The fallout over what Caitlin had to share with everyone begins and she is dealing with it so well. Well, maybe not that well...
This is a work of fiction. There should be no way that these characters are like anyone else, but if that isn’t the case, it has definitely been unintentional. Also, if you happen to find that your life is represented in these pages, I’ll be impressed.
“Uhm… Holly, that’s not it.”
“Than what?” she asked from where she was sitting.
“I… I’m a guy.”
The silence that fell over the room then was oppressive. I looked down at the floor, too embarrassed by all of this to look any of them in the eye. What must they think of me? I knew that this was a stupid thing to do, that I could easily have waited until we had become sisters, but part of me thought of it as a betrayal and I couldn’t stand it. I was sure that if I looked up I would see hatred in their faces and couldn’t bear that. Meredith squeezed my hand and I looked back up at the others.
“Is this a joke?” continued Holly, her eyes narrowed in anger and locked with mine.
“No, it’s not.” I replied quietly.
“Why don’t we hear Caitlin out before we jump to any conclusions?” suggested Alison, trying to calm things down.
“You knew, didn’t you.” accused Holly, turning to face the Goth girl. Holly was clearly heated over this and that wasn’t a good thing in my opinion. She was able to make things happen her way far too often for me to want to piss her off.
“I found out at the party at my apartment but that’s neither her nor there.” said Alison. “Can we just hear her out and the go from there?”
Holly growled out, “Fine.”
I looked over the faces of my friends and they were closed to me. There was surprise, shock, anger, and confusion but that was all. I sighed heavily and began to relate to them everything that had happened to me, and how I had gotten myself into this situation. I didn’t hold anything back and talked about how I felt about it as well. I wanted to make sure that they understood where I was coming from and what I was going through.
The looks on their faces changed some over the course of the story and that helped me a lot. It helped me to feel less cut off from them and helped me to continue. “So right now, I have gotten to relax over all of this and everything. I am in a better place about all of that. Look, I want to be a Sister of this House, I really do. I want to be your Sister if you’ll have me. I wanted to let you know now because it isn’t right for me to keep this sort of secret from you all. You are my friends and I didn’t want to keep lying to you about something like this. I don’t think it really changes things. This is still who I am.”
The room was quiet as people were digesting my words and then Thuriya spoke up. “So, you are not sure why you are doing this?”
“Well, I agreed to do this if I was let in and to be a decent member of this House. I am holding to my word, even though I had not initially wanted to do this. I had wanted to take the House to court for discrimination but Nadia and Sandra are much smarter than me it seems. This is something I said I wanted to do and I want to see this through to the end.” I clarified.
“So you are not trying to make fun of women?” She continued as if she was looking for something specific from me and I was at a loss as to exactly what it was.
“No, I am not. I know that I am not a woman but I am trying to be one to the best of my ability so I can be a true Sister of this House. Everyone has helped me to be Caitlin and not some guy in a dress.”
Thuriya nodded in thought. It was clear the wheels were turning. “So you are not doing this to try and do immoral things?”
“I always look away. I don’t want to invade your privacy. It kind of embarrasses me whenever I am in that situation.”
“But you have invaded our privacy, haven’t you?” asked Dawn.
I nodded. “I have.”
Nadia stepped in at this point. “The Sorority decided to allow Caitlin to join at the National level. Caitlin here has done everything we have asked of her and has done a good job of trying to become a full Sister of this House. Caitlin changed her whole life to join this Sorority. That is dedication.”
This bit of news struck Holly and she looked even more thoughtful on the subject. Nadia continued on, “You were all going to be told about Caitlin after your initiation, when you were all full Sisters. This is not something that would have been hidden from you forever. The decision was made not to tell you earlier as this is something the House is trying to keep quiet. Caitlin is under extra scrutiny because of this and has done nothing to make us question the decision to let her in.”
Alison looked right at Holly when she said, “I don’t have a problem with this. Caitlin has been a good friend to me and I don’t want her to leave.”
