Stuart, part 9

It's said that every step you take in your life leads up to one moment, one defining point of your life that you can look back on and say 'this is who I am, this is my contribution to the world'. If this is the case... Then it's a very strange set of steps that led me to where I am today.

“God, I don’t know why I’M so nervous,” I mumble as I fidget in my seat. “It’s not like I’m going to be the one dancing up there…”

“You wouldn’t really suit a tutu anyway,” Jamie retorts, giggling as I roll my eyes at her. “Sorry… Know that’s still kinda a sensitive subject for you. Even fifteen months later…”

“Heh, doesn’t feel like fifteen months,” I laugh as I fidget, trying to get my ‘self’ comfortable underneath my boxer shorts and my starchy trousers. Jamie, of course, is the picture of coolness and elegance in her long, smooth evening dress. Her hair, nails and make-up are immaculate, and she’s wearing her best jewellery. A perfect look for a perfectly beautiful woman spending a night at the ballet.

“And stop fidgeting,” Jamie chastises me. “Do you want everyone to think you’re playing with yourself throughout the whole performance? You’ve had fifteen months to decide which side you want to dress on…”

“Yeah, and twenty-five years of never having had that problem,” I retort, making Jamie roll her eyes again as I finally ‘settle’ myself. “Why is it that the gender WITH dangly bits has to keep them tucked up under trousers, while the gender without them can ‘hang free’ under skirts and dresses? Actually, no, don’t answer that question, I know what you’ll say.”

“You probably wouldn’t fit in any of my skirts or dresses anyway,” Jamie teases me as she gives my thigh a sly squeeze. “And try to enjoy tonight, okay? I know you’d rather be at home shooting aliens or something, but one night at the ballet isn’t going to kill you.”

“Yes yes,” I laugh. “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m actually looking forward to it. I DID write some of the music, remember?”

“Aww,” Jamie giggles. “My ultra-talented, ultra-sensitive fiancé!”

“Your super-sexy fiancé,” I correct Jamie.

“My super-shallow fiancé!” Jamie says, sticking her tongue out at me as the theatre slowly fills.

“Says the model who’s also the star of a reality TV show,” I say, giggling as Jamie smacks me on the head with the program of tonight’s events. Before we have the chance to ‘argue’ further, the theatre lights dim, and everyone applauds as Krystie and Zoe- the choreographers of tonight’s performance- appear on stage.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Krystie says with a proud grin.

“Madames et monsieurs,” Zoe says, earning a giggle from those who know that French is her native language.

“Tonight, we are proud to present to you, the tale of the sixty-third butterfly,” Krystie says.

“Le Soixante-Troisieme Papillon,” Zoe announces as the stage lights dim and the first dancers take their place on stage.

The performance lasts just over an hour, by the end of which most of the women in the theatre- and many of the men- have been moved to tears, both by the music and by the beautiful dancing from the girls on the stage, some of whom are as young as fourteen. All throughout the performance, however, I can’t help but remember the time almost twenty years ago when I was brought to a theatre like this- only back then, I certainly wasn’t wearing a smart suit and a tie.

“I feel silly,” the seven year old me moaned as I fiddled with my tight, itchy orange leotard.

“You won’t be any different from any of the other girls out there,” mum said, before fixing a large cardboard carrot to my body. “And you’ll have fun, won’t she, Emma?”

“Yeah,” my then nine year old sister said as she danced around in her own carrot costume. “Every girl loves dancing, Claire.”

“Well I don’t,” I pouted.

“Well now’s the time to learn to love it,” mum said sternly as she fussed with my shoulder-length brown hair, before sending me off to stand with the other girls. “And don’t be afraid! All the other girls will be just like you, and you’ll fit in perfectly with them.”

Naturally, I was afraid, and I DIDN’T have fun that night, dancing on stage in front of the entire school. All throughout the dance, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the older boys waiting by the side of the stage for their performance. Obviously, they weren’t wearing a pair of tights, a leotard and a silly cardboard carrot- they were dressed as the Backstreet Boys, and even back then, I would’ve given anything just to be able to dance with them, or just to be one of them. Of course, that dream wouldn’t come true for a long, long time.

…Almost two decades, in fact, as I’m reminded when I grab a bouquet of flowers from a nearby table and line up behind my friends, all of whom are dressed identically to me. We hand our bouquets to all the solo dancers who performed tonight- I hand mine to a young Indian girl who danced to my composition- before exiting the stage and letting the ballerinas take the applause they deserve.

“You know,” Mikey says as we head to the bar, “I actually enjoyed that more than I thought I would.”

“Same here,” Jonathan says as he stretches his stocky 6’ 3” frame. “Wouldn’t go EVERY night, but it’s nice for a change.”

“But bar now?” I ask.

“Oh, hell yeah,” Keith laughs, but we barely get twenty feet down the corridor before we’re stopped by a loud, familiar call.

“Oi!” The familiar sound of an angry Krystie Fullerton yells, stopping all of us in our tracks. “Back here, now.” I’m forced to suppress a giggle as my friends and I, with our heads held low, follow our womenfolk back to the stage, where a gaggle of photographers are waiting to capture ours and the ballerinas’ images.

“…You were heading to the bar, weren’t you?” My fiancée asks, her arms folded and a stern glare on her face.

“I’d have got you a drink if you asked for one,” I mumble, making Jamie roll her eyes and giggle.

“I’m not thirsty,” Jamie retorts, before smiling a professional smile as I join her in front of the cameras.

We don’t leave the theatre until after 10:30pm, by which point I’m so exhausted that all I want to do when I get home is sleep- though it’s not ALL I want to do. Fifteen months ago, I had the operation that surgically grafted a penis onto my body, and whilst that was the culmination of a lifelong ambition, it wasn’t the end of my journey- not by a long shot. For months it was just a lump of flesh hanging between my legs. Then, months later, it became a channel for my urine. And then, a few months ago, I had what should be my final operation- the addition of a special implant to make me possible or attaining an erection. In the weeks since then, as it’s healed and grown strong, I’ve been looking forward more and more to the day when I can finally make love to my fiancée for the first time- and I know that Jamie has been eagerly awaiting that day as well.

More than anyone else, Jamie should know that something like this can’t be rushed. In the months immediately following her SRS- around the same time we first got together- her ‘area’ was so sensitive that she expressed doubt that she’d ever be able to ‘use’ it in the way she wants to ‘use’ my new genitals. She even found it uncomfortable to wear underwear at times. And yet earlier today, two and a half years after her operation, she squeezed her body into her tightest leotard and spent an hour doing splits and stretches in our friend’s ballet studio.

My doctors have assured me that my penis is physically ready. I just need to know that the rest of me is ready, isn't too afraid to take the plunge…

“Stewie…” I hear a soft voice gently coo in my ear, waking me from my slumber. “Stewie… Time to get up…”

“Mmph,” I grunt, before sighing happily as Jamie snakes one of her slender arms around my waist.

“If you don’t get up in the next fifteen minutes,” Jamie whispers, “I’ll ask your mother for that photograph of you dressed like a carrot…”

“You wouldn’t dare,” I retort. “It’s too cold to get up…”

“Want me to warm you up?” Jamie asks, giggling as I smile.

“Your hands are cold,” I complain.

