It’s a Big Thing to Me
Designing a prom gown instead of a suit,
Turned Andrew’s problem into an opportunity…
Andrea is now in focus…
I cannot believe it is already the following week and we’re back to see Dr. Monica before I’m going back to school. ‘How does she even know what to visit with me about?’ Mom and I are again waiting in the office area to be called back. Mom’s friend Jackie is in for a routine visit. Jackie says, “I’m not sure I would have brought this daughter along for my visit. No offense Andrea, you have become quite the girl, but not this much.”
When the nurse calls me, “Andrea Stephens;” Jackie became quite surprised and me very embarrassed. We are escorted to Dr. Triggs office and not an examining room. I do not know why, but I am sitting up on the edge of my seat with my legs squeezing tightly together. Mom notices it too saying, “Relax young woman your identity is nicely in place.” We both begin to giggle as Dr. Triggs comes into the office is her head nurse.
Monica asks, “I appear to have come in at an opportune time. Can you share what is so funny?”
I look to her nurse and back to Monica.
I say, “Mom’s friend Jackie is in the waiting room and thought I was a strange daughter to come with my mother to see a gynecologist. Then another nurse came out and called my name.”
The Doctor and I had greeted each other and I am back sitting down, like I was before. Dr. Monica says, “I see what you’re talking about. Usually when I’ve seen you, you are a more relaxed young woman. And you are very much a young woman at those times. If you don’t mind my saying; it is Andrew that I see having to reinforce he’s a guy.”
I am a bit offended about being Andrew. I say, “That is my quandary I am Andrew. I don’t think physical changes will alter that and I don’t want it too.”
Dr. Monica calmly says, “But you’re being here, do I take that as a sign that you’re not only open to the changes suggested; you’re seriously seeking to be Andrea.”
I say, “You mentioned that surgery could give me a vagina. Would that surgery include taking my testicles, allowing my estrogen become dominate allowing my breasts to grow?” I feel dumb even having said that.
Dr. Monica says, “That is a good question, it shows you’ve done some reading. I know you might feel awkward in asking some of these questions. Please remember you are among friends, people who care about you.” Monica goes on and explains much that I was wondering about. She knows of a doctor in a state close by. He and his staff have an excellent reputation for being professionally among the best. But it is in guiding a woman through the process that their reputation exceeds most others.”
“We called to his office about getting you an appointment. Most appointments are out to the latter half of the summer. They did have a cancellation during your spring break. You would actually be there longer than your break, but it would allow you to heal and be fully Andrea sooner. Then this summer you could have the fun of a normal teenage girl.”
“Your psychiatrist at North State and another doctor will have to approve you for the surgery and clarify the gender change being proper for you. This cannot be just a warm feeling or for your business. I am not trying to upset you, but as your doctor I look out for your full well being.”
I am not use to a woman doctor being so blunt. Though Dr. Saga Dotter was when we first met.
Mom says, “While it is generally unheard of Mr. Tompkins assured me they could gain her approval.
Dr. Triggs says, “If there was any question to the propriety other than age; it wouldn’t be allowed. It could be put off until late summer or fall, but I’m sure you are the proper patient for such a surgery, and the exception it would take. I believe you’re holding onto Andrew more as a warm feeling than the other way around.”
I say, “That is hard for me to admit. I just don’t understand how you knew it. I’ve been holding onto Andrew. I’m best as a designer as Andrew.”
Nurse Rider asks for permission to say something. Monica says, “If it is helpful by all means.”
Ms Rider says, “I’ve been to Carrie’s shop around Thanksgiving and before Christmas. I’ve seen Andrea with other customers and her working with them. I don’t think any longer that those two images of Andrew and Andrea are that different. Everything seems integrated into Andrea. It seems Andrew is the one limited in carrying the full person of whom she is.”
Monica asks my mom and me if that is true. I say, “I just don’t feel it is fair, I have been seen as Andrew for so long.”
Dr. Triggs asks, “Mom was it you or one of her sisters that knew she’s snuck off and role played as Andrea years ago?”
Mom says, “Leah worried that she had caused him into being Andrea. But I know that is not so, I can remember back to when she was three. Leah thought, it started when Andrew was eight and Leah bought her first bra. Andrew would take his white shirts even then and tie the bottom in a knot to look like his sisters.” My husband and I even then thought Andrew would grow out of pretending to be a girl then.
