Denise has to face her first interview with a therapist
by Louise Anne Smithson
Book 4 Chapter 7
Bath time, and a preliminary interview
‘What would you like to do this evening my dear,’ asked John.
‘You can choose the restaurant this week. Rather than going clubbing, I noticed an open-air jazz concert in the park if you like the sound of it,’ she replied.
‘Alright then, jazz in the park, followed by an Italian restaurant. But do we need to get dressed up in that case?”
‘Oh yes, that is part of the fun of going away and staying in a nice hotel, with a lovely big bed to look forward to afterwards’.
Over the next hour Denise showered and changed into a light blue summer dress and carefully fixed her hair and makeup and put on some perfume and the jewellery given to her by her mother. John, who had made the various arrangements for the evening, was still in the shower when she finished so she looked at herself critically in the full-length mirror. Working as a model had given her the experience to know when she looked good and had also given her confidence in herself as a woman and her ability to attract men or impress other women. There was not a shadow of doubt in her mind that this was how she wanted to spend the rest of her life. The sooner she could take formal and irrevocable steps to do so, the better.
‘So what would you like do tomorrow Denise?’ asked John over dinner.
‘You have been very forbearing with me this afternoon with my going on about Jane Austen. Isn’t there something “blokey” that you would like to do or see in Bath: something like a museum of football boots, or motorcycle carburettors?’ she asked playfully in return.
He laughed at the idea.
‘I was always tripping over the laces of my football boots when we were forced to play at school, and I wouldn’t recognise a carburettor if one jumped out from behind a bush and bit me. No, there is nothing I particularly want to see or do in Bath, other than to be in your company,’ he replied looking into her eyes.
She averted her gaze, but smiled and touched his hand gently in a mark of affection.
‘In that case, we could go to visit the Museum of Costume in Bennett Street. It is odd but ever since I started to work as a model I have begun to take much more of an interest in clothes and begun to notice what other people wear.’
‘It is not really surprising; your job has shown you how clothes may be used to make you look even lovelier. It is inevitable that you will want to learn more about their history,’ he replied.
‘Women have so many more opportunities to express their personalities and moods through their clothes than men. It surprises me how many women fail to make the best of themselves, or don’t seem to understand that certain colours do not suit their colouring. Others tend to go ‘over the top’ when following some fashion and end up looking ridiculous.’
‘I wouldn’t really know; I am just an ordinary bloke. In an ideal world I would just wear jeans and a sweatshirt every day.’
‘But I fancy you more when you wear a suit and tie,’ she replied.
He blushed and changed the subject.
‘Since you have become a fan of Jane Austen we could perhaps visit her home at Chawton and her grave nearby in Winchester Cathedral at some future time,’ he continued.
‘Thank you, I should like that, but it cannot be next weekend as we both have to go to Jane’s dinner party.’
‘Oh yes, I do wish people would refrain from organising dinner parties, particularly at weekends, they can be quite gruesome,’ he commented.
‘Yes, but on this occasion I’ll be there to make it worth your while,’ she replied.
‘That will make all the difference’, he said squeezing her hand.
Denise thought to herself how much better her life was these days.
‘Why don’t we have an early night in that lovely king-sized bed in our room, followed by a late breakfast?’ she suggested, with a gleam in her eye.
He blushed, but did not argue with her suggestion.
The remainder of the weekend visit to Bath went well. There was no shyness or awkwardness between them as there had originally been at Brighton. They were just a young couple having a break from work, enjoying the sites and one another’s company during the day time and one another’s bodies at night. Denise was not falling in love with John, and she did her best to remind him in as tactful and respectful way she could, but there was no doubt that she enjoyed his company, and enjoyed having such an amenable boyfriend to take her out. On a couple of occasions she found herself thinking about her meeting with the psychiatrist scheduled for the next day, and what she might say to him. However she was now quite sure in her own mind about the outcome she wanted, and so was able to put it out of her mind and enjoy the weekend.
They remained in Bath for most of Sunday, visiting the museum in the morning, followed by the Abbey and a late lunch. During the afternoon they walked through Sydney Gardens and Beckford Gardens, with John pointing out the magnificent engineering of Brunel’s railway line, and showing that he was just as well informed about some historical features of Bath as his young partner. After an hour or two they had to sit down as Denise was feeling a little faint in the hot sun, but she soon recovered, and they decided to return to London via the old Great West Road rather than the Motorway. On the way home they stopped to have dinner at a restaurant outside Newbury. Thus it was nearly 10.30pm, before he drove her back to her flat at about. Denise noticed the light was on and so did not want to invite him in. Instead they sat talking for a while in his car.
‘Thank you John, it has been a lovely weekend, I have had a great time once again.
‘Me too,’ he replied.
‘I guess I will see you next Saturday at Jane’s dinner.’
‘Are you sure I can’t see you sometime during the week?’
‘I will really need to catch up with work most evenings next week, but my sister is due to arrive at Liverpool Street on Tuesday evening, and she is keen to meet you. I was hoping you might be able to advise her about finding somewhere to live in South London. If you like, you can come with me and then give us a lift to the flat afterwards.’
‘Alright then, I should be happy to meet your sister and give you both a lift - as long as I can take you both out for a drink afterwards, as well.’
At one o’clock the next day Denise was waiting in a well-appointed clinic, just a few streets away from where she worked in Great Portland Street. It had been a little awkward for her to negotiate an extended lunch break without being willing to explain to Sue and Samantha where she was going. She also had to avoid their questions as to why she had chosen to dress in one of Angela’s smart business suits, and silk blouse, rather than her normal recent choice of a sundress. She had merely announced that she had some business to attend to, would be back at 2.30pm and would make up for any lost time later.
