First it was just a pair of Panties

First it was just a pair of panties ….


For a while, I thought the arguments were about me – but that changed. Then it was about me, sort of. Ain’t life complicated?


Is it my fault? What are they arguing about now. I can hear them. They try to keep it down but the anger and emotion they are spraying around. I can hear too much of it.

“I hate what he’s doing.” “It’s just wrong.” “Why can’t he be normal?” That’s what I can hear my mum shouting.

Dad is a bit quieter – but his voice rises too as he gets excited and angry in return. “He’s not that weird. I’ve been looking on the net. Lots of people disapprove. What did they say at school?”

I mean, comments like that, it’s got to be me they’re talking about. But what have I done that’s ‘weird’. I think I’m a fairly average kid. Nearly 15, skinny, quite fit but not that sporty. Academically middle-top but good at languages. Five foot 4, long hair because I like it keeping my ears warm in winter. No spottier than average. Some friends of both sexes, guys and gals both, er and including one lesbian and one who wonders if he’s gay. What’s weird about that. No siblings – so I have to make do with my better friends, Paolo and his sister Bianca. They live two doors away. Their dad runs the best local Italian restaurant.

Am I doing something wrong? Are they worried that I might do something wrong? I’ve talked with others at school – I’ve had to talk to someone. Even though we’re only 14 or 15, some of us know far too much about families doing badly.

Jacko said, “George, it’s mostly about Money, Sex or Work. That’s what my uncle told me. So that means it’s not about you. Unless you cost too much money or, naah, I’m not bringing sex into it.”

Janie’s contribution was “The priest said it’s always about sin. Then he told me again about the Deadly Sins, y’know, I remember it like Gospel but as J-Gaspel – Jealousy, Greed, Anger, Sloth, Pride, Envy and Lust. He said that all the other bad things are really just extensions or combinations of these. Abuse, Hate, Unkindness, Theft, Adultery and an endless list of other badnesses.”

Ed just looked even more sad and mumbled “At least my shrink said it’s important that I never blame myself for their issues.”

Paolo who is at school with us while his sister is at a local school specialising in music, butted in. “I can promise you, them saying ‘weird’ – that can’t be you. I mean we’re your mates and we know that you might be a little strange in some ways, we all are, but weird. Mate, they ain’t talking ‘bout you.” His efforts at slang-speak weren’t that convincing.

Francesca, who rarely joined in, said, “It’s hard not to blame yourself sometimes. I know I did. And now they’re actually divorcing and they try to get me to make judgements on the other. It’s horrid, really unkind.” And she burst into tears.

All of us, including several of the boys, knew enough to join in a big hug. Things calmed down after a minute.

“Thanks, folks. But I’m going to forget what I’ve just said, I’ll agree with Paolo. You’re just like all of us, a bit off-centre but no way weird. Relax. It’s not about you. But what they are doing is upsetting you and they’ve got to be told somehow.”

“But some of the things they say, they don’t sound like they’re talking about me. I've also heard ‘But it’s outside our control anyway’ and ‘It’s really none of our business’. That sort of thing really confuses me. Anyway, we can’t keep talking now, it’s time for exciting lessons.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Back home, Arnold and Jessie were having another go.

“Shall we have another try at this. We’ve done a lot of screaming and shouting so can we try for this session to keep thing a bit low key. We can do that thing, y’know, where you put your hand up to say I want to say something – and the other has to pause within ten seconds to finish their sentence.”

“If it helps us get a bit further with this disgusting situation. Yeah, alright, I shouldn’t have started off with an opening phrase like that.”

“Jess, how about – if it helps us get a bit further with a situation that is showing a significant difference in attitude between us. We’ve got to sort something out.

“You smooth-talking lawyer-type, you…”

Dad help up his hand. “Let’s keep the compliments aside as well as the insults. We’ll get further. So what was the big event that told you about his, er, special interests.”

“I went into his room, y’know. I was shocked at what I found. Racked behind his proper things, there were several dresses. The drawers held more than a few panties and even bras. There was a lot of girly stuff. It was such a shock. I mean I’d never guessed that he might be that sort of a boy. At least they weren’t my things. But I don’t know where he must have got them. Charity shops maybe, or stealing from clothes lines or something equally perverted. Sorry again, oops. He came across as a solid and typical male as far as I knew. It’s enough to make one scream.”

“Well, I dunno. It’s so far outside my experience. And let’s keep words like ‘perverted’ out of it. But the law says we have to be more tolerant these days.”

“What the hell does that mean. There’s no LAW that can force anyone to accept wrong behaviour and wrong thinking or any sort of wrongness. It’s wrong and that should be the end of it. When these stupid lawmakers actually have it happen in their own families, huh, I bet they change their tune. I’m not accepting something so very wrong. I’m entitled to my opinions. And I’m entitled to say what’s acceptable under my own roof. But I agree, that was then. After all I’m several years older – but I’d been at University for a while. I wasn’t up-to-date with what was happening at home. I went In to tidy up because I thought mum was having to do too much at home ‘cos she was working long hours too. But, I’ve got to separate then from now. But this is my own roof and I do have a say in what goes on.”

“But now he’s only got you to talk to and be open to. There’s no other relatives now. Grandad and Nan might have been able to help – but not any more.”

“I bet there’s others like him, that he could talk to. It’s wrong and there’s an end to it. Not in my house. Not with my support or acceptance. I can’t do it. I’m not that much of a christian but I bet the bible has things to say against it.”

“I’m not sure you can use that argument, Jess. If you’re not much of a christian, isn’t pulling a quote from the bible a bit iffy.”

“Huh, well, yes and no. Come on, western civilization, whether it’s actually civilized or not, is based on the whole judeo-christian format – patriarchal, legalistic and all the rest. Of course the bible underlies a lot of how we think and what we think are good and bad actions and attitudes.

“I can go with that. But I’m going to say that times and cultures do change. What was suitable for middle eastern nomads in say 3,000 BC may not be exactly suited for us nowadays. When you bring into it the King James Bible which the god squad seem to treat as even better than all other bibles – even that had King James wanting his own special interpretations about rulership and male power. And probably a lot of other stuff too. Every translator and interpreter is going to add his own views. I’ve read the bible too and bits of it stick with me. Yes, and bits of it really just don’t fit.”

“How many Sunday god squad know that there’s two version of the creation in the first verses of Genesis and that they contradict each other. How many know that there’s a replacement set of 10 commandments because the stone tablets of the first ones got broken – and by the way, apparently the 10th says ‘you must not seethe baby goats in their mothers’ milk’. What the heck has that got to do with anything. Oh, and the list of people you mustn’t have sex with forgets to list daughters. And there’s more than one of the dirty old men in the bible who, as they say, ‘knew’ his daughters. If the Sunday squad actually thought about what they are told and what their bible tells them – they might behave better. I’m happy with how I operate which is Charles Kingsley actually ‘Do as you would be Done by’; with the threat of ‘Be Done by as You Did.”

“Come one, Arnie dear. We don’t need these glib interruptions. I’ve been asked to support my brother or as he says he is, my so-called sister while he …… oh, I can’t say it. It’s just so wrong. Well, I’m not comfortable with it am I? If I had been less uncomfortable I wouldn’t have barely spoken with him for the last ten years or so. I hate myself, well some of me, for that.”

“Slow down, honey. Can I add a bible comment if you’re going to use one. ‘Judge not lest ye be judged’. Can you really not help your brother when he asks for help. Is it so difficult not to keep loving him the way you have always done. He needs help. He’s asked you, his only sister, for help. I do accept that he’s not my brother so I can be a little separate in my views. But haven’t you seen the difference in him. He used to be curled up and barely able to contribute. I didn’t think he looked that good in that costume, but it wasn’t too girly, and the person sitting in the winebar with us was interested, involved, listening. All those were, for me, changes for the better. I thought you brother was a bit of a waste of space. I mean, 40 years old looking and behaving like a dull teenager. But this new version, Elle, was …. What did you think?”

“I couldn’t get past the fact – and it is a fact – that it was my brother. He’s not a woman. How can he be. He can pretend as much as he likes. He’ll never bleed. He’ll never have a baby. He’ll never be anything other than a sort of castrated eunuch pretending to fake it. But I have hated not being able to talk and do things with Len. I’ve hurt myself probably at least as much as I’ve hurt him.”

“Now come on. That sort of comment is really ugly. Are you saying that barren women aren’t real any longer. That menopause stops women being women. Is your Auntie Sophie no longer a woman now she’s over 50? Has your Auntie Beth never been a proper woman because she can’t have children? Is your lesbian friend Alex not a proper woman or rather is her butch partner not a real woman? Think back to last Saturday – and I’ll ask again – was Elle as real as any woman in the winebar.”

“She hadn’t done her makeup properly.”

“Wow. Did you hear yourself. Well done. You used She and Her. And is that really your big reaction to seeing Elle after such a gap since you last met and spoke.”

“Well it was an accident. I didn’t mean to.”

“I’d almost consider it as a hopeful sign. I think Elle is a much more interesting person than Len. Len bored me. But Elle is still in a way your brother. Well, definitely your sibling – that can never change. And Elle needs help. She’s asked YOU, well probably us, for help.”

“I don’t like it.”

“You don’t have to like everything that a person does or says – but do you love your sibling? It’s quite simple. Love the person, hate the behaviour – I do remember that from last Easter. Most of the sermons that tradition drags us to are so dull, but I do listen and the occasional phrase does stick.”