Nadia looked over the girls. “Does anyone here want Caitlin to leave, now that you know this?”
The room was still quiet and you could tell that everyone was busy thinking about this. My palms were sweating and my heart was racing. I was so nervous that they would reject me over this. I was trying to do the right thing here, wasn’t I? I began to feel lightheaded and wobbled a bit, closing my eyes to try and regain equilibrium. I wanted to face this, to deal with this on my feet.
My thoughts swam and I staggered some, bits of my vision sort of graying out. I grabbed Meredith’s hand tightly and she looked over at me surprised. She got hold of me and helped me sit down on the floor. My vision was swimming and my chest began to hurt some, the pain radiating down my left arm some. Sarah was quickly by my side, looking at me carefully. “Caitlin, you need to calm down some. It’s okay.”
She was listening to my heart as it raced and smiled some. “You need to stop having these panic attacks girl. They aren’t fun.”
I nodded, smiling a little and concentrated on my breathing, trying to slow it down and get calm. Sarah helped me, by talking me through the breathing and relaxation. This situation was nerve wracking and I hated it. Why did I have to go after this House. If had chosen any other stupid House I would have been able to do what I had planned and simply gone on with my life.
The other girls of my pledge group were hovering around nervously, with the girls of the House there as well. Meredith was behind me, holding me against her. Holly asked, “Are you okay?”
I nodded weakly. These things drained about everything that resembled energy right out of me. “Yeah. I get stress induced panic attacks apparently.”
“And this stresses you out?” asked Megan, obviously worried.
“Yeah. It can get pretty bad sometimes. I have gotten better at dealing with the stress, but I guess telling you all was a lot more stressful than I had thought.” I smiled, still a bit lightheaded. I leaned back against Meredith, resting my head on her shoulder.
Megan came up and hugged me. “You are still my friend Caitlin and I want you to stay.”
I hugged her back. That felt good. “Thank you Megan, that really does mean a lot to me.”
Devin soon joined in, then Alison and pretty soon I was buried under hugs from all of my pledge class. As we let go and everyone sat back, Devin asked Thuriya, “You know, I thought this might be a bigger thing to you. I though Islam had issues with transgender individuals?”
“That is true, there are a lot of issues about it but Caitlin is not mocking women in what she is doing. There have been several fatwas released on this issue and there is a recognition that if someone is having this sort of gender issue that it is a problem that must be addressed and to deal with people going through it compassionately. She said she wasn’t sure of her own gender right now, so to me it falls under the terms of the fatwas and the interpretations of the hadith. Al-Azhar has done study into this area and has released several interesting interpretations on the hadith and Qur’an. She is not doing anything illicit and is being herself. Where is the harm in that? Besides, to Sufis, there is a bit of madness in the search for Allah. Why would this search be any different?” Thuriya smiled sweetly, sure of her position on this issue. I kind of wished I had that sort of surety. She really seemed as okay about this as Alison was and that was blowing my mind.
Holly sighed. It was clear that she had issues but was giving in to everyone else’s point of view. “So long as you don’t peek at any of us, it’s fine.”
Alley looked seriously bent at Holly over this. She growled out, “When we changed just now, did you not notice that she was nervous and was trying to hide from our eyes? She didn’t want to be seen and caught. I was blocking her, so that she would feel less exposed. I think she was more embarrassed about changing with us than we could be.”
Brittany nodded. “I did notice that as well. I had wondered about it but that’s neither here nor there. But you look like a girl so much that it would be hard to tell. How did you do that?”
I pointed to Meredith, who just waved. I figured she was also smiling her ‘I’ve conquered the world’ smile.
Brittany just chuckled over that. “Figures.”
I looked up worriedly at the rest of my pledge class. “Are we good?”
Most of the heads nodded. A few didn’t and that worried me but that was another battle for another time.
Nadia spoke up. “Okay. Now that that is over, let’s get back to the scheduled events.”