“My mouth isn’t,” Jamie whispers, before ducking her head underneath the bedsheets…

"Oh god," I gasp as Jamie's talented tongue 'massages' me to an explosive climax that leaves me sweating, even in the cold December air...

I stretch my tired muscles as I emerge from Jamie’s en-suite, trying not to shiver too much before pulling on the smart, designer jeans and sweatshirt I’ll be wearing today.

“Really?” Jamie asks as she applies her make-up. “THAT sweater?”

“What’s wrong with it?” I ask. “It’s warm…”

“It’s also got threads and stitches sticking out all over the place,” Jamie complains. “They’re going to be filming in HD. Choose a newer jumper.”

“…Yes, ma’am,” I say with a sigh as I swap my comfortable sweater for a thinner, but better-looking one. “My fault, I should’ve known what I was getting into when I married a supermodel…”

“And while you’re at it, you can swap those jeans for a skinnier pair, show off that butt of yours a bit!” Jamie giggles, laughing even louder as I roll my eyes at her.

“I really can’t,” I say, shaking my legs to get my ‘self’ comfortable.

"I spent three years 'tucked up' underneath a latex thong, but if you insist," Jamie retorts, before giggling. "...This is a weird relationship, isn't it? Neither of us can argue that the other doesn't know what it's like for the other gender..."

"If by 'weird' you mean 'perfect', then I agree entirely," I say, giving Jamie a gentle kiss on her bare neck, an action that makes her sigh happily.

"Of course," Jamie giggles. "I'm glad you're comfortable with the whole recording thing, I know you were almost relieved when ITV2 cancelled The Angels. And then we got renewed on Amazon Prime..."

"Meh, just means thousands of guys get to be jealous of me," I say, making Jamie giggle. "And besides, I like the new arrangement... We've both got new friends to play with."

"Very true," Jamie says with a smile, before pulling on her outfit for the day.

An hour later, Jamie and I are sat at a table in a posh restaurant, trying our best not to acknowledge the camera crew nearby. Opposite us are two new friends we've only known a few months, but have already made a fairly big impact in our lives. One is the newest member of the Angels, an oriental- and, perhaps more importantly, transgendered- girl named Kelly, whilst the other is a short, ginger-haired Canadian man named Kurt... Who also happens to be transgendered.

"So," I say, trying to provide entertaining conversation for the TV cameras. "Kurt, you planning on going home for Christmas?"

"Um, hopefully," Kurt replies in his soft- yet still masculine- voice. "Winnipeg's REALLY cold in winter, though, not sure I want to inflict that on Kelly when we've only been going out a few months, heh."

"Especially since I 'swapped sides'," Kelly says in her soft, yet very feminine voice. "I am SUPER sensitive to cold since I started taking oestrogen."

“One of many reasons I love testosterone,” Kurt laughs. “Little secret is that it doesn’t turn you into a man, it turns you into a walrus, heh.”

“If either of you two stick breadsticks in your mouth, we’re breaking up with you,” Jamie says, making Kurt and I chuckle as the two women continue to dominate the conversation.

As we leave the café, after the cameras have long since been turned off, I finally get the chance to talk to my fellow transman man-to-man, as I’d wanted ever since setting foot in the café.

“So,” Kurt asks, “how many people d’you reckon checked out our table and didn’t realise that me and you were XX, but the girls were XY?”

“Gotta be some,” I shrug. “I reckon a lot of them will have recognised Jamie, though. Heh, get used to that- Kelly’s gonna be just as famous a few months from now!”

“Meh, I don’t mind,” Kurt shrugs. “You- you never found that, you know, living in Jamie’s shadow…”

“…That it somehow emasculated me?” I ask. “Not really. I mean, I had sixteen years of being quote-unquote emasculated… Guess you of all people can appreciate that.”

“Ugh, and how,” Kurt sighs. “My mom still has my prom dress back at home, reckon a part of her still thinks I’m gonna end up wearing it again someday…”

“Yeah, it’d go well with your chest hair,” I say, making Kurt snort with laughter. “For obvious reasons, my parents let go of that delusion a LONG time ago. Before I was forced to attend a prom, fortunately.”

“Lucky you,” Kurt sighs. “And in more than one way, too. Wish I was as brave as you, going under the knife… Haven’t even had my mastectomy yet.”

“You should get it done as soon as you can,” I say, trying not to blush at the hypocrisy of what I’m about to say. “There really is no need to be afraid…”

“…There really is no need to be afraid,” mum whispered as she sat with me in the cold, sterile waiting room. “I know it’s not pleasant, but it’ll only hurt for a few seconds.”

“I know,” I whispered as I tried not to fidget in my itchy red tights and stiff grey pinafore dress.

“And besides,” mum said, “Becca’s going to be having it done too, and you’re not scared, are you, Becca?” I tried to smile as the five year old girl- who was wearing a uniform identical to mine- giggled at me.

Fifteen minutes afterward, though, both of us were blinking back tears as we emerged from the doctor’s office with plasters on our upper arms and a brand-new vaccine flowing through our veins. Well, I was blinking back tears- Becca was howling like a baby.

Obviously, I’ve had loads of injections since then, not to mention blood drains, catheters, and the small matter of the removal of both my breasts and my entire reproductive organs. I’ve had skin cut away from underneath my arm and grafted onto my groin… And every time I’ve gone under the knife, I’ve been terrified of what might happen if something goes wrong. Hell, I was nervous merely getting my flu jab last month. I try to remind myself that I’m a man, a man who is supposed to be tough, strong, not afraid of needles, but sometimes, I find myself just as scared as I was when I was a little girl, just as desperately in need of someone to tell me that it’ll be alright, that I needn’t be afraid.

My friends, however, definitely aren’t the best people to ask for reassurance, as close as we may be. Whilst Kurt and I were able to talk about ‘sensitive’ topics one-on-one, in a large group, any sensitive talk just isn’t going to happen- and the traditional Friday night gaming session is easily the largest group of men I find myself in on a regular basis, especially as the group has expanded to include Kurt and a guy named Marco, who goes out with one of the singers in Becca’s band.

“Now THIS is a bit more like it,” Dan laughs as he relaxes on the sofa with a videogame controller in his hands.

“Newsflash: Physical trainer values playing videogames over physical activity,” Mikey laughs, earning a playful shove from Dan. “And don’t argue that ballet isn’t physical activity. Take it from someone who knows- Krystie WILL rip your balls off. Oh, umm… Sorry, Kurt and Stu…”

“Don’t worry about it,” I shrug.

“It’s fine,” Kurt says. “And don’t worry, I agree with you about ballet being really physical.”

“Umm…” Dan asks hesitantly. “Did- did you- back in Canada, I mean, when you-“

“No,” Kurt says with a wicked smile, making Dan roll his eyes and breathe a sigh of relief. “After Kelly’s first lesson last months she was REALLY slippery, I mean, with sweat… It was a bit like trying to hug a water balloon.”

“Did you know that half of the girls we saw last night were sexually active long before they reached sixteen?” Mikey asks. “Krystie didn’t name any names, obviously, but she was moaning last night about how it made her feel old, she’s taught some of the girls since they were eleven, now some of them are taller than her, some are sexually active…”

“It ain’t right,” Dan scoffs. “Anyone touches either of my girls before they’re sixteen, they are DEAD.”

