Laura, part 1

----------=BigCloset Retro Classic!=----------

It's not a question you ever expect to get asked, certainly not by your mother.
And yet, I'd hoped my whole life that I'd be asked the question.

"Leon, do you wish you were a girl?" My mum asked.

Part 1

by Debbie V

Copyright © 2015, 2017 by Debbie V
All Rights Reserved.

Admin Note: Originally published on BigCloset TopShelf on Friday 04-13-2015 at 05:51:33 pm (-0400), this retro classic was pulled out of the closet, and re-presented for our newer readers. ~Sephrena

Part 1

It's not a question you ever expect to get asked, certainly not by your mother. And yet, I'd hoped my whole life that I'd be asked the question.

"Leon, do you wish you were a girl?" My mum asked. I paused briefly, more in shock than out of a need to think about the answer.

"Yes," I said confidently.

"I want you to think very carefully about this," mum said calmly upon hearing my answer. "Would you rather be a girl, or a boy?"

"I would rather be a girl," I answered immediately. Mum simply nodded and gave me a long, comforting hug.

"I wish you'd told me," she simply said. "I wish you'd told me earlier."

I was born on 15th November 2001, and from as far back as I can remember, I've associated 'feminine' with 'positive'. At primary school, virtually all my friends were girls. I'd enjoy playing dress-up, even though most of the time I was dressed up as a prince or a hero-type character, there were times I'd dress up as a princess or a fairy, and it just felt so, so right. When I went clothes shopping, I'd always ask for girls' clothes, when I was asked what I wanted for Christmas or for my birthday, I'd always ask for girl's toys.

After several years of being told 'no', several years of being told 'that's only for girls', several years of being told how to be a boy- and, more importantly, that I HAD to be a boy- it finally began to sink in- that all these things I wanted, these things I enjoyed doing- they were wrong. Fundamentally completely WRONG. I began to believe it, and I began to believe that I was wrong. That the way I felt, the very way I thought- it was wrong, wasn't as good, as worthy as other people.

I tried to change myself in the last year of primary school, distanced myself from my girl friends and tried to make friends to the boys who'd constantly teased me, sometimes even outright bullied me for being who I was. I'd play football and watch it on TV, swap stickers with them, play the videogames they liked... But I didn't enjoy it. Inside, I felt hollow, like I was aware of what I was doing, but it wasn't ME doing these things. Whenever I played football, my old girl friends would be dancing or playing with each other's hair, and it hurt, actually physically hurt to see them like this.

What perhaps hurt most, though, came from my home life, the one place where I should have felt most comfortable. My father left us when I was just 3, so for nearly my whole life I've been raised by my mother, alongside my older brother.

Ricky is 8 and a half years older than me, and every bit the macho, man's man. He's a squaddie- joined the army on his 18th birthday and loves everything about the military life... And has flat out told me on several occasions that I should- no, I WILL love it too. He's unrelenting in his efforts to get me to join a military cadet organisation to 'toughen me up', to 'make me into a real man'. Growing up, every time I showed an interest in anything feminine, or chose to hang out with female friends, I would be subjected to teasing and sometimes outright verbal abuse. And the worst part is, every time I got upset, Ricky would turn the dial UP. He'd lay on the teasing thicker and thicker until I was having a full-blown tantrum, crying and screaming, and he would sit there and LAUGH. Whether it was to amuse himself or show off in front of whatever girlfriend he'd had at the time, I couldn't say, I was only thankful whenever mum would intervene and separate us.

In the Easter holiday of my last year of primary school, I was miserable. I was looked after by one disinterested babysitter after another whilst mum was at work. They'd make a half-hearted attempt to cheer me up, then they'd give up, tell me they can't make me feel any better if I didn't know what was wrong. I did, of course, know what it was, but I couldn't say. I was, after all a boy, and that was the way it had to be.

...Until that fateful morning of the 5th April 2013, when mum asked me the question, and I gave the answer that would change my life.

The following Monday, I found myself sat in front of my GP, feeling more nervous than I ever had in my entire life.

