Written by Kristine Roland
Edited by Joni W
Part 4 - This is the Sequel to Jason's Story.
Kelly deals with the fallout from the school article.
Author's Note: My sincere thanks to Joni W for all her efforts!
I am very sorry that this took so long to post. I got good and sick over the holidays, and as a result really had trouble concentrating on writing, or much of anything else. So things got backed up (heck we still have not gotten our Christmas tree down, if that gives you any idea.) I hope to be more regular going forward, now. Thanks for your patience, and I hope this part will have been worth the wait.
The first few days after the publication of Kirsten's article in the school newspaper, brought heightened focus on Kelly again. For the most part, the students that she spoke to were curious and politely asked her follow up questions.
There were a few students though, that took whatever opportunities they could to get a dig in, "Hey Jason, I hear your choo choo is stuck at Lupron Depot."
Kelly simply ignored such taunts when they occurred.
The choir suits and gowns were delivered later that week while she was attending choir practice after school. Mr. Winthrop personally oversaw the delivery. Nothing was said about the absence of Mrs. Drysdale. The choir split up into boys and girls groups, in order to try on their costumes.
While the rest of the girls changed in the girl's locker room, Kelly went into the nurse's office and changed in the restroom. When she came out in her choir gown, Mrs. Hammond looked over and said, "Very nice Kelly."
Kelly blushed and said, "Thank you, Mrs. Hammond."
She headed back over to the gym, and waited for the rest of the girls to come out of the locker room, to wait for Mr. Winthrop to finish with the boys.
When he came in he had them line up, and he examined the fit of each gown one at a time. A few needed some minor adjustments, but for the most part they were all perfect. When he came to Kelly he said, "Ah… Miss Anderson, let us have a look at you. Yes… yes, that is perfect, my dear."
Kelly said, "Thank you Mr. Winthrop, it is a beautiful gown, and it fits wonderfully."
Later that night, the phone rang at the Anderson residence. Kelly's mother answered it and Kelly could see her mother's face get a concerned look as she said, "What? Firefly News Network? Why would Kelly be on there?"
Her mother came into the family room and turned on the television and changed the channel to Firefly News.
The host of the show was saying:
Earlier this year we brought you a story about a school in Colorado allowing a young male student to attend dressed as a girl. As we told you at the time, we thought that this was a ridiculous approach for the school system to take, and that it was unfair to the other students to be subjected to this child's mental problem. We have now learned that yet another school system has been infected by the inability to say no. Up until the end of last year, Kelly Anderson was known to her fellow students at Jefferson Regional High School as Jason Anderson. Over this past summer, Jason decided that he wanted to be known as Kelly Anderson and taking advantage of poorly worded legislation, forced the school system to accept him as a "transitioning" female student.
The school has violated the civil rights of other students by strongly restricting the free speech rights of those students, that object to having to be subjected to this mockery. The school newspaper on the other hand, was recently used to promote a biased view, claiming that there really was no controversy. This 15 year old student, according to the school article, is even taking drugs to block puberty.
How a 15 year old can be considered to have enough experience to decide to make such a change in their life, is a travesty. You have heard me time and time again say that we are too quick to treat children with mind and body altering medicines. We give drugs to children in record numbers today for so called ADHD; can't control your kids give them a pill. Now we are using drugs to prevent kid's bodies from changing as they are supposed to change, only to force their bodies in an unnatural direction. When are parents going to learn to say 'NO' to their children? This child will regret this someday; mark my words. Where will he be as an adult that was not allowed to go through puberty?
To make matters worse, this mockery is part of the choir, and will soon be touring senior centers dressed in an evening gown. Did anyone ask the other choir members how they feel about being forced to act as evangelists for the transgender / homosexual agenda? Wherever this choir goes, they can be sure that protests will follow.
If you don't believe this is part of the gay agenda, then you only have to look at the fact that Jason Anderson has a girlfriend! Julie Sanders is apparently quite pleased that this confused boy Jason is going to become a lesbian like herself.
After the break, we will bring in several experts. We have Dr. Justin Jergins noted psychiatrist and his colleague, Dr. Allison Andrews, a respected expert on endocrinology. Dr. Jergins and Dr. Andrews authored the book The myth of transgenderism, how mutilation became standard practice. Taking the opposite point of view, we have Tony Caufield, a representative from the local Gay and Lesbian Task force.
Kelly's mother slammed the control and turned off the television. Kelly had turned white while listening to the host of the Firefly News Network show The Left Watch. Her mother came over to her and caught Kelly as she staggered backward toward the couch, one hand to her mouth, shaking.