“…Want me to get your pipe and slippers, dad?” Jonathan teases the tall man, who sighs in response.

“You can talk,” Dan snorts. “You’re about to have a baby girl too!”

“Yeah, but I’m gonna be a cool dad,” Jonathan says smugly.

“And if any boy touches your daughter before she’s sixteen?” Dan asks, snorting with laughter as Jonathan sighs.

“…I’ll break both their arms,” Jonathan concedes, to the amusement of the entire room. “Okay, maybe not THAT cool… God knows I had to be ‘the heavy’ a lot when I was growing up, you know, for Addie… Eh, kinda still am, aren’t I, Marco?” The whole room lets out another collective chuckle as the dark-haired boy nervously laughs at Jonathan’s teasing.

“Same here, right, Riley?” I tease my sister’s boyfriend.

“You wish,” the tall blond boy retorts with a snort.

“Fight! Fight! Fight!” Mikey chants, earning shoves from both myself and Riley.

“Nah,” I chuckle. “If Becca has to shack up with someone, better him than some random perv.”

“’Shack up’?” Keith asks. “You and Becca moving in together, Rile?”

“..We’ve been looking at places,” Riley said, earning pats on the back from the other boys. “Not found anywhere yet, but still, we’re both 21, can’t live with ‘mummy and daddy’ forever.”

“Don’t feel too pressured, mate,” Keith says. “Just ‘cause Nikki and Sarah moved in together last week doesn’t mean you should rush to find a place.”

“Seriously, mate,” I say. “And I’m not just saying this because it’s my little sister, I still technically live at home and I’m 26! Will probably be the last of my siblings to leave home… Just like I’m the last to do other things.”

“…Mate, I seriously hope you’re NOT whinging about your sex life!” Mikey laughs.

“Sorry, sorry, know it’s not appropriate for games night,” I sigh.

“Especially not if you’re telling us that your sister, who’s five years younger than you, lost her virginity before you!” Keith laughs. “Again, no offence, Riley.”

“Can’t believe what I’m hearing,” Riley says sarcastically.

“…Mate,” Mikey says, having clearly realised something. “You had girlfriends at university, in your first year too… Are you seriously telling me you never got off with any of them?”

“…Never had anything to get off with,” I sigh, before cringing as the entire room- even Kurt- jeers me.

“Oh bollocks,” Dan snorts. “That’s seriously the worst excuse ever.”

“Doesn’t change the fact that my new equipment is still in ‘mint condition’,” I say.

“Doesn’t change the fact that you were at it like a fucking rabbit at university,” Mikey laughs. “Just ‘cause you’ve had an ‘upgrade’, doesn’t mean your ‘score’ goes back to zero.”

“And it’d make me a virgin too, technically,” Kurt says. “So in short: NO.”

“Mate,” Jonathan laughs as my cheeks get redder and redder, “you’re the only man in the world to have slept with three of the Angels. When it comes to bragging rights, you’re set for life!”

“…If you say so,” I shrug. “I just… Gah. Sorry, my bad for bringing it up.”

“Wahey!” Everyone cheers, making me roll my eyes and my unintended innuendo.

“For that laugh alone, you can pick the next game,” Keith laughs. “And I’ll get the instruments ready, as the game is inevitably going to be…”

“Rock Band 4,” I say, laughing at the groans of all my friends. “You asked for it, you get it. Stop whinging, start playing.” I laugh as a plastic guitar is handed to me and I pretend to tune it, whilst Keith sets up the (plastic) drum kit and microphone stand.

I’ll never be able to talk about my feelings with the guys, not like I can talk about them with, say, Jamie or even Becca. We’ll tell each other off-colour jokes, mercilessly tease each other, even play-fight with each other. The more guys are around, the more loutish we become… But I don’t need to be afraid.

“You don’t need to be afraid,” dad urged as he all but dragged me to my friend’s house. Well, I say ‘friend’, but ‘classmate’ would be a more appropriate term. It was her eleventh birthday party, and she’d invited all the girls in her class- and like it or not, that included me.

“I’m not afraid,” I pouted.

“Good,” dad said. “Because you need to spend more time with other girls. It’s not good for you to spend all your free time sat in front of your PlayStation.”

“I know,” I mumbled, even as I tried not to fidget in my party dress.

"And try not to ruin that dress," dad chastised. "It cost good money."

"Yes, dad," I mumbled as I was dropped off at the 'friend's house.

I spent the next three hours lost in the middle of a group of girls I barely knew and liked even less. We made jewellery, played with make-up and made up dance routines. And I hated every second of it. When I got home, I was all I could do not to immediately rush up to my bedroom, strip off my dress and immerse myself in my PlayStation for the rest of the night, desperately trying to forget about the party- and the fact that I was just 'one of the girls'.

“Ahhhhh!” Mikey yells at the end of the song, before playfully smacking his guitar on the back of my head, hard enough to shock me but nowhere near hard enough to hurt.

Yeah… The friends I have now? I wouldn't trade them for anything.

The guys only stick around until 10:30pm, at which point they all (with the obvious exceptions of myself and Keith) head home to their respective partners and families, whilst Keith and I head to our respective beds. I’m still awake a short while later, when my fiancée arrives back from her night out and wastes no time in removing her shoes, clothes and jewellery before climbing into bed next to me and wrapping her arms around my waist.

“…Pissed?” I ask, making Jamie giggle. “Well, THAT answers my question…”

“No, I’m not ‘pissed’,” Jamie sighs. “Only had a few drinks, don’t want to be too hungover for your folks tomorrow. And as I’m not COMPLETELY wasted…” I smile as Jamie lowers her hands from her waist toward a different part of my anatomy, making me shiver with excitement.

“Soon, I promise,” I whisper as I roll over in bed and give Jamie a long, tender kiss.

“Whenever you’re ready,” Jamie whispers, reciprocating my kiss before rolling over and quickly falling into a deep sleep. Whilst I believe that she genuinely is willing to wait as long as it takes for me to be ready, it’s not hard to tell that she’s really disappointed by my reluctance to go ‘all the way’ with her- and in truth, I’m disappointed too. I know I shouldn’t be nervous, I shouldn’t be afraid, and my friends clearly all think so too- but this is a big, important step. In a very real way, it’ll be my final step toward manhood…

I let out a long, quiet yawn as my alarm wakes me, before smirking when I roll over to see that my fiancée is still asleep, despite the noise coming from my phone.

“Jamie…” I coo softly into Jamie’s ear. “Jamie… Time to get up…”

“Ugh,” Jamie spits, waking up with a pained expression on her face.

“Thought you said you didn’t drink that much last night?” I tease, giggling as Jamie sticks her tongue out at me.

“Give me a break, I’m still only eight stone, I get pissed easier than you- you MEN,” Jamie retorts.

“You know I take that word as a compliment,” I laugh.

“…I know,” Jamie says, smiling for the first time since waking up and giving me a soft kiss on my lips. “I’m having the shower first!” I laugh as Jamie- despite her hangover- elegantly skips over to her en-suite, emerging a few minutes later with a big, fluffy towel wrapped around her chest and another wrapped around her long, sandy blonde hair.

