Caught In Slips Pt 5
By Christie Myr
I’d like to thank Emily 63 from Victoria in Australia for providing me with information about various places and institutions mentioned throughout this story.
With mum gently guiding me, I found my way back to my bedroom. She then hurried out of the room while I began taking off my sister’s clothes. When she came back in she gently placed something in my hands suggesting I wear it to bed, telling me it was one of my sister’s old nighties that she’d grown out of. Sue’s old nightie was cotton, sleeveless and pale green in colour and felt slightly strange on me, but at the same time also seemed to calm and relax me. Getting into bed, mum tucked me in just like she used to when I was much younger, said that she’d wake me for dinner and closed the door to let me sleep. It turned out to be among the most peaceful sleeps I could ever recall. Mum woke me up the next morning and I realised I must have slept the rest of the day and all last night to feel so relaxed and awake.
Mum simply said to get dressed and come out to breakfast. When I finally did appear in the kitchen, everyone there looked at me expectantly. Mum told me that dad and Sue were staying home today, so the four of us could talk about “what I wanted to do now”. Thinking back on it later, mum actually said “what needs to be done.”
The next few hours seemed surreal as we talked about what had taken place over the past six or so weeks and it was to become the commencement of the most important turning point in my life. BUT now I was awake it was time to talk seriously about everything that had happened recently. When mum began asking me a number of probing and embarrassing questions in front of dad and my sister, I hesitantly answered them candidly and truthfully. Dad quietly told mum that he now agreed with her thinking at dinner the previous night and then looking at me said that he and mum would get everything sorted to help me.
He then stood up and smiled before announcing that he’d better ring up head office and see if he could get them to hurry up and ratify their decision so the family could relocate to Wagga Wagga! I wasn’t the only one shocked by his words because I think Sue’s face must have been showing the same expression mine was. Mum then told us that she and dad had agreed that until it was iron clad finalised, they hadn’t wanted to say anything about a new posting, especially with Sue doing her HSC in October. Mum then told Sue that they (her and my sister) needed to have a talk in private and Sue nodded her head as if she knew what it was about.
When dad had come back into the room, mum suggested we move into the lounge room and be comfortable. Once everyone was seated mum began asking even more questions of me. At first I blushed or mumbled yes’s or no’s until in time, I began to realise I wasn’t being ridiculed and that mum was genuinely trying to find out how I felt and what my real feelings were.
Mum and my sister looked relieved when I told the three of them about how I truly felt inside my mind now since the assault. Sue seemed to sound quite excited when she said that now she might have a younger sister to be with, jokingly adding that it would be just like having a life-sized Barbie she could play dress ups with. Dad didn’t say much, but I got the impression he was neither surprised, ashamed or upset with me.
Soon afterwards, mum said I should go and get showered, which allowed my sister to sneak into my bedroom and leave a large pile of her old clothes on my bed that certainly surprised me with when I walked back in there after showering. Still wet and with a towel covering me, I looked in gaping mouth astonishment at all the clothes and as if by magic mum appeared quietly behind me saying she’d help me get dressed.
When I emerged from the bedroom twenty minutes later I was wearing one of my sister’s tops, a pair of shorts, one of her old training bras and the panties I’d tried on the previous day underneath. Mum said I should go into the lounge room where I found dad and my sister sitting there waiting for me to appear. My badly bruised appearance didn’t deter either of them from welcoming me. Dad cheerfully told me that now might be a good time to choose my new name so he and mum could go to solicitors to start getting the loose ends sorted out and tied up?