"Go ahead darling," mum said, squeezing my hand for support. "Tell Dr. Wilson what you told me yesterday."

"I- I..." I began nervously. "...I would rather be a girl than a boy."

"Okay," Dr. Wilson said, smiling and nodding. "How long have you felt like this?"

"Is it- is it right to feel this way?" I asked, incredulous that I wasn't being told to 'man up' or something similar.

"If it's the way you feel, it'd the way you feel," the middle-aged man said. "There's nothing 'right' or 'wrong' about it. Some people feel more comfortable being the opposite sex- it's a simple fact of life."

"Answer Dr. Wilson's question, Leon," mum said softly.

"Almost all my life," I answered. "I only ever wanted girl's things when I was younger, I like girls' toys better than boys' toys, I'd much rather wear girls' clothes than boys' clothes."

"It sounds like your son has a case of gender dysphoria," Dr. Wilson said to my mum, who seemed to be taking this all in her stride. "Obviously this will need to be confirmed by a trained counsellor, but I can set up an appointment for you as soon as possible."

"What about before then?" Mum asked. "Should I let Leon start dressing as a girl, or should I wait until we get a diagnosis?"

"A diagnosis isn't going to cause him to start having this condition," Dr. Wilson said with a smile. "It'll just be confirmation that he's had it all along. As for dressing as a girl... That needs to be Leon's decision." Mum turned to me and asked me the question I'd wanted to hear for so long.

"Do you want to wear girls' clothes for the new few days?" Mum asks. Immediately, I nod, grinning a wide, happy smile.

That day, mum bought me my first ever skirt. It was very plain- just a light, black, knee-length skirt, but when I wore it, everything felt so... right. The way it felt moving around my legs as I walked, as I danced around in it- I felt free, like I'd suddenly been released from prison. Mum commented more than once on how happy I looked wearing the skirt- and she was right. In addition to the skirt, I also got a glittery pink t-shirt, and another t-shirt that had the outline of a ballerina on the front. To anyone looking in from the outside, despite my shorter hair, I'd have looked exactly like a happy 11 year old girl.

The appointment with the counsellor took place just four days later. Despite my protests, mum insisted I wore trousers instead of my new skirt. The counsellor noted how unhappy I looked as I walked into the appointment- and when I compared being back in boys' clothes to being in prison, I was told something that stayed with me for my whole life.

"How you feel is perfectly normal," the middle-aged woman said. "It's important that you don't keep these feelings to yourself, that you tell your mother any time you feel unhappy about who you are."

Throughout the whole meeting, it was repeated to me over and over again that how I felt wasn't wrong, it wasn't something to be ashamed of, it wasn't something I should bottle up- in fact, I should talk about my feelings as much as possible, to prevent them from harming me. It was also explained that 'gender dysphoria' couldn't be diagnosed in this initial meeting, and that I'd have to see yet ANOTHER counselor in order to get a diagnosis- which wouldn't be for another few months- but mum and I were advised to keep attending sessions so that I had somewhere I could talk about my feelings without fear of being ridiculed or bullied.

On the way home from that first meeting, my mum bought me another skirt to wear at home, a short denim skirt, which I of course changed into the second I got through the door.

In my final term at primary school, I stopped trying to fit in with the boys and returned to the girl friends I'd 'abandoned' earlier that year. It took a few weeks, but I was eventually 'welcomed back'. I continued attending sessions with my counsellor, where my confidence grew and grew, and every day after school- when it was just me and mum at home- I was given the choice of changing into a pair of casual trousers or a skirt, and every time I was given that choice, I chose the skirt. I allowed my hair to grow longer, and I counted down the days until I would have the meeting with the counsellor that would confirm my diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Then, 3 days after leaving primary school for the last time, the worst thing possible happened to me.

Ricky returned home for 2 weeks on leave.