“I say again, I don’t like it – but I’ll give it a go. There is a lot to like about Len even if he’s done decades of boring, drab and uninteresting.”

“Well, I’ll ask again. What did you think of Elle in comparison.”

“I’m still trying not to think about it. Seeing Len there in what was clearly a blouse and a pair of woman’s jeans was very distracting. And I kept on seeing the hair and the makeup and the earrings and so on. It got in the way.”

“Come on. Take a deep breath, relax, think back and concentrate on how you reacted to Elle the woman rather than all the things that made you uncomfortable.”

“I think seeing my brother behave so differently from normal was actually the hardest thing. All of a sudden, it wasn’t the old Len sitting there and not taking any interest.”

“And….”

“God, you do keep pushing me, don’t you.”

“And …”

“Alright, the new version of Len was more like the little brother I remember from when we were teens. Interested, excited, sparkling. But I can’t see that dressing up is going to make a real difference.”

“Let’s ask it another way. Do you want dull Len for the next 20, 30 years or would you prefer to have Elle and have things move forward with this interested, exciting, sparkling sibling that’s been hidden for so long.”

“But why does he have to dress up and pretend like this? It’s horrid.”

“Because the interested and excited and sparkling version doesn’t think he’s any good pretending to be an apparently typical male and believes deep down that his thoughts are feminine rather than masculine, that his attitudes are feminine, that his reaction to things is feminine. That he’s more of a woman than he has ever been a man. And he wants to be happy and sees this as a way to get there.”

“But he’s not a woman.”

“Grrrrrr. I can tell you as another bloke, that he’s not much of a typical man. He has never had any interest in sports, drink and being a lad, action and adventure – naah, boys’ toys and so on – naaaah again, cars – nope. Have you never noticed he says dreadful things like ‘And how did you feel’ and ‘that must have made you emotional’. Them’s girl words. As a boy would say ‘Yukk.”

Jessie’s eyes opened wide with shock. “Oh my god, you’re right. On the few occasions he does get involved, that’s exactly the sort of things he says. I saw him crying at Sleepless in Seattle that time. Oh no, have I really been that unkind to him.”

“Honey, if you really want to start over with your sib – then she’s a girl called Elle. And it’s HER.”

“I’m taking a deep breath here. When are we next due to see ‘her’.”

“Oh come on, Jess. You’ve got to drop that special emphasis. I heard it. This is your brother, well, wanting to be ex-brother Elle. Please try harder. I know you love him, so can’t you love her too.”

“But ….”

“You know you can do it. I don’t know what especial tweak has got into your head about this but if you love your sibling, Elle, than you can do this. I’m not going to pretend it’s all going to be easy. In fact until I really saw how much more interesting Elle was than your, frankly, really boring Len – I wouldn’t have bothered. But something has jolted Elle out of that hole. And I’m willing to give it, that is the situation, not ‘it’ as in Elle is a thing, a decent go.”

“I’ll keep mumbling ‘but’ and ‘I don’t like it’ at intervals.”

“That’s all right, I suppose. But Elle, will you give her the love and encouragement and even help that you can.”

“What? You’re expecting me to teach her makeup and all the girl stuff.”

“I’m not demanding or expecting anything. I’m hoping that you will love Elle as this new person. If, and it’s an if of variable size, if you at times feel like giving real help then that’ll happen – or sometimes it won’t. Do you really mean that you wouldn’t take the opportunity to go shopping with a friend where you can help each other rather than always trying to do it on your own. I’ve heard you grumble about that often enough.”

“I could take her to a better hairdresser.”

“There must be some who know what to do with clients like Elle. It’s her birthday in about six weeks. Could you work with Elle to make her feel special? What would you do for yourself to make you feel special?”

“Well, a trip to the salon or spa would be a start. Then to finish with a nice evening out, dinner or a concert perhaps. A new dress or such to make the event more special. Yeah, I can see ways to deliver that to, er, Elle.”

“Doesn’t sound as difficult as you made it out to be a while ago.”

“S’pose. But it feels like you’ve pushed me a long way in not very long timewise.”

“Now you know, you know, I can’t push you unless you’re willing to be pushed. Be fair.”

Jess pretended to do her Diana pout, peeping from under her fringe. Then she relaxed, grinned at her man and went with, “Can’t get out of that one, darling. I’ll confess to not being the most flexible person on this beach.”

“And?”

“And what?”

“And are you going to let Elle come to the house?”

“I’m not keen. What is George going to be thinking by now. Are you or I going to ask if he knows what’s up. He’s bound to have heard us – so he knows something big is happening.”

“You’re pushing again. But if I’ve got to do it then I’ve got to get on with it. Alright. I’ll make some phone calls.”

“Golly. After the last few days I’m amazed we got to this point without a death in the house.”

“Have I been that bad? Really?”

“It ain’t been nice. You know how determined you get when you know you’re right and someone’s pushed the wrong button. That tidal wave of angry upset emotion pours over everybody nearby and they can barely think. It ain’t nice being on the receiving end. Us normal folk can only cope with a thimble or bucket of emotion and a tidal-wave just whelms us right big until we can’t think.”

“Put that way, it does sound, murmurs the small calm voice of reason somewhere at the back of my head, as if I’ve been a bit over-the-top.”

“Dare I say yes. But ‘yes’. And I don’t think I deserved some of the things you said. And I’m pretty sure that Elle, for another, needs to have his sister back and accepting his need for support.”

“I’ll try. I really will. And I’ll try to reset my brain to Her and She, I will try.”

“I can’t ask for more than that and I’m equally certain that Elle wouldn’t want to ask for more either. Make your calls and give Elle some of that love you have.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

…………………. JESSICA

“Elle, what’s up?”

“I’ve lost my job. They say I haven’t been doing well enough but I know because Charlie in Accounts told me that they’re lying. It’s because I told HR about my future plans – they’re lying about it and slinging me out. I bet they’ll give me a crap reference too. And without the job, I can’t afford that house. It’s all falling apart.”

“What’s the worst bit – the house, the job or the income or what?”

“It’s really only a two-room flat. It’s all I want to afford in order to save money for the op.”

I felt my stomach lurch. What was Elle going to demand from me?

“So, I’m going to downsize into a rented room instead. It’ll be cheaper and so on. I might ask if I can store some stuff for a while. I know some nurses in the flats opposite, so when I come back from Thailand they’ll be able to keep an eye on me.”

“Thailand?”

“Yes, Sis. It’s where the likes of me go if we can afford it to get ourselves, er, sorted out plumbing-wise.”

“I hate that. I hate the idea of you mutilating yourself so deliberately.”

“Sis, I can only tell you what my counsellor said one time. I was saying that someone had called it ‘mutilation’ and she had said, ‘why not look at it as your penis and balls being the real imperfection and their continued existence being a sort of mutilation in reverse.’

“But, it’s still …. Anyway. If you’re going to have this operation, what sort of care are these nurses offering?”

“Don’t know yet. I’ve never met them. But I’m told they’re friendly.”

“How long would you have to be recovering?”

“Depends a bit on how smoothly the op goes, how long I can stay in Thailand because flying back will not be that good if the surgery is recent; and then as long as it takes. Say five, six weeks minimum of mostly in bed and all that.”

“You can’t be expecting some nurses you’ve never met to …….. oh dear. Have I been so horrid that you felt you couldn’t ask me? Oh, Elle. Have I really been that much of a shitty sister?”

“Sis. I can’t say much else than, ‘yes’ you have made it hard to ask. But, can I ask, please. Sis, can I come and stay for just a few days until I feel okay to go back to my place?”

“You do realize you’ve just said ‘quite a lot of weeks of recovery’ and then asked to stay here with us ‘for a few days’. Oh hell, Elle. Ask properly.” My brain is spinning but, suddenly and awfully, I’m realizing I haven’t

“Jess, my sister. I know I don’t ask often because it scares me so much to be rejected, but, please, sis, can I stay with you for a while – time as yet unspecified – until I can cope on my own.”

“I’d be a right shit if I said no. I’d deserve to no longer be your sister. I don’t like a whole lot of this but I’m not letting my brother, my apparently soon-to-be sister ask for help from complete strangers rather than me. You can stay. You can stay even longer than the average guest who turns into bad fish after a few days.”

“I don’t know what to say, sis.”

“I’ve got conditions. We’ll have you to stay this next weekend as it’s a bank-holiday so we can see if we can actually fit together for several days. There’s probably things we have to sort out. And there’s Georgie too.”

“How and what about Georgie?”

“You won’t be surprised to know that we’ve had some argy-bargy about all this. Georgie’s got right upset and we need to tell him what’s up. He doesn’t know he’s got an uncle who likes to dress-up …… no sorry, I’ve been learning and that came out all wrong. His mum’s got a sibling who has been having problems and the end result after a lot of talking and assessing is that the person who has been presenting as his Uncle Len is a woman inside; mentally and emotionally a woman and she’s going to have herself tidied up and then will be living and working as a woman.”

“For someone who was saying what you did say only a month or so ago, I’m amazed at you. I’m proud of you that you can cope so well with what I need to do.”

“Elle, what I’ve just said is how I have to present it to Georgie. It’s not that close to what I still think. It still feels wrong to me that you have to change this way. But I’m not trusting my only sibling to some casual nurses who live nearby. If I have to change to do this – then bloody hell, Elle, I’ll have to change.”