By the time I’ve emerged from the shower- with my towel being used to dry my hair, and the rest of me left ‘all out in the open’, Jamie has already finished applying her make-up and is busy sliding her body into a delicately-patterned bodysuit with a thong back, that seems to tease me as it disappears between her buttocks. Jamie takes her time pulling on her tights, caressing her legs over and over again to ensure they're perfectly smooth, before pulling on a short, figure-hugging (but not skintight) long-sleeved dress that perfectly shows off all of her beautiful curves.

“You know,” Jamie giggles as she brushes her hair, “it’s normally taking clothes OFF that turns men on. Unless, of course, it’s the clothes that you’re fantasising about, rather than my body…”

“Piss off,” I retort, making my fiancée giggle even more. “It- it just reminds me how unflinchingly feminine you really are.”

“And you know I take THAT as a compliment, right?” Jamie asks.

“Good,” I say, giving my fiancée a sneaky kiss and her bum a sneaky squeeze before pulling on a smart pair of trousers and a long-sleeved button-up shirt. I’m forced to laugh as I lace up my smart black shoes- I’m all dressed and ready to go, but Jamie still hasn’t finished putting on her jewellery or picked out a pair of shoes to wear today. Naturally, when I point this out to her, it results in a pillow being thrown at my head!

A few hours later- after Jamie has finally finished getting ready- the two of us find ourselves pulling onto the driveway of the big, posh house in which I grew up. The house in which I was inducted into the world of femininity, whether I lied it or not… And there were some moments that make me shiver even now.

“Emma!” I hissed, trying not to panic as I knocked on her bedroom door. “Emma! Oh god, please! Emma!”

“What’s up?” My then-fifteen year old sister sighed as she opened her door.

“I- I need help,” I mumbled in a quiet, tiny voice as I fidgeted from side to side.

“…With what?” Emma asked. “Homework? Music practice? Don’t tell me you’ve finally got a boyfriend…”

“No!” I snapped, before grimacing. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry… I- I’ve kinda… Had a bit of a, um, thing…”

“Oh,” Emma gasped, her eyes going as wide as dinner plates. “Oh god, umm, okay, let’s- let’s get you to the bathroom.” Blinking back tears, I followed my sister to the house’s posh bathroom, where, with a face full of shame, I lowered my jeans to show Emma my panties- and the big red stain in the middle of them.

"I- I need-" I stammered as Emma reached into a nearby drawer and handed me one of her sanitary pads.

"You need to calm down," Emma said softly. "Take several deep breaths. Get your panties and your jeans in the wash. Don't worry about mum- she won't say anything. Believe me... It's nothing she hasn't had to deal with before. Do you want me to get your panties from your room?"

"Please," I whispered. Seconds later, Emma returned with a clean pair of underwear, and after showing me how to insert the sanitary pad, I slid the underwear up my legs, before grimacing as Emma handed me one of her loose, short skirts.

"You'll want something comfortable, that doesn't dig around the waist," Emma explained. "This skirt is PERFECT. And this is experience talking!"

"Okay," I said, before breaking down into a flood of tears once the skirt was hanging from my waist.

“It’s okay, Claire,” Emma said, giving me a gentle hug to calm me down. “It happens to every girl at some point in their life. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s most definitely something that you shouldn’t be afraid of, alright?”

“Alright,” I replied, trying to smile despite the extreme discomfort I was in.

“And you never know,” Emma chuckled. “Maybe some good will come out of this, and you’ll get over this ‘tomboy’ thing you’ve got going on right now!”

“Yeah,” I laughed, though even then- at the age of thirteen- I was beginning to discover the truth about myself.

The more I immersed myself in femininity- and there were times when I tried to enjoy it, tried to ‘conform’ to what was expected of me- the more I knew that it- or rather, I- wasn’t ‘right’. That I could never be the daughter that my parents wanted, or the little sister that Emma wanted. Every time I bled, it was like my body was attacking me, forcing me into a situation I simply wasn’t able to tolerate. When it finally stopped, after eight months on testosterone, it was like I was finally free, like I could finally start being the person I always wanted to be… Like I could finally stop being afraid.

Of course, a few months after my last ‘time’, it was Becca’s turn to ‘enter womanhood for the first time’, and with Emma at university, it was down to me to act as ‘big sister’, even though it was a title I’d long since abandoned. For months after Becca’s first ‘time’, I was worried that she’d never speak to me again, but if anything, it brought us closer together as siblings- and the smile on Becca’s face when I open the door confirms that we’ll always be as a close as a brother and sister can be.

“Hi!” Becca squeaks, before coughing loudly and shivering. “Come on, give me a hug…”

“Get rid of that flu and I will!” I laugh, prompting Becca to stick her germ-riddled tongue out at me.

“Didn’t you get a flu shot this year?” Jamie asks, prompting a laugh from me that earns a VERY angry stare from my baby sister.

“Becca and needles… Kinda have a love-hate relationship,” I say, making Becca sigh as she removes her earrings to reveal that they’re clip-ons.

“Try ‘hate-hate’,” Becca croaks, before leading us through to the living room, where I receive a long hug from my other, older sister.

“…You didn’t hug Becca, did you?” Emma asks, making me laugh and Becca groan some more.

“No, and I’m guessing you didn’t either?” I chuckle.

“In my condition?” Emma giggles as she shows off her small (but growing) baby bump. “5 months down, 4 to go…”

“And where are grandma and grandpa?” I tease, laughing as a familiar snort of laughter comes from the kitchen.

“In here, Stuart,” dad says, emerging from the kitchen and giving me a brief, manly hug.

“You two all ready for Christmas yet?” Mum asks as she presents us with hot mugs of tea.

“Almost,” Jamie says with a happy grin. “I know it’s only a couple of weeks away but it’s kinda… Not top priority right now.” I bristle as Jamie talks, before remembering that she probably wouldn’t discuss our sex life with my parents, and we do have a big ‘event’ coming up next year.

“How are wedding preparations coming along?” Mum asks.

“They’re going well,” Jamie says. “I’ve got to admit, though, I AM really nervous…”

“A big TV star getting nervous?” Emma teases.

“Emma, you were petrified on your big day,” mum reminds my sister, making myself and Becca giggle. “All women are, regardless of how famous they are.”

“All men, too,” dad whispers, shooting me a sympathetic smile. “Though you really don’t need to be afraid.”

“You really don’t need to be afraid,” The tall, old music teacher whispered to me as I sat in front of the big, imposing grand piano, the rest of the class looking at me expectantly. “Just remember your practice, you’ve played this piece a million times at home.” I smiled and nodded, and tried to follow the old teacher’s advice of ‘put your whole mind into your hands’- a trick made easier by the fact that my fourteen year old face had been smeared with make-up, and the rest of my body had been wrapped in a smart knee-length dress. Whilst the teacher would undoubtedly be staring at my hands and focussing on what he heard, the rest of the class- most of whom were boys- would be staring at my face, or the fledgling ‘shapes’ on my chest, or my tights-covered legs…

I fought back a shiver at the ‘attention’ I was getting, before playing the complicated classical piece, putting my entire focus in my fingers as I hit every note perfectly- or at the very least, good enough to earn a round of applause from my teacher and a certificate confirming that I’d passed the exam. I still have that certificate, in fact- even if I cringe every time I see the name ‘Claire Olivia Milton’ printed on the front, and every time I remember just how nervous, how afraid I was to get up and play in front of a crowd, no matter how small it was.

