Isn't it about time...

Isn’t it about time...

“You’re not on the internet again are you?” asked Janet.

I blushed, it was pretty obvious that any denial would be futile given that I was seated in front of a computer. I mumbled a response.

“Can’t you find anything else to do?” she challenged.

It was evening and I was looking forward to reading my usual intake of fiction from one or two of my favourite sites–all of them transgender orientated. Besides it was too dark to do anything outside and I had worked all day–mind you so had she.

Let me fill in some background, Janet is my wife, or used to be in the days when I lived as a man. That was ten or more years ago, now we live as two women. Yeah, I was transgender, I fought with the girl inside me from childhood onwards except of course, in childhood all I knew was I was different. How different didn’t manifest until late childhood and puberty, when other boys were discovering girls, I was too but differently. While the boys were responding to testosterone and trying to get into their knickers, I suppose I was too, only I was wanting to wear them and their bras and their makeup and everything else that made them girls. At about age ten, I realised what was different about me–I was a girl but with a willie.

I used to study girls I thought were pretty or stylish, wishing I could go to school wearing mascara and a skirt. Instead I wore long trousers and shirt and tie which used to be so hot when the sun shone through the windows of our sixties designed and seventies built school. Lots of glass, giving loads of light–so you pull the blinds down and put the lights on. Sadly, the architects of the times never tried to work in such places which froze in winter and barbecued you in summer.

But I digress. I spent my puberty and early adolescence in furtive attempts to acquire the trappings of girldom. I bought some makeup from a supermarket trying to make it look as casual as I could. Chain stores made it easier to buy clothing, though when asked if I wanted to try a skirt on I nearly died, but accepted the offer and discovered I needed a size larger.

I missed the glam rock period and was too old for the Goths, so boys buying makeup was still alien to most shops but the supermarket checkout girls were just intent on taking the money and finishing their shift. I suspect some of them laughed after I went through trying to act nonchalant, a box of tissues–the girliest I could get, some teabags, crisps and a lipstick or eye shadow. With my long hair they probably thought I was gay–but no pain no gain as they say–though I suspect the store detectives must have wondered what I was up to loitering–not to steal, but to buy my first bra or a pack of panties.

Then there was the problem of storing my cache of femininity–I used an old suitcase which was locked and shoved in the top of my wardrobe where my mother was unlikely to go. With two brothers, it was difficult to get any privacy until my elder one was regularly dating various girls. I was the middle child, so I was stuck with younger brother, until he grew old enough to be more interested in going out with his mates to experiment with drink and fags down the woods. Finally, at about age thirteen or fourteen, I could pretend to be swotting and hide myself away from my family–Dad was down the pub and Mum was too busy catching up with her knitting and Coronation Street.

I suppose I grew up a bit, though was delighted when I got to university and had a room of one’s own–yes, Virginia, there is nothing like it, especially for a cross-dressing youth. My parents also gave me some money and told me not to waste it all on booze, but to eat occasionally. I did and I also improved my wardrobe, and with hundreds of young women to use as role models, I was closer to heaven than I’d ever managed at home.

I was seen as a nerd, up in my room with my books–and my dresses and makeup–though they didn’t know about that. I resisted opportunities to join various groups and societies–especially the local gaylib group who assumed I was one of them–I wasn’t and told them so, quite rudely. “Ooh, get her, keep your knickers on girly boy,” he shouted back at me and for a moment I wondered if he realised I was wearing panties, but then decided it was just him being offensive.

In my final year, after three years of studying psychology, I met a girl who for some reason wanted to get into my knickers. I was totally out of my depth, and although we were much of an age, she was years ahead of me and seduced me. I had my first sex at twenty–about three years behind my younger brother. For a while I wondered if this was all I needed to let go all the girly stuff, all I needed was a real woman to make a man of me.

We started dating seriously and she began to see traces of my other self, Jane, as I called her, and one day she confronted me. I don’t think I shall ever forget that night, we spent much of it crying in each other’s arms before she told me she needed to think about us and I thought I’d lost her. When I asked her to respect my confidence, she looked at me and said, “Oh yeah, I’m just going down the union to tell everyone I’ve been dating a girl aren’t I? How d’you think it would reflect on me?” With that she left and I missed lectures for a couple of days, wishing I could die.

A few days later she called by my room and asked to meet Jane. I agreed to do so the next night and spent hours shaving my legs and flapping like a headless chicken. She was quite impressed, made some suggestions in how I could improve things, and stayed for three hours.

The next year we got a flat together and I thought I really was in heaven. We had our ups and downs, often about my wanting to let Jane out of her closet, and then wanting to let her out of the house when I got stir crazy. She did come out for walks and things but I suppose it got boring for her. She allowed me to change once or twice a week but it was never enough for me, and I told her I was transsexual not just a cross dresser.

“I know,” was all she said, “I knew that from the first time we went to bed together. It was like making love to another girl, or what I imagined that would be like.” I didn’t know if I was pleased or hurt by this announcement.

“Why didn’t you say?”

“Why? What good would it have done me. John, I fell in love with you. I hoped that you might outgrow this girl thing, but I was wrong.”

For the next few weeks, life was one big blur of depression and self loathing. It was obvious even to me that our relationship was over. We split up a month later.

