followed by other significant developments
and how she changed my life
by Louise Anne Smithson
Chapter 33 - My second assessment interview
Apart from his indecisiveness regarding the two of us, Andy struck me as being a trustworthy and reliable kind of guy and I had no doubt that he would turn up at the promised time on Friday morning.
‘Come in Andy, I said smiling as I invited him in. ‘I’ve already given Suzanne a wash and managed to get her to take something to eat and drink. She knows that you’ll be looking after her this morning. She’s gone back to sleep now, but she may appreciate some company later on.’
‘OK Clare, I promise to check up on her from time to time.’
I started to check that I had everything that I needed in my handbag.
‘ I must say, you look very smart this morning,’ said Andy.
My cheeks coloured slightly. I wasn’t expecting to receive any compliments from him.
‘You mean, when compared to the last couple of times you’ve seen me, and I looked a total mess,’ I said trying to make light of his comment.
‘No, I didn’t mean it that way. I was merely remarking on how nice you looked today.’
My cheeks coloured a little more.
‘Thank you. It is quite important for me to look my best during these assessment interviews to be able to convince the doctors that I can live successfully as a woman.’
‘Yes, I suppose so,’ he responded.
I wasn’t going to tell him the second reason why I’d got up at six o’clock that morning so that I would have sufficient time to get both Suzanne and myself ready for the day. I told myself that I needed to remain level headed; but I was pleased he’d noticed that I’d gone to some trouble over my appearance, and also that he’d commented on the fact.
‘I’ll get back as quickly as I can, but it may not be until around lunch time,’ I said as I was putting my coat on and about to leave.
‘Take as long as you need, I’m free all day today, if necessary.’
With anyone else, I might have given them a friendly goodbye kiss on the cheek before leaving, but it appeared that Andy wasn’t the ‘kissy-kissy’ type. Instead, I smiled and thanked him once more.
‘Good luck!’ he said as I was walking out of the door.
I turned to smile once again and then made my way to the tube station, wishing that he had been the ‘kissy-kissy’ type, or that I’d had the courage to kiss him goodbye, nevertheless.
My second appointment with Dr. Roberts seemed to go very well indeed. His questions were always probing and required careful thought before answering, but they were never hectoring or aggressive and he usually seemed to accept my answers. The usual three week period between appointments was designed to give each party time to reflect upon what they’d learned at the previous interview. In my case it was only seven days since my last interview but it had been one of the most significant and eventful weeks of my life. I’d not really had a lot of time for reflection, but nothing that I’d learned or had happened to me during that time had caused me to doubt the wisdom of my proposed cause of action.
Dr. Roberts began by picking up on a couple of points we’d been discussing in our previous discussion; notably my relationships with others since I’d been living as Clare. This gave me the opportunity to tell him about Suzanne and her sickness. We then moved on to talk about my relations with Debbie and my two other colleagues at work, and then with Andy, whom I described as ‘just a friend and nothing more.’ From there I told him about my recent meeting with Dad. I even showed him the letter written to me by Mum before she died, which he read with interest.
‘Why was it that your mother could see something about yourself at a time when you did not even recognize it yourself?’ he said as he handed it back to me.
‘I don’t really know. I now wish that my Dad hadn’t persuaded her against discussing her suspicions with me. It was not so much that I didn’t recognize it in myself as I was frightened of the implications of what was lurking in the back of my mind. It was as if I wouldn’t allow my allow myself to think those thoughts. That was why it was so important for me when I became friendly with Suzanne – she allowed me, and even encouraged me to discover what it was like to be a girl. It was as if she was opening Pandora’s Box, and all the thoughts that I’d never allowed myself to think came rushing out, and then there could be no going back.’
‘What about your father, how has he reacted to the idea of having a daughter rather than a son?’
‘Unbelievably well; I was expecting anger and disappointment on his part but there has been none, he seems to have accepted me as I am. I suppose he has had some time to come to terms with the idea that his son might be transgendered and has clearly done a lot of background research on the subject. He has also recently become friendly with a very down-to-earth widow who has been accepting of myself and I believe has helped him to accept my situation.’
We moved on to a discussion about how it felt for me to be living in the female gender.
‘It is difficult to put in to words, but it just feels right somehow. I enjoy wearing nice clothes and makeup, and looking nice. I also like it when people compliment me about how I look, or take notice of me in the street but that is only a small part of the issue. I am much happier with the way I am treated as a woman, with the way people relate to me and the fact that I am allowed to show my emotions and talk about my feelings. I just feel as if I always was a woman deep down and that it was living as a male that was wrong.’