The next DVD that she showed us was all about the House and the way the Sorority could help each of us to find jobs and help us if we were down. I liked that. It talked about the larger issues of Sisterhood and the responsibility we would have to each other.
Things had quieted down a lot by the end of that DVD and soon Nadia announced that it was lights out. The group of us was left in the dark Chapter Room, alone. I was a bit worried over what might happen, but not too much. No one really seemed that pissed off about things and I was sure that Alley had my back.
“Caitlin?” I could tell it was Holly by the voice.
“Yes Holly?” I replied, a bit nervous about what she was going to say.
“What is your name?”
“Caitlin. You know that.”
“No, the name you had when you started this.”
I paused. Did I really want to give that out? Would that give her some sort of hold on me? Would that make things less clear or more? I wasn’t sure but I thought that it might be a bad plan to tell her. Probably. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not my name at the moment so it’s really not important.”
“But it is your name.” insisted Holly.
I sat up and turned to face the direction of where Holly was laying down. “My name is Caitlin and it will be Caitlin until I graduate from here. What is wrong with that?”
“It’s not your real name.” stated Holly.
“Gah! Look Holly, until I graduate I am Caitlin Deirdre O’Rourke. That’s it. I have the identification to prove it. I gave my word that I would see this through to the end and until then that is my name.” I was starting to get upset. Was this really that hard to understand?
“Hey, calm down, both of you.” interjected Dawn, stemming off whatever retort Holly was planning. “Holly, that isn’t important. Caitlin is Caitlin. Now, can we work through this or not?”
A number of us seemed surprised by how forceful Dawn was. She always seemed so laid back.
Holly nodded, “We can work through this.”
“Good. Now we have to work together or none of us are going to make it into this House. Personally, I could care less who Caitlin was before she met us. All I really know about her is what I have learned since I met her. She has been a good friend so far and is someone we can count on. Doesn’t that count for something? Isn’t that more important than anything else?” Dawn really seemed like she was on a roll and it ran right over us.
Esperanza decided to throw her two cents into this discussion. “We now know that Caitlin was a guy, but so what? What does that matter? Caitlin is effectively a girl now. Can’t we just go from there and not stress?”
“How do we know this isn’t some sort of trick?” asked Amy, clearly bothered by this and it showed.
“Amy… don’t you think this is a bit much to go through for a simple trick? I didn’t go through all of this just to get a look at naked women. I did this in an attempt to better understand and fight for equality. I am not here to pull a trick on anyone or to ogle anyone. I am just here because I thought I was smarter than the women of this House and they called me on it. I felt obligated to follow through with my intention to join the House and I haven’t regretted it.” I countered. I was tired of this. Why would I pull some sort of trick on anyone? That wasn’t a very nice thing to imply and I was tired of this. I was trying to do the right thing by everyone. What was wrong with that?
Thuriya jumped in again. “Caitlin is trying to be open and honest with us. Can we at least give her the courtesy of letting her prove what she has said? Can’t we let her show us that she is our sister?”
There was some murmuring, as several of the girls conferred with each other in whispers. I could feel my stress level rising again. I really didn’t need another panic attack so I began to regulate my breathing again.
“Okay. Caitlin, you have another chance. You have been a friend to all of us and acted appropriately so far. Keep that up and there will be no problem.” said Holly, talking for the group as a whole.
I let out a sigh of relief. “I am sorry you weren’t told earlier. I just couldn’t go into this weekend without you all knowing that bit of information. I care about you all and don’t want to loose you as friends.”
Alison looked over everyone and said, “I for one will still be your friend regardless. This doesn’t bother me at all.”
Dawn chimed in. “Can we get some sleep now? I am sure they have all sorts of fun and exciting work for us tomorrow and I want to be well rested for it.”
There were murmurs of agreement all around. We laid our heads down and slept. It took me a while to drift off, as I was still worried about everything that had happened. Did I make a mistake in telling them?
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