“Then each time you change, I’ll get more proud of you.” And my little sister wiped her eye carefully, so as not to smudge her makeup.

“Oh you big softy. You really are a girl aren’t you.”

“Mmmmph, yes.” And we managed one of our very best hugs.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

……………………. GEORGE

I was back from school. It was Thursday evening and things were happening. Furniture was going to and fro. I wondered if the cooker was going to go out – old joke.

Mum saw my expression. She looked tired but excited too. “We’ve got a guest for the weekend. My brother’s coming to stay.”

“Uncle Len. But I thought there was some sort of problem?”

“Well, yes ….. and also no. He’s coming to stay because he’s got some things to sort out. If the weekend goes well, then there might be a longer stay in a few months. After a bit of, erm, effort on my part, I’ve agreed to help.”

“Mum, are you calling it all that shouting by you and Dad ‘just a bit of argy-bargy’?”

“I don’t know what to say. I was getting all wound up and not coping with some issues. Did all that really upset you?”

“You want the truth? I was getting really screwed up. I thought perhaps you would be divorcing or something. I heard you talking about him and things in his room and behaving weirdly and lots more. I couldn’t work out what I was supposed to have been doing. But if it’s Uncle Len – then it was about him. What’s he been doing that got you so screwed up? I think I ought to know a bit more. I do deserve something – I was thinking so many bad things. Whats’ uncle Len done or doing then?”

Mum had gone a startling mixture of red, white, scarlet.

“He’s a, erm. He’s, er. He’s not really your uncle any more.”

Cogs whirred inside my brain. “Oh, it’s this Elle I’ve heard you talking about. Elle is uncle Len – what he’s turning into a woman. Wow. Weird but I’ve read about people like him, or her or whatever. He’s one of these transvessites is he?”

“You’re going to need to learn a few things before Elle arrives. I began by not understanding anything about this. But I have learnt. Some of it’s a bit strange, some of it’s a lot strange – but that’s what you call it with other people. When it’s as close to home as Uncle Len and Elle are – you’ve got to learn or drown. I was drowning – and being cruel because of it. Get yourself a drink and I’ll give you an expanded version of the birds and bees.”

“Yukk. Not the bums and burrs again.”

“Is that what you call it at school?”

“Yeah, because mostly you can’t get to do it at home, so it’s out in the woods and wilds where one of you gets burrs in the bum. Well, allegedly.”

“Okay. What you need to know about the Elles of this new world. Like it or not, and rather a lot don’t – the male-female gender divide is not always clear and simple. First of the variations is the physical. At birth, most babies are quite easily distinguished as to girlness or boyness. But some aren’t – and they used to be medically sorted into what doctors saw as their correct gender. And doctors don’t always get it right.”

“But as well as physically being vague boy-girl wise, some others were vague emotionally and mentally. It’s a dreadful oversimplification about Men from Mars, Women from Venus – but it’s accepted that women are generally better and certainly more visibly emotional. Also that while men tend to compete, women tend to cooperate. There are real differences – and again it’s not ever a clear divide. It’s a spread, a range, a spectrum if you like. And Elle has been podded, poked, analysed and assessed sufficient that what she feels like in her mind and soul is agreed. She’s a woman. Your uncle is an ex. My brother is going to be my sister. And we are going to go on just fine as a slightly different family.”

“Oh, and by the way, what she is is not a transvestite. That’s a word for someone who enjoys and wears the clothes of the opposite gender. A male transsexual wants to be treated as a woman and a transgender person, if male, needs the surgery to make their outside match their inside. You can get girls going boyside as well as boys going feminine.”

“I’d almost say ‘too much information’ but if this new Elle is coming, what, tomorrow, then I need to get my mind straight, don’t I?”

“You’re a good lad. Just be nice to Elle. It’s a hard road and too many are unkind and even abusive about it. Well, you heard me a few weeks back. I was scared and upset. Don’t ask why my brother dressing up should scare or upset me – logic doesn’t always come into it when you get emotional. Just be kind, and as your Dad has suggested a few times to me, If you’re not sure what to say, stay silent and wait a bit.”

“Do you still love Uncle Len, well, Elle, I suppose now.”

“I never stopped loving hi..her. I was confused and being pulled out of my comfort zone.”

“Can I talk to Elle about why and stuff?”

“Why do you want …. I suppose so. Perhaps you’ll learn something, perhaps if I’m listening I might learn something too. But be nice and be kind.”

------------------------------

At school next day, the gang immediately noticed that I was more relaxed.

“Hey, George, you’re looking not so stressed. Good news or something?” said Paolo.

“Yeah, I’ve been told what all the fuss was between Mum and Dad. It’s all sorted and I’m not weird. Great isn’t it?”

“Do we need to know what it was all about, y’know in case it kicks off again and you need to escape to us?”

“You know I’ve got an uncle Len, my Mum’s brother ….. well, he’s coming to stay this weekend. But as my Auntie Elle. My mum was having a bit of a time coping with all of it. And I heard it wrong.”

“Your uncle, sorry, auntie is a cross-dresser. Unusual but judging by the papers there’s more than a few of them. Is he queer?”

“No. My mum told me and I talked with my dad too. Elle’s not a cross-dresser – they’re happy just to wear girly clothes. He’s, well, she’s a woman according to the docs and is getting sorted for that.”

“Yurk, what, getting his bits chopped.”

“Well, yes. She’s told mum that she’s a girl and things like that don’t belong on a girl or woman.”

“Wouldn’t go for that, me.”

“Makes it a bit obvious that you don’t want to be a girl then.”

“Not me, no way. If I want to get into a girl’s panties that’s me getting them off her not me dressing in them. No way.”

“Me too. Although.”

“What d’you mean …. ‘Although’ ?”

“Well, you’ve probably seen them more than me, girl’s panties like Bianca’s, they’re very different from what we get. I mean they’re shinier, they look slidier and just, well, different.”

“You’ve been checking out Bianca’s panties?”

“No. But I’m round your place so often. Your sister’s pretty messy with her things. I’ve just noticed once or twice.”

“You have been checking out her panties. What in the bathroom washbasket, that’s yukky.”

“No way. That would be grubby. When I’ve helped out with the washing a few times.”

“That’s almost worse. You’ve been … what have you been doing with her stuff?”

“Just folding it up and putting it away, like you have to.”

“Does she know you’ve been handling her panties … and presumably her bras and stuff too?”

“She was there when I was doing it one time.”

“What did she say?”

“Not much. I think she said, be careful with those. They’re called ‘delicates’ for a reason.”

“And?”

“Nothing.”

“No, I mean. Didn’t you have a feel.”

“How else would I know that they’re slidy and shiny and soft. Pretty too.”

“Getting a bit iffy there, boy. We don’t use words like pretty. Not unless you use gorgeous, cute, beautiful, lovely and sweet as well. Them’s the girly words.”

“Don’t be daft. Your mum asked for my help – I helped. Since that meant putting the washing away that’s what I did.”

“But you went into Bianca’s room. I can’t do that.”

“I couldn’t not do that could I. I couldn’t put her bra and panties into YOUR room.

“This conversation is getting loopy. Let’s leave it.”

We both grunted – as boys do to signal agreement.

But it didn’t help when Paolo said as he turned off to his lesson, ‘Slidy and shiny, you said, mmm?”

George was getting concerned. Truly, he had never thought about Bianca’s clothes when he was helping out. Well, not a lot. They were clearly amazingly different from what he wore as a boy, but once he had been shown how to fold her bra, he’d just got one with it – and the same with the panties. Olivia, their mum, had been quite straightforward about it.

“They’re just clothes, everyone wear them, well, except for the actual nudistes. It is nice sometime to be without the clothes, yes?” Once in a while her idiosyncratic style of English came out. My mind almost blanked out at the idea of Olivia without the clothes.

My mind veered and span during the day. Was Paolo thinking about his sister’s panties. Somehow his comments had made me think about them too. I knew what they felt like in the hand – but what would they be like …… no, I didn’t want to think about it. But I couldn’t stop. The mental image of smooth, soft, sleek nylon panties.

Yet again, I went round to Paolo’s house after finishing my homework. I’m not boasting but I was brighter and I worked a bit harder than Paolo so, almost always, I finished before he did. It was Thursday so unusually Bianca was home too.

She caught me as I came through to the kitchen for a drink and nibbles. “Hi, Georgio.”

Then to my surprise, she said, “Do you want to come to my room for a moment?”

This was not allowed. Olivia and her dad Giovanni had strict rules. “But…”

“Oh, don’t be silly. I’ll have to leave the door open. But we need to talk.”

We went upstairs. Bianca went first and I couldn’t help but stare at her long legs and the abbreviated skirt which hid the panties I’d spent so much of the day thinking about. I MUST STOP thinking about her PANTIES. My brain screamed at me.

At the top of the stairs, Bianca glanced back and knew that I was not looking at anything other than her legs. She grinned to herself.

I went into her room and sat on the stool by her vanity table while she sat on the bed, legs crossed and almost letting me get a glimpse.

“Paolo has been telling me things. Things that I’d more or less forgotten. And then he told me other things too, things he’s got questions about. Got me quite interested he did. Made me want to help you, both of you.”

“Erm, what, what’re you talking about?”