More than once when I confronted Andrew about what he was doing. He would deny wanting to be a girl. He’d even get in fights with girls his age when they tried to accept him playing with them.
We were Traveling back to State Center and I told my mother, “I don’t ever remember you and Dad confronting me about my trying to be a girl?”
She says, “The last time I remember was a week before your father died. I had an appointment set up for you to see someone. Edward thought so highly of you; it took a lot for him, anytime he agreed we should see someone about you. You had your close friendship with Jenny, and once she was helping you to dress up for Halloween. You had asked for her help, but when she showed you how good you looked. You got angry and tore the nice blouse she let you wear. Your father even had you sit on a chair in the corner until you apologized. But Jenny went home before you apologized. That was when your father even threatened to set up the appointment.
“I put it off until after the funeral and by then you seemed to give up your being a girl. It wasn’t until last year that I understood from Leah it had never really stopped.”
“Mom, I kind of apologized to Jenny before we moved back here, but I’d never admit anything. I wonder if she understands that Andrea of Angie’s Threads is her friend. Do you have the Connors contact information? I don’t think she’d ever imagine I was really a girl.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” Mom says. We were fifteen minutes from the apartment, when we decided to stop and eat. Mom searched her contact list and gave me the last phone number she had for Jenny. I was hesitant to call, exhausting several excuses. The last being a two hour time difference. It was 6:30 p.m. our time which meant she should be out of school. Even any practice she might have should be done. We weren’t sure if I called their house or her cell phone or if it was still a current number.
I called and was ready to hang up after the third ring, but someone answered. I couldn’t tell if it was Jenny or her Mom or? I said, “Hi you probably don’t remember me my name is now Andrea Stephens you knew me as Andrew…”
There’s a scream at the other end, “Andrea! I can’t believe you are calling me. It is you? You are the one who designs the clothes, isn’t it?” She says, “You never mention having lived here. I heard Heidi came back here to go to college but I never was able to contact her.”
I said, “You should have searched our contacts in California; she should be listed there. But then again I should have asked you, if you want to be my representative in the San Anselmo area or at least your school?”
The waitress asks for my order. That causes Jenny to say, “If you’re eating, I should call you later.
I said, “I need to tell you thank you first as well as apologize. I have more to tell you but later.”
She says, “Is it why you sound so girly?” She pauses and then hangs up on me.
“Mom, I think she’s guessed.” Mom says, “You look like you found a long lost friend?”
“I hope so Mom. I think she graduates this year. Do you think we could go out for her graduation if she wouldn’t mind?”
Mom’s hand reaches over to me and we are having a mother/daughter time. It is somehow new to me. Our order comes and I’m hungry but I am too distracted to eat much. The waitress feels bad, though I tell her the food and service is fine. She says, “I’m afraid that I didn’t do something right that upset you?”
Mother tells her, “Angie’s not like that. She just had wonderful news and is too happy to eat, I guess.”
The woman says, “I hear famous people can be upset and complain. I cannot afford to lose my job. I’d rather pay for your meal than you be upset.”
I say, “Not needed, but if you have brownie sundaes I would enjoy one. You could give me a container to take this food home. I will probably be hungry when I get home.”
The waitress gets my brownie sundae with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge and whip cream. She puts my dinner in a container, when I’m done; Mom is finished her dinner as well. We leave a nice tip and only after we pay our bill with no complaints does she relax and smile at us.
We are back at my apartments and I finally remember to call Jenny back. It is near her supper time, but she won’t let me hang up. Jenny says, “So tell me, was it really your attention deficit or your being moody and spoiled that got you into trouble.”
Mom hearing Jenny’s statement says, “It never came to mind to relate it to you being seen by someone as being a girl and you were in denial?”
I plug my ear to tune Mom out. Jenny and I talk for over an hour. I had apologized three times for how I treated her. Jenny finally says, “Enough with the apologies and talking around things. So what is your good news?”
I say, “I thought you guessed. I talked with a doctor about becoming physically a girl to match how I see me. I want you to promise not to tell anyone at this time. If it happens I want to tell people after I’ve had the surgery and I’m healed up.”
Jenny says, “That is not fair; you can’t tell me and then ask me not to tell anyone afterwards.”