For the next 2 weeks, he set about making my life a living hell. Every time I complained about his teasing I was told that his leave was hard-earned, and I should be grateful that he was spending it looking after me- never mind the fact that he was also spending the time tormenting me for his own amusement. One day he even took me out for a trip, saying we were going to the cinema, but he'd actually tricked me and took me an army cadet recruitment office- and he got very, very upset with me when I refused to sign up, accusing me of wasting one of his leave days despite the fact that he'd deceived me. My only relief from this was when I'd go round to one of my girl friend's houses to play- and even there I was treated as the 'token boy'.

Of course, there was no way I'd be allowed to wear any of my beloved girls' clothing whilst Ricky was in the house. To make matters worse, on the final day of his leave, he took me out yet again with the promise of ice cream. When I returned home, with tears in my eyes, my hair had been shorn down to a number 4 buzz cut. When Ricky saw me crying, the abuse started.

"What the hell are you crying for?" Ricky asked incredulously. "I treat you to a haircut, and in return, you start crying?"

"I didn't want a haircut!" I pleaded.

"Yes you did want a haircut," Ricky insisted. "If you go to secondary school with you hair as long as it was, you WILL get beaten up every day by 16 year olds. What I've done is save you from that. Can you at least TRY to be a little grateful?"

"Th-thank you," I meekly replied.

"And stop crying," Ricky ordered. "Seriously. Stop it. NOW." I gulped and blinked my eyes, desperately trying to prevent the tears from flowing. "If you cry at secondary school, those 16 year olds will kick the shit out of you on a daily basis, and there will be nothing you can do to stop it. So you need to grow up, and FAST, because I'm not going to be here to make these decisions for you in the future." I wanted to tell him then and there about my meeting with my counsellor, about my upcoming appointment, but I knew that all that would happen was that Ricky would ridicule me into telling mum that I no longer wanted the appointment- and that was a risk I couldn't take.

When mum arrived home and saw my hair, obviously she was aghast, and deeply upset with Ricky. Ricky, of course, had his argument prepared.

"Leon told me he wanted a haircut," Ricky boldly lied.

"Is this true?" Mum asked me with suspicion in her eyes.

"No," I said, earning an angry growl from Ricky.

"You know that's a lie," Ricky forcefully stated. "Now tell mum that you wanted the haircut."

"Don't tell your brother how to think," mum said, earning a petulant sigh from her eldest son.

"Well he's not exactly thinking correctly now, is he?" Ricky argued.

"He's entitled to think however he wants to think," mum retorted.

"Yeah, well the more you mollycoddle him, the more he's going to suffer at secondary school," Ricky snorted.

The argument went on for almost 15 minutes, by the end of which I was almost crying again. The next day, after Ricky went back to his army base, I immediately changed into a skirt and a girly t-shirt, though unlike before, I was still miserable. Fortunately, mum picked up on this.

"Leon, are you okay?" Mum asked. "You're normally happier when you're wearing one of your skirts..."

"It's my hair," I complained.

"You really didn't want to have it cut, did you?" Mum asked. I immediately shook my head.

"I feel silly with short hair," I moaned. "It's like I can't now be a proper girl, and I don't want to be a proper boy..." Mum gave me a long, comforting hug as I sobbed about my hair.

"Just three days, darling," mum said. "Then we'll speak to the specialist."

I attended the meeting with the specialist wearing- at my choice- my black skirt and ballerina t-shirt. On the way there, I couldn't help but imagine that everyone was whispering about me, sniggering about the 'girl with the boy's haircut' or the 'boy wearing a skirt'. If I hadn't had my mum's support, I'd probably have died of shame right then and there.

Fortunately, at the meeting, all my dreams were realised. When the evidence was presented- my preference for girls' toys and activities, me only having female friends, my hatred of my new haircut and, most importantly, my wearing a skirt to the meeting- the specialist, Dr. Williamson, confirmed the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. She praised my mother for allowing me to make the choice of what to wear, and set out the future steps I was to take.

The first step was to begin living full-time as a girl, something that scared me and excited me in equal measure. Mum wasn't rich, so my wardrobe was limited at first, but by the end of the summer holiday, I possessed several skirts, dresses and girly tops and t-shirts.