I spent a period of almost suicidal effort in work, trying to avoid my pain with tiredness. I worked in a large concern, and although I had a degree in psychology, I worked in management services. I collapsed one day in my lunch hour and they sent me home in a taxi. The doctor diagnosed nervous exhaustion and asked me several very penetrating questions. I tried to palm them off as the break up with Janet, but he wanted to know why and eventually I told him.

Janet got to hear of my breakdown and came to see me. To cut a long story short we got back together and six months later got married. Two years later we were back in trouble due to my need to be a woman on more than an occasional basis. I went to see the doctor who sent me to a psychiatrist who sent me to another one and eventually I got to see someone who knew what they were doing.

We drifted as a marriage and Janet once again left me and after a bloodless divorce, I saw the opportunity to be myself as I should have been from the beginning. I made enquiries in work about changing over and while they weren’t exactly ecstatic about it, they agreed to support me. Actually, when it happened my colleagues were very helpful on the whole.

Eighteen months later I had surgery and felt myself to be whole for the first time in my life. My parents had been a bit cool about it decided enough was enough and cast me adrift. Oh well, I still had a job and a home. Then the firm crashed and my job went down the pan along with loads of others. For six months I was on jobseekers allowance when I noticed a vacancy in a shop window. I applied and got the job. I told my employer about me at interview and she shrugged, “I’ve got a brother who’s gay, I try not to judge other people, so do the job properly and we’ll stay friends.”

I did. It was a gift shop, which meant I could dress in floaty skirts and lacy tops unlike the suits I had to wear to work. I really enjoyed working there and despite the looming recession we were doing okay and Yvonne, who owned the shop, invited me to become a partner in it. I was in seventh heaven and we went out to dinner to celebrate.

Somehow, I got tiddly and ended up being picked up by some bloke I’d never met before. We had sex and it hurt despite my regular dilating of my vagina. He didn’t twig, so perhaps he was a drunk as I was. When I realised the next morning that I was lying in someone else’s bed, naked and with a headache, I nearly messed myself. I hurriedly dressed and got home taking a salt bath to try and ease my throbbing twat.

I decided that I was going to become celibate, and when I told Yvonne about my experience, once she’d stopped laughing she cautioned against any such decision, advising me that I should avoid one night stands for all sorts of reasons, but I also needed to date a few times to learn how to cope with men, including how to say no.

“I know about men, remember I was one.”

She looked at me and shook her head, “Jane, you might have lived as one but I don’t think the epithet really applied did it?” Perhaps she had a point.

I didn’t date properly, I did go out with the odd man, but it never came to anything so I bought my first home computer and somehow discovered all this stuff on the net. I was addicted, stories about people like me, some were preposterous, some were so badly written they were unreadable and some were just plain sick–but some were also totally absorbing. This became my social life, apart from acquaintances, I was a web bunny.

One Friday, Yvonne had gone to lunch and I was in the shop on my own when who should come in but Janet. She didn’t recognise me for a moment and then she gasped, “John? I mean Jane?”

“Yes it’s me, Janet.”

“So you finally did it?”


“Wow, but working here is a bit of comedown, isn’t it?”

“No, I’m a partner in the shop and we manage.”

“You live with her?”

“No, I live with my cat, Joey.”

“Have you had lunch?”

“No, I’m waiting for Yvonne to come back, I’ve got a sandwich in my bag.”

We ended up going to dinner together the next evening and decided we were still fond of each other. After six months of being very close friends, we decided to live together as sisters, I didn’t fancy sex with anyone and she didn’t want a lesbian relationship with me. We sold our respective homes and bought a nice one on the edge of town but close enough for her to drive to work and for me to bus or cycle to my shop.

A year later, Yvonne sold her share of the shop to Janet and we changed the name to ‘Janet & Jane–cards and gifts.’ We're still doing okay despite the recession. Janet also works part time for her previous employer who thinks I’m her sister in law, well we share the same surname. So things are looking pretty good–except she grumbles about my use of the computer.

“You’ll get square eyes, why don’t you learn to sew or knit?”

“I’m too clumsy fingered.”

“Well do something other than that bloody internet. Why can’t you read ordinary books like other women do?”

I did actually. I got through one a week either paper version or on my kindle. I like all sorts, romances and thrillers you name it, I’ll try it. But none of them reach me like some of the stuff on the better websites. I didn’t have a girlhood, I didn’t have the opportunity to develop as a woman in the usual way. I get by and life is okay, but the mainstream romances don’t usually deal with a girl who was reared as a boy, do they? They don’t explore the tension or stress of coping with the inner turmoil and conflict it causes, which is what I know, and how those things can be overcome and some sort of useful and productive life can follow. I’m still on the margins of society some of the time because some girl things I don’t want to do any more than I want to do boy things. However, I tend to do the decorating and the heavier gardening jobs because I know how to while Janet does the sewing and flower arranging.

We’re like an old married couple because we were once just that. I’m happy because we are together and life is good. The shop gives me an outside interest and I run it well. Since Yvonne left and Janet gave me free rein, I’ve increased the turnover by twenty per cent. Janet seems content with her life. She sees a chap she’s known for years, he’s married and I do drop the odd warning about consequences–but that’s her affair, quite literally and funnily enough, when she disappears for the odd night, she doesn’t complain about my use of the computer for a few days–strange that.

So here I am, content with life. It could be better, it could be worse–it could be an awful lot worse.

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