I say, “Would you mind, if we came out to your high school graduation?” I tell her I will graduate next December.
Jenny says, “Are you going on to college or will you just go full-time into your business? If you’re going to college I’d be willing to come there if the university is good but not too big. I can go to Chico State or the University of San Francisco, but I wouldn’t mind being close to you if we’re still friends.”
I say, “JC Harper says I should get my education and understand how my business operates.”
Jenny says, “You really know JC Harper and others in the dress business. I thought that was just name dropping. How many of the clothes items in your line have you personally designed?”
I huff over the phone, “You mean, you don’t think I actually design my clothes. Some are simple changes from some I originally designed. I had five girls in my advanced art class and I originally drew dresses or gowns for the five of them. Drawing them wasn’t a big deal, but they thought otherwise. Working at Carrie’s and in Ms. Miller’s class was where I learned to actually design them. There was a lot to learn but like my prom gown things came together bit by bit. It was more complicated than I originally understood. As Ms. Miller and Carrie told me, about different fabrics and I saw the colors and patterns and textures of the fabrics things came together. I was denying I really was doing it for myself.”
Jenny says, “I wish we were together right now. I would love to cuddle you in my arms. My breasts have grown and it would be nice to hold you like I use to. I dreamed you and I would be girlfriends or you as my boyfriend. I’m just glad you remember me. It probably hurts to think back to then. I don’t know if I want to become close friends to lose you again.”
I say, “Weren’t you the one who told me friendship is like a butterfly. If you release it and it comes back it’s yours. If it doesn’t come back it never was.”
Jenny says, “I thought it was the letting go of a bird, but the same thing I guess.”
I say, “I have to be honest I have a girlfriend two years older than me. She’s the one who invited me to the prom. I don’t think it will last. Except for her Jennifer and friends from our class I don’t think I relate very well to any of her friends.”
“I’d love being your friend again. I’m not sure if I’m only dreaming but I think I could. No, I know I love you, I think you’re too beautiful for me and I know you want children.”
Jenny says, “Won’t they freeze some of your sperm if and before they would operate?”
I am getting too excited on my end of the phone. My mother finally takes the phone, “Jenny, I am not sure what you two have been talking about, but the girl at this end is getting overwhelmed with emotion. I think she has not gotten use to all the feelings and emotions that arise in her as a girl.” Mom gives her my personal email address and the website I frequent most. Mom told me later Jenny cares a lot about me and hopes I will communicate back to her sometime.
It take a warm bubble bath and with a good night’s sleep I’m back to myself. My mother stays with me until Saturday morning. We even went to the Flowery Saddle Pub Friday, evening after we attended the girls’ basketball game. Our School is reasonably good in sports and most extracurricular events. I like their music and theater programs the best. I am good enough to sing in the girls’ chorus and even in a quartet, but that’s the furthest that goes.
I am hoping Mom didn’t tell anyone at school or the pub that my birthday was coming up in three weeks. Oops, I forgot that would be Andrew’s, Andrea’s is noted for two weeks after that. That somehow got on my FB and website accounts but no year or age stated.
It’s the first time Terri Wells announces that I’m a part owner. Many customers do not associate me with designing clothes and Angie’s Threads. And I resist doing that business there. I selected my outfit and my makeup well so I could easily enough pass for 20. That was not all good as several people tried to hit on me. I was glad my mother’s around for support. But I’m also glad she trusts me to handle things like that alone if I could.
Thursday night I did contacted Tanya Jones in 1-C, she is across and down the hall for Leah, on the floor below me. She had contacted me before I left for home and Christmas. Her request to help feminize her boyfriend Chuck, made a little more sense because of something Chuck had said to me earlier in the fall. They are both thirty something. He bumped into me once when I was being Andrea. I thought he was being a bit of a creep saying, “A guy can’t make a convincing girl. I don’t know where Andrew is when Andrea’s around, but you’re not him.”
I simply told him, “I’m not worried about proving anything to you.”
I’m now wondering if Chuck was trying to dare me in some immature way. Now I was going to clarify things with Tanya. I was half sure Chuck was with her. Mom and Leah are both on my speed dial and knew where I’d be. I knocked and I could hear Chuck talking by the door. “It’s her, did you mention anything?”
The door soon opens up and I ask, “Tanya did you want to talk to me?”
