Taylor called out at the cluttered reception desk of the Student Admissions Office, anxious to get the slightest bit of attention. Since his first day of school this morning, he feared he had been entered into a surreal dream. He gazed at the ID badge issued to him by the bored prefect at the school entrance. Something had gone wrong, and he intended to find out why.
A stout, bespectacled woman dressed in an ill-fitting green blazer emerged from a door; dwarfed by a large stack of loose-leaf forms cradled in her arms .
"Good evening!" She cheerfully exclaimed, throwing her papers haphazardly at the in-tray. It was eight thirty in the morning. "Sorry, it's a bit of a mess - new term and all. Lots of paperwork!".
"Erm, it's quite alright", Taylor nervously volunteered, "It's just, well, I don't want to cause a fuss or additional work for you or ... anything like that, but, well, my name is Taylor Jackson and I have a requ-"
"Already looking you up in the system", interjected the receptionist, typing furiously at her ancient desktop. "Now let's see-", she squinted owlishly at her monitor, reading aloud, "So Taylor Jackson, F, says here you are a scholarship student joining the sixth form and are boarding in 7B - oh wow, you're from Ealing? My cousin lives in Ealing, do you know her?"
Taylor hesitated "I don't really know?"
"Or was it Epping? Anyway she is the biggest ditz in the nation, you'd honestly know her if you had met her, honestly-"
"Pardon me, but I'm in a slight rush" Taylor apologetically continued "I kind of need to replace the mistake in my registration, otherwise-"
"A mistake!" theatrically blurted the receptionist, squinting ever more dramatically at the text "I'm sorry Miss Jackson, the administrative department of this school is extremely thorough and prides itself as such, so we deeply apologise if we have been careless. Where have we gone wrong?"
Taylor cleared his throat. "Well that's the thing, Miss-"
"It's Mrs actually", beamed the receptionist, holding up her ringed finger "Mrs Haverford - five year anniversary last week!".
"Um ok", threw out the increasingly flustered Taylor, "Congratulations, but I was actually talking about the mistake on my form-" he blushed, embarrassed, "they, err, messed up the gender?"
Mrs Haverford looked up from her screen. She scanned the boy up and down, his ill-fitting uniform, scraggly hair and diminutive frame. "Ah!" she noted, comprehension dawning over her face "You've been given the wrong uniform! I'll download a form for girl's uniforms right away and send it over to the Uniforms Office!"
"Well the thing is-"
"Don't worry, your scholarship will cover it all" Haverford exclaimed again, furiously typing away."We'll get you in the right uniform in no time - sent! -, they're very prompt; but you might need to explain to teachers why you're not in the correct-"
"Sorry" Taylor cut in "But, I think you have the wrong idea. See, the thing is, is, well, the gender on the form is wrong... I think there was a mistake in my papers", he trailed off uncomfortably.
The receptionist stared ahead, bemused.
"I'm not actually a girl", Taylor explained, "I'm a guy, so can you possibly change..."
Haverford suddenly beamed. "Oh" she gasped, "I ... understand".
"Thank god!" replied Taylor, pleased to have finally made progress.
"And don't worry" Haverford continued delicately, "This school is very progressive, despite what people say. We have a strong anti-bullying stance and there is a Gay Straight Alliance; do you want their contact details? Let's see-"
Shit, thought Taylor, this idiot has got the complete wrong end of the stick . He stammered a responce "Erm, Mrs" - she abruptly ceased her babbling - "I, ah, just meant there was a mistake in the gender section of the forum, there's nothing wrong with me-"
"Sweetheart" Haverford said, concerned, "Nobody is saying anything is wrong with you - you don't have to feel gulity about anything, you hear me?"
Taylor took an intake of breath. "Mrs, I'm not sure you understand. You see, all I want to do is, is a very simple thing: just change where it says 'F' under gender to 'M'-"
"To reflect what you've always felt you were deep down. Don't worry, I understand - it's like Cher's son!"
"B- b- but I am male, it's just this stupid register that says I'm n-"
"And it will be changed" Haverford continued, "All you need to do is take this form to the Welfare Office. You may need a medical note, but the nurse is always milling around the corridors, I'm sure he'll help you out".
Taylor read the form he was handed. STUDENT REQUESTS CHANGE OF GENDER IDENTITY it read. He gritted his teeth. "Is there no easier way that I can change the gender on the form?"
"Sorry" she shook her head "you have to go the full route. I'm very sympathetic to your situation, but you know how bureaucracy is."
Taylor mulled his options over. Obviously continuing to talk to this woman was bound to go absolutely nowhere fast. He assumed that the Welfare Office, wherever it was, would hopefully be staffed with somebody a little less insane that he could explain his situation to with ease.
"OK" he said, defeated, "thanks for your help. I'm going to go take this form to the Welf- err, where is the Welfare office?"
"I'll show you!" a voice said behind him. He spun round, to see a tall Asian girl in sportswear who had apparently trundled through in the last minute, given the muddy footprints on the carpet. "Name's Kellie Xie!" motioning to her name badge "and I'm showing all the new guys round! Just follow me!"
Taylor blinked. "Right, erm, OK then?"
Kellie peered curiously at the form clasped in his hand. "Wow, you're transitioning? That's really very brave!"
"He is isn't he!" exclaimed Haverford excitedly.
Taylor stared blankly ahead as Kellie took him by the hand. This was a fucking bizarre day.
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