Dad’s suggestion started a frenzied back and forth dialogue between the four of us, although my sister seemed to shout the loudest……. (and almost every twenty seconds it seemed) as to what I should name myself, before in exasperation that no one seemed to be in consensus about any name already mentioned, I said that if things had been different fifteen years ago, then mum and dad would have already had picked out a name for me when I was born for the hospital to put on my birth certificate. So with my sister’s hopes dashed for me to be called Harmony Christine Brooks (although she’d mentioned a lot of other names too), mum and dad settled on Marie Janet Roberts, as both agreed that I’d have to change my surname so as to help cover up any traces of Michael Brooks (so to speak). Plus it might be easier to cover my name change for my school records if my first initial remained the same as before. Dad also ordained that from this moment on I was to be known and called Janet all the time by everyone in the room.
Dad had suggested using the name Roberts for my surname, because that way when we finally moved to Wagga Wagga, I could pretend to be his brother’s daughter staying temporarily with them because of his brother’s divorce back in England. His brother’s family had visited us from England the previous year and like us, soon loved the place enough to want to emigrate here as soon as everything in the UK was finalised anyway. His ex-wife no longer wanted to come however and had reverted to using her maiden name along with the daughter I would now be pretending to be, if anyone should ever ask.
So with an excuse for my surname quickly sown together (although dad told all of us that lawyers would spot any loopholes and work with us to get them covered) we all agreed it would be a good cover for my new identity. As for my new name, I said I would have personally have preferred to be called Cassandra Marie and dad smiled saying he’d remember to do that next time?
From that moment no one ever called me Michael or Mike ever again, although it did have to happen on the few occasions where I was required to dress as Michael to go somewhere with my parents on behalf of Janet’s future. In the following few weeks it was odd, that having lived as Michael for so many years to be now living as a girl called Janet. Every time I dressed again as a boy, it actually felt quite weird doing so, especially walking around as Michael but never Janet) in public. Crazy as it sounds and as hard as it might be to believe, it just felt more comfortable to be wearing a bra and panties under a top and shorts, a skirt or a dress.
Over those next few weeks dad and mum took it in turns going to solicitors to discuss the necessary paperwork, to my school so as to have my files marked confidential then sealed, so they could be handed over to my parents to pass on to my new school’s principal, or to my doctor who actually seemed relieved by my decision and helped out by recommending a specialist in Wagga Wagga (who specialised in transgendered people) I should visit.
The solicitors handled the various legal documentation required and heaven knows what else very efficiently and discreetly. The only stipulation dad had ever made, aside from never being called Michael again, was that I could no longer leave the farm to go somewhere without one of my parents accompanying me, and never as Janet unless it was to another town, plus I could no longer contact any of the friends I’d made in Tamworth.
Of course I had to go shopping for more clothes and underwear things, but this was done with mum driving me (as Janet) along with Sue to Armidale where no one would hopefully recognise any of us.
My principal Mr Mobs, having already met with dad (who had been accompanied by our solicitor), not only agreed to me not having to return to Farrar Ag (I had a medical certificate for 3 months absence) but willingly helped to ensure my school records were sealed from any potentially embarrassing investigative questions. The boys involved in my bashing ended up being arrested and quietly sentenced in the juvenile courts to be moved to a boarding school/detention centre for the following 12 months until they were 18 and no longer juveniles.
Ms. Carmody wasn’t reprimanded or disciplined (officially) although I’m led to believe from what dad found out the following year, that her excessive enthusiasm for school plays although slightly diminished was still ensuring Farrar Ag’s Drama Week was special. News filtered through to the school that I had been transferred by ambulance to a hospital in Sydney, where regrettably I had passed away from my injuries several months later. The school held a minute’s silence for me after the news of my demise was announced! I would have laughed if dad hadn’t also made mum and my sister behave when they walked around In Tamworth as if my death had been genuine.
By the time Sue had finished her HSC at the end of October, my facial bruising and swelling had virtually faded away and my white hair had grown JUST long enough to enable mum to take me to a hair salon (again in Armidale) where my hair was cut into a shortish Pixie style, which with just the faintest amount of makeup on my face, could really make me look like a “Janet”. Then a few days after my hair salon appointment we (mum, Sue and me) moved short term to a caravan park on the outskirts of Henty, while waiting for dad to be able to join us at the farm he and mum had selected to live on in Uranquinty.
