Jane sat in the restaurant with butterflies running amok in her stomach. She was waiting to meet her biological father. Her parents were very young migrants from Eastern Europe and had arrived here with no family, no money but plenty of hope. They built a life for themselves with sufficient security to start a family but discovered, due to a childhood illness, her father could not have children.
They managed to find an IVF clinic that would help them and after many attempts they gave birth to Jane, a healthy happy baby girl. They felt the child should know her origins as soon as she could understand them but Jane didn’t care. She loved her father and spent many happy hours talking and playing with him. He, and of course her mother, guided her through her tumultuous period of puberty. She nearly went off the rails several times but the strong hand of her father brought her back.
She finally made it to adult hood, went to university and moved in with her boy friend, although with reservations from her parents, but they accepted she was an adult now and instead they decided to get on with their lives, hooked up the caravan to their four wheel drive and took off around Australia. Unfortunately Jane’s father had a heart attack at the wheel and collided with a truck. They were both killed instantly.
Jane’s world broke apart. She dropped out of uni and she took to drinking, drugs and promiscuous sex until her boyfriend walked out. She had told him before about her origins and he said, “you need to find him. You need a father in your life and I can’t be him.”
He was right, of course. Her father would have pulled her back from this abyss. She missed him so much. The following day after her boyfriend moved out she went to the registry and filled out the paperwork but no replies came back. It was enough to have done this though and she stopped drinking, drugs and picking up men. Her university career was ruined but she got a job and returned to her parents home to finalise matters and with the sale of the house was able to buy a little flat.
She can still remember the shock of opening the letter, over a year overdue. A form stating her biological father has agreed to a meeting. Initial contact is by letter only to the enclosed address so she composed a long letter pouring out her heart and declaring her need for a strong father. The reply was short and brief, stating a time, date and place, so now she was here and afraid.
Sipping on a cold glass of water she heard a woman’s voice behind her.
“Excuse me. Are you Jane Grosvenor.”
She turned around and there was a middle aged attractive woman of about forty five.
“I’m Jamie Dalton, I used to be Jack Dalton," she said.
“But... But that can’t be right. Jack Dalton is my father.”
“Yes that correct but I have had a sex reassignment, a sex change.”
Once more the world seemed to collapse on Jane as she processed this information. Forgetting her purse she ran for the restroom and tears poured out. As she finished and tried to tidy up, Jamie entered.
“Damn” Jane said, “I forgot my make-up.”
The woman advanced and said, “Please borrow mine.”
“Thanks,” Jane said then she laughed, “the last thing I thought I would do is borrow my father’s make up.”
The woman returned her laughter and said, “Look please let me tell my story then, if you want, I will get out of your life.”
Jane, thoroughly exhausted, nodded.
Jamie knew the owner of the restaurant and he moved them to a more secluded table. He brought them a beautiful bottle of champagne with cheese, nuts and cocktail sausages.
“Please ma’am, let the waiter know if you need anything else.”
“Thank you Frank,” she replied and the man strode off.
Smiling she asked Jane if she was OK now and if she was she would start. Jane nodded popping a cocktail sausage in her mouth.
“I guess the best place to start is the beginning when I was a little boy. I loved playing with the girls more than the boys. I loved playing with their dollies, their little tea parties. All innocent fun but then I started modelling their clothes for them. That started when one of the girls got a new dress and wondered how it looked on her. I was the same size so I volunteered to model it, again all innocent fun. After that, all the girls wanted me to model their clothes and I loved it. Some instinct, though, warned me to keep this a secret from my mother.”
She paused and sipped her champagne. Jane studied her face trying to find some trace of masculinity. Her make-up was faultless, her bone structure was fine and delicate and Jane would die for hair like that.
“So I began to live two lives, I was a girlfriend to all the girls and mummy’s little soldier to my mother. She enrolled me in every activity for a boy she could think of. I purposely failed at all the macho ones like football and boxing and work my hardest on running, gymnasium and swimming. I did in fact win medals for these so in this way I kept my life in balance. Unfortunately little children grow up and what was innocent then slowly became not so innocent. The girls began to get uncomfortable with the clothes swapping and I stopped it. Instead I went underground and to everyone else I was a healthy normal boy who played sports but in secret I borrowed my sisters clothes when she wasn’t looking.”
Again she paused while Jamie shipped her champagne and popped some cheese into her mouth.
