Nineteen Years Ago — September 1997
As promised, John took me out to do some shopping at the island’s only shopping center, a small strip mall. Best of all he was perfectly content letting me buy whatever I wanted. He didn’t object to my choice of clothes or even when I opted to stop by the local game store and pillage the shelves.
Thankfully we had John’s entourage to help us carry everything. While they dropped everything back at the car, we stopped by a the mall’s Mcdonald, the only chain restaurant on the whole island, for some food.
“So, have you thought of what you’d like to be called?” He asked once we were sat down. “Because you flinch whenever we call you Maggie…”
“I don’t know… I’ve always had a few names but I never really felt like committing to one…”
“What kind of names?”
“Well, I like Michael, but there’s like way too many of those, plus it’d be totally confusing with the other Michael in the house. Uh, there was also Sebastian, I like it but it is — was — the name of my best friend so it’d be weird to call myself that.” I said, trying to think of other names. “Oh there’s Ian. It’s really short, but I really like the way it sounds.”
Off the top of my head I listed a few more names that had caught my ear; Jeremy, Logan, Dean. Gordon… “But I don’t know… Guess I still have to think some more about it.” I said with a shrug.
We finished our burger just as John’s entourage came back from the car and we followed them back home. Immediately I rushed upstairs to get changed out of the clothes John had given me the day before. They were nice but ill fitted and not quite my style.
Although I liked the new clothes, I was keenly aware of how they fit me. Of the way they sat on my chest. The wrongness of it only made me shudder. I took off my shirt, leaving my chest bare. Even before I’d ran away, I’d never been able to wear a bra without wanting to hurt myself…
Without my shirt on, the reflection staring back at me only sickened me further. I couldn’t help but stare at my breasts and see them as disgusting lumps of flesh that didn’t belong there, to me they were like tumors… I just wanted to rip them out…
In the pharmaceutical cabinet I found razors, I didn’t know who they belonged to but I didn’t care… Blade between my finger, I ran the blade against my skin, cutting into the flesh… It wasn’t the first time I’d done it either… It was my own little vengeance, punishing my body for being so wrong and it brought a disgusting mix of relief and sickness to my brain… But my ritual was interrupted by knocking on the door.
“Kiddo, are you alright?”
“Yeah… I’m coming out.”
In a panic I cleaned the razor and hid it before throwing on my shirt and stumbling out of the bathroom and practically running to my room. I didn’t make it as John grabbed me by the arm.
“Is that blood? Oh my god what happened?” He asked. I looked down and saw that the blood that had oozed out of the cuts had already stained my shirt… I cursed under my breath for choosing a pale shirt to wear…
“Nothing…” I muttered, crossing my arms over the stains. I jerked his hand away and I practically ran to my room but he followed me. Sitting down beside me on the bed.
“Maggie, did you do this to yourself?” He asked, the concern in his voice clear as day.
I didn’t answer him, instead just looking down in shame, expecting a scolding. The anger and words my dad had screamed at me after he’d found me cutting coming back and only making me clam up further… So I braced for another round… But it never came. Instead he put his arms around me and pulled me closer, holding me.
“It’s going to be alright, we’re going to get you some help.” The words instantly brought me to panic and I pushed him away before standing up to face him. He stood up and I flinched.
“No help…” I screamed out. “I don’t want to get treated…”
“Maggie… Please, calm down.”
“I don’t want to be fixed.”
“We’re not going to try to fix you or force you to be a girl. My friend Karina knows a good doctor specialized in helping people like you, we’re going to help you be more comfortable and if that means helping you become a boy, then so be it.”
“You’re not lying, are you?”
“Of course not. Look, I don’t know a whole lot about being how you are. I don’t know the right words and terms, the reasons and everything, but it doesn’t matter. If being a boy is what makes you happy and being a woman is what made Karina happy, then that’s good enough. If it doesn’t hurt anybody, then it can’t be wrong.”
“Thank you…” I said. “I don’t know how to thank you.”
“Just doing my job as mentor. Beside someone’s got to take care of you. But now get some early rest, we’re beginning your training tomorrow at dawn.”
Just like he’d promised, we began my training at the break of day after a light breakfast. Sadly, before I could learn any of the cool stuff, John wanted me to get stronger, faster and more agile. So it was all about running, flexibility training and basic strength and endurance stuff.
It continued like that for a few days, it was hard work but John was a patient and encouraging mentor while Michael did his best not to interact with me which was perfectly fine. Then the weekend came and right after our training John ambushed me as I came out of the shower.
“I have something for you.” He said, holding a box under his arm. We went into my room and he set it down on the bed. I opened it and found something that looked a bit like a sport bra…
“Is that a bra?” I asked, feeling uncomfortable.
“No, not quite. It’s actually a binder. I asked Karina and she directed me to someone who helped me.”
“What does it do?”
“It helps flatten the chest. Hopefully it can help you be more comfortable.”
“Why don’t you try it on?”
I picked it up and he quietly left the room, closing the door behind himself to give me some privacy. It took me awhile to get the thing on correctly, it was harder to put on than I thought but eventually I got it right. It was weird wearing the thing, feeling it compressing my torso down, but the flat look it gave my chest made me at ease. I opened the door and faced John who had waited outside.
“How does it look?” I asked.
“You look great.” He said with a grin. “But the real question is; how does it fit?”
“It’s a little weird, but I think I’ll get used to it.” I said before squirming a little.
“Well, it’s only temporary, with any luck you won’t need it by your next birthday. I already got that gender-specialist doctor booked for you next week. We should be able to cut through the red tape and get you on hormone treatments.”
The idea of being on testosterone made my chest catch fire and my mouth split apart with a fierce uncontrollable grin. It was everything I’d ever wanted…
“I have something else for you…” He picked up a folder he’d left on the nearby cabinet in the hallway and gave it to me. “I had to take some liberties, but if need be we can make some alterations before it all get processed.”
I opened the folder and looked at the first paper. It was a school enrollment form for the local school, perfectly mundane except that the name at the top caught my attention; Ian Coleman.
“You said that you liked the name and I liked it too. Of course we can change it if you’re not satisfied.”
“No… It’s perfect. Ian Coleman… I like the sound of it.”
“Welcome to the family kiddo.” He said ruffling my hair. “And don’t you worry, I’ll handle Michael, make sure he’s cool. In the meantime, you better get ready for school because you’re starting monday morning.”
“Yes Dad.” I answered which made him smile.