"Mom… Why? How?" Kelly was in shock.
"I don't know, Kelly. Obviously someone forwarded the article from the school paper to them. We knew that letting Kirsten write it was taking a risk. Now the school is being targeted for national attention and people that were prepared to just ignore it, will start coming out of the woodworks. Damn!"
The phone rang, Mrs. Anderson answered it. "Hello…" She quickly hung up the phone. "Kelly, don't answer the phone, if it rings again. Let it go to the machine."
Calls came in all night, many of them quite nasty. Officer Dowling stopped in at Mr. and Mrs. Anderson's request and listened to some of the calls. He said, "Don't erase any of these. I'll have the detective stop by tomorrow. He is going to want to keep a record of these in case we need them. We will step up the watch on the street again. Kelly, I'm sorry."
Kelly shook her head and said, "It's not your fault officer. I guess I should not have let Kirsten write that article. "
Officer Dowling said, "I read that article, Kelly. Kirsten did a great job, and I think it was important that it be said. We will do everything we can to keep you safe."
Kelly thanked the officer, and Mrs. Anderson saw him out.
A few minutes later, the doorbell rang. Kelly's mother went to the door, and let Kirsten in. "Mrs. Anderson, I am so sorry. I never would have believed that my article could have caused this."
"It's ok Kirsten; it is not your fault."
Kirsten asked, "Is Kelly ok?"
Kelly came out to the front hall and said, "I'm a bit in shock, but I will be ok, I guess."
Kirsten seeing Kelly came over to her and said, "I'm so sorry Kelly! Can you forgive me?"
"It's ok Kirsten, you didn't do anything wrong. We knew we were taking a chance by letting you write the article, we all knew the risk."
"I got a call from Bradford News Network, Firefly's main competitor. They want to do a positive rebuttal to the story, like they did in the Colorado case. I told them it was not my decision. They said they had tried to reach you, but that your phone was going straight to voice mail. They would like to talk to you and your parents about how they can help."
"I don't know Kirsten. I can't believe this is national news. Why should anyone care about this? I just want it all to go away."
"I'm so sorry, Kelly," Kirsten said.
"I think you should do it," Kelly's mother said quietly.
"Mom," Kelly looked at her mother in shocked surprise?
"Honey, this is not going to just blow away. Someone in this town has to have sent that off to FNN. The positive article Kirsten published did not set off a firestorm, like this. It took this… Oh!... Son of a bitch! This ignorant bastard at FNN to pontificate and set it off. If we can get a positive rebuttal out there, it might help those that are on the fence. Not to mention that someone is out there and is going to treat their own child badly and use this … piece of garbage… to justify it."
Kelly's mother was clearly upset and doing her best to control her anger. Kelly was not used to seeing her mother this animated. She was clenching her fists, and looked like she was ready to chew nails.
"I'm sorry, Mom. This is my fault." Kelly said.
Her mother grabbed Kelly and pulled her to her.
"No, Kelly, don't you dare. This is not your fault. You have made great progress in accepting yourself over the past few months; I am not mad or disappointed with you. I'm furious that people are so damned judgmental and can't let people be."
She let Kelly go, turned to Kirsten and said, "Kirsten do you have the contact information with you for Bradford?"
"Yes, I do." Kirsten gave Mrs. Anderson a slip of paper.
The next couple of days at school Kelly was once again the main topic of the moment. Just about everyone had seen the broadcast, or its repeated showing later in the night.
Her mother had contacted the producer from Bradford News Network, and they had sent a film crew. Kelly tried to ignore them as they followed her around to get the footage they needed.
At the Anderson's request, the school co-operated with the news team. The school board officials were happy to have a national news organization producing a positive rebuttal story, and several members consented to being interviewed.
The news truck followed the choir's school bus tour of the area nursing homes, senior centers and local hospital.
At the first stop of the day, they found Reverend Triphard and his followers outside, protesting. The choir was escorted past the protesters by security. In the lobby, the head of the facility waited for them.
"I'm Mrs. Dixon, you are Mr. Peters?"
"Yes, I am. I'm afraid we were not expecting this to be a controversial visit! I wish you had let us know what to expect. I'm not sure I should let this go on," said Mr. Peters, clearly annoyed.
"Mr. Peters, we certainly do not see why a visit to a nursing home for the choir to perform should be considered controversial," Mrs. Dixon replied, trying to keep her calm.
"You did not think that performing here with a boy dressed in a gown would be controversial? We have a very conservative cliental. The families of our residents are going to be quite concerned."
A well dressed and immaculately groomed woman spoke up and said, "Excuse me. Are you saying that you are not going to allow the choir to perform?"