The next step was to 'come out' to my friends. Mum invited my closest friends and their parents around to our house for a chat, and whilst I played with my friends- all of whom accepted me as 'one of the girls' without question- mum explained the situation to their parents. I wasn't fully aware of what happened, but when my friends' parents left, some were angry whilst some were happy. I later found out that some of my friends' parents were unhappy, even though inside, I was the exact same person, just dressed differently. I still saw my friends over the summer, but some of their parents- who had always been nice to me before- had suddenly become very unpleasant in their demeanour towards me.

Next up was my grandmother. After mum's divorce, we lost contact with my father's parents, and my mother's father died just after I was born, so my grandmother was the only elderly relative I had. As mum explained the situation to her at our house, I sat alone in my bedroom, terrified about what would be said. When mum called me downstairs, dressed in my denim skirt and pink t-shirt, time seemed to stop as I stared into the 71 year old face of my grandmother.

"Aren't you such a pretty young girl?" Grandma said with the same warm, loving smile she'd beamed whenever I saw her dressed as a boy. "I'm not sure about your haircut, though..."

"That was Ricky's fault," I said with a smile as I leaned in to give the elderly woman a hug, which was eagerly reciprocated.

"Well he's a BOY dear, he doesn't know any better," grandma laughed. "Now, how about we go shopping, just us three girls, yes?" Grinning widely and almost crying with happiness, I nodded my head eagerly.

"Really mum, there's no need, not on our behalf," mum half-heartedly argued, already knowing what the response would be.

"Nonsense," grandma replies dismissively. "I've just got a new granddaughter, and I intend to spoil her!"

"Okay," mum sighed. "Go and put your shoes on, Leo-" Mum paused.

"Have you not decided what you're going to be called yet?" Grandma asked me.

"Not really," I shrugged. "I always really thought of myself as 'Leon the girl'."

"But you do know Leon's a name only given to little boys, right?" Grandma asked, and I nodded sadly.

"Mum," I asked. "What would you have called me if I was a girl?"

"I hadn't really thought about it," mum said.

"Didn't you once tell me you had a list of names?" Grandma asked. "I'm sure you had names for both boys and girls, and I'm sure most of them also began with L."

"I did, but I can't remember what I put top of that list," mum sighed.

"It had a hyphen in it," grandma said confidently. "Lily-Jade, Leah-Jade..."

"Laura-Jade!" Mum says, snapping her fingers. "That was it, Laura-Jade."

"I like the Laura part," I said with a smile. "I don't really like the Jade bit..."

"Laura it is, then," grandma said with a happy smile.

"Would you like to be called Laura?" Mum asked me, and I nodded happily.

"Then get your shoes on, Laura," grandma said. "We're going shopping!"

Grandma spent a lot of money on me that day, not just buying clothes, but some make-up and perfume as well, even though mum argued that I was much too young for it! The one thing we didn't get on that day- and that we still hadn't bought- was my school uniform. Even though living full-time as a girl at home was a relatively simple case of saying 'I'm a girl' and wearing girl's clothing, attending school as a girl would be a different matter entirely.

Fortunately, the week before I started my secondary school, mum and I were able to meet with the head teacher, a friendly-looking woman in her mid-forties who listened intently to our story, and- when faced with my written diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and legal documentation confirming my name change to 'Laura'- agreed on 'compromises' for my attending school. I'd attend as a girl in a girl's uniform, but it'd be an 'open secret' that I used to be a boy. Letters would be sent to the parents of all the children in the school explaining the situation. I'd join in all the girls' classes, including PE, though I'd change in the PE teacher's office instead of the changing rooms, and I wouldn't play on any school sports teams. I'd use the staff toilet instead of the girls' toilet. There would be a zero tolerance approach to any and all bullying, and if I should change my mind about being a girl- not that there was any danger of that happening- I'd be accepted as a boy again.