The clinic was in a large late Georgian terraced house with a high ceiling. The waiting room had a large mirror at one end, and so Denise looked at herself and was quite pleased with her choice of outfit. She was beginning to understand the messages that could be conveyed by one’s clothing. She wanted to look serious, but nevertheless attractive, whilst conveying to any onlooker no doubt about her chosen gender. The dark reddish-brown of her skirt and jacket matched her lipstick and nail varnish and was also picked up in a garnet ruby pendant and earrings. Her shiny black high-heeled shoes and shoulder bag likewise matched one another. She looked a poised young business-woman, even though deep down she felt like a nervous little girl. After a few more minutes of waiting a man in his early forties, wearing an expensive suit, emerged from the consulting room and introduced himself.
‘I am Doctor Collett.’
‘Den …,’ she hesitated for half a second before continuing, ‘Denise Simons.’
They shook hands and he invited her into his consulting room where he offered her a seat.
‘So what may I do for you young lady?
She took a deep breath before proceeding.
‘As you may have suspected, I am not really a young lady. At least, I feel as if I should be one, but my birth certificate and genitalia would indicate otherwise.’
She blushed deeply as she said this and wanted to look away, but forced herself to remain looking at him.
‘I see,’ he replied without displaying any surprise at her answer. ‘So what is it that makes you feel you should be, or rather, should have been, a woman?’
She had rehearsed her answer to this question many times over the last week.
‘I have always thought that I did not fit in as a young man and have had a vague notion that something was not right about my life, for as long as I can remember. But it was not until I started to live and work as a young woman several months ago that I realised exactly who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life.’
‘How long have you been living as a woman?’
‘For about six months,’ she exaggerated. ‘At first it was intermittently so, but once I discovered how much happier and more fulfilled I was it became permanent. I have been living and working as a woman full-time, for the last three months and I intend to continue to do so hereafter.’
‘So why have you come to see me at this time? Why did you not contact me before now?’
‘At first I felt I needed to sort things out with my family and my employers and also to ensure that I could live happily and function successfully as a woman. Now that I am certain that I can do all those things, I should like to begin the process of changing my sex.’
‘You will never be able to change your sex, but, if I think it appropriate, I might be able to assist you to live and be recognised by society as being of the female gender.
‘Yes, I realise that.’
‘So your family know about your life style and are supportive of your decision.’
‘They are supportive of my decision to live and work as Denise. They do not yet know about my decision to seek gender re-assignment surgery, but I cannot see it coming as a great surprise to them.’
‘And your employers, how do they feel about your decision?’
‘My employer and my work colleagues are also very supportive. I work in an all female environment and feel that I both fit in better and perform better as Denise than I did previously.’
He carried on asking similar questions to those asked by Alison for about thirty minutes and seemed to be satisfied with the replies. He also asked for her original name and date of birth and some information about her family background and medical history. At last he came to a decision.
‘Very well, Denise, I would be willing to work with you to assist you to resolve your gender identity issues, if you feel you would also like to work with me.’
‘How long will the process take?’
‘I cannot say exactly. I have to be sure that you know exactly what you are doing and have thought through all the implications of what you propose to do before I decide whether to recommend you for further treatment. That will inevitably take several weeks and I am not prepared to work to a fixed timetable.’
‘It is just that I am frightened that my voice will begin to break and I will start to grow to look like a man if I leave things for much longer.’
‘Those are the normal features of puberty but they should have happened to you before now. We will need to investigate whether there is any chromosome abnormality that is causing the absence of puberty and your rather feminine appearance.’
‘Very well, but how much will it all cost?’
‘My standard fee is £95.00 for a fifty minute consultation.’
‘Doctor Collett, I only earn twice that much in a week, and half of my wages are spent on food and rent,’ she said handing him her recent payslip as savings.
‘What about savings?’
‘I have two thousand pounds in the bank, but I was hoping to use it to fund my hormone treatment.’
‘One thing at a time,’ he said. ‘You do seem to be wearing expensive clothes.’
‘All of my clothes are second hand and were given to me by someone leaving the country. The cosmetics and hairstyle are provided by my work. I can afford to spend very little money on myself’.
He thought for a while before answering.
‘You must understand that the course of action you are embarking upon may be prolonged and will inevitably be expensive. However, from your appearance it appears that you will not have to go through expensive plastic surgery or hair removal procedures. I note that you are working nearby. If you are willing to be flexible regarding your appointments, letting us either defer you or else call you in at short-notice so that I can fill vacancies, I would be willing to reduce my fee by half. However, if you are to undergo surgery you will have to investigate possible sources of funding or else be prepared to go on the waiting list as a National Health Service patient.’
‘Thank you,’ she replied. ‘I would appreciate your help. When can we begin?’
‘I have an appointment free on Thursday morning at ten o’clock, if that suits you.’
‘The sooner the better’, she replied.
Denise hurried to arrive back at her work by 2.30pm as she had promised, feeling both elated and also apprehensive. She had at last taken the first tentative steps on her journey towards womanhood and it was now just a question of jumping through the relevant hoops and filling the relevant forms. No doubt it would take her both time and a lot of money before the task could be completed, and eventually involve some pain and discomfort, but she was now confident that it could be done. She was no longer an androgynous young man, living and working as a woman — she was now a pre-operative transsexual undergoing assessment for corrective surgery. There was now no longer any point in concealing her new status or intentions from her colleagues and family, if fact she felt like announcing it to the whole world.
She ran up the stairs to the store room where she normally changed, to find both Sue and Samantha waiting for her to begin the afternoon’s work.
‘Sorry, if I am late’, she said catching her breath. ‘It won’t take me long to get myself changed, and then I have something really important that I want to say to you.’
With those words she fell down into a faint.
(Next time Julia’s 2nd visit to London.)
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