‘You will find that there are also disadvantages and limitations to living in the female gender,’ he continued.
‘Yes, I realise that and have already experienced some of them, but at the same time I feel more comfortable as a woman than I ever did as a man.’
He gave a knowing smile; I guess he’d heard it all before. We continued talking in this vein for another five minutes or so. I did my best to answer his questions honestly and analyse my own feelings, but often it came down to the fact that it just felt right. In no time at all, my hour’s appointment was almost over. He closed his notebook and smiled at me.
‘Alright then Clare. I think that will do for today. I’ll want to see you again in a few weeks but I am satisfied that you do meet all the criteria necessary to benefit from the help of our clinic.’
‘Thank you Doctor Roberts,’ I said looking at him expectantly, hoping that he had not quite finished.
‘I am also satisfied that for the last three months you have demonstrated yourself capable of living successfully in the female gender. I am therefore recommending that you should also make an appointment to see my colleague Dr. Singh, who is an endocrinologist and who will prescribe you with the appropriate female hormones and oversee you whilst you take them.’
‘I want to proceed with my transition more than anything else and I am sure that it is the right thing for me, but my flat mate Suzanne suffered a serious stroke on Monday night and I am her main carer. It may not be easy for me to make appointments at present.’
‘How did you manage this morning?’ he asked.
‘My friend Andy offered to take the day off work to look after her for me, but, as I said, he is only a friend and so I would not be able to ask him a second time.’
Dr. Roberts picked up his internal phone and pressed a number on the keypad.
‘Hi Sammy, I was speaking to you yesterday about my new patient Clare Simpson, whom I’ll be referring to you. She’s with me at the moment, but has some difficult domestic problems that could prevent her having an early appointment with you. Would there be any chance that you could fit her in to your list later this morning?’
He listened to the reply and then turned to me.
‘If you can wait forty minutes, Dr. Singh will see you this morning and get you started taking oestrogen. I will arrange an appointment to see you again in three weeks, but if you are unable to keep it, please let us know at least 48 hours before hand, so that your slot can be offered to someone else.’
I hadn’t expected to receive the hormones today. I suddenly became really excited by the prospect.
‘Yes, of course. Thank you, for all your help. Dr. Roberts.’
‘A pleasure, Ms Simpson.’
He was more than twenty years older than me, but I noticed that he had a nice smile.
Whilst I was waiting for my consultation with Dr. Singh, I rang Andy.
‘She’s alright, I believe, she’s been awake for a while and we’ve been chatting together.’
I was pleased to hear that but couldn’t help wondering what they’ve been talking about.
‘I’ve just finished my appointment but they want me to hang on for an hour to talk to an endocrinologist. Would that be alright?’
‘Clare, I know how important this is to you. Please take as long as you need. Suzanne and I are getting on fine together.’
His voice sounded so kind and gentle that it sent a shiver of pleasure up my spine.
‘Thanks so much, Andy, you really are a lovely guy,’ I replied, barely able to mask my emotion.
Dr. Singh talked me through the implications and possible side effects of my taking female hormones, and reminded me that I should regard it as the point of no return, beyond which I would not be able to function successfully as a male again. It occurred to me that I’d long ago passed that point, mentally, at least. However, I listened attentively to what he said and answered all his questions, and told him about the Aldactone that I’d been taking for nearly four weeks without any unwanted side effects. I succeeded in convincing him that I knew what I was doing. We then discussed my medical history and he took my blood pressure. Eventually I emerged from the Clinic at lunch time with a prescription for a four week supply of estradiol in both tablet and gel form, together with a letter to my GP so that they would be able to provide me with repeat prescriptions. I felt quite elated, as if an important hurdle in my life had been overcome. I immediately took the prescription to a nearby pharmacist, and came away with the medicines that were going to change my life. I would have liked to have rung Suzanne, to share my good news with her, but of course was unable to do so. Instead I rang Debbie at work and told her.
I eventually arrived home at about two o’clock and was pleased to find that Andy had fixed himself something to eat in our kitchen.
‘How’s Suzanne?’ I asked.
‘She’s gone back to sleep, but she did take a little bit of nourishment earlier.’
‘Good. Thank you for doing that.’
‘No problem. I can see from the look on your face that it was a successful appointment.’
‘Yes, very successful, thank you. Theclinic provided me with the female hormones that I’ve been longing to start taking and which will enable me to complete my transition.’
‘So there can be no going back?’
I smiled in response, not knowing what else to say.