“Paolo told me, reminded me. About you sorting out the washing that day. About you stroking my panties.”

“I never did.”

“He said you said they were soft, silky, shiny. How could you know that …. Without, as I say.”

“But I didn’t.”

“You would if there was a next time, mmm. Wouldn’t you.”

I couldn’t answer, didn’t answer. My scarlet face was my answer.

“Paolo said he would if you would.”

“He’d do what?”

“Wear a pair of my panties, silly.”

“Why would I want to do that?”

“Because you want to know what they feel like on your skin, sliding up your legs, brushing softly instead of just a piece of cloth in your hand.”

“What do you think?”

“Me. I think it’s strangely exciting to have my two closest friends want to try on my panties. I’ve got four pairs just back from the wash. They’re almost new. Which do you want?”

Four pairs of panties waited on the bed. Pink with flowers, white with lace, white with satin bows, white with black stitching. I felt strange. Excited and scared at the same time. Excited but somehow feeling that this was wrong as well.

“I don’t know.” Then a thought hit me. Was this how Uncle had started.? But Mum had told me that he had always been a bit of a girl. And that now he wanted to get his things chopped off. Not me. No. I stood up.

“No. I’m not doing it. It’s not right. I’d get as screwed up as Uncle.”

“What’s you uncle got to do with wearing my panties. It’s not likely to be an offer I’ll repeat.”

“He’s turning into a woman. And I don’t want to take that risk.”

“I’m pretty sure that that sort of thing isn’t infectious. You don’t catch it because somebody nearby does it or has it, whatever.”

“Then I’ll go with the nature versus nurture argument. Since most things are a combination of the two, then being near someone who’s changing sex, gender, whatever. I don’t want to take the risk.”

“If there was no risk?”

“Then I’d probably do it. Ever since Paolo found out this morning that I’d had to fold and put away your undies, he’s been on and on about what did they feel like. It’s made me wonder too. And Auntie too – is there something that special about women’s clothes as compared to what we wear?”

“How can you answer that without experience. And I can promise you that putting on a pair of my panties just the once can’t have any effect. So why don’t you try. Then Paolo can have a go.” She giggled.

“At least if Paolo does it too, you can’t embarrass him and me both. Alright, but both of us together so we’re all in it together.”

Bianca called out, “Paolo, can I borrow you for a moment?”

As he came along the corridor, Bianca added a couple more panties to the options.

“Paolo, what you talked about. Here’s Georgio and there’s a selection of panties for you to choose from. Come on. Don’t waste time. Choose and swap what you’ve got for whatever you select – and then tell me they feel lovely – or be bold enough to say you don’t like them.”

Paolo looked at me. I looked back at him. We both glanced at Bianca who waited for us to make our move.

“Okay, come on Paolo. I’ve chosen mine. Get with it. Time for us to get into Bianca’s panties.” I smirked at Bianca as I said it.

“That was just so wrong saying that, Georgio. You might be paying for that.” But she was smiling as she said it.

Paolo nudged me. “Ready, boyo.”

“Okay, let’s do it.” We both turned away from Bianca and dropped our trousers and pants. Then we slid the new underwear up our legs and ….. they did feel very different. The softness and silkiness I remembered from before. But there was so much more to it. The panties felt lovely.

I couldn’t help it. I smiled. Paolo saw it, Bianca saw it.

“You do like them. Oh that’s so good. I wanted to know because of Thomas. I want him to try a pair of my panties. That’ll teach him for telling his mates ‘I’d really like to get into Bianca’s knickers’. I’ll teach him about knickers.”

“Why Thomas? You mean Thomas the tennis player or Thomas the actor. Those are the only two you know aren’t they?”

“Actor Thomas would be easy to get into a pair of my panties. I’ve got Tennis Thomas. I was, er, spending time with him and he was stroking my panties, I mean really, my panties rather than my luscious and nearby thigh. Bad boy. So there’s two reasons. But I want to check him out. And seeing as how easy it’s been to persuade both of you to try out my panties and to look like you’re enjoying it – then it should be the same with him.”

“And if you ever want to borrow a pair of my panties, then just ask.” And she giggled again.

“Okay, boys, off you go. You can keep the panties. Here’s your trousers.” And she held up her phone to remind us about the pictures – as if we needed reminding. Even sisters and best friends can do BAD things.

Back at home, I rapidly changed my pants and hid the panties in my school bag ready to return them to Paolo on Tuesday unless I had a chance beforehand. What with Uncle Elle or whatever he-she was wanting to be called staying for the long weekend, I wasn’t sure what plans were in hand.

But I was now wondering about a whole bunch of new ideas, new sensations, new feelings.

But every now and again, when I thought about the new pleasure that I had experienced with those panties, I also knew that I was different from Uncle Elle. I had been reading on the net. Okay, that meant I read a lot of information, a quantity of misinformation, disinformation, guesswork, wishful thinking, rubbish, weird, close-to-porn and full-force ugly porn. The last being difficult to avoid when you type in words like transgender or cross-dressing.

But amongst the sludge, I did pick out enough pearls. I kept coming back to the basic definitions of cross-dresser all the way through to transgender. It became quite clear that the common label LGBT was very misleading. I mean, time after time, the first three letters are all about who and how people have sex whereas the letter T was about gender.

I found it really difficult to understand why this difference wasn’t made more clear. I felt this more strongly when I looked at the other letters that have got attached to LGBT. After all, there’s now LGBTIQA? which is getting pretty complicated. And then I read that Facebook has over 50 different gender labels.

By the time I’d finished, I had a pretty neat document. I had the LGB at the top because they are the best-known labels for non-heterosexual or non-straight sexual activity. I then listed the three main Gender variants – T I Q - Trans, Intersex and Questioning.

There are other letters but they have more than one meaning so I decided to ignore them. Even Q could also mean Queer. A could mean Aromantic or Asexual, P could mean Pansexual or Polysexual. But even with the most exaggerated estimates, I did realize that there’s not very many people in some of these categories. But one couldn’t take this to mean that being in a category and no longer feeling alone wasn’t crucial to the people who have these feelings and behaviours.

Actually there was a whole pack of strangeness in that several of the letters seemed to refer to the amount of sexual activity – Pansexual, Polyamatory, Asexual and probably others that seemed a bit unclear to me.

The only simple statement after looking at all that was ‘ Ain’t Humans Wonderfully Different’.

Y’know how things don’t always work out the way you plan? Yep, dang thing bounced on me again.

I’d left my schoolbag in its usual placed in my room. Mum came in to check that my room was clean and tidy – not that anyone else would likely be coming in but I was expected to keep my door open and passing strangers as well as Mum and Dad would be able to see in. And this weekend, the passing stranger would be Uncle Elle. Not much more than 24 hours to go.

I don’t know why I had developed this new name for hi.. her. But it felt like I could cope with it and I wasn’t thinking how she would deal with it. But, heck, I’m a teenager and my social skills aren’t that well practised for unusual situations. And having an uncle transition right there in my house was VERY unusual.

So. Mum’s looking round, turns to leave and catches her heel in the handle of my bag. Everything falls out and I mean everything.

Some minutes later, Mum called me up to my room. I’d been reading in the front room where the sun made it warm and the chair just fitted me right.

“Explanation?” And the panties were dangling from her hand.

“They’re Bianca’s.”

“And? Given? Borrowed? Stolen? They are for her? They are from her? Mmmmm?”

“No. Ye.. It’s a bit difficult.”

“I’ll ask another way then. Is this something complicated and to do with Elle coming to stay and sort of you wanting to ..”

I held my hand up to stop her going down THAT route. “I can promise it’s nothing to do with Uncle Elle.” Her eyes widened as she heard my new label for Elle. “It was Bianca wanting to play a trick on a friend. Somehow she persuaded both Paolo and me to try on a pair of her panties to answer whether they were smoother and softer than boy pants. Of course, neither of us wanted to but you know how persuasive that girl can be.”

“Mmmmm, and?”

“Oh. But then she stole our own pants, took pictures and told us to get out of her room.”

“In her room, you know that’s forb....”

The hand-stop signal again “Of course I know, but she was in charge and … the door was open anyway and it was all three of us.”

Her hand-stop. “I could hear that as being even worse – but I won’t. Do I need to speak with Bianca or, worse, do I need to speak with her mum. On second thought, ring Bianca and get her to come round here. Her Second-Mum needs a word. But don’t say what it’s about even if she asks or guesses.”

“Now, as to this. You say Bianca wanted to know if you felt panties like this slick little number were ‘softer and smoother’ than your usual underwear. Hmmm? Were they? Did you like them? Enjoy them? Want a pair for yourself? What were you going to do with these?”

Always answer the easy question. “I was going to return them over the weekend if there was an opportunity. I mean what with Uncle Elle being around, there might be changes to what I usually do.”

“I do note the speed with which you avoided answering. Well, did they feel very different?”

“Of course, they felt different. And putting them on while Paolo did the same and Bianca was in the room, oops, perhaps that wasn’t obvious.”

Mum’s expression was very calm, too calm. “And?”

“They did feel different, they’re a different material, more stretchy so they clung more, the whole feel of them was different and mine aren’t smooth nylon or whatever these are.”

“And …. Did you like them?”

“Really, I can’t answer that. The whole situation was just … too strange.”

“Do you want to keep these?”