“Are- are you going to send an invitation to grandma?” Emma asks, snapping me back to the present.

“…I don’t know,” I whisper. “The last time we spoke to her… Yeah. It’s a difficult one.”

“She will be hurt if you don’t send her an invitation,” mum- grandma’s daughter- says quietly.

“And we’ll probably be hurt by her response,” I whisper.

“She’s still your grandmother,” mum whispers. “You’re still her grandchild.”

“She doesn’t think so,” Becca weakly croaks. “I mean, what’s Stuart supposed to do, cut it off?”

“I think we should change the topic here,” dad says, wincing at the mental image Becca put in his head.

“Agreed,” I whisper as my mind wanders back to the piano exam I passed twelve years ago.

“Wonderful!” Grandma said, a huge smile on her face as she gave me a congratulatory hug. “You were wonderful up there, Claire. Your parents will be SO proud of you. It’s such a pity they couldn’t come to watch…”

“It’s okay,” I shrugged. “Thank you for coming with me, grandma.”

“You don’t need to thank me!” Grandma laughed. “I know it can’t be easy for you, Claire.”

“…Grandma?” I asked, worried that my desire to be male- which was already very strong by that point- had somehow ‘leaked out’.

“Being the middle child,” grandma clarified. “Your father spends his whole time encouraging Emma with her studies, or spoiling your little sister, sometimes I get worried that you get forgotten about.”

“I don’t feel forgotten about,” I replied.

“That’s good,” grandma said. “And if you ever do, just give your old grandma a call, I’ll always be on hand to tell you how special you are!”

“The important thing,” dad says, “is to remember that we will ALWAYS love you, Stuart. If you ever feel down, just give us a call, we’ll always be on hand to remind you of just how special and amazing you are.”

“Thank you,” I whisper, trying my hardest to blink back tears.

As we drive home- or rather, back to Jamie’s- from my parents’ house after a long, happy visit, I twirl my mobile phone around in my fingers. Like so many people, grandma’s love was entirely conditional on me being cisgendered. She was unable to look past her prejudices, even if it meant disowning her own grandchild… And someone like that doesn’t deserve to call themselves a grandparent. When I remember my grandfather- who died almost fifteen years ago- it amazes me how such a cheerful, happy man could have married such an angry, spiteful woman.

Sometimes, I wonder how I would react if I had a child who suddenly announced to me that they were transgendered, just like I had to my parents. I like to think that I’d be open minded and accepting- I’d be a massive hypocrite if I wasn’t, after all- but in truth, if I’d spent sixteen years raising a son, only for them to suddenly announce that they wanted to be my daughter instead… I’d be disappointed. I shouldn’t be, of course, and I know I would love my child unconditionally, as any parent should, but the more I think about it, the more I understand my father’s initial shocked response- and the more I value his and my mother’s continued unconditional love. Should either of Emma’s children turn out to be transgendered, I know they’ll be better grandparents than my own grandmother was.

One thing is certain, though- if I was to raise a child in the future, there’s no one I’d rather raise him or her with than the woman driving us back home. We’ve talked about adopting in the past, and whilst we both accept that we’re not quite ready yet (despite half of our friends becoming parents), when we are, it is something we’ll seriously look into.

“Jamie,” I mumble.

“Stuart…” Jamie replies.

“If- ugh,” I spit. “Hypothetical question…”

“Go on…” Jamie says.

“If we were to adopt a child,” I begin, “and at the age of fifteen or sixteen, they come out as transgender, how would you react?”

“Well, with unconditional love and support, I’d hope,” Jamie says. “And I’d hope that our daughter wouldn’t wait until they were fifteen before telling us that they wanted to be our son instead.”

“…Heh,” I chuckle. “Whenever I think about this, I always think about a boy wanting to be a girl. Weird, that.”

“You think about us raising children a lot?” Jamie asks.

“Not ‘a lot’,” I retort. “But… Yeah. From time to time, I do. I still reckon we’d be good parents.”

“So do I,” Jamie whispers. “It’s just- heh, now THIS will sound silly…”

“Go on…” I say, giggling at Jamie’s uncharacteristic bashfulness.

“Sometimes, I…” Jamie sighs. “I wish I could get pregnant, you know? I mean, I see your sister, and Viks, and they all seem so happy, so proud that they’ll be bringing a new life into the world, they’ll be nurturing it inside them for nine months… I mean sure, we can adopt, but I- I’ll never have that bond, you know?”

“I know what you mean,” I whisper. “Who knows, maybe a hundred years from now medical science will make it so that girls like you can get pregnant… And maybe even guys like me could impregnate you, heh.”

“Yeah…” Jamie whispers, clearly lost in thought as she, like me, contemplates the ‘mechanics’ of how I would impregnate her. “Umm, anyway, gotta get back, it’s Saturday, I got to get ready for the party…”

“Umm, yeah,” I mumble as we pull up on the driveway outside Jamie & Charlotte’s vast home. So much for wanting to be a father… I haven’t even mustered up the courage to fulfil the primary duty of a husband yet.

After the traditional Saturday night party- which, as usual, I and the other guys spend serving drinks and cleaning up after the girls- Jamie and I head up to her bedroom, where we end the night in a whirlwind of half-drunk lust… But still my 'equipment' remains very much outside of Jamie's.

Naturally, both Jamie and I moan when we wake up the following morning- or rather, when we are both awoken by Jamie’s phone’s alarm the following morning.

“Ugh,” Jamie moans as she drags her tired, naked body across mine to get to her phone. “I’m blaming you for this hangover…”

“Yeah, what else is new,” I moan as I take several deep breaths to clear my head.

“You WERE the one serving the drinks,” Jamie says.

“You were the one drinking them!” I retort, making Jamie giggle as she rests her head on my chest.

“Touché,” Jamie sighs happily. “Speaking of ‘touch’…”

“Really?” I ask. “When we’re both hungover?”

“…I guess not,” Jamie sighs, and I can immediately tell from the sigh that I’ve upset her.

“Jamie,” I sigh. “Do- do we need to, you know, talk about this?”

“A woman has needs,” Jamie mumbles. “But so does a man… I always thought men were supposed to have MORE needs than women?”

“…I just need to make sure, you know…” I feebly reply.

“You’re long past the point your doctors said you’d be okay,” Jamie says. “Stu… Is- is it, umm, is it me?”

“How can you even ask that?” I whisper. “You’re the most beautiful woman of all time. Every man would give their right arm to be where I am right now. It’s just… You know, right?”

“’Know’ what?” Jamie asks.

“Well, um,” I reply. “Were- weren’t you nervous when you, you know, lost your virginity?”

“…Seriously?” Jamie asks. “After all we did last night?”

“I- I’m sorry,” I mumble, laying back on bed and clamping a pillow over my face. “God… I must seem pathetic to you.”

“..I was nervous,” Jamie whispers. “Every girl is. I guess every boy is too. But you don’t need to be afraid. It’s not like my SRS surgeon put teeth in there, heh!”

“Bite me,” I snort, making Jamie laugh out loud. “God, I’ve spent the last ten years looking forward to this, trying to make myself into a big, strong man… Guess I am just a frightened little girl after all.”

