him. He had a nasty gash on his face, and he’d come close to cutting his carotid, but in the end most of the blood was from his wrists, where he’d cut two veins.
The ambulance crew recognised Robyn and were delighted that someone had taken control so comprehensively. “So, you wanna come back in the van and stitch him up, you know, finish the job, like?”
“Boys, this is my first day off in two weeks, the only stitches I want to use are in my dressmaking.”
However, Eunice was still in shock and her daughter lived at least an hour’s drive away. So Robyn took Eunice in a taxi to the hospital to be near her husband. Of course, Robyn ended up doing the sutures and dressings and they admitted the seventy year old man for observation.
The daughter, Erica, came to collect her mother and didn’t recognise Robyn as the weird neighbour. “We must take Robyn back with us, dear,” said Eunice.
“She lives near you does she?” asked Erica.
“Oh yes, dear, she’s our neighbour, without her, I’m sure your daddy might have died.”
“Oh,” said the daughter goldfishing, “Oh right.”
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