“Why would I? I said I’m giving them back as soon as possible.”

“Mmmmm. I’ll think about this. And what’s this about ‘Uncle Elle’? I’m not sure that she’s going to be happy about that.”

“I’ve only ever called him Uncle Len. To jump all the way to Elle wouldn’t feel right and Auntie Elle feels wrong too. Auntie Len would be almost worse, but I thought recognising hi.. er, her, sorry I can’t get my mind round this so suddenly. I thought Uncle Elle was what I could cope with and I hoped that … she wouldn’t be too upset.”

“I’ll have a word. But it would be kind of you to listen hard to what Elle says. Perhaps it may be a bit early for you to call adults by their first names, but it’s going to begin to happen soon. I had the same problem at your age. My best friend’s parents told me to call them Anne and Jake instead of Mrs Jacobs and Sir which was my usual way. I got round it by waiting to catch their eye and saying ‘Um’. It took about a year before I could call her Anne and another year before I got to Jake. I’d prefer it if you could avoid going ‘um’ to anybody. Elle’s having a hard time currently. Any kindness we can offer is going to be so much appreciated. I know this because I was part of the problem until recently.”

“You?”

“Yep. I couldn’t cope with my brother’s needs. I was unkind, judgemental, and probably a lot worse when, as his only sibling, heck, his only close relative, he deserved my love. But I was hiding behind my prejudices and ignorance about how much she was hurting.”

“Hurting?”

“My brother has told me that every day dressing up as a man has been an act, a pretence, a fake life dressing and behaving in a role that is just wrong. She’s a woman. Inside and wanting to be outside too so she stops feeling quite so wrong. She’s a woman in her head, in her emotions, in her soul, in her heart. The only bit that’s wrong is what she calls ‘an ugly little plumbing problem’. I really have learnt so much from her and a couple of her friends.”

“What, you mean there’s lots of others out there like Uncle, sorry, like Elle.”

“I never knew. So how likely is it that you knew? But there’s a whole range of people in the real world. Some of them have problems with Gender, some with Sexual preference. I really didn’t know. But my brother has been lying to the world for almost his whole life – because he isn’t male in any significant way. And my sister is coming to stay. Okay. So be nice.”

“Now, go away and find some chores or whatever until I’ve spoken with Bianca.”

Bianca came over about half an hour later. I was finishing the washing up and drying.

Generally, none of us knock anymore because we’re so close to being a giant family in two houses. Bianca hissed at me as she went past, “What’s this about?”

I shrugged. I wasn’t going to get into any more trouble. Damned Panties!

Bianca left about twenty minutes later – without saying goodbye.

Mum came up to my room where I was doing stuff.

“Well, young man. I have spoken to Bianca in my role as Second-Mum. She will not be inviting you into her bedroom again. She will not be offering you panties to wear. The one’s you were given are in the wash and will be returned to her. She is contemplating what she is going to decide shall be her punishment. Now, as for you. I have concerns.”

“Bianca’s timing is not useful or helpful. You are at the exact age when all the complications of sex, sexuality, sexiness and sexual attraction are beginning to be or about to be of major major interest to you. You’re a boy. You are about to get day by hour by minute injections of testosterone and the like from your various glands. This is going to happen unless you are extraordinarily unusual and what I know of your medical history says your very middle-of-the-road except sizewise.”

“At this time, the competent parent will mumble something about the birds and the bees and point you at a book or the internet. There you will find completely the wrong information and, all too likely, be drowned in a tidal wave of quite startling pornography. This is not what I want to happen. I can give you books and leaflets about the relatively simple process of sexual intercourse, protection from diseases and babies, and a number of other very physical activities. Your body will soon be demanding that you react to the pheromones of a woman in heat. It’s natural. But it’s as far from love and love-making as is possible.”

“But all of this will be new to you. New sensations, new feelings, new desires. If life has dealt you a typical hand, then you are likely to be heterosexual and interested only in women. If you have a good hand, then you will eventually focus on just one woman and aim at a family, marriage and a life together. But you do not know enough about yourself yet to even guess at the hand you’ve got. It may be that you’ll turn out to be homosexual or bisexual or some other more complicated alternative – and whatever you choose, I have learnt enough recently to say ‘I will always love you’.”

“It depends on who you talk to but being gay or whatever is not completely driven by genetics and is not completely a free choice. It is, like most human situations, a combination of Nature and Nurture. We have tried to be better than adequate as parents but we will have made mistakes, sometimes for the bad and even sometimes for the better. You’ll be able to judge in a few years. And, sorry, lost my thread there. But, right at this moment, I’ll go back to saying you don’t know what cards you have. Bianca’s rather selfish suggestion that you try on panties so that she can play a trick on her friend Thomas is not good. It could be that you enjoy it so much that you want to wear panties more often, then perhaps other girl’s clothes, or, I don’t know. But playing around with a young man’s head when they’re too young to know what experiments are safe and which are less safe – I won’t have it.”

“As parents we try our best. Sometimes a thing will happen that we think is enormously significant but you barely notice, sometimes it’ll be the other way round. Aged about fifteen, I was singing one day and my brother said ‘You can’t sing’. So I pretty much never sang for thirty years. Then I was singing to myself and a friend who sings in a choir said ‘you sing so nice, join me in the choir’. Now, I think my brother who really could sing had lied to me because he was jealous.”

“Have I talked enough, kiddo? There’s big issues lining up for us to talk about. Or maybe for some of it, there’s your dad or Them-there (her nickname for Bianca and Paolo’s mum and dad). But I won’t have any more of this with Bianca playing games. But I may take the occasional opportunity to instruct you in girl-boy differences. Like the different jobs they do – like in the house, around the house and outside too. I do not want you falling into the jobs for men versus jobs for girls trap. Every boy should be able to iron a shirt, cook three recipes and so on while every girl should be able to change a tyre, attach an electric plug and so on for her too. I’ll think of some lessons. You might learn a lot.” She turned to go off to the kitchen. “And don’t do that pretend-scream. I’m a mum and I have eyes in the back of my head. For that, you come to the kitchen and peel potatoes. You can wear an apron to prevent spilling anything of your clean clothes!”

-------------------------------

By the evening, I had done tasks and jobs and chores all over the house and garden. Friday after school was more jobs as well as homework to be done in a hurry so I was knacked and taking a quick break on my bed before Elle arrived. I had practised using just Elle during the day. It didn’t feel right but then Uncle Elle had been pushed out of my head by doing so. Elle was due in about an hour – just in time for dinner.

I was quite startled when Elle turned up. Obviously she’d been doing something with Mum because she was in the car too. Elle looked pretty good for a woman the same vintage as Mum – well as far as a teenager judges age. Elle was actually a lot younger but in your 30s that can barely matter. Mum was 42 after her birthday last month, so Elle was about 31. They did look awfully like sisters.

She was wearing, heck, that’s a girl thing. You don’t need to know. Anyway, just in case, a yellow sundress with a green and white trim. Sandals with a low heel and a sort of flicky short hairstyle. I could tell she had breasts because I could see them and the outline of a bra. Golly, Elle really is my auntie and no longer my uncle.

I came forward. “Do you need help with you bags, Elle. It’s nice to be seeing you. You look very neat.”

“Oh, this old thing, just an old dress that seemed to suit. But your Mum and I have been to the salon and I’m polished and shone up as good as an old wagon like me can be done. But thanks for saying it. And there’s three bags altogether, if you’d be so kind.”

Mum complimented me “Very smooth, young man. Sounded like you’d rehearsed that a couple of times. And the extra ‘You look very neat’, well done for that too.

“Gee, golly thanks, Ma.”

“Don’t be cheeky or I’ll eat all the chocolate biscuits in the bag I carry with me. Verily, the treasures of the mall have been secured ‘gainst possible future threats of afternoon starvation. We must needs enjoy them while there’s time. But I need to go the other direction for some ingredients, I’ll be back later, maybe half an hour. I’ll leave you to make tea for Elle and so on.”

We grinned at each other. I hauled the bags and tottered back down to the kitchen pretending absolute exhaustion for revival and refreshment. Elle was there but Mum had gone already. “What did you have in those bags? A collection of your pet rocks?”

“Oh, just the usual, dear. Girls travel with more stuff than any bloke ever managed. You’ve no idea, until now, how much 42 pairs of shoes can weigh.”

“Forty-two.”

“Oh don’t be silly. That would need at least 84 different outfits. There’s about five or six pairs of shoes – but there’s other things too. A girl needs to have choices every day.”

“Un… Elle, sorry I’ve been calling you Uncle Elle in my head for a few days. I’ve been trying to train myself into Elle like Mum suggested.”

“Uncle Elle … that’d be a new one. I know you’ve called me uncle for a while but I’d really like it if you could manage NOT to call me uncle. ‘Elle’ would be just fine. I do understand that it might be a bit tricky, but stick with it for a while and it’ll get easier. You up for that?”

“I’ll do my best.”

“That’s all I can ask. But if you have any issues or concerns, then, please just ask.”

There was a pause.

“George, DO you have a question?”

“Er, would it really have upset you if I’d said ‘Uncle Elle’?”

“Okay, I think you had another question to ask, but I’ll deal with the one you’ve asked. Yes, it would have hurt me. It would probably be almost as bad as if someone called you a ‘girl’ or a ‘sissy’ or anything like that. It’s kind of strange but calling a boy a girl is seen as really insulting. But I’m trying and learning to be the girl I am inside and I’ve got to unlearn all the acting and boy-pretending I’ve done for years and years. I don’t need any reminder that I used to be called a boy, well, man.”