The move to Henty allowed me to begin walking around in public as a teenage girl, although I never did so without either my sister or mum accompanying me. It also allowed me to have my dentistry work done, which required me to wear a partial plate (for the rest of my life) so I could show a beaming smile.
Before we moved away from Tamworth mum and my sister were constantly telling me about the mistakes I was making walking around the house dressed as Janet. It seemed as if I couldn’t please either of them as they constantly corrected how I wore my clothes, how I walked, how I stood as well as my general posture, how I ate, how I sat, the way I spoke, the words and phrases I used. It was one long monotonous critiquing that occasionally sent me racing in tears to my room to get away from hearing any more.
At the time I felt as if I’d never please the two of them, but surprisingly it was mum one evening who told me how femininely I was starting to behave now and I’d have flown to the moon at her praise, except after raising my hopes, she immediately dashed them, reminding me that my nail polish was chipped on my right index finger and that “that” wouldn’t do from now on! Sheesh! But mum had told me I’d be going out in public as Janet as much as possible once we had moved to Henty and she was as good as her word, but until then it was important for me to try and learn how to start behaving like a teenage girl so perhaps hers and my sister’s nagging was for all the right reasons.
At Henty I felt quite awkward at first dressed as Janet walking around the shops there and could have sworn that every teenage girl (and boy) was staring at me whenever I walked past one, always dreading that one of them would shout out I was a boy dressed as a girl. In fact although I did often get glanced at and either mum (but usually Sue) would quietly explain to me why the girl (or sometimes a boy) we had just passed had been looking at me the way they had.
So that was when I began learning about “the feminine mystique” which my sister explained further about to me one evening two or three days afterwards. It really was very hard for me to believe (or understand) that girls thought that way I told my sister, after she had explained certain things to me. But she assured me that “that” was the case and to ask mum if I didn’t believe her, which I did. And mum told me the exact same thing. It seemed that each time Janet went out shopping after I’d been told about the feminie mystique, mum and my sister saw me (as Janet) taking two steps forward (and sometimes one step back) learning to be a girl.
When we joined dad at our new farm in Uranquinty a week before Xmas, he was stunned at how his new daughter now looked and behaved. When mum, Sue and I had been living in Henty, dad had phoned my older brother Greg and explained to my brother about what had happened at Tamworth and about my decision, but even Greg seemed shocked when he first met Janet on Xmas Eve when he came home for a visit and to tell every one about how he was coping at University and living in Sydney.
It was priceless hearing him stuttering gibberish the first time he met Janet and trying to comprehend that the young girl infront of him had been his brother the last time he’d seen me. My heart almost leapt ten feet out of my skin when I secretly overheard him telling my sister how sexy my bum looked in the skirt I was wearing, to have her laughingly agree with him adding that he’d go completely ape when he saw me in a pair of jeans.
Australia’s summers are hot places to live in and from almost the first day I moved away from Tamworth as Janet, I wished I could have been able to go for a swim since it was December and summer. Unfortunately none of my sister’s old swimsuits could quite manage to make my small little bulge below vanish entirely when I tried either of my sister’s old swimmers, before a quickly aborted visit to the local pool in Henty.
For those of you who don’t live in a country where summer days are usually around 90 degrees hot, the local pool (in Tamworth anyway) was the mecca where young teenagers went during school holidays and congregated in small groups to spend half their time in the water and the other half of it trying to find and then sit in shade somewhere and gossip to each other about such and such a girl (friend) or boy (friend) and about possible romances (or flights of fantasy) while somehow managing to get suntans without burning to a crisp. Knowledgeable people always took small portable shelters along to the pool and set them up on grass areas or used large beach umbrellas to share with friends so they could hide away from under the scorching sun.