All this leads me to today, Tuesday 2nd September, 2013. I'm sat in my mum's car more nervous than I've ever been in my entire life. On my legs are thick grey tights, and on my feet are tiny black ballerina pumps. Around my waist, I'm wearing a knee-length, pleated grey skirt with an elasticated waistband, and tucked into that is my school blouse. Underneath my uniform, I'm wearing girls' underwear- light blue knickers and a vest with a delicate lacy trim. My regulation school tie and blazer round out my uniform. My short blonde hair has been styled into the most feminine cut it can imitate, and I'm wearing a tiny amount of mascara to give my eyelashes more volume. Two gold studs- one in each earlobe- complete the 'illusion' that I'm a girl.

"If you're not ready for this, I can call school and explain that you're ill-" mum says, before I cut her off.

"No, I'm ready," I whisper, grabbing my school bag and stepping out of the car. Already I can hear some whispers from some of the children in the car park- some of the '16 year olds' Ricky warned me about- but I know I can't stay away from school my whole life. After shutting the car door and watching mum drive off, I head into my new school and quickly find my new class, taking a seat on an empty desk.

"Hi," I hear a girl say behind me. "Is- is anyone sitting there?" I look around and into the face of a girl wearing the exact same clothing- even the same tights and shoes- as myself, and my heart beats faster as I realise that I truly am one of the girls.

"No, you can sit there if you'd like," I say confidently in my practised 'girl's voice', which isn't very different to my boy's voice.

"Thanks," the girl says, dropping her bag underneath her desk. "I'm Nicole, Nicole Wyatt."

"I'm Laura White," I say, making us both giggle at the similarity of our surnames.

Before we have the chance to talk further, our forum tutor comes and introduces himself, before ushering us off to our first assembly, where Mrs Houghton- the head teacher- is waiting for us.

"Laura, can you come here please?" Mrs Houghton asks, and like a dutiful pupil, I walk over to my new head teacher.

"During the assembly, I'll introduce you to your year and explain your 'condition'," the kindly woman explains. "I'll make it very clear that any bullying you experience will not be tolerated even for a second. Is that okay?"

"Yes, Mrs Houghton," I say, though my nerves are clear in my voice.

"I understand how nervous you must feel," the head teacher says in a soft voice. "But when we met we explained how important it was that we were open and honest about this. I promise you, I won't let you feel excluded because of the way you are."

Sure enough, the assembly starts- Mrs Houghton introduces herself to the year, explains the school's ethos and some of their past achievements. About five minutes in, my heart begins to race as I'm called up to stand next to the head teacher.

"Those of you who have come here from Shepherds Bush Primary School will remember Laura as Leon," the head teacher explains. "Laura has taken the decision that she can no longer life as a boy, and has decided to live her life at home and attend school as a girl." I start to feel sick as some of the boys at the back of the vast hall begin to laugh.

"And that will be the very last time any pupil of this school laughs at Laura for being who she is," Mrs Houghton says firmly. "There will be no bullying, no teasing, no laughing, no finger pointing, no nothing. Laura has decided to live her life as a girl, and she is to be accepted as such. If I find that anyone has bullied or teased Laura for her decision, they will be punished most severely. Laura will join the girls' classes for PE, but will change by herself, and will use the disabled or the staff toilets. These are compromises that Laura herself has agreed to. I will repeat again that this school is proud to be a school that includes all people, regardless of their background. I trust that all of you will welcome Laura just as I have." My heart beating fast and my legs wobbling, I sit back down in my chair next to Nicole, who looks at me with a stunned expression on her face. After assembly it's our first lesson, Maths, and I take a seat on a small table in the back corner of the room, fully expecting to be sat by myself, when I hear a familiar voice.

"Laura!" Nicole's familiar voice calls. "Hey, Laura! Come and sit with us!" Warily, I stand up and approach the table, fully expecting to get the invitation slammed in my face, but as I sit down on the chair, smoothing my skirt underneath me as I do, there are no sniggers from any of the three girls at my table, no pointing, no laughing, no nastiness.

"Thanks," I say, getting out my pencil case.

"Is it true?" Nicole asks with a smile on my face. I nod, and Nicole's grin only grows wider.

"Oh my god," Nicole says happily. "That's so cool!"

"Really?" I ask.

"Are you kidding?" Suriya, one of the other girls, says in her mild Indian accent. "You're a boy who chose to be a girl. How is that NOT cool?"

