I knew that I should not have put myself in danger, but it’s easy to be wise after the event...
By Susan Brown
I didn’t see it coming.
I knew that I should not have put myself in danger, but it’s easy to be wise after the event.
For the first time in ages, I had decided to go to the TG friendly pub. The last time I went, was with a few other girls. There was, after all, strength in numbers. In these modern times, you would have thought that people were more tolerant and maybe they are, well some people, anyway.
Even at my age, I had a lot to learn.
Manchester, Brighton and where I lived in London, were all considered to be okay places for TV’s,TG’s, gays and others to see and be seen as long as you took precautions and not to lay yourself open to the abuse of the minority of Neanderthals who roamed around, making trouble.
I arrived at the pub by taxi, met my friends in the bar, had a meal and generally had a good time catching up. We normally did most of our chatting on line and it was a real treat to all meet up and have a good old girlie night out. I was a bit on the shy side and even after dressing full time as a girl for a number of years (apart from work), I still worried that I would be outed and then abused by people who didn’t know me, want to have anything to do with me or were even, for some strange reason, threatened by me.
It was a fun evening, and everyone was in great form and in no time, I was laughing and giggling with the best of them. I had a wonderful time but all too soon, I had to go.
The taxi driver promised to be outside at 11.00pm and I reluctantly said goodbye to the girls, with promises to meet up again soon. With lots of hugs and finger waving, I left them and made my way outside. I was a few minutes early, as I didn’t want the driver to have to wait for me or try to find me in the crowded pub.
I stood in the doorway and scanned the street. The music from the pub was thumping out behind me and there was still a lot of noise and laughter.
I was pleased that I had gone out that evening. For far too long I had stayed in at night and not really enjoyed myself. London is a lonely place when you are by yourself and its easy to get into the habit of not doing anything except the work, home, sleep, work cycle.
I was a bit chilly. Even though it was early summer, my thin dress and cardi wasn’t really warm enough for me to be standing waiting for the taxi and I wished that I had brought my coat.
A few revellers left the pub slightly worse for wear and I smiled as they staggered down the road singing Agadoo.
I hadn’t drunk much, as I didn’t like to feel out of control, but I had had a few glasses of wine and that made me fairly mellow.
I suppose the wine had helped make me feel a bit less cautious than I would have normally been, and I stepped out onto the pavement to see if the taxi was coming.
I liked the click of my heels on the pavement and the feel of my stockinged legs up against the thin silk of my best dress. I started to hum Agadoo, which was strange, as I didn’t like that irritating song very much.
Suddenly, there was the sound of running feet from behind me and then someone grabbed my shoulder bag, nearly wrenching my arm off in the process.
‘Give it up, you fucking tranny queer,’ said the man with a ski mask.
I should have let go, but the bag’s strap was tangled up on my arm. I screamed for help but before I could shout much, I felt the immediate pain of a terrific bang on my nose as he hit me with his fist and then I went down on the hard pavement as if poleaxed.
I could hear laughter and the sound of footsteps running away and then everything went black.
The whistle blew and the train slid almost silently out of Euston station. The train was fairly empty and I was sitting in the lounge car, drinking coffee. The train was the overnight Caledonian sleeper to Crianlarich in Scotland.
I had decided to splash out a bit and go to Scotland in some style. I could have flown, but it was all a bit of an adventure to me and this was the start of a journey that would, I hoped make me a happier, more fulfilled person.
I felt my nose, which was, even now, slightly sore, but luckily no longer swollen. The attacker had never been found and after a night in hospital, I was allowed to go home. I still had black eyes, but they had faded a bit and the concealer makeup that I had been using did a pretty good job of hiding the consequences of my night out with friends.
Thanks Max Factor!
As the train glided along the welded tracks through crowded London, I thought about the mugging and everything that had happened that led me to where I was now.
Up to now, life for me was being stuck in a rut; a bit like an old record stuck in the groove and then replaying it every day, every month, every year…you get the picture.
On a normal weekday, I got up in the morning, got dressed in my hated male clothes, caught the bus and went to work at the head office of Timpson Holidays. I was what was called a special account manager. I looked after various travel arrangements for particular, high paying customers that wanted a special type of holiday. I was I suppose a kind of fixer. What the client wanted, I tried to get for them, at a high price, of course.
If you wanted a holiday on a secluded island, I found one. Wanted to go to India and ride on an elephant? No problem. I knew almost all the most exclusive holiday destinations on Earth and used that knowledge to give people the holiday of their dreams.
You may have thought that I was jealous of the people who went on those exclusive, bespoke holidays, but funnily enough, I wasn’t. Holidays, for me, were just temporary changes in ones life that eventually had to stop when you got back home and real life started again.