"Who are you?" Mr. Peters asked confused.
"I'm Beth Ann Williams, Bradford News Network." She said as she held out her hand.
"Bradford News Network?" Mr. Peters said, clearly put off guard.
"Yes. I am a correspondent for BNN, and I am trying to understand what you are saying. I want to be certain that we don't misrepresent your actions in our story on the choir, and its members."
Mr. Peters then noticed the man behind Ms. Williams holding a television camera. He stuttered and said, "No, of course not. I simply was saying that we would have appreciated some warning so that we could properly prepare should anyone have any objections. I'm sure it will be fine, though. Follow me, please."
Mr. Peters waived them through and brought them to a common room where the residents were waiting.
Mrs. Dixon stopped and quietly said to Ms. Williams, "Thank you. That had all the makings of an ugly scene."
"You are welcome. It was my pleasure, but I would have very much enjoyed ripping Mr. Peters apart on air if he had kept the choir from performing. It would just be wrong."
Kelly had been appalled as she realized that they were going to be turned away. She heard some of the members of the choir getting upset, and some of them were angry at her for putting them in this position. She heard several different people saying quietly that if she had any decency she would quit. When they started to move into the room, she initially was frozen in place. Brenda, the girl next to her said, "Kelly… Come on. Don't let them get to you; this is not your fault. Let's go in there and prove you belong in this choir. Come on girl, let's go."
As they went through their set, Kelly looked out at the seniors. Most were having a good time. There were a few that were pointing at her and making faces. It unnerved her, but she pushed it out of her mind and lost herself in the music. She concentrated on hitting the right notes, and kept her eyes on the lyric book.
When they were complete, they got a loud ovation. Afterwards they formed a receiving line and welcomed the residents to come and say hello. Most of them shook her hand and accepted her Happy Holidays and New Year wishes in the spirit taken. No one confronted her.
When they got on the bus, Mrs. Dixon came and sat by her. "Are you ok, Kelly? I'm sorry about that, it never occurred to me there could be a problem."
"I guess, I am sorry though that the others had to deal with it. Do you want me to quit? I really don't know that this is fair to the choir."
"No Kelly, I don't want you to quit. And if there is anyone in this choir who thinks you should, well the door is that away for them. You have as much right as anyone to be here. You sing very well, and so obviously love it, that it would be tragic for you to feel the need to quit."
The protestors were set up at each of their stops, but there were no further incidents. Kelly was not sure if that was because the managers at the other facilities did not care, or if it was because they had heard that they had a reporter from BNN with them. In either case, Kelly was just happy that there had not been any further incidents.
Ms. Williams interviewed her, her parents, Julie and the gang. She interviewed Kirsten as the author of the school article. She also managed to interview Kelly's Aunt Jessica and cousin Tom as they were at one of the protesters. She interviewed Reverend Triphard, but he cut it short as he realized she was not sympathetic to him.
The story was to air on Friday night. Kelly was very nervous about how she would be portrayed, despite the assurances of the BNN people that it would be a positive story. Part of her wanted to just ignore it, but she knew she had to see it. Initially she was going to watch it with just her parents and Julie. However, her other family and friends had other ideas. They ended up at a local restaurant that had a private room with a television.
When the segment on her came on, they all gathered around to watch.
The news anchor began by saying, "Our next story is about Kelly, a young transgendered woman attending Jefferson Regional High School. Last week, Kelly and the school officials at Jefferson Regional High School became the focus of national scrutiny when Firefly News Network host, Ben O'Dale made them the subject of his nightly show The Left Watch. We sent our correspondent, Beth Ann Williams to meet the young woman that had Ben so annoyed."
The scene changed to show Kelly, walking into school, with her friends. The voice of Beth Ann Williams narrating over the images began, "Kelly Anderson is a freshman student at Jefferson Regional High School. Like most girls her age, Kelly gets up in the morning, deliberates over what to wear, puts on her makeup and gets ready to go to school. But unlike most girls her age, Kelly was born male. Up until the start of this year, her classmates all knew Kelly as Jason."
The scene cut to Beth and Kelly sitting facing each other in her bedroom. Kelly is neatly dressed, and is meticulously made up.
"Kelly, when did you decide that you would attend high school this year as Kelly instead of Jason?"
"It was something I thought about most of last year, after I talked to my parents about how I felt. My parents were concerned about the risks of coming out to the school, and I was scared about it myself. So while I certainly dreamt about it, I did not really seriously consider it until this summer."
"What happened over the summer to make this something that you felt you needed to do?"