She comes and greets me and says, “I thought we might visit alone first.”
I said, “You’re welcome to come up to my apartment if you’d prefer. But I thought maybe you’d want the three of us talking?”
She asks me to be seated, saying, “Chuck is guy enough and we have a great relationship. But he’s caught up with this image that a guy like Andrew could be a good looking girl like you? I even joked once with him before we knew about you that he’d make a good looking woman.”
Tanya says, “I was wondering with your image and your clothing line, if you or your web-site ever heard from people wanting to go there?”
I said, “I never personally respond to any of those inquiries. Can I ask you or Chuck if he is serious, does he see himself casually wondering if or sees himself as a crossdresser or transgendered?”
Tanya starts to speak, looks at Chuck and begins again. “I was hoping you’d tell him about yourself and Andrew.”
“I’m sorry, but your question to me was about him. I’d be open to talking about if a guy could dress and look good as a woman? A guy would need to know what girls and women come to know. You better be comfortable being you. If a guy would like to look like a girl. I think the only way of knowing is trying and see the results for oneself. I guess you could find a computer program you could download and work with your image?”
I tell customers what I think would look good on them. I guess I could tell Chuck the same if he’s serious. But I’d for one thing want to make sure he isn’t being pressured to do anything.”
I became quiet, so that it would be up to one of them to respond. I’m pretty sure by little indications someone had worked on his eyebrows and I could tell his fingernails were very well taken care of, even shaped more than a guy’s nails.
I was beginning to stand up, as I said, “Well if you don’t have anything to say I will be going.”
I was standing and turning when Tanya said. “I’m sure he’d like to know what he might look good in.”
“I think, I’d need to hear him say that. He’d need not worry about being shy or embarrassed with me. I think he’s at the point where he needs to speak up?” I can tell he’s wanting to say something, but worried. I say, “Between Tanya and each of us having a mom, two of the people closest and dearest to you are women in a guy’s life. Looking up to them is not a hard stretch.”
He says, “You’re serious, you wouldn’t think it crazy in seeing myself as a girl?”
“I can tell you if you’d do it here, there is not a better safer place to try it.” I turn to Tanya, “Are you good at surfing web-sites? If you two would go to one of my sites and note some outfits or dresses you like. I could give you my opinion and possibly some discounts… You don’t even need to limit it to my pages. I’d be open to helping with my opinion.”
“Please know, neither my sister nor my mother will know we’ve talked about this from me.” I reached out my hand in saying good-bye. I was not surprised that Tanya gave me a hug as she said good-bye. I was surprised my Chuck’s watery eyes and shaken voice as he hugs me and says, “Thanks, I think.”
Come Friday morning, my Mom reminds me I have an appointment with Dr. Saga Dotter right after school. Dr. Saga asks me to sign a release to communicate with Dr. Triggs. She has a way of turning my questions into my sharing more information and my embracing myself as Andrea. She says, “While I don’t want to be rushing you to change; I am glad and open to you initiating seeing yourself as Andrea.”
I say, “I find myself more and more naturally being Andrea. I feel like when I am being Andrea and even when I’m not that I’m a woman and that one part of my body is not me. I know I’ve been in denial about it since I can remember.”
Dr. Saga suggests, that I begin and continuously live as Angie and not just as the professional designer. “If you go to school or come home and relax that you should be living as a teenage girl. You might want times to live as Andrew. I ask you note such times and your feelings about that in a daily journal. But I ask that you for now limit your living to your gender identity of being Andrea.”
I had been doing that since before I returned to State Center and school. Megan Stuart had come over to see me after school. Says she’s noticed a difference, mostly in my just being more relaxed. She says, “You’re like me, we have a lot of experiences for girls our age. Yet inside we’re teenage girls and when I find myself living like some girl who is older and it overwhelms. You know you are a girl, but I think if you have your body changed. There will be changes in being you that will be new, no matter how much we talk about it before.”
“It’s like me knowing some math or science theories and knowledge in my head, but it isn’t yet real for me as a thirteen year old girl.”
I had thought of Megan as being fifteen though I suspected she could be fourteen. But thirteen and ready to be a student at the University full-time. I say, “I cannot believe you’re already in college but are still only 13. My mother would be okay us doing things together, but I don’t know if she would have allowed me to date you, knowing you’re thirteen.”
Story to continue…
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