“And what’s wrong with that?” Jamie asks. “Seriously. I didn’t agree to marry Stuart the Neanderthal. I’d much rather marry Stuart the frightened little girl. Because he- yes, HE- is open and honest with me, always.”

“And a shrimpy 5’ 7”,” I snort.

“Size isn’t everything,” Jamie says as she gently fondles my genitals. “’Enough’ is better than ‘too much’. If I’ve learned anything over the past twelve months, it’s that it’s better to want what you have, rather than have what you want.”

“But do you ‘want to have’ me?” I ask.

“Every time I look at you,” Jamie whispers. “But good things come to those who wait. So get up and get showered, stud!”

“…You literally just said ‘good things come to those who wait’,” I tease my fiancée.

“Yeah,” Jamie laughs. “And do you want to try saying that to my parents?” I laugh and sigh as I slide out of bed and head toward Jamie’s shower.

As the hot water cascades over my naked body, I lazily trace the outline of my scars with my finger, musing on how many good things have happened to me. Many transmen- hell, many transgendered people of all genders- don’t go in for SRS, let alone have operations that give them sexual functionality. And yet here I am, with a perfectly flat chest, a light layer of stubble on my face, thick black hair on my legs and my arms and, most importantly of all, a penis and a scrotum hanging between my legs. Around the world, there are millions of frightened little girls who would give anything to have the body I have, and millions of men- trans or cisgendered- who would give their right arms to share a bed with a sexually willing Jamie-Lee Burke. I don’t need to learn to want what I already have- I have more than I could have ever dreamed. And whilst my life isn’t perfect- my relationship with my grandmother, for example- if I had to do it all again, I would do in a heartbeat. Provided I could be born with a functioning penis, of course.

“All yours, sexy!” I laugh as I emerge from the shower, giving Jamie a kiss before pulling on a comfortable pair of black jeans and the sweatshirt I was ‘banned’ from wearing earlier in the week.

Naturally, the visit with Jamie’s parents go smoothly, as both of them- especially Jamie’s father- have always had a soft spot for me, Maybe it’s because they view me as the son it turns out they never had, I don’t know- either way, I have a smile on my face when we leave just after lunch, though any hopes of being able to go home to relax are dashed when Jamie’s phone beeps to inform her of a text message shortly after we set off.

“Huh, it’s from Krys,” Jamie says. “Says she wants to meet us for lunch, at a café in the middle of the city.”

“Okay,” I shrug, keying the new destination into my satnav. “Does she say why?”

“Nope,” Jamie replies. “…Though she says there’ll be a camera crew there too.”

“I’m not going in there bare-chested,” I say, sticking my tongue out at Jamie. “If threads show up on HD cameras, god only knows what they’ll do to my scars…”

“…I kinda like your scars,” Jamie says softly. “I don’t see them as disfigurements. I see them as signs of how brave you are, how you weren’t afraid to live your life the way you always wanted.”

“’Badges of courage’?” I ask.

“That’s as good a name for it as any,” Jamie says softly. “And it’s okay, there’ll be plenty of shops open, we’ll stop in one and pick you up a new, better sweater. My treat.” I roll my eyes and giggle as I key yet another destination into my satnav.

Forty minutes later- and with a brand-new designer sweater covering my torso- I find myself back in a posh café, sat beside my fiancée and opposite my best friend and his fiancée.

“Okay,” Jamie says, flashing her usual grin for the benefit of the camera crew. “We’re here… Spill…”

“Well…” Krystie says with a devilish grin. “You know how Mary had a baby three months ago, right?”

“She was born on my birthday,” Jamie laughs. “That’s kinda hard to forget!”

“And how your sister is pregnant- again,” Krystie continues, gesturing toward me. “And Viks is pregnant, and Stephanie’s brother’s partner is pregnant…”

“Krys…” Jamie whispers, her jaw dropping. “Are- are you-“

“Yes!” Krystie squeaks, flapping her hands excitedly.

“Oh my god!” Jamie squeaks, leaping up and giving Krystie a long hug whilst both women squeak incoherently at each other.

“…Well done, mate!” I laugh, shaking Mikey’s hand before standing up and giving him a quick, manly hug. “Were you, umm, were you guys trying?”

“We were, actually,” Mikey laughs nervously. “It’s- I’ll let Krys explain, she can put it better.”

“I only ever wanted to have ONE child,” Krystie explains. “I mean, I’m from a family of four, and I’m a middle child… Guess you know how that feels, Stu. Sharing the attention of your parents…”

“A bit,” I whisper. “Kinda had my own way of ‘getting attention’, though!”

“Just a bit,” Krystie laughs. “And Mary’s said she doesn’t want any more children, and- well, I’ve got this group of girls in my ballet class, six of them are in the same school year, and I always wanted my daughter to be in a ‘club’ just like them. Friends so close they’re practically sisters. Hell, you and the rest of the Angels are more like sisters to me than my own sister, heh.”

“So you want your daughter to be part of ‘The Angels: The Next Generation’ or something?” Jamie asks.

“Exactly,” Krystie says with a smug smile.

“Not to be a party pooper or anything,” I say quietly. “But what if- what if, you know, your child’s a boy?”

“Then we’ll love him all the same,” Krystie shrugs. “And marry him off to Natasha Carter the second he turns eighteen. God, that would be SO cool, me and Mary both being mothers or two people getting married…”

“And if he then wants to become a ‘she’?” Jamie asks, shooting a smug grin at me.

“Then she’ll take after her godmother, and be just as awesome as her!” Krystie says, making Jamie’s jaw drop. “Whatever gender this child chooses to be, even if they change their gender later on, it’s a win-win for us. For both of us.”

“As long as he or she loves playing the guitar,” Mikey says, making me snort with laughter.

“And dancing!” Krystie continues. “And yes, Stuart, you’ll be godfather too!”

“…I thought you were an atheist?” I ask, laughing as both Jamie and Krystie hit me over the head with the café’s menus.

“Doesn’t mean I don’t want you- both of you- in my child’s life,” Krystie says.

“Well- congratulations,” Jamie says, giving more hugs to both Krystie and Mikey. “Who else knows?”

“Just Mary and Dan, the child’s other godparents,” Krystie says. “Yes, you may throw me a party whenever you want, just wait for Zoe to get back from France first, she flew out for her sister’s birthday today.”

“Can do!” Jamie giggles, as talk quickly turns to baby-related topics. Naturally, Jamie and Krystie dominate this conversation, but before we leave, I do find a chance to talk to the father-to-be.

“Well done again, mate,” I say, exchanging another quick hug with the tall, long-haired man.

“Thanks, mate!” Mikey laughs nervously. “Can I tell you a secret?”

“’Course,” I shrug.

“I- I never really imagined myself being a father,” Mikey confesses. “I mean, I’m only 26, and I know people become parents at a younger age, but still…”

“Nervous?” I ask.

“Try fucking terrified,” Mikey laughs. “But that’s no excuse. It just means I’ve got to step up, be a man, be a dad. Just because I’m afraid, doesn’t give me an excuse to duck away from my responsibilities. I am going to be the absolute best dad I can possibly be.”