Most of my clients weren’t millionaires, who had “people” to look after that sort of thing; they were ordinary men and women with a bit of money to spare for their dream holiday and I was the one to help make their holiday one to remember and give them cherished memories that would last them all their lives.
I didn’t get to visit the places where I had arranged holidays. With the Internet, I could see the places from the comfort, if that is what you could call it, of my office chair. Heaven forbid that my company would actually allow me to go to these places and try them out for myself!
Although I was in the business of helping people fulfill their dreams, it soon became monotonous and in the end, day after a day of hardly ever changing boredom and repetition was enough to make me dissatisfied with my lot.
Every work day, I caught the same bus to work and at the end of the day, I came home, took off my David, male shell and went back to my real Chloe persona.
My flat was OK, it wasn’t marvelous and nor was the area, but it wasn’t a bad place to live and had the extra advantage of being cheap.
You may wonder why I just didn’t dress as the girl I really was? Well, I lacked confidence. All my online friends said that I passed really well, but that didn’t help, as I had always been unsure of myself, not helped by overbearing parents and the pressure to conform.
I was now 29 years old.
Not a bad age but many people had found their niche in life by then and I just felt as if life was passing me by.
Thinking back, as the train gathered speed and made its way north, memories came flooding back of the darkest time of my life.
It took years of pretending to be what I was not, before I plucked up the courage to tell my parents about Chloe. Sitting in our rather drab sitting room, my parents looked askance at me as I poured my heart and soul out to them and explained that I had always, as long as I could remember, been Chloe and not David and had been dressing in begged, borrowed and regretfully stolen girls clothes for many years.
As far as the world and in particular my parents were concerned, I had just been David McKerrell, but as far as I was concerned my chosen name was Chloe McKerrell and I desperately wanted to be Chloe and not David.
My heart to heart talk with my parents was an unmitigated disaster. The look on their faces of disgust and abhorrence will live with me for the rest of my life.
They simply hadn’t understood me and how I ticked, and that went for all the rest of my extended family too, when they were told. How could a boy ever want or think that he was a girl? It was ridiculous and I was made to feel that I was ‘not right in the head’.
So much for coming out to them. It just meant that I had been instantly rejected by the people I thought had loved me for who and not what I was.
All that happened when I had turned just 18. Before that, I had been afraid to talk about my deep, dark secret to anyone. I just hid it all under the carpet and only dressed in private, behind bolted doors, when I knew that there was no one about.
Thoughts of rejection and ostracization that resulted in that coming out talk with my parents still hurts and I try not to think of it any more than I have to.
So I left home and left behind all the family that I knew and thought had loved me. I now lived a lonely and solitary life without many friends. But I was and still am strong willed and I started as I meant to go on and proceeded to live as the woman I knew that I was.
In some ways I was lucky as I evidently passed reasonably well and my voice was soft and also passable, although my lack of self confidence didn’t help me project my female persona as well as I would have wished.
I had the support of my doctor and she helped me on my journey to fulfil my dreams. After lots of tests and visits to the shrinks, I was put on the usual pills and after six months the results started bear fruition. I was fairy thin and maybe not pear shaped enough to pass close inspection, but it was an improvement on the more male body that I had before.
My breasts gradually developed to a B cup and then stopped and that didn’t bother me much as they were in proportion to my body and I didn’t fancy Dolly Parton type mammaries.
I soon became proficient in the arts and crafts of makeup and dressing appropriately for my age and figure. I pored over magazines and spent countless hours on line trying to get the ‘look’ that I was after and I eventually found the image and style that I liked and was most comfortable with.
I wasn’t a girly girl. I didn’t like too much in the way of lace and frills. I loved the classic elegant look and while that wasn’t too clever at 18, by then time I reached my current age, I sort of grew into it and didn’t look out of place.
I hadn’t had the operation yet as I hated the sight of pain and blood, especially mine. I would take the plunge eventually and my therapist said some years ago that I was, ‘OK to go,’ when I was ready.
Well that brings me back to now.
After living as a women full time for eleven years, the novelty had worn off. I was simply a woman with a few extra bits and my gender was no longer an issue with anyone except my estranged family, who despite the occasional attempts by myself at reconciliation, had no wish to see me or have anything to do with me unless I, ‘stopped that nonsense and be a man.’
I had some money in the bank as my needs were simple and I rarely went out and when I did finally go out, I had been attacked. So financially I was in an OK situation, but mentally, things were far from OK.