"My cousin found out about Kelly and he took a picture of me in a bathing suit from his cell phone. He sent that to some friends of his that live in our town, and they turned around and sent it on, and within maybe thirty minutes the whole town knew about me. So that changed things. I needed to be Kelly, but my parents would have wanted to take it slow to protect me, since everyone already knew, there wasn't any more risk. In fact they saw it as the best chance to protect me. I was going to be hassled about it anyway, but if people could see me as Kelly, they might be able to accept it better. For the most part that is how it worked out."
The scene shifted again, and the photograph of Kelly and Julie in their swimsuits, along with a copy of the e-mail text was shown on the screen. The narrator read the e-mail, and then the scene shifted back to Kelly in her bedroom.
Beth asked, "Why did your cousin do this? He must have known the potential trouble this would cause for you?"
"You would have to ask him. From his perspective, this is all a big sin. My Aunt Jessica, Tom's mother slapped me when she realized that she was seeing me. She said a bunch of nasty things, and then left. I guess he felt that if people were to find out, it would force me to quit. They don't understand that quitting is really not an option. I can't stop being who I am. I am Kelly," she said with a smile.
"So you must be pretty upset with them?"
"I was, but I have forgiven them. They know not what they do." Kelly said, with a slight smile. "Seriously, they are my family, and I love them. I have lots of support from the rest of my family and this has hurt them terribly. They have completely shut themselves off from the family over this. I feel bad for them. Most especially, I feel bad for my cousin Billy. I know how disappointed he had to have been that day. My grandparents are no longer able to spend time with him either and that is really tragic."
"How did you feel when you heard the commentary from Ben O'Dale?"
"Appalled. I could not believe I was on national news to begin with, and then to hear him go off like that. I felt like, who the heck are you, what gives you the right to judge me? He had never spoken to me much less met me. I'm sure that someone in town, sent him a copy of the school newspaper article on me."
Kelly was asked a few more questions, before the scene switched to Beth sitting with her parents in the family room.
"Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, I have spent the day following Kelly around and I have to say she is really wonderful. She is remarkably upbeat and she handles herself so well. She keeps her head up high and faces it with a strength that can only be because she so clearly has the support of you both."
Kelly's parents both say, "Thank you."
"What would you say to those that say, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson are you insane? How can you let your 15 year old child do this?"
"I'd say to them, if you had seen the difference in Kelly from when she had been Jason, she is much happier and content with life now. Jason was a good boy and I did not really realize how unhappy he was until I got to see him as Kelly. We truly believe that we are doing what is right for Kelly."
"What about the medicine, Lupron Depot. Mr. O'Dale's commentary echoes what many people think, about treating young children with puberty blocking drugs."
"Mr. O'Dale does not understand. Lupron Depot is buying Kelly time to make decisions about her life. She may still decide to be Jason, although I suspect that is highly unlikely. If she does, she can simply stop taking the Lupon Depot and she will go through puberty as normal. If however, she decides to stay as Kelly, it will prevent her from having to have many expensive and invasive procedures. Kelly was extremely distressed by the changes that were occurring to her body and this put her mind at ease."
After a few more questions with Kelly's parents and then some more with Mr. Lewis, the president of the board of education, Mr. West, the school superintendant and Mr. Martin, the school principal, the scene changed to the first nursing home.
Beth Williams narrating over the images of the protestors outside said "We were fortunate to meet Kelly on the day that the Jefferson Regional High School choir was making the rounds of the local nursing homes and senior centers, an annual holiday tradition. As we approached the first center of the day, we found a small group of protestors, led by the Reverend Triphard, had set up just outside the center. They carried signs indicating that Kelly was an abomination and that the choir members would all be going to hell for performing with Kelly. Amongst the protestors, we found Kelly's Aunt Jessica and Cousin Tom."
The scene changed to show Jessica and Tom bundled up in their coats, standing near the protestors. Beth Williams was standing by them with her microphone.
"I'm Beth Ann Williams and this is Jessica and Tom Merrick."
Jessica and Tom nodded in agreement.
"They are here today to protest the Jefferson Regional High School Choir's performance. You are also Kelly Anderson's aunt and cousin, is that correct?"
Jessica looking disgusted said, "His name is Jason! Jason is a boy, not a girl. It is a sin for him to be parading around in a dress and on top of that, to be part of a choir and performing Christmas songs is totally offensive to those of the true faith."
"But Kelly is legally recognized as a transitioning woman, so her name is now Kelly."
"That's legal nonsense. He was baptized as Jason, so that is his real name. You can't change the name you were baptized with, not in the eyes of the Lord."