“Well, as godfather- again- I’ll give you all the help you want,” I say, earning a grin from my best friend.

“Thanks,” Mikey laughs. “You didn’t have any problem learning the guitar when you were a girl, did you?”

“If anything, the smaller hands made it easier,” I laugh as we head back home, where Mikey’s words resonate in my ears.

Just because you’re afraid, it doesn’t give you an excuse to avoid doing it. Truer words were never spoken, and yet, as we arrive back at Jamie & Charlotte’s home, I can’t help but still feel nervous about what I know I have to do.

With Charlotte, Keith and their son both out- presumably meeting Krystie and Mikey- I grab my laptop and relax on the sofa whilst Jamie heads up to her bedroom to work on her vlog. Naturally, within a few seconds of logging into Facebook, I’m pestered by a new message notification.

‘Hi,’ the message- which is from Becca- reads.

‘Hi sicknote,’ I reply, giggling at the ‘angry’ emoji Becca sends in reply. ‘Still laid up?’

‘Yeah,’ Becca types with a frowning emoji. ‘This really sucks, I haven’t been able to sing in days, need to keep in practice and can’t.’

‘Are needles REALLY that scary?’ I type.

‘YES,’ Becca replies. ‘Okay, maybe not. I guess there are worse things. Can I tell you a secret?’

‘Sure,’ I type.

‘First time the band sang live, I was nearly pissing myself, I was that scared,’ Becca types.

‘Really?’ I reply.

‘Seriously,’ Becca types. ‘I’d have given anything for there to be a power cut, or a fire alarm, or anything that meant I had to put it off.’

‘And of course there wasn’t?’ I type.

‘Yep,’ Becca types. ‘So I went out there and sang anyway, and you know what? It was okay. After a few minutes, I forgot all about my fear.’

‘Just because you’re afraid of something, it doesn’t give you an excuse to avoid doing it,’ I type.

‘Ah, my wise older brother,’ Becca types with a ‘sticking out tongue’ smiley. ‘Who did you rip that saying off again?’

‘What makes you think it isn’t one of mine?’ I reply with a ‘sticking out tongue’ smiley of my own.

‘The 21 and a bit years I’ve known you, that’s what,’ Becca replies, followed by a ‘laughing’ emoji that earns an angry one from me, followed by a normal smiley.

‘Okay, it was Mikey,’ I type, earning a ‘winking’ emoji from Becca.

‘I knew it,’ Becca types. ‘Though seriously, I am glad you’re my older brother, especially the last few years. I couldn’t have become famous without you, and I don’t just mean because you wrote the music, or because you introduced me to the Angels. I love you, Stuart.’

‘Are you dying?’ I reply, earning an ‘angry’ emoji from Becca.

‘Ugh, typical BOY,’ Becca replies with a string of angry emoji.

‘I love you too, Becca’ I type. ‘I doubt I could have done any of the last ten years without you. I certainly wouldn’t be called ‘Stuart’ right now!’

‘Lol,’ Becca replies with a smiley. ‘You know, I had that imaginary friend right up until you came out to all of us. I was so much younger than you and Emma, sometimes I felt a bit left out.’

‘And after I came out?’ I ask.

‘I found out that the real Stuart was much better than the imaginary one,’ Becca types, bringing a tear to my eye.

‘Thank you,’ I type. ‘See you tomorrow for song writing practice?’

‘Not got anywhere better to be,’ Becca replies with a ‘sticking out tongue’ emoji. ‘See you tomorrow, bro.’

‘See you tomorrow, sis,’ I type as Becca logs out of Facebook. As much she can aggravate me at times, and as stuck up as she can be, I am so glad to have her as a sister. Never mind the fact that she technically made me a middle child- I’d happily share the attention of my parents if it meant having Becca in my life.

I while away the next hour and a bit laid on the sofa writing songs, before I’m interrupted by the sound of the front door opening, and the familiar, wonderful sound of a toddler’s laughter coming through it.

“Hi guys!” I yell from the living room. “Jamie’s upstairs working.”

“Thanks,” Keith senior replies as he heads into the kitchen, whilst I’m forced to smile as Charlotte joins me in the living room, cradling the ever-growing Keith junior in her arms.

“Hey,” I say to the young mother as she sits down, kicking off her high-heeled shoes and breathing a sigh of relief. “Hey, big guy!”

“Hey, Uncle Stuart!” Charlotte mimes as she waves her son’s hand at me. “Take it you’ve heard the news, then?”

“Yep,” I say stoically. “Still, more members of the family can only be a good thing, right?”

“I think so,” Charlotte says as she sits her giggling nineteen month old son on her lap. “I’ve got to admit, though… I’m kinda disappointed not to make godmother.”

“…Maybe next time,” I whisper softly.

“Krystie and Mary have both said they’re not having any more kids,” Charlotte snorts. “Viks has already chosen her godmothers, Hannah’s chronically single…”

“Yeah,” I say. “But if me and Jamie ever become parents, you’ll be right at the top of the godparent list.”

“Thanks,” Charlotte says quietly, her voice full of emotion. “I love both you guys so much… I’m not really surprised I’m not godmother, though. I’m hardly the most mature person in the world…”

“I dunno,” I say. “You’ve grown a lot in the short time I’ve known you, and not just because of that little one.”

“Look who’s talking!” Charlotte laughs. “And not just you, but Jamie, too…”

“Ehh, I dunno,” I shrug. “’Mature’ people don’t spend most of their evenings playing videogames…”

“Oh, whatever,” Charlotte snorts. “So you’ve got a hobby, so what? Jamie and I own more shoes than we’ll ever be able to wear, that’s no different, really.”

“I guess,” I mumble. “You really think I’m more mature?”

“I think we all are,” Charlotte muses. “Like, we were ‘young adults’, now we’re ‘proper adults’… I dunno. It’s kinda hard to put your finger on it, you know?”

“I think I know what you mean,” I say. “Four years ago, you and I would never have been able to sit and just chat like this.”

“I know what you mean,” Charlotte laughs. “God, I was so stuck up back then, I’d probably have just written you off as some drooling fanboy or something…”

“And I would have just sat there, nervously drooling,” I laugh. “I’m so glad I plucked up the courage to talk to Jamie that day at Dr Phillips’s office, and not just because of her, but because of you guys as well.”

“A little bit of courage, and a few years later, you have everything you ever wanted?” Charlotte asks, making me laugh and nod.

“That seems to be how it goes,” I laugh. “He looks tired…”

“Yeah, he’s had a long day,” Charlotte laughs as her son yawns and fidgets in her lap. “I’ll head upstairs and get him down for his nap.”

“Okay,” I whisper. “And Charlotte? Thank you. For everything.”

“Anything for one of my best friends,” Charlotte says with a grin, before disappearing up the stairs.

I try to get back into my song writing to pass the time until Charlotte’s return, but her words- just like Mikey’s and Becca’s- are resonating within me. Every time I’ve faced my fear in the past, it’s only ever worked out well for me- and one particular moment springs immediately to mind.

“I don’t need to be afraid,” I whispered to myself as I looked at my sixteen year old reflection in the mirror. Mere minutes earlier, that face had been covered in make-up professionally applied as a ‘treat’ for my birthday. My body had been wrapped in an expensive dress, my nails had been covered in a red-coloured polish, and I… I felt like I was about to suffocate. Literally felt like I was about to die. It was a feeling I’d felt countless times before, but on those occasions, I’d been too afraid to do anything. Today… Today was different.

