Taylor was led through the winding corridors of the school, pulled along by Kellie in an enthusiastic if haphazard manner through the start-of-term congestion.
"Coming through!" she cheerily barged through the milling students, causing a small girl carrying a large potted cactus to swerve dramatically and scowl. "Err, Welfare, right? That's right ... here!" She dragged him through a dimly lit cul-de-sac into the open doors of a lift. "Well, not here exactly. I mean floor seven". The mechanism of the lift creaked into operation, as if it had last been switched in two decades ago.
Taylor furrowed his brow. "The school has seven floors?" he wondered aloud, not having noticed the Chropshire Institute to be excessively tall as he had entered.
"It doesn't" explained Kellie, "Just somebody forgot how to count. Don't worry, literally nothing makes sense in this school!" She smiled at him, expectantly. "You know, you don't have to worry about this, by the way. I know it must feel like a huge step."
"Yes" Taylor agreed, "A new school, it's all a bit dauntin-"
"Not the school silly!" interrupted the tall girl, sweeping knotted hair from her bright eyes; "I mean, y'know ... transitioning? I mean, if you need a shoulder to cry on, I'm always here, right?"
Taylor gave a nervous smile and muttered a thanks. Hopefully this won't get too awkward, he silently prayed.
"And don't worry about Haverford!" she continued, "She means well, but I did notice she got your pronouns wrong - a bit scatter-brained sometimes!", Kellie grinned."But seriously, don't worry - you could pass really well. I don't know if you're on hormones or what, but you look really great. Just get you in a correct uniform, tidy your hair up and nobody will tell the wiser! I think I'm saying this all wrong, but trust me, you'd make a fine-looking girl, just like you are on the inside". She had never felt so inspiring in all her life,
Shit, thought Taylor; another misunderstanding. The achingly slow lift shuddered to a halt, and the doors creaked open.
"We're here!" chirped Kellie and bounded out of the lift.
"Ah, K-Kellie" he said, "I think you've misunderstood my situation." Kellie cocked her head, confused. "I'm not transitioning to a girl. I'm..." he trailed off, unsure of how to explain himself. Not transitioning himself at all, but trying to escape from a farcical bureaucratic glitch that had consumed his entire morning? Luckily, the gears in his new friend's head seemed to have fully turned before he needed to formulate a remotely logical answer.
"Oh. My. God." she gasped "you're F2M?"
She took his confused silence as an emphatic "yes" and began apologising immediately "Christ, you must think I'm such a bitch!" she cried, her hands reaching forward in forgiveness "I'm such a bad ally!"
"Um, don't worry" Taylor vaguely chimed in, "I ... didn't get offended". A silent, neglected part of his conscience reflected why he wasn't a bit more miffed - even happy - at her waxing ecstatic at his feminine attributes, but he shot down that thought immediately.
Kellie's eyes were wide "I didn't trigger your gender dysphoria, or anything?"
Taylor stared straight. "No", he curtly responded. This will all be over soon he thought grimly.
The girl gave out another theatrical sigh of relief. "Well, that's a relief. And now we're here!" she briskly moved on, as she rapped a small grimy window designated as the "elfare Office".
The window slid open, revealing a ruddy, scowling face."What is it?" snapped the unshaven man, "I'm a busy individual, I don't have time for student's fun and games".
Kellie seemed to have appointed herself spokesperson for Taylor, as penance for her faux pas. "We're here to give in this form". The man snatched it and frowned.
"Very ... trendy this trans-thing, these days." the receptionist deliberated his words, a sneer creeping in as he looked Kellie up and down. "But, Miss Jackson, I'm afraid things aren't as simple as you coming in and demanding you get to stay in the girl's dorm just because you ... feel like it".
Taylor stepped back from Kellie, who had exhaled a burst of hot air from her nostrils in prepetion. "First off" she said, rasing a iner in outrage " it's not a trend, second I am a girl-"
"Political correctness aside-"
"No, I'm all-girl ... Mr ... guy" Kellie spat out, after searching for a nametag she could use to address her tormentor by; "Sorry" she apologised to Taylor instinctively "I didn't mean to just imply that transpeople aren't "all" their own gender identities, it's just when I'm arguing I-"
"Ah" said the receptionist, catching sight of Taylor for the first time "See what I mean about it being trendy? You all copy your friends. But-" he leered at Taylor, yellow teeth showing behind thin lips "you'd probably look a bit more realistic in a skirt than your pal here". Taylor stared at the floor, embarrassed.
Kellie, almost incandescent with rafe at this stage, had locked her arms akimbo, as if to restrain an urge to punch this pencil-pusher in the face. "Look, dickhead, he is the one that is transitioning!"
The receptionist rolled his eyes. "So he wants to be a girl and-"
"No," Kellie stated, frustrated, "He is transitioning to male"
"So she's actually girl?" the receptionist asked, leaning forwards to take a closer look at Taylor.
"No, he's actually a boy, but yes she was assigned Female At Birth, if that's what you're asking."
"Then what are you?"
Kellie turned red. "I- I'm cis."
"I don't have time for this mumbo-jumbo", snapped the man "And I can't accept this form anyway. It says here it needs to be stamped and signed by a medical professional, for one. And even then, it would require about ... four weeks to be processed. Until then-". He shrugged his shoulders.
The man silenced their objections "And, another thing. No matter what you 'feel on the inside' " he rose his voice in a mock sing-song voice, "School regulation uniform is in place, for all students. And as it turns out, the Uniform Office sent over a package for a Miss Taylor Jackson just before you two arrived". Getting up from his desk, he picked a large cardboard box from the floor and thrust it into Taylor's grasp.
Kellie was indignant. "Do you know how dysphoria inducing that could be?" she cried out.
"No" he responded flatly, and turned his head towards Taylor, whose cheeks were flush with embarrassment. "You want to be a boy, love? Well, here's lesson number one: man up."
And with that, the window of "elfare Office" was swing shut.
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