“I hadn’t thought of it like that. Was it suddenly that you decided to become a girl?”

“There’s so many words I want to comment on there. But it wasn’t sudden although for some it can be. I didn’t decide to become a girl, it was rather that I came to understand that I actually was a girl; just that I had a little difficulty which made people call me a boy. Like I say, it wasn’t sudden but I don’t know if I was typical or not.”

“Er, why?”

“Generally, folk like me there’s the obvious and well known or well-storied ways – the ones who girl toys as soon as possible and do girl type things and want to play with the girls rather than the boys and so on; the others just gradually realise there’s something wrong by the time they’re 10 to 12 before puberty starts to come along. And there’s those who as you say ‘suddenly’ have something happen which makes them realise they’re a girl. For me, it was just a series of events over a couple of years with my best friends. There were four, sometimes five of us. We were all between 9 and maybe 11 at the beginning. Sandy, Gina, Fiona, Edward and myself. The first thing, I guess, was when we were at the beach. Because of the variable weather and it being cool to start with, Ed and I wore jeans and fleeces. Then it got boiling hot and we were melting. Ed started it by saying ‘what can I do, I’m going to become a puddle of blood and sweat. I haven’t got much else to wear except swimming trunks. And Mum expects me to cover up with something when it’s this bright’.

Sandy was the one who made the offer. “I’ve got something spare” and she giggled, “but you might not be too keen. I guess it depends how brave you are.”

‘Uh oh, sort of a dare being made here’ I thought.

“For some reason, I got this as a spare.” And she held up a white, green and yellow sundress. “Are you hot enough to be brave enough to wear it?”

“I really don’t like the idea but I’m so dreadfully hot. I feel a bit faint actually and I’ve been close to sunstroke before. Not again, please. So, yes, I’m not being brave I’m going to be sensible.”

“What about Len?” said Fiona.

Elle added “If you’re wondering about all our parents, they were further down the beach and had deliberately left us to ourselves. My parents were actually away sorting out something with your mum, so I’d got Gina’s parents in change of me. They were only about five minutes away but we’d all had a big discussion about giving us some independence and a chance to make mistakes in a safe place. There only real rule was no swimming unless we were back with some parents. This was in the days when parents gave their kids room and opportunities to grow.”

“So, Fiona makes this comment. ‘If Ted is getting cool, what about Len? Does either of you have anything else spare?’. “

There was a pause. “Doesn’t anyone have anything. Well, I’ve got a suggestion. I’ve got some money with me and there’s a shop just up from the beach and I saw a sundress I’d love to have. If I buy it, then Len has got a dress to borrow just like Ted. And in a while, I’ve got a new dress for me. Excellent.”

There was a longer pause. I definitely kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to volunteer nothing. But I could see that Ted was now smiling and I was getting more and more like the puddle of blood and sweat he had forecast.

“So it happened. Fiona went off and bought the dress and I put it on. And it was so much better. I was cool, I was comfortable. It felt so much better. But I didn’t stop being a boy. Not then anyway.”

“So, what then?”

“It was a week or so later. The holiday photos had come back and my parents saw them. They had missed out on the beach day and somehow they didn’t know about the dress. Obviously they asked about the photos with boys in dresses and they got told what had happened. They said two things, ‘next time plan your day out more carefully’ and ‘even though you had to so as to get cool, did you like wearing the dress?’ Well, it was Mum who said it, but Dad clearly knew about it and agreed.”

“I didn’t know what to say to that. I’d never really thought about the dress and what it had felt like. I’d liked the extra comfort from the dress but whether I liked the dress itself, I hadn’t thought about it. So I said so.

“If you had another boiling hot day, would it be convenient to have a sundress available?”

“Wow. Never thought about that. Er, I don’t think so, no. Boys don’t wear dresses, do they?”

“Generally not, but there’s exceptions to every rule. Girls can wear anything a boy does and boys and girls are almost indistinguishable at your age. If you want to, then it won’t matter. Think about it. If you do want to I won’t object. And you did look pretty in that dress. Did you wear it all day?”

“Mum, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

“I do hear you. But Fiona’s mum has had her asking if Elle can come round to play. So Fiona and her mum are quite happy if you want to. So, do think about it, yes?”

“I’m not saying no straight away if Fiona wants it, but it does seem a bit strange. I’m a boy after all, and isn’t there some rule about boys not wearing girl’s clothes?”

“Kiddo, it’s not rule. It’s just an expectation. Looking at it with a bit of common-sense, it’s all a bit skew really. Like I said all of thirty seconds ago – if you want to wear something and I don’t argue then you can wear it. Dresses in summer are, as far as I’m concerned really sensible, they’re cool, they cover a lot of skin, an extra layer like a cardigan keeps you warmer when it’s cold. I think dresses are great. You can choose the colour, the material and the overall look with so much more variety and style than a boring bloke gets to wear. I’m all in favour. And at your age, barely anybody can tell if you’re a boy or girl. They go by the big signals like what clothes you’re wearing. If you’re happy once in a while to wear a dress and be mistaken for a girl – that’s just part of the rich tapestry of life.”

“But my hair’s not right.”

“That’s easy enough to correct. Short as it is, brushing it differently will make an amazing difference. Are you interested? Talking about your hair is a sort of indicator that you’re not too upset!”

“Even if I could wear whatever I want – I really don’t want anybody saying ‘there’s a boy in a dress - weird, hiss, boo, abuse, etc.”

“Fair enough. So – the follow up question. If I take you upstairs and sort out your hair, would you like to go over to Fiona’s as Elle or Len?”

“Can you give me some more ideas as to why to say yes or no. After all, you are actually a woman and might have some ideas as to what I might gain from doing so, also you are a little older than me and therefore have more experience of life. I could guess that means you could give me some useful guidance. I say carefully, could, because you are, after all, my mother and may have defects of which I am unaware.”

“Are you sure you’re only 11. That’s an awfully, actually dreadfully, intelligent set of thoughts. All set out in a row with logic apparently linking one sentence to another. What have you been doing alone in your room – I can’t bear it if you’ve been thinking. Ugh.”

“Oh, mother-unit, grace me with your innermost cog-workings. Guide me, oh mother-unit.”

“I’ll give you ‘mother-unit’, appallingly intelligent child. You’re eleven and I am of the belief that you are little experienced in the opposite gender, and not precocious as regards sexual interests or actual activity. That means you are perhaps ready for guidance. You are nearly at the age of discovering that girls are different from boys in amazing and remarkable ways. It may be that doing things with Fiona while you’re in costume might give you knowledge about girls that you’d never get any other way; that is, if she begins to treat you more as a girl than a boy. That’s certainly what I read into her invitation. Clearly, she enjoyed being with you when you were wearing that dress. Girls on their own talk about things and boys in a different way from boys do when they are on their own and different again from how both talk together. It could be very revealing to you – yet another learning experience. Perhaps if your sister was here…. But she’s at University now and about to start a job in Yorkshire. I’m not sure how often we’ll be seeing her.”

Mum and Dad both were over-keen on making things into ‘learning experiences’. Sometimes they were fun, sometimes they were dull, dull, dull. But learning about girls – that could be worthwhile. I knew very little about them as a species. As I say I had my three friends but we were so close that I wasn’t sure I was learning much about the difference between boys and girls from being with them. But perhaps doing things just with Fiona might be different.

“Let’s give it a go, then.”

“Where is the dress you wore that day?”

“I gave it back of course.”

“How bold are you feeling about this. You can either ring Fiona and say you’ll need to borrow that dress when you arrive, or she might lend you something else; or we can buy you something on the way over, something you would have chosen for yourself.”

“What, no way.”

“It actually gives you more control over the situation if you make the choice. You haven’t a clue what Fiona might offer you. She almost certainly wouldn’t let you wear the sundress again. Girls just don’t wear the same thing twice in a row. If you’re going to learn from this experience, then you need to do it properly. You can’t be half a boy, half a girl. As you said yourself, you can’t be a boy in a dress. It’s up to you. Ready to go shopping?”

“Something feels very skew here. But okay. But I’m not spending hours like girls apparently do.”

“That’s fair, provided we can find something good enough quite quickly. The main reason for girls to spend so much time shopping and window-shopping too is that they are looking for the exactly right outfit for some identified occasion. We don’t need that here for this. Okay, you’re wearing shirt, jeans and shoes, that’s enough. I reckon that we can get whatever you need pretty quickly. Let’s go.”

“Umph.”

“Well, that wasn’t ladylike!” Mum smirked.

“Huh, I’m not a lady am I.”

“No, but you’ll be more nearly there in a while. And I will pick you up on any mistakes. Let’s not give Fiona any reasons not to give you the thorough girl experience, eh?”

I decided to push a bit. “But, Mummy, what if I can’t find a thing to wear?”

“Then it’s just a matter of being a typical girl and borrowing from your friends, sorted. And I caught the change to ‘Mummy’, little girl.”

“Oh, but, Mummy, what if I can’t find anything pretty?”

“You do know that you’re putting yourself into considerable danger. I might take you up on getting something really pretty and girly!”

There was silence for a moment.

“Perhaps I was pushing a bit, Sorry, Mummy.”