“Everything was going just nicely, till one day my sister found me dressed in her best lingerie. I was fifteen at the time and I thought that this was the end of my life but instead my sister took me by the hand and we sat down. ‘Speak to me’ she said,′ tell me why you are in my best underwear that I was going to wear for my boyfriend tonight’ so I talked and she listened. She didn’t get angry, she just listened while I blurted it all out. ‘Right,’ she said,′ here is what we do’. First she would take me to have a bra fitted. I nearly had a fit. Well she said your not wearing any more of mine and your not going to steal any again. I was flabbergasted and embarrassed. How did you know, I asked. This bra doesn’t belong to me. Now I will make space in my wardrobe and I will get you some dresses meantime you are welcome to share mine as long as you look after them OK?′ OK I said utterly relieved.”
“Those were the best years of my life. Mum was always disappearing for a couple of nights at a time. We didn’t know what she did and we didn’t ask. Instead I would dress as a girl and my sister would show me how to apply make-up and I would try on the new clothes my sister bought for me. Before bed time we would get into our nighties and sit and talk to each other. She would often tell me about her boy troubles and ask me my opinion of them. ‘It sometimes helps to get a male mind on the problem’ as if I had a male mind. Years later my sister told me that she valued those little talks. I loved my sister as a brother but ten times more as a sister and then things got even better. When I turned sixteen my sister left home and got a flat. She let me stay there and had a separate wardrobe for all my clothes. I would sometimes stay for a week as long as I told mum. I don’t think she cared really, almost relieved we were out the house. It was during that time I ventured out with my sister. We went to a fast food restaurant. Later on she told me that she had pangs of jealousy as all the boys were looking at me more than her. I said rubbish, they probably know I’m just a drag queen then she showed me a picture she took when I wasn’t looking. I couldn’t believe it, I looked like a drop dead gorgeous sixteen year old. During that year I also dropped out of school. My mannerism were becoming harder to hide and began to cause trouble. I got into fights and I won them because I wasn’t weak but I got blamed and eventually it was suggested I should leave.”
Jamie paused then to eat and talked briefly to a passing couple. Jane just sipped her champagne and studied the woman in front of her.
Continuing Jamie said, “I lived that year as if in a dream flipping between boy and girl as easy as night and day. Sometimes I would have fun talking to a coffee shop waitress as a boy then next day as a girl. You know, I don’t think she ever knew. One day, however, my sister sat me down and said, Jack, whenever she called me Jack I knew it was serious, Jack you can’t keep living like this, you must decide if you want to be a man or a woman and if you wish to be a woman I will support you. You are seventeen now and on your eighteenth birthday you can start the procedure on your own. If you want to become a woman you must spend the next year one hundred percent as a woman also you need to come out to mum. That stung me. Living as woman presented no real problem but coming out to mum, well I didn’t know what would happen. After a couple of months I summoned up my courage and fully dressed as a woman knocked on her door. When she opened it I said, ′ hello mum, it’s Jack.′ Initially she was confused then followed a flash of recognition followed by a sudden stony face. She said, ‘Jack died this morning in a car crash.’”
Jamie paused then smiled and said, “You know, since then I’ve died in an air-plane crash, Ebola, aids and a terrorist attack.”
Jamie paused for more champagne and popped more cheese in her mouth.
" She never said a word to me again, I tried to call her, email her, send telegrams and when I went there in person she called the police. She got a restraining order out on me. My sister tried to intervene on my behalf but when she threatened to cut her off I told her to quit. I didn’t want my last line of communications cut off so I simply got on with my life. ”
“At eighteen I commenced the program but I was overcome by a fit of depression. I felt I was playing at being a woman. I felt that I wouldn’t ever get the most important thing and that is a family, a child and then I had an epiphany. It’s a beautiful word isn’t it. Anyway, I had this idea, I would leave a sperm sample, before I start hormone therapy, and after all this is finished find someone who will have my baby. I was happy now. Sure of my future.”
“The next problem was money. I needed to make a living and that troubled me for a long time. I had to secure a good enough income to support myself and my child. And it came to me while I was recovering from my operation. I have quite a few friends that are transgender or transvestite or gay. This particular friend came to visit me in hospital with his wife. He is an ex-police sergeant and totally macho but he has one fetish, if you can call it a fetish. He loves to wear evening or ball room dresses. Indeed he has a collection of dresses that most women would kill for. He doesn’t wear any other woman’s clothing, no underwear or nylons anything that isn’t needed for the evening dress. He found this beautiful sky blue dress but couldn’t find anything in his size. He tried everywhere and his wife was unable to modify one to fit.”