‘Suzanne and I had a long talk about you this morning, Clare; she told me not to be such an idiot, and that I was to “snap you up,” before some other guy does so.’
I blushed and smiled, but couldn’t bring myself to look in to his eyes.
‘Suzanne loves to stick her nose into other people’s affairs; she also warned me against playing “hard to get,” as far as you were concerned.’
We both blushed and tried to avoid looking at one another.
‘Perhaps … maybe we could start again?’ he asked tentatively.
I forced myself to look at him.
‘I should really like that, Andy, but you must understand that although my physical transition is still ongoing, I am a woman inside and perhaps always have been one. You must be able to accept me as a woman. otherwise there can be no future for us.’
‘Yes, I realise that,’ he answered. ‘I’ve never thought of you as anything else in my heart.’
‘In that case, why don’t you kiss me?’ I asked.
I felt his arm round my shoulder drawing myself towards him, and I closed my eyes as our lips met and our tongues began to touch. Although I was wearing heels, I stood on tiptoe to get closer to him and held on tight to his body. I felt his other hand caressing my hair. Then I felt his penis growing as it pressed against my body, whilst my own remained safely and comfortably tucked out of the way. Instead, I felt a feeling of warmth and wellbeing throughout my whole body. As we continued our embrace I slipped my free hand into his trousers and grasped his penis. I felt it grow even further in my hand until we were both satisfied. I would dearly have liked to take him straight to my bed, but it somehow felt inappropriate to do so with our friend lying gravely ill in the next room. At last Andy broke the silence.
‘Clare, I would really like to take you out tonight to celebrate, but I know that you cannot leave Suzanne. May I go out shopping for some food and then perhaps cook us both a special meal tonight?’
‘I’m not sure; I would feel bad about us enjoying ourselves whilst Suzanne in the next room.’
‘It was her suggestion – that I should sweep you off your feet as soon as you came home from your appointment and then treat you to a slap-up dinner.’
I smiled. It was the sort of thing that Suzanne would have suggested.
‘Well you certainly succeeded in the first of those. Alright then, you go ahead and prepare our dinner tonight. I’d better have a quick wash and then go and check up on Suzanne.’
Whilst Andy was out shopping, I sat with Suzanne, stroking her hair. Eventually she regained consciousness and smiled when she recognized me.
‘How did your appointment go this morning?’ she asked.
‘Very well thanks. I’ve been given the oestrogen, and I am about to take my first ever dose,’ I said swallowing the tablet.
‘I am very pleased for you, Clare. I’m sure you are doing the right thing for yourself.’
‘Thank you for all your help and encouragement.’
‘My pleasure! What about Andy?’
‘We are going to try and start again.’
‘I am very pleased for you, Clare, I hope you achieve happiness in your life as a woman.’
With that she smiled and gently lapsed back into unconsciousness. I remained stroking her hair for a few more minutes but then realised that her breath was becoming gentler and gentler until it faded into nothing.
‘Suzanne!’ I said, suddenly becoming alarmed.
There was no response. I gently pushed her arm, but again there was no response and no sign of any breath. I took out the compact mirror from my handbag and held it close to her nose and her mouth. There was no sign of any misting that would betray the shallowest of breathing. My friend had gently slipped away from life as I was stroking her hair. I felt cold and numb inside and didn’t know what to do. In spite of Dad’s recent visit, in spite of my reconciliation with Andy, and my friendship with Debbie, I suddenly felt alone in the world. Suzanne had come to mean so much to me in such a short time, and now she was dead.
Andy arrived back at the flat, carrying two plastic carrier bags of groceries. He didn’t even have a chance to get through the door or put down his shopping before I fell into his arms weeping.
‘Oh Andy, Suzanne has died, and it’s all my fault. I should never have left her this morning.’
He dropped the shopping and put his arms round me, holding me tight, whilst I continued sobbing.
‘Come on Clare, how can it be your fault, you knew she only had a little time left to live?’
‘I know, but I should never have left her?’ I said sobbing.
‘You didn’t know whether it would be today, tomorrow or even next week that she died. In any event, she wanted you to go to your appointment this morning. She wanted to see you settled and even managed to hold on until you got back this afternoon,’ he said quietly.
He was right; there was nothing more that I could have done, yet I had an overwhelming feeling of guilt on my part, and anger at the unfairness of life.
‘Now have you notified the doctor or the nurse?’ he asked.
‘No I just couldn’t think what to do?’ I admitted.
‘Don’t worry, just give me the number and I’ll do it.’
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