"Do you like girls' things?" Nicole asks me.

"Yeah," I say with a genuine smile. "I don't have any girls' toys because my brother still comes home from time to time and he's determined to make me into a tough man."

"Eww," Harriet, the other girl, sneers. "You're much better off being a girl."

"I AM," I state confidently.

"So, what do you like doing?" Suriya asks.

"I like clothes," I say, earning friendly giggles from the other girls.

"Yeah, I'd kinda guessed that!" Harriet says, making me giggle too.

"I like make-up, drawing, dancing..." I continue, before being interrupted.

"Ooh, ooh," Suriya says excitedly. "Do you do ballet?"

"No, I've only been living as a girl for a few months," I say sadly.

"Do you want to come to my ballet class?" Suriya asks. "It's only just opened, it'd be great to have a few friends there who AREN'T my sister!"

"I dunno," I say. "I mean yes, I'd like to, but I dunno if my mum can afford it..."

"Well if Laura can't, I'd love to!" Nicole says happily.

"Cool!" Suriya says. "I'll give you both her number after class." Our conversation is cut short by the arrival of the teacher, and talk of dance is replaces by talk of fractions...

At break, I find myself sitting with Nicole, Harriet, Suriya and Suriya's sister Priya, who's in year 8. Priya's reaction to me previously being a boy is similar to her sister's- seeing me as 'cool' for being a boy who rejected being masculine in favour of being a girl. After another class- this time history- we reconvene in the same place for lunch.

As we sit around one of the exterior tables eating our meals, dressed identically in our uniforms, I feel more content than I've ever been in my entire life, and yet there's a part of me that's still uneasy. I'm keenly aware that despite Mrs Houghton's warnings, fingers ARE being pointed at me. Some- if not most- of the kids ARE teasing me behind my back. Despite my 'gang' telling me to ignore the teasing- and Priya's unconditional offer to protect me from any bullying I may experience- every whisper I barely hear feels like another cut to my skin.

Once I've finished my sandwiches, I excuse myself from the table, immediately looking for someone I hadn't seen all day. Despite my insistence that I'd be fine by myself- even though I didn't truly believe what I was saying- Priya and Suriya insist on accompanying me, and it doesn't take long for me to find the girl I'm looking for.

"Hi Megan," I say softly to the girl who's sitting by herself under a tree.

"Hi Laura," Megan says flatly.

"Thanks," I say to the girl who was probably my best friend at primary school. "Thanks for using my real name."

"Why did you choose to be a girl?" Megan asks. I take a deep breath and reply.

"...Because I hated being a boy," I say honestly. "Being a girl is much better. I'm much happier dressed like this, it's like I'm not a boy pretending to be a girl: I used to be a girl pretending to be a boy."

"Some people have been teasing me," Megan says sadly. "Because I went to the same school as you. I know some of the boys have been getting it too."

"They can't touch me, so they're going after you instead?" I ask, suddenly feeling extremely uneasy.

"Well then," Priya announces. "I'll just have to put a stop to that, won't I? Any friend of Laura's is a friend of mine!" Megan smiles upon seeing the protection of my new 'surrogate big sister'.

"And it was fun when we hung out, wasn't it?" Much to my delight, Megan grins and nods. "Nothing's really changed- I'm now just who I was always supposed to be. Come on- I'll introduce you to the gang!" Now laughing happily, Megan and I stand up, and after brushing the grass off of each other's skirts, we head back to Nicole and Harriet, where the six of us very quickly become very close friends.

By the time 3:20pm rolls around, I find myself almost not wanting to go home. My first day 'in the open' as a girl has gone far better than I ever dared imagine. Even if I am the subject of ridicule in some parts of the school, I have a group of close friends who truly like me for who I am. As I sit down in mum's car, I stare down at my tights-covered knees and sigh happily.

"So...?" Mum asks cautiously. "Did- did everything go alright?" I smile at my mother, who nearly weeps tears of happiness.

"Yeah," I say confidently. "Everything went great!"


To Be Continued

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