“His wife knew about this,” said a startled Jane.
“Oh Yes, his wife was a willing partner in his hobby. They would quite often both get dressed up in evening dress and have an evening meal together, at home of course. She was a bit disturbed when she discovered his hobby but when she allowed him to express himself she realised it was quite harmless. He now selects all her evening dresses. He has such exquisite taste, she said.”
“Is he gay,” Jane asked.
“No, his wife assures me he is one hundred percent masculine. He has given her three healthy children. Anyway, the idea was to provide a clothes alteration service to men who want to wear feminine clothing. It would be fitted on to them and then later design my own line of men’s feminine wear. I made many enquiries of my friends and acquaintances and found that there was a significant amount of interest so when I left hospital I enrolled in a business course and a clothes design course and at the same time secure finance for my project. I finished the courses in record time and went in search of my clothing studio.”
“When I opened my studio I had already ten orders, including one from the ex police sergeant and everything was looking good so I decided to start my family. I had a lady who agreed to supply the egg and bear the baby. She was and still is a very good friend of mine. She would be the babies aunt. With everything ready I went to the clinic and ran into a stone wall. I could not get them to give me the sperm. I filled out all the forms, I begged, I tried to reason with then, I threatened but nothing worked and they never gave me a reason why. It looked like I would need to take legal action but I did not have the money for that. I would need all my money for my venture and if I didn’t succeed with my venture I couldn’t afford to have a family. Painfully, I decided to abandon the whole idea. I got on with my life. My venture was quite successful and I was able to repay all my loans. The studio grew until I needed a larger one and more staff.”
“My sister ,Francis, meantime had married a French business man and moved to Paris but she maintained contact with mother. Francis has three children. I began to travel to Paris two, three times a year and I have developed a business relationship with a little design house there. They design male dresses and underwear for me. One day I received an email from Francis. Mother had died, she had a massive stroke in the supermarket. Francis asked if I would handle the funeral arrangements as her eldest daughter was having her first child and having a difficult time of it. She didn’t want to leave her. She would Fed Ex all the documents, priority, to me. I said of course and when I received the paper work I contacted the Funeral Home, explained the situation and left them to it.”
“In respect of her wishes I didn’t attend the funeral instead I gave the priest something to read for me. I went to her home to dispose of her goods and settle her affairs. I entered the house for the first time in many years. There were photographs and trophies of my old form, Jack, all over the place. I felt a great sadness, a feeling I had robbed her of a son she loved.”
Jane could understand this as she felt she had been robbed of a father.
“I got to work. I sold the furniture to a second hand furniture store. Boxed up all the smaller pieces and took them to the local Op Shop and collected all her papers. As I went through the papers I was surprised to find a stack that had been address to Jack. She knew where I lived but she was so determined to believe I was dead that she did not forward anything on to me. I popped these into my handbag to be sorted at home.”
“Once I was home I slipped into my PJ’s and started sorting through the envelopes. The majority were circulars and marketing junk for Jack. There was a few unimportant official notices I had failed to attend to before my identity change and one plain envelope with a window addressed to Jack. I did not realise how much this envelope would change my life. It was from the Registry informing me I had a biological daughter who wished to make contact with me and if I wished to make contact I was to fill in the form and return it. It is impossible to describe the range of emotions I went through. The first was rage, anger that someone could use my sperm without telling me then incredible sadness that someone has stolen a daughter from me and finally a deep seated loneliness set in. I sobbed my eyes out till I fell asleep. The next day I discussed it with my partner.”
Startled Jane echoed,” a partner?”
“Yes, I have a boyfriend. We are getting married next year. I wanted to just forget about it. It was over a year old so had probably been forgotten about but Bill, my partner, said, No you must meet her, she deserve to know you and you need to put a end to this chapter in your life. I filled out the form and sent it back then I received your letter.”
Oh god, Jane thought, the letter. She remembered writing it with the aid of a couple of Vodka and tonics and a half bottle of wine. It was full of emotional clap trap about having a father, totally inappropriate for the present situation.
Jamie looked at Jane and said,“It is impossible for me to be the father you want and deserve but if you will let me, I will be the best mother to you anyone could be otherwise I will leave and get out of your life.”
The emotions Jane had was one of loss and a feeling of being cheated out of a father. She studied Jamie’s face looking for any sign of a father but her eyes became fixed on the tiny trickle of tears running down Jamie’s cheeks. She could only say one thing.
“Any chance of being a bridesmaid, mum.”