“So, let’s go and see what there is. I’ll listen to what you say you want but I would prefer it if you do at least make some effort to choose something you’d like to wear! I do say it’s all up to you – but I think I’d like you to get properly involved. Because I hadn’t remembered until now, but I think that Sandy also said something that perhaps meant she wanted Elle to come for a visit too. I’m really not sure if that was what she meant. If this goes nicely with Fiona, and you enjoy it, then perhaps we’ll follow up by talking with Sandy. Although I guess that Fiona will get there faster than I will.”

So, it was never a deliberate intention by me. It was never part of my mum’s plan – because I’ve asked her. And actually neither Fiona nor Sandy ever meant for me to spend a lot of time in dresses over that summer. But gradually I found myself at their houses more and more often, and more and more often I was wearing pretty clothes.

And, surprise, surprise, I grew to like it. Part of it was the so-different feeling of being treated as one of the girls instead of as a boy with a group of girls. By this time, we didn’t know the reasons why, Ted was away for the whole of the summer and we didn’t see much of him until Christmas. So there was Fiona, Sandy, Gina and two new friends – a pair of twin sisters, Lizzie & Lucy. I was outnumbered 5 to 1 if I had been interested enough to notice. But for that summer, it really was just us 6 girls.

Needless to say, I was Elle whenever I was with the girls rather than Len. And Mum was quite happy with me being Elle at home. There were side-effects. Because I was ‘being a girl’ so she began to treat me much more as a daughter. I began to be taught the duties and tasks that girls get as part of their indoctrination. I helped with the washing, ironing, washing-up, drying, cleaning and so much more than I had done as a boy. But in return, I got to know my mum so much better than before. Instead of being merely fed, watered, washed, cleaned and so on as most boys begin to expect – I started to see how much work is needed to keep a house and a household in good order. As a boy, I might have learnt if I had wanted to – but expectation can make things happen as well as not happen.

And I learnt as much but very differently from my girlfriends.

I’m really not sure if it was that summer that made me decide that I was a girl on the inside. Obviously spending day after day as a girl began to make an immense difference to how I saw the world. But, I think it was later that I began to think about changing or rather realising that I had changed.

Over the autumn, back at school, there wasn’t much opportunity to be Elle. There were evenings and weekends I suppose, but it didn’t seem to happen quite so much. Then it came to the Christmas holidays. We were over at Gina’s house and she was showing us her new party dress. It was so pretty. We all oohed and aahed over it. Fiona asked if she could try it on. Gina wasn’t very willing because Fiona was noticeably larger in the chest than Gina and Sandy was just a bigger girl all over. Fiona tried it on but admitted defeat quite quickly. But Gina said, ‘Elle can try it on. D’you want to.”

I was just as excited as the others so I instantly said, “Yes please,” and began to change right there and then.

Fiona stopped me almost at once. “Elle, you’re not going to put that dress on over your boy undies are you?”

So, very quickly, I was stripped almost naked and given a set of Gina’s undies. Her family was better off than mine so her underwear had more satin, silk and lace than I usually wore. They felt lovely and I said so.

“Oh, these are so pretty. So smooth. And I love the dress.”

“Elle, you’ve been out of school for barely 2 hours, and you’ve gone to being even girlier than you were all summer. Why have you been hiding since then.”

“Don’t know really. It just didn’t seem to fit to be Elle for the last couple of months. But, seeing this dress, I just had to ask to wear it and then you suggested it. It IS so pretty. And it feels even nicer to be wearing it. The lining just feels so gorgeous combined with the weight of the cloth. Where did you get it, ‘cos I want one like it. Then we can be sisters for Christmas, that’d be so neat.”

Fiona burst out with “Golly, Ellie, you have gone right back to being all girl, haven’t you. I like it as well. I did love being with Elle so much in the summer and I’ve missed you too for the last months. But I didn’t want to pressure you. My Mum told me not to and, one time, your mum said to wait and see as well.”

“Vot is zis, an conspirrrazee? But if it was I was very willing to be the victim.”

“I guess being so instantly girl when I saw that dress was a sign. Then I pestered mum until we got to the shop and bought a matching dress for me. Pretty much from that point I began to spend every evening and every weekend back in dresses and pretty clothes of every sort. My Elle wardrobe soon got far bigger than what I had accumulated on all my years as Len.

That was when your Mum found all my stuff when she came in to tidy my room. I know she was doing it as a favour to our mum, but it was a b disaster. She didn’t just go off the handle, she took the handle and door with her in the explosion. It was revolting, wrong, very wrong, incredibly wrong and vile and very vile and horrid as well. She lost it rather. Then when she realized that Grandad and Nan knew and weren’t as appalled as her – she went really over-the-top. She didn’t speak to them for a couple of years and didn’t speak to me for far longer, a horrid lot of years actually. ‘Cos I missed my sister. It might have been part of the reaction that she took a job in Australia for some years until she met your dad in India. Both on the same holiday, her from Melbourne, him from Twickenham. And as we all know, love blossomed when his chair collapsed one night in the middle of dinner and he poured his wine all over her skirt.”

“Back to my story, we moved house when I was thirteen. Only about twenty miles but I had to change schools. Fortunately it wasn’t quite enough to break the relationship I had built up with my girls. But the new school offered weekday boarding as an option and I was quite keen on the idea. In addition, mum had been negotiating with the school about me and whether I could attend as Elle rather than as Len. To our amazement, they already had two girls attending. We were told that one had been a relatively simple intersex diagnosis while the other had been showing signs of being a girl before a major road accident which had killed her mother and damaged her groin. The option to change had been quite simple. The headmistress explained that I would be the only one still with an actual genital discrepancy but they were confident that this was avoidable.”

“I did ask mum if we had moved so that I could go to this school, and she said that was not why we’d moved. Dad had been getting fed up with the traffic and the access to school and job – when his uncle died there was a legacy direct to him and this had prompted the move. In addition, two of mum’s old friends lived in the village and she had lost touch with them a bit. I loved the new school, the new house, the new friends and I was so happy that most of the old friends didn’t drop away.”

“But gradually at home as well, I began to do more and more things as a girl. It really was gradual. Eventually, I did get a bit brazen – I began to wear panties all the time, then blouses rather than shirts. And quite a lot of people could see the button-difference. Whether I liked it or not, a lot of people aren’t actually incompetent with their mark-one eyeball nor with the space between their ears. Fortunately, by this time, not many people really cared what I did out of school. As I say, school was a controlled environment and I was totally Elle when I was there. Then I started buying girl jeans and girl shorts. I kept away from skirts and dresses for a long time. Perhaps because I could wear them at school and that was sort of enough.”

“Ted still came round. It had taken time to rebuild the team after he had been away for that autumn. Gradually, it became clear what had happened. With him being seen in a dress, his dad had thrown a major wobbly. ‘He wasn’t having his son in a dress, becoming gay, infecting and affecting everyone around him etc etc’. Major wobble. After some efforts at counselling for Ted, his Dad and his whole family, he’d been sent off to deepest East Anglia to ‘work out what he wanted to do’.

“Amazingly, he pretty much wanted to do the same as I had at the beginning wanted to. That is, to wear pretty clothes if I felt like it. Clearly I had gone further by then but Ted was on the same track. But the big difference was that he had accepted and his Dad had accepted that ‘dressing-up’ now and again wasn’t a big deal. I couldn’t believe that we both had such wonderful families.”

“by the time I was at University, I was a full-time girl. Your Mum knew by now and did not like it. Most thoroughly did she not like it – as we know. And it hurt me, made me really sad. And I think it hurt her too, now that we’ve talked about it. I really hope we’ve got past that. I love my sis. I’ve missed her so much.” And Elle caught a tear in her hankie. “Have I said enough, mmmm?”

“Reckon so. Maybe even more than I needed right now, but if I can remember what you’ve said I might learn something when I’ve filed it all in my skull.”

“That’s a good way to end this, thanks Georgie.”

Amazingly, just as I got upstairs, Mum returned with her last minute shopping. She called down to ask for help with dinner. Elle and I arrived at the same moment. “What needs doing” we both said together.

Elle grinned at me and said “I think that shows that I’m fitting in pretty well for the first evening. Good timing, boyo.”

Mum smiled and said, “There’s only one spare apron, so tonight that’s for you, Elle, while you do the slicing and chopping and prep. George – you can set up the big table. Do it nice and I’ll glance at it in a few minutes. Then I’ll have some other jobs to make the evening sort of special. I’m realizing that I’ve never had my sister come for dinner before. Probably because I wasn’t being properly nice to her then.” And she looked at Elle with a big smile.

“Time moves on, Sis. That was then, this looks like a much better now. Thanks,” replied Elle.

And I think we all smiled.

Dad was back about half an hour later. He checked that he could have a half-hour slowdown before dinner and mum said, you can have a bit more than that – but changing into smart comfortable might be nice too. We’re all moving along nicely.”

Dinner was good. Everyone was relaxed and both Dad and Mum were finding out that Elle had done quite a lot of things in the couple of years while they had been communicating less.

------------------------

By the time it was Monday Elle had been updated on the Bianca-Panty scandal. I think she picked up Mum on the ‘tonight you wear the apron’ and dug a bit to find out what the story was.

“You heard my story last Friday, young George. Apparently you have been pushed towards having your turn on the magic roundabout.”