"So your name is not really Jessica Merrick then, it's really Jessica Anderson?" Beth asked, with a well practiced smile.
"That's totally different and you know it," Jessica replied.
"These things always are." Beth said, keeping her smile on her face. "Tom, you are the cousin that sent the e-mail that exposed your cousin's transgenderism to the community?"
"Yes, I did. I would do it again too. Jason has put his soul in jeopardy, as well as the rest of our family that has supported him. As Reverend Triphard teaches, you must shine the light on the sinner, to get them to change."
"It does not seem to be working as you would have thought. In fact, your e-mail freed Kelly to be able to come to school. She would have continued to keep Kelly a secret for now, had you not made it public knowledge already."
"I told you his name is Jason." Jessica snapped.
"Yes, I know, but Kelly has asked us to refer to her as Kelly and we will honor her request. You should know that Kelly has said that she forgives you and that you know not what you do."
Jessica says, "Typical, he blasphemes the words of our Lord."
"How is what she says blasphemous? She seems to be emulating his teaching."
"He is mocking the Lord's words."
"You don't believe that she has forgiven you and Tom then?" Beth asked. "Is that because you don't believe that what you did is forgivable?"
"I don't know what HE feels. I know that what we did is right and that there is no need for HIS forgiveness. Someday, he will thank us for what we did."
"From what I understand, you have not spoken with Kelly since that day at the cabin, is that correct?"
Tom answered, "I have not. I get sick just thinking about the image of Jason in that bathing suit."
Jessica agreed, "I do not want my children exposed to his perversion."
"Did you see the O'Dale commentary on Firefly News Network?"
"Yes we did. It was good to see the news media putting attention on the situation here. It is absurd that our state legislature has forced the community here to accept my nephew in the school as a girl."
"How do you think that FNN learned about the situation?"
Tom answered, "Oh Reverend Triphard contacted a friend of his that works there."
Jessica said, "Tom! That is not something for you to share."
As she was saying this, Reverend Triphard came over. "Jessica, what do we have here? We need you and Tom in the protest lines."
"Reverend Triphard, I'm Beth Ann Williams, with Bradford News Network."
Reverend Triphard said, "I know who you are, little lady."
"Reverend, Tom here just told us that you were responsible for bringing this situation to Mr. O'Dale, is that correct?"
Reverend Triphard's face showed annoyance, but he quickly recovered and said, "Yes. After the school newspaper published an extremely biased piece, that completely ignored the protests of those of us that find the attendance of Jason Anderson at the Jefferson High School completely unacceptable, I felt it was necessary to respond. Since the school will not publish our response, I got in touch with Mr. O'Dale."
"Reverend Triphard, from what we have been able to tell, after the violence that occurred during Kelly's first day at school, the town pretty much did decide to accept Kelly. That is, with the exception of your church, which, correct me if I'm wrong, is not even located in a town served by Jefferson Regional High School."
"There are many that live in the community here that are silent, but are strongly opposed to Jason's attending the school. Those that have children in the school, are afraid that vocal opposition will result in retaliation against their children in the school. The trumped up charges against Courtney, for an accident during gym class, has them afraid to speak out."
"You are referring to the girl that broke Kelly's leg on the first day of school, by taking a two handed, full swing, at her leg, with a field hockey stick? My understanding is, that she only received detention, she was not expelled and she was not charged with assault. She was warned strongly against further attacks. Do you condone violence against Kelly?"
"Don't put words in my mouth, little lady. There is no evidence that Courtney intentionally hurt Jason. If there were, they would have pressed charges. As I said, it was an accident."
"The gym teacher did not believe it to be an accident."
"The school has done everything it can to suppress the free speech rights of those that object to Jason's attendance. Now if you will excuse me, I must return to exercise my freedom of speech." With that Reverend Triphard, Jessica and Tom went back to the protestors.
The scene shifts to the office of the school principal.
"Mr. West, we ran into Reverend Triphard this morning. He was leading the protests at the various stops the choir made today. He charged that the school is interfering with the free speech rights of your students and their parents. He says that there are many that oppose Kelly's attendance, but won't speak, as they are afraid of retaliation against their children, by the school."
"People are entitled to their opinion. We have a strict policy against hateful speech, harassment, or bullying on campus. We cannot control and do not try to control, what they say at home. There are of course, laws against threatening speech and the local police department has responded to calls to the Anderson's home, that were threatening. We do not have any intention of punishing a student for the views of their parents; there were a number of parents that objected quite strongly at the board of education meeting, when this was discussed. Their children have not been treated any differently. We did try to keep those that objected most strongly, in classes that were different from Kelly's, for everyone's benefit."