“I don’t need to be afraid,” I repeated, even though deep down inside, I was petrified. For months, I’d tried to convince myself that I was really a boy, that I wanted to be a boy, not a girl, that everything I was was wrong… But there was a very fundamental difference between convincing yourself of something and trying to convince others. How would my parents react? How would Emma react? Or Becca? Would they shun me? Would they force me to live like a girl? Would they send me to some kind of asylum, where I’d be brainwashed into believing that I was a girl after all?

“I don’t need to be afraid,” I said confidently for a third time in the deepest voice I could manage. This was MY life. What I say goes, not anyone else. People COULD live their life as the opposite gender to the one they were born into, if that was their desire. People WOULD be on my side. And mum and dad would even support my decision to live my life as a boy. Maybe dad always wanted a son, maybe Emma and Becca would prefer having a brother to a sister. I honestly, truly didn’t need to be afraid.

“I’m ready,” I said as I walked down the stairs to where my family was waiting…

“Alright, mate!” Keith laughed as I strolled into the kitchen, where he was busy cooking dinner.

“Alright mate,” I reply. “Dinner smells good.”

“Heh, it’s just spag bol,” Keith laughs. “You heard about Krystie, then?”

“Yep,” I say. “Reckon you can persuade Charlotte to build an extension and turn it into a crèche?”

“Like she’ll need persuading,” Keith laughs. “Believe it or not, we’ve already talked about possible having a second.”

“I’ve seen the way you both are with Keith junior, I can easily believe it,” I say, making the proud father laugh. “…Jamie and I have even talked about, you know, adopting at some point…”

“You’d be great parents,” Keith says. “Hell, you’re great godparents, that’s for sure. And you will be to Krystie’s baby too.”

“Thanks,” I whisper, leading to an awkward silence that’s only broken when Keith let’s out a long sigh.

“Mate…” Keith says quietly. “I- I don’t think I ever properly apologised. You know, for me and Jamie…”

“That was almost two years ago,” I mumble, trying to ignore the painful memories that are being dredged up. “Ancient history.”

“Yeah, well, I’m a historian,” Keith snorts. “That’s my everyday life. To learn from the mistakes of the past. And that was probably the biggest of them all.”

“If you’re looking for my forgiveness, you have it,” I say. “I’m glad we can be friends again, I really am.”

“I’m glad too,” Keith laughs. “Frankly, I reckon the ‘Terrible Ten’ are even cooler than the Angels!” I let out a long, loud laugh as Keith opens up Facebook on his iPad and shows me a photograph that was taken at Thursday’s ballet recital or myself, him, Dan, Jonathan, Paul, Mikey, Danny, Riley, Marco and Kurt. Despite my comparative shortness (seven of the men are over six feet tall, and I’m most definitely not), you really can’t tell that I don’t belong in the photo. I am, at the end of the day, just another one of the guys.

“That’s an awesome pic,” I laugh. “Kinda sucks that you can tell that Kurt doesn’t feel entirely comfortable.”

“He will,” Keith shrugs. “You, well, ‘slot in’ seamlessly.”

“Yeah,” I say with a proud grin.

“And I can make jokes about ‘slots’ now that you don’t have one anymore,” Keith says.

“Do you have AppleCare on your iPad?” I ask. “Would it cover it if, I say, smashed it over your head?”

“Probably not,” Keith laughs. “Jamie still upstairs?”

“Yep,” I whisper.

“You still, you know…” Keith asks. “Got ‘pre-performance nerves’?”

“…Not anymore,” I say confidently. “I don’t need to be afraid. Of anything. Not whilst I’ve got friends, family… And her.”

“Go get ‘er,” Keith said, giving me a playful pat on the back. “And anytime you need a man-to-man, just ask.”

“Same goes for you, mate,” I say with a grin as I leave the kitchen and head upstairs, where I can hear music playing from Jamie’s bedroom- a sure sign she’s finished recording her blog.

I take a deep breath, before opening Jamie’s bedroom door, grinning as she smiles at me before turning her attention back to her laptop. She shivers slightly as I place my hands on her shoulders, before sighing as I gently treat her neck with slow, soft kisses.

“Stu…” Jamie whispers as she shivers once again. “Stu- N-now?”

“Now,” I whisper. “If- if you’re ready, of course, I man-“ I stammer, before being silenced as Jamie gently places a finger on my lips.

"Now," Jamie says firmly, kissing me deeply before freeing me from my trousers and my boxer shorts.

As I peel Jamie's tight dress off of her, I shiver with excitement as she gently massages my genitals, inflating the implant within it until I'm fully erect. After sliding Jamie's thong off of her glistening body, I reach into her nightstand for her tube of lubricant, smearing some on my fingers and drawing a line with it from between her breasts to just above her opening. As my cold fingers stroke her clitoris, Jamie yelps with ecstasy, yelling some more as I dip one lube-covered finger into her vagina, followed by a second, until her most sensitive area is slick and shiny, and ready for me.

Jamie, still moaning loudly, takes her lube and gently coats my penis with it, sending electric shocks of pleasure through my whole body with every touch. It's not long before we're both ready, and with our naked bodies entwined, we collapse onto Jamie's bed, where the beautiful blonde girl stares up at me with expectant eyes. After another long, deep kiss, I carefully guide my penis toward her opening, yelping with pleasure and excitement as the first inch effortlessly slips inside her.

Jamie, as she always does when she makes love, yells loudly as each thrust brings me deeper inside her, until before long, our public areas are in full contact. Within seconds, we both orgasm simultaneously. The orgasms I get from my penis may be different (and shorter) from before my operation, but they are no less intense, and Jamie's shrieks of pleasure tell me that she is just as 'pleased' as I am. I'm almost disappointed when I withdraw from my fiancée, but the glazed look on her eyes tells me that I won't have to wait long before being 'invited back in'.

“Wow,” Jamie breathes as we lay side by side, trying to get our breath back. “Wow- just- that was- wow…”

“You approve?” I ask as I try to stretch the tension out of my body.

“OH yeah,” Jamie laughs. “Seriously, Stuart, you are THE best lover. You’re so- you’re so careful, so gentle, you don’t just ‘ram it in there’… I am the luckiest woman in the world. Thank you.”

“No, thank YOU,” I whisper, rolling onto my side and giving Jamie a long, soft kiss. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” Jamie whispers as we spend one brief, blissful moment in each other’s arms.

My name is Stuart Raymond Milton. That hasn’t always been the case, but the past is the past. I was born the second daughter of three, but I am now the son of two proud parents, and the fiancé of a wonderful, amazing woman whom I love with my whole heart. I have more friends than I could ever dreamed of, all of whom care about me as deeply as I care about them. I’m doing my dream job, and I want for nothing. I have no reason to be afraid anymore, and there is nothing ‘wrong’ about me, no matter what anyone says.

I was born a girl, but I AM a man, and as of today, no one can ever take that away from me. I AM a man, and I always will be. End of story.

“Jamie…” I whisper as we get dressed, ready to head down to join our friends for dinner. “Have you thought anymore recently about adopting?”

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