I suppose being attacked made me feel even unhappier with my lot and even afraid of my own shadow. Not a very healthy attitude
I was reading the paper, one sunny morning on the bus about a week after my attack. Someone had left it on their seat when they left and I nabbed it before someone took the seat. It was the Daily Mail of all things. I wasn’t keen on the paper, as they liked to sensationalise everything and it was full of juicy and not so juicy titbits about the famous and not so famous wannabes. But the rag was something to read.
There wasn’t much of interest to read, as I had no wish to find out about what the Beckham’s were getting up to or the latest Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie situation. I wasn’t particularly interested in the latest cancer scare where eating too much of this that or the other would kill you off. So I found myself near the back of the paper where the classified ads were.
There were ads about stair lifts, double-glazing, health products and the usual rubbish, but in the small wanted section, one advert caught my attention.
We require a go ahead person to take over the tourist office in a small picturesque location on an island off the coast of Scotland. The successful applicant needs to have drive, determination and the ability to get things done.
Contact us, by writing, at the address below with your CV and any other details that may help us to determine your suitability of this important position.
The Town Hall,
Isle of Muckle
You may email us with your details if you wish.
I smiled slightly at the rather stilted and amateurish advert and started to read the sports pages even though I was as sporty as a whelk.
My mind wasn’t on what I was reading though, as I found myself returning to the advert.
I wondered where the strangely named Muckle was; Scotland obviously, but where in Scotland? My grandparents had been Scottish on both sides. My Mum was Scottish, born in Ayr. She had met Dad at the University of Edinburgh, where they had both studied the arts. Dad was born in Berwick On Tweed, considered by many Scots to be Scottish still, but according to the law it was an English town.
My parents decided early on in their marriage to move to London, where the jobs were, and that was why I was born and had lived there all of my life.
Muckle, what a funny name for a place…
I arrived at my stop and got off, taking the paper with me.
During the day, in between phone calls and emails, I glanced time and time again at that advert.
I was lucky and senior enough to have my own office and I found myself Googling Muckle and looking it up on the map and then had a look at Wiki to give me a bit more information about the place.
The island is quite large, lying about 10 miles southwest of Rá¹m. It has an area of about 35 square miles, which might sound a lot, but compared to say The Isle Of Wight’s 147 square miles, it’s quite small.
Muckle has one main town called Halestead. It’s part of the Inner Hebrides group of islands, with Eigg, Rá¹m and other larger islands like Mull.
According to Wiki, Muckle’s climate is moderated by the Golf Stream and for some reason doesn’t have anything like as much rain as the rest of Scotland. Although hilly, it isn’t mountainous but has breath-taking beaches and wonderful panoramas. The 650 odd inhabitants evidently temporarily doubled in the summer months with the influx of tourists. That didn’t seem like many tourists to me, but maybe the infrastructure couldn’t take much more. There were several small hotels, some bed and breakfasts and a pub in Halestead and on the other side of the island, was a campsite.
The phone rang and I reluctantly went back to work.
The rest of the day was taken up with arranging an around the world cruise for a couple who were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary and I had little time to think much about Muckle.
Eventually things slowed down and over the umpteenth cup of coffee, I returned once again to the small advert in the paper.
Somehow it intrigued me, the job, that is. I had a copy of my CV on a pen drive that I always carried with me. I also had a number of trans stories; books, personal correspondence and other things that I wanted kept, backed up from my laptop. I was always worried about hard drive failure or spilling coke on it so I kept things well backed up.
It was getting late now and, as usual, I was one of the last ones left in the office. Yet again, I looked at the strange advert and then on a whim, I went on the Internet and into my own BT mail account and before I changed my mind, I emailed my CV to the address mentioned.
After it went, I wondered if I was being stupid, only time would tell.
For the next two days, everything went on as normal and I nearly forgot my flight of fancy regarding the Isle of Muckle.
If anything though, my frustration about where I was with my life increased. I looked at newspapers and online regarding a possible change in direction, job and life wise. I was aware that I would have to tell any prospective employer about my gender status, as officially, in the eyes of the law, I was still male.
On the Friday following the sending of my CV to Muckle, I received a text on my phone.
‘Are you available for a video Skype conference tomorrow at 9.00am re the job?’
'Sorry, who is this? I replied.
‘Mayor of Muckle.’
I thought for a moment.
‘OK, my address is [email protected] speak to you then bye.’
And so it was that the next morning, instead of lying in bed in my nightie and contemplating the ceiling, I got up, dressed, put on full makeup and sensible cream blouse, black skirt, tights and black court shoes and was ready at my computer at 8.50am. Why I bothered with dressing posh below my waist, I didn’t know, as I wouldn’t be flashing my nylon clad legs at the screen, but it made me feel more professional, I supposed.