"He also charged that the school newspaper printed a highly biased piece and would not allow a rebuttal."
"We have not had one submitted by a student. All of our school newspaper articles are written by students. The article was well written and the facts presented, were verified by the faculty advisor. It is true that the interview portion focused on those close to Kelly. If a student wants to submit an article that is verifiable and respectful, we will publish it."
The scene changes to the choir singing at the senior center. The choir is singing "Silent Night" and the camera zooms in on Kelly.
The scene changes to Kelly, Julie, Kathy, Sue and Meghan walking out of the school together. Beth narrates over the images, "Kelly Anderson is beautiful young woman. Considering the trials that she has already been through, she remains remarkably grounded, upbeat, and aware that she has been very lucky to receive a tremendous amount of support."
The segment ended and returned to the live image of the network studio. Beth Ann Williams was now sitting next to the news anchor. The host asked, "Kelly seems to be a remarkable person, Beth."
Beth, looking at the camera, said, "Well Judy, I found that Kelly is much like any other 15 year girl, looking to find her own path through high school and life. The support she has gotten from most of her family and friends gives her the strength to deal with those that are not supportive. The same day that she had her leg broken, their home was actually attacked and a brick thrown through the living room window. The people responsible for that have been charged and the cases are pending. Although she truly has forgiven her Aunt Jessica and Cousin Tom, it still hurts her that they will not accept her. It is unfortunate that our own profession has been used to cause her more pain. Mr. O'Dale did not do any research into the situation, but basically parroted Reverend Triphard's rhetoric. There are some people in the community that are not comfortable about the situation, but most that we spoke to felt that Reverend Triphard was over the top. Even the protests that we found at the various nursing homes and the senior center, were really very small, and the same people were moving from one event to the next, making it look like there were more protestors then there really were."
"Thank you, Beth. After the break we will be speaking with a panel of leading psychologists that are expert in gender issues. We invited the experts that Mr. O'Dale spoke with on his show, but when they learned they would be part of a full panel, they declined to take part."
With that, the Television was turned off. Kelly sat back and listened to her family and friends commenting on the report.
Grandma Anderson was saying, "I swear to God, I don't understand where she gets that from. I know we did not raise her that way!"
Kelly's father said, "Mom, you can't blame yourself. It's all Bob's influence; you know that."
"I know that Richard, but I thought I did a better job raising you all."
"Lizzie, you did a great job raising our children, look at Richard and Sally." Grandpa Ira said.
"Oh, I know that. You two are so wonderful and you know I'm proud of you. I just get so mad at your sister."
"Well, Mom, she made an ass out of herself in that interview. I doubt too many people will be overly sympathetic to her point of view, unless they are already so far that way themselves. She and Reverent Triphard came off as vindictive and small." Kelly's father said.
"Kelly on the other hand, you looked great, and I am very proud of the way you handled yourself. I know it was difficult. Your mother and I love you so much." Her father came over and pulled her out of her chair and gave her a big hug.
The conversation continued, as they sat down and had coffee and dessert. Kelly just sat back, quietly thinking to herself.
That night in her room, Kelly continued to think about everything. "What the heck am I doing? How did this ever get so out of control? I've lost my Aunt Jessica, Tom and Billy. They will never accept me, and worse, I have driven this wedge between them and the rest of the family. That is never going to heal."
Kelly curled up and began to cry. "I should have just kept it all to myself. Was being Jason so horrible that I needed to cause all of this? Not only the family division, but the town divided too. In a sense they are right, there are a lot of people that just don't say what they really feel. Why? Am I really so awful? Oh, God, what should I do?"
Kelly cried herself to sleep.
The next morning, she woke up. She took her breast forms off before she went into the shower, and she stored them in their pink box. When she came back, she grabbed a t-shirt with a band logo, grabbed a pair of sweats, and the plainest panties she had, a pair of white high cut cotton briefs. She did not put on makeup, her breast forms or a bra.
When she came out into the kitchen her mother looked up and did a double take. "Kelly, are you ok?"
"I'm fine, Mom." Kelly grabbed a bowl and the cereal.
"You don't look ok. Are you feeling alright? You aren't wearing your forms, or a bra."
"I feel fine, Mom."
Her mother reached over and touched Kelly's forehead, "Well, no fever. Something must be bothering you. Has it anything to do with the broadcast last night?"
"I don't want to talk about it, Mom, Ok!" Kelly slammed the spoon down in the bowl, started to cry and ran back to her room.