Anyway for Janet to be able to go swimming anywhere, it took a trip to Wagga Wagga with mum and my sister for them to find the perfect swim suit for me to wear, that allowed me not to have to worry about something (after some astute tucking) seeming to be out of place. My new swimsuit had a ruffled fringe skirt around the bottom of it, which was just long enough (and loose enough) to allow me to walk around without any unsightly small bulges being apparent, although I had to be careful when I was lying on a towel sunbathing………and never on my back!
At first, when I finally went to the pool (always with mum or my sister) and for a short time afterwards until I began to gain more confidence as Janet, I’d almost leap out of the pool to dash over to where I’d placed beforehand my strategically placed towel (to cover up) that had been left on the pool fence. I can also remember how on my first day in a girl’s swimsuit, suffering a hot shower that evening trying to relieve the sunburn I’d acquired, since I’d forgotten about the first thing I’d learnt back in Tamworth three years before…. the strength of Australia’s sun can easily get you sunburnt.
Anyway by trial and error (and there were a lot of errors, believe me) I gradually started becoming accustomed to being Janet so that by towards the end of January “I” felt/believed as though I could walk around in public without being “detected” and was thinking that my decision to try living as a girl had been the right one. My family thought so too. Having written that, when it came time for me to do an interview with my prospective school’s (Mt Erin College) principal, I’d have hoped for the principal to be deaf and blind if it could have happened, I was so scared.
As it turned out I needn’t have been so worried. My parents had already secretly met and spoken with the school principal and explained about my “circumstances” so that when I first met Mrs Long, she treated me like any other prospective new student and assured me that my condition would be kept completely confidential between myself, her and the school nurse Mrs Craddock, (who I quickly learnt from girls at school had the nickname at Mt Erin of Mrs “Grab Cock”, perhaps because of her elderly looks and disposition).
She had been advised of my condition Mrs Long told me, in case I got injured at school and needed to be treated or rushed to hospital. I also was relieved to find that the subjects I had chosen at Farrer Ag were quite compatible with Mt Erin’s curriculum (thank goodness) which was brilliant, mainly because I now didn’t have to worry about trying to learn about another subject’s content for years eight and nine while trying to learn about that subject’s year 10 content.
I suppose the only REAL bad news for me to have to cope with, was that Mt Erin College although a private catholic school was also a co-educational school. That would have been difficult enough to get use to as Michael (remember Farrer Agricultural had been a BOY'S ONLY school). But as Janet, I had the added burden of trying not only to fit in as a girl with other natural girls, but also having to try and cope with teenage boys as well!
Both Sue and mum decided that it would be wiser (and smarter) for me to play the part of the “shy, quiet” new girl and not rush up to other students introducing myself to them……as if I would’ve! The reason I was never going to be one of the “popular” in crowd there anyway wasn’t because of my initial “shyness” approach though. Nope, I blame it on my subject choices at Farrer Ag back in Tamworth, which had included Music. THAT alone ensured I ended up among the silent majority (of school geeks & dorks) who found themselves socially ostracised by the “popular” students, just like it had been at Farrer Ag.
I therefore quickly found myself among the “geeks and dorks” crowd compounded by my nervousness when being among a group of girls talking about….you guessed it “BOYS and SEX”. Worse still, in trying my best not to commit another girl student faux par (saying or doing something outrageously naïve to other girls who knew better) I inadvertently did and had everyone assuming I must have been a virgin (a school student social death I found out).
It happened during one of my first girl’s only group chat sessions where both my nervousness and naivety showed out. So for the next three years, whether I liked it or not, I was tagged a virgin by both my friends as well as the other girls in my year too. This quickly became public knowledge among the boys of my year as well, when a spiteful minded girl (who obviously didn’t like me), made some catty “Virgin” remark among her “popular” girlfriends, who then spread the word about me.