“Er, Elle, I think you’re jumping to conclusions. I tried on a pair of panties. They were very different and I didn’t answer as to whether they were nice or not. I still haven’t. I’m not into anything like that. Or if I am, I haven’t told anyone not even myself. So, leave it for the moment. So, not yet, maybe never. My nether garments shall remain my responsibility to choose as I see fit.”

“Okay, boyo. But if you want to borrow a nightie or have me buy you some panties that fit nicer, just flash a bit of leg and I’ll …. Sorry, that was very wrong of me to tease you like that. Let’s say, I’m always ready to listen on any subject under the sun including religion, politics, Taylor Swift or anything you like. Okay.”

We grinned at each other.

It wasn’t Bianca who made things more complicated. It was Francesca.

“Georgio, (she’d picked this up from Bianca). Bianca’s been teasing me saying that she knows some boys who she persuaded to wear her panties. I know she lies so often, but is it true? And if it is true, then it surely must be you or Paolo or even both of you?”

Blushing as much as I do makes it difficult to lie.

Her eyes were wide open. “Oooooh. I didn’t want to believe it but your face tells its own truth. Georgia, I shall never tell but you need to find an excuse for why you blush so if someone asks about panties again. Perhaps you can say ‘you were teased that you did wear them – but everyone knows it was a lie and a tease by Bianca.’ Too many of us know about Bianca and the exaggerations she invents.”

I could feel my face regaining its proper colour. Francesca slid along the bench toward me, her thigh pressed against mine. I’d not often been that close to a girl.

“Georgio, tell me true. Did you like the feeling. I too have done the same. I put on a pair of my brother’s pants ….. and they were very horrid. I wore them for nearly ten minutes and they were so rough and heavy and thick and just dreadful. I put on my own panties and wondered how any boy or any man could possibly wear such ugly things when panties like mine were available. Soft, slidy, just so much lighter and nicer. Can you explain this to me, my Georgio.”

Now that was new! I had never had Francesca call me ‘my Georgio’ before. What was this all about?

The facial bonfire was lit again. “Not now. I just don’t want to think about it. Not right now. But soon. Maybe tomorrow.” And, despite the potential joy of being ‘my Georgia’, I ran.

Then it was tomorrow. Francesca had saved a space at the table in the library beside her. So we couldn’t talk and perhaps I wouldn’t catch fire. But she could and did pass me notes. It was almost worse.

….. G – have you got an answer?
…. No
…. I would really like an answer!
…. I’m still at maximum embarrassment even thinking about it. And I’m cross with B too.
…. B never actually told me it was you and Paolo. It was a guess.
…. In this place!!!! It’s quite an obvious guess for anybody who’s seen the group together.
…. Can we talk later – after school – in coffeeshop 3.
…. K

Coffeeshop 3 was used when we wanted to talk quietly. It was further away, the coffee was only adequate but, best, very few of the school went there.

In the coffeeshop, Francesca was suddenly red with embarrassment herself. “I’ve been thinking and I’ve got an idea.” She passed me a paper bag with not much inside it.
“What’s in the bag.” I really should have guessed.

“Um, er, it’s a silly idea but I guessed that Bianca’s were the first panties you’d, er, tried. And I’ve had another go with my brother’s pants and it was just as, ugh, uggghy as before. So I’m lending you a pair I bought for you. I want to know if they still feel the way the first one’s did. I really want to get some idea of the difference between boys and girls. If these feel so different then it’s not just emotions and feelings and the way we communicate that makes boys different from girls. If I can get some idea of more differences, then I might understand ME better.”

“Are you bonkers, Fran? Or just as demented as Bianca? Or …. I’m lost for what to say next.”

“Will you take the panties, try them on and tell me?”

I realized I was still holding the bag. I nearly flung it back so the recoil would get me out of the shop as fast as possible. Boy brain spoke, “Uh.”

It’s difficult to believe but the exact same scenario took place. Bag into school-bag. Bag into room. Mum checks room. Mum trips on bag. Bag explodes a bit. Paper bag revealed. Panties identified – still with their sale tag on!!

Panties dangling from hand ‘So. Again. And perhaps a more complicated explanation?”

“Fran bought them for me.”

Eyebrow raising toward hairline.

“I mean, she wanted to do an experiment!”

Eyebrows could lift no higher – nose, lips and teeth began to reject gravity. “Experiment.”

“She found out about Bianca and asked me to do it again to answer how really different panties felt compared with boy pants. She’s tried on her brother’s undies for an hour and thought they were beyond dreadful – so as a boy, what could I tell her about girl panties when worn by myself.”

“Fascinating. I can truly admit that my girlfriends never did anything quite so eccentric. So. Are you going to try.”

“I don’t want to. I really don’t want to. But Fran seemed to make it so important that she got some sort of answer. I don’t know. What do you think?”

“Huh, ME. My brain is bewildered by the remarkable activities of my boy and his friends. You won’t get much of an answer from me. I don’t even know if Elle would give you much help.

Elle had been staying often with us in the previous two months. I talked to her that night on the back porch where I was pretty sure we were out of earshot what with the telly being on so loud.

“It seems you’re thinking about clothes a lot – girl’s clothes I’ve heard. At some stage soon, you need to get your mind straight on what you want. And that’s going to be quite tricky, I think. I think you’re quite mixed up as to what you want. But I’m always here to listen if you need me. I’ve probably had more experience in this area that your mother – certainly different. But don’t ignore what your mum says either. And there may be others to talk to as well.”

“At some stage, identify what do you think would be the best outcome, the worst outcome, the most likely outcome and the best satisfactory one you think you can work towards. By the way, that’s my own mum’s way of analysing things. I don’t know if your mum has shared it with you or taught it to you. It’s quite a good technique – it makes you think a bit more widely about problems and solutions. I’d guess since this is all pretty new to you that you’re not at the BWLS stage with regard to the wearing of panties at the request of Francesca. It’s not got to be significant yet – but it might grow. If I were not a lady, I might make a crude and vulgar joke – but I am so I wont’.”

“That’s a lot to take on board. But I like your Best-Worst-Likely-Satisfactory suggestion. I need a large piece of paper and a to do bit of thinking.”

“Darling, this might point the way your whole life might go – it’s going to need, over a period of time, a lot more than just ‘a bit of thinking’. But if you need to ask questions – then some you can ask me. Some you can ask your mum, some you can ask your dad. I do promise, the only real mistake will be not asking for advice and help when it’s available for free. If anyone hates what you want to do – then it can be a problem for you, it’s definitely a problem for them and it can be a horrid indicator of what ‘them out there’ might say or do. If you take on any part of the girl-life then some of the reactions will be ugly. But it’s a choice. There are options and alternatives. I’d guess, just a guess, that you’ll be one of the ones, the majority, who are happy just once in a while to wear something pretty. That’s just a guess, mind you.”

Somehow I also knew that this was actually an attempt to divert me from the new-girl route but actually I wasn’t really interested at all in that. I was pretty confident that I wasn’t interested. For crying out loud, when do you stop guessing and over-thinking and under-thinking what the heck is going on in your conscious brain let alone the larger and chaotic unconscious mush.

Just to reassure Elle, I said, “I think you’re right about that. I certainly enjoy having my penis. My very own penis that I can play with and enjoy like normal boys do. I also really enjoy the occasional chance to put on a frock and a frill and it’s even better that I’ve got friends who accept and are willing to help and join in. It would be grim to be alone and have that as a need. But as a bit of play, acting a role – I can work with that. That fits who I am. And that’s a guess too. But thanks Elle. And when I feel the need, I will call you Auntie as well.”

“What I think I’d like to do is go to the shops and have a proper look at what’s available for girls. I can’t do it by guesswork. If I want any pretty clothes then I’ll need to choose them for myself. It wouldn’t feel right any other way.”

“No, no, grasshopper. We shall instead go to the shops and sit in one or more coffee bars. We shall watch all the butterflies go past in their dazzling girly costumes. We shall watch and take notes. We shall be cool and crool by judging what we like and what we really think is not suitable. We shall, over a period of time, assess your taste in clothing. We can even widen your wardrobe selectively by checking what is worn that you think looks good on the boys too.”

“I’m not checking out boys!” I squeaked.

“Don’t overreact, silly. We’re going to see what you think looks good. If we spend any length of time then you’ll see some stuff you like on boys just as much as on girls. After all, you’ve had a lot more practice wearing boy’s clothes. Even if you’re doing it with me because, I think, there’s part of you that’s quite keen on the idea of a dress of your own.”

My blush could have lit a bonfire.

“Georgie, you can be absolutely certain. I don’t care what you wear. I shall never care what you wear. I shall always support you whatever you do - unless you call me Uncle. Yukk. But wanting to sometimes wear panties or a dress – that’s just fine by me. And, actually, your mum would be able to cope too. She might not be keen – but she wants a happy son rather than an unhappy one. I’ve had to tell her too many stories about it all going wrong and she does not want YOU getting it so wrong that you hurt yourself. ‘Me getting hurt is what happens to mums’, she said.”

“So, I will not take you shopping. Not for a while yet anyway. But we will go girl-watching and maybe window-shopping. Saturday, yes?”

I took a deep breath. “Okay.”

How was my life going to alter? Would wearing panties for just the second time make anything weird happen?

..... Not sure if this is going onward; I might link it significantly into the BigSister series. AP



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