She slammed the door behind her and threw herself on her bed, curling up into the fetal position. Her mother gave her a few minutes and then came in and sat next to her. She sat there with her, just rubbing Kelly's back and waiting for Kelly to talk.
"Why me? Why did this have to be me? I have the whole town divided against itself. Aunt Jessica and Tom and Billy are never going to accept me; they have cut themselves and Billy off from all of you; and it's all my fault! Why couldn't I just keep this to myself? Being Jason was not that horrible, I could have been happy as Jason too; I'm sure I could have, if I just tried harder. Especially with someone like Julie; that could let Kelly out occasionally. Why did I have to push this hard? I was just too selfish and look what that has lead too."
Kristine let Kelly wind down and then said, "Kelly, do you think that Jessica and Tom are right about this being a sin?"
Kelly sat up and held onto her mother.
"Mom, I don't know what to think anymore. I don't want it to be a sin; but is that just self justification, or is it really not a sin? I don't know. I just know that I've driven the family apart and I hate it!"
"Kelly, you did not cause Jessica to split off from the family. This has been coming for years; this was just the final push over the line. Your father was ready to break off all ties with them long before we knew about your needs. If it hadn't been this, it would have been something else. Believe me."
"Fine, but I am still responsible for the division in the town and now it's not just the town, but the damn news media is using me to fight over as well. I just want to be me, why is that so awful? Maybe I should give it all up and go back to being Jason."
"Kelly, that is not going to change anything in the town and the news will be on to something new in the next day or two. Besides, it was just the two cable news programs looking for ratings. O'Dale was used by Triphard to further his agenda and Beth Ann's show is always trading barbs with O'Dale's show, so they were quite happy to take an opposing view, a fact which frankly, we used to our advantage. But I doubt it will be on their radar going forward."
They held on to each other tightly and just sat quietly.
"Kelly, I love you. I love you, no matter whether you decide to be; Kelly or Jason. If you ever decide you need to be Jason again, your father and I will surely back you up. But I don't want you to give up being Kelly, because you are worried about the family or the town, or the whole damn country. You don't have to give up being who you are; you don't owe anyone that. Do you want me to call Dr. Daniels and see if he can see you today?"
"Ok, wait here, I'll be back in a few minutes." Mrs. Anderson gave Kelly another squeeze and then went into the other room. A few minutes later, she came back. "I spoke with Dr. Daniels; he said he would meet us at his office in an hour. Do you want to get changed, or go like that?"
"I suppose I should get changed, or at least get cleaned up a bit. I don't really want to be seen like this, it will just add to the problems."
"It's up to you, Kelly."
"I'll at least put on my breast forms and bra. I already get teased enough by Courtney and her crowd, about not having real breasts."
A little while later, Kelly was sitting in Dr. Daniels office.
"So what's going on Kelly," Dr. Daniels asked her.
"I was pretty upset this morning. I'm feeling really guilty about all of the stuff that is going on in town and in the family. Watching the report last night, all I could see was all of this stuff that is happening because of me and I just hate it."
"What stuff in particular?"
"My Aunt and her family are completely ostracized from the rest of the family, for one. Particularly, Billy."
"Do you believe that you have to live your life based on your Aunt's religious beliefs? There are many things she disapproves of. Your parents totally disagree with her on lots of things; you don't have the same religious restrictions. You can't live your life trying to please everyone Kelly. Really, you can't. It is your Aunt's failing not yours."
"That doesn't help Billy."
"No, but again it is your Aunt's decisions that are keeping you apart. Billy is young and he may someday reject his mother on this, or he may be just like Tom when he grows up, that will be a choice he will make. Billy has been exposed to you and he knows that you were a good cousin to him; what he takes from this will be his choice and is not your responsibility."
"But it feels like it is."
"Kelly, I know it does, because you are a kind and gentle person. You care about everyone else, almost more than you do about yourself, but you have to start by liking yourself. If you can't do that, then you will eventually be unhappy and bitter about it. Then you won't be able to help any of the people you care about either."
"It's so hard. I just… want…. to be... normal." Tears began to well up in her eyes. "Why could I not be happy as Jason? Why couldn't I have been born Kelly, if this is truly who I was meant to be? Why? Why would God do this to me? Am I such a horrible person? Am I paying for some mistake I made in a past life? Why!"
"Kelly, I'm not qualified to answer for God. All I can tell you is that sometimes these things happen and it has nothing to do with being a good or a bad person, in this or any other life. It may feel like you are the only person that has these feelings, but you aren't. I think it might be time for you to get involved with one of the local support groups, for transgendered teens. I think it will help. There is one that meets monthly; it is not too far away, maybe an hour drive. It will be good for you and your parents too."