I had a cup of coffee and then immediately had to use the loo, as it seemed to go straight through me. Nerves did that to me.
I was back at my computer at 8.58am, Skype open and poised to reply to the call.
At 9.10, I was still poised, but nothing was happening on the Skype front.
I had to use the loo again and I cursed the stupidity of drinking coffee in my heightened level of anxiety.
I ran to the toilet, did my stuff and was back in 3 minutes flat.
There was a message from Skype
Answer -Answer With Video-Decline
I clicked on Answer With Video and there he was in full colour. About 50 years old, handsome in a rugged way, with black hair and a sprinkling of white at the temples.
‘Is that you?’ he asked.
‘Yes.’ I replied. Who else would I be?
‘Hello Mr McDougal.
‘Call me Angus and you would be Chloe?
‘Not a very Scottish name, but its getting more popular with the Lowlanders. What is your middle name?’
‘That’s more like it. Now, to business, I’m due to play golf with Campbell at ten and we’re playing for a bottle of finest Scotch whisky. Now I’ve read your CV and it tells me nothing about you. So, fire away, tell me about yourself?’
And so I did. Not very exciting, but that was the point, I hadn’t had a very exciting life and except for the fact that I was born as a boy and was now living as a girl. I had to tell him that as I had no intention of deceiving him or anyone else. I fully expected to see a grimace on his face or some sign of horror at my disclosure so I looked down and didn’t look at him as I told him about the more personal things going on in my life.
By the way, before I continue, I have no intention of trying to replicate the rather broad Scottish accent of McDougall and others in my writings as to do so might confuse not only possible readers of this journal, but me also.
I gave him a brief history of Chloe McKerrell and I paused for a moment and then told him the killer information.
‘I said, call me Angus.’
‘Sorry Angus, erm one of the things that I haven’t got on my CV is my gender information.’
‘Gender information? Says here that you are a Miss.’
‘Yes I am, sort of. You see, I was born a boy.’
‘Yes,’ I continued with a rush, ‘but ever since I was small I have known that I am a girl inside. I have lived as a woman full time for eleven years now and I intend, when I feel brave enough, to transition fully.’
‘What, get your willy cut off?’
‘Sort of, it’s a bit more complicated than that…’
‘So let me get this straight, you are one of those trans-fat people?’
‘Transgender is the term.’
‘You wear dresses and act as a women?’
‘No I don’t act as a woman I am a woman.’
‘This isn’t going well,’ I thought
‘And you aren’t one of those pearverts.’
‘No, I’m not a pear… I mean pervert.’
‘You look like a woman and sound like a woman. Can ye stand up and do a twirl?’
‘A twirl, humour me.’
So I did just that. Whether he expected me to look like a male shot-putter, covered with muscles, with a pot belly due to excessive drinking and complete with a builders bum, I wasn’t sure, But I did as he asked and stood up away from the computer and turned around slowly.
I was glad now that I was wearing a nice, sensible skirt, tights and court shoes, although I wasn’t sure that my webcam would show that far down.
I saw his face peering at me and I wondered, in passing if he was a pearvert or something.
‘Angus, what are you doing?’
He looked away and then I heard the woman berating him.
‘Are ye mad? Ye mustn’t do that to the poor wee lassie.’
‘Och, Sally, I was only making sure that she wasn’t, you know a drag artist or something. We have to be careful you know, and protect the children.’
‘School children; you hear funny stories…’
I sat down again and I could see the woman more clearly. She was about the same age as Angus, but quite pretty and not a little angry.
I cut in to the heated argument.
‘Look, I don’t think that this is going to work. Thanks for the interview, but I withdraw from applying for the job.’
With that, I cut the connection and went into the kitchen for a restorative cup of tea.
My hand shook slightly as I made my drink and then went and sat down on my small sofa.
So, yet again my choice to live and be a woman had cost me. I had no friends, my family didn’t want to know me and now to cap it all, I couldn’t get a job where I could start over again and be happy.
Maybe I should cut my hair, have breasts reduction surgery, wear male clothes, talk deeply and be all manly. Perhaps, after that, society would accept me as ‘normal’.
Then I smiled. No I wouldn’t and couldn’t do that. I had made my choices and I would stick by them. I would wait and see. Something would turn up eventually…well I hoped it would anyway.
To Be Continued...
For those of you feverishly looking for Muckle on Google Earth, you won't find it, as it is a fictional island, more is the pity!
Next time, See Chloe finally arriving at Muckle and how she copes with the place and its rather eccentric inhabitants.
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