"I guess. I've talked a lot to Michele about things, but it would be nice to talk to others my age. My friends have been great, but they just don't understand. Even, Julie, as much as she loves me, doesn't understand it."
"I'll talk to your mother about it."
"Thanks, Dr. Daniels. I'm sorry to pull you in here on your day off."
"It's ok, Kelly. I would be in the wrong business if I wasn't prepared to listen when you need to talk."
They continued to talk about things for a little while; then Kelly went into the waiting room and sent her mother in to speak with Dr. Daniels. While she was waiting for her, she went into the ladies room and washed her face. She took a deep breath, pulled out her makeup kit and decided to make a fresh start on the day.
In the car on the way home, Kelly said, "Thank you, Mom. I'm sorry about this morning."
"Oh Kelly, there is nothing for you to be sorry about. It's overwhelming sometimes, isn't it? Dr. Daniels gave me the information on the Teen Support group. We will call and find out what we need to do to get you to the next meeting, and when it is. Also, I'm going to talk to Minister Goodman about talking to you. You know that he has been supportive of you. You have to remember, Reverend Triphard does not speak for God."
Over the next few days, Kelly started to feel better about herself again. On Sunday, after church, she had met with Minister Goodman. It had been a good talk and one that she probably should have had sooner. Minister Goodman had told her that the Bible was really not very specific on either gay or transgender issues. And that most of the passages that were quoted to condemn those things, were in the Old Testament and were part of the laws for the Jewish people at the time. Many of those things are completely ignored in today's world, because the situations have changed.
He had told Kelly that the thing to remember, was how Jesus actually treated people. Minister Goodman could not see how anyone who had truly read the Bible and studied how Jesus behaved toward people, could advocate the hate and condemnation that some supposed Christian leaders did.
The night of the choir holiday concert at the school came. Kelly dressed in her choir dress, hair and makeup by Michele, was looking radiant, as she walked into the school. She ignored the scraggily crowd of protestors from Reverend Triphard's church. The auditorium was full and the choir performed well. During the intermission, as she drank some bottled water and looked at the crowd buying baked goods, to support the choir, she was approached by many of the parents who smiled and congratulated her and the other choir members. She got several complements on how nice she looked and a few of them even mentioned having seen the special report on BNN and offered her encouragement.
She did notice of course, some others avoided her, and saw some small blocks of parents looking over and pointing at her. But she just tried to put those things aside for the night.
The second set went off without a hitch. All of the girls, including Kelly, received a bouquet of red roses from the town florist, that sponsored the event. It was a wonderful night for Kelly.
Finally, Christmas break had come and on Christmas morning, Kelly woke up for her first Christmas. She put on her bathrobe, and headed out to the kitchen.
She found her mother making coffee. She grabbed some orange juice for herself, and then headed out into the living room to start the morning festivities. As with their tradition, the house had been decorated the weekend after Thanksgiving. The tree, was covered in multi-colored lights and a combination of store bought and homemade ornaments. Many of the store bought ornaments were commemorating some special moment, like the ones that were for her parents first Christmas, then there was one with a pregnant Momma bear and another with a baby bear. One for when they had moved into this house. Her mother was a huge Norman Rockwell fan, so there were a number of ornaments of that nature as well. Most of the homemade ornaments were from when she was little. Made in school or kindergarten, they had traced her growing up as Jason. There was a new ornament there this morning though. It was one that she had not made and when Kelly saw it, she almost started crying. There, prominently displayed at eye level, was a star, with a picture of her in her choir dress. It said, "Kelly's first Christmas, 2008."
Her parents were standing behind her, she turned around, with the tears welling in her eyes and said, "Oh... Thank you!" Kelly gave her parents each a long, tight hug, wishing them each a "Merry Christmas!"
They sat down and Kelly's father handed out the presents. This year was very different, in the past she would have gotten mostly video games, books, and maybe a couple of outfits. This year, she got lots of clothes, and only one video game; but her parents also bought her a locket. Inside it was engraved with, "To Kelly, our lovely daughter. Love, Mom and Dad."
After the presents were opened, they cleaned up, and got ready for the guests to arrive.
The rest of the day was spent with Aunt Sally, Emily and her grandparents. Julie's family had gone to visit her mother's family, but stopped by on their way home and had some dessert with them.
As Kelly got ready for bed that night, wearing a new nightgown, she felt good, really good. She knew that she would have more tough days, days were she would wonder "why me" but she thought to herself, I will also have days like today and I just have to try to remember them, on those hard days.
With that she fell asleep.
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