When I put my name down for “girls” winter athletics and in summer for house cricket (I was stunned to hear they even had such a sport but quickly put my name down for it) and quickly showed I knew how to play, that soon earned me another unwanted label of being a probable “Lemon” (lesbian) as well as a virgin, which permanently cemented my “Geek or Dorkiness” standing on the bottom rung of the school’s social hierarchy ladder.
One thing was for certain, NOT having a huge set of boobs, (at Mt Erin they were initially “A” cup in size but eventually grew out to a perky “B” cup by the end of year12), long legs, good looks and sassiness, or being rich, meant that the next three years were going to be (and were) quiet and uninteresting………oh go on say what you’re all thinking - “dull and boring”
Sue agreed after mum and dad pleaded with her, to remain in Wagga Wagga and do her first year at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga instead of moving to Sydney to attend university there. They did this so my sister could help me (along with mum) try and find my way through “Girl-World”. She was a blessing for all the advice she gave me on how to cope with being a teenage girl, often clashing heatedly with mum about important “social” behaviour often telling mum she was out of touch with today.
Although I didn’t initially appreciate ALL my sister’s “advice”, by the end of June that year and following her suggestions, I still might have been on the lowest rung of the school ladder socially, but at least I now knew a number of girls my own age that I could talk with and much to my astonishment, heard that even one or two boys might have liked to get to know me better (according to those same girlfriends). By the end of that year, I knew in my heart that I’d made the right decision to become Janet, which Sue confirmed with me just before she left for Sydney the following January.
Part of my “training” in becoming a “new” girl was to also help out with the domestic duties at home (as my sister had had to do when she was younger). It’s just that I had a quicker learning curve to master it in. At first I’d hated housework back in Tamworth as a bruised Janet, but as I slowly grew more confident as her, I found a certain pleasure in doing cooking and housework (well not so much the housework!) which after Sue left for Sydney, saw my work (chores) load increasing, but didn’t faze me in the slightest.
Dad’s new position had him overseeing the farming of wheat over an area of almost 700 square miles, as the company in the UK he worked for, had over a number of years purchased small farms ranging in size anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 hectares starting from just outside Wagga Wagga and going south towards the border with Victoria. It also meant he spent a considerable amount of time driving to and from different townships to inspect work on different farm sites. He quickly (after gaining H.O. approval) rehired mum to be his paid secretary and P.A. (the same as his predecessor had done with his own wife before they had had to return back to England), so my learning how to cook was gratefully appreciated by mum after Sue left for University in Sydney, as more often than not I had to cook evening meals for the three of us.
As for getting around anywhere before my sister was old enough to get her driver’s licence, just like in Tamworth, you mainly had only your pushbike to get around. My old boy’s bike wasn’t out of place here because a lot of girls in the district rode either boys’ or girls’ bikes depending on if they had brothers still living at home or not. In Uranquinty it was much harder to go somewhere because the nearest townships were 13 or 14 kilometres (10 miles) away in any direction. So if Sue or I wanted to bicycle anywhere like a trip to Wagga Wagga, it entailed a bicycle ride of almost 30 kilometres there and back to think about beforehand. That point alone ensured we both had loads of free time to kill around the farm.
Of course, if mum was available there was always Mum’s taxi service or as a desperate last resort, the idiosyncratic bus service or sometimes (after Sue got her driver’s licence) dad or mum would loan Sue their car keys to drive their respective cars. Although I had my own house chores, my studies, my guitar to play, or watch television or read books, it would be fair to say that any trip somewhere, or if guests were visiting were things to be anticipated and appreciated. Of course I always had my mobile phone to talk with friends, but tedium was never far away.
Then one day, dad finally decided, after being hounded constantly by my sister, to allow her to use one of the run down (and spare) farm cars to go to Charles Sturt University. He also decided shortly after that (when the old farm car Sue was using decided to up and die one morning) that I should “offer” to buy my sister her own car, to show my appreciation for her not having gone to Sydney but instead staying in Uranquinty to help me for the past year.
So dad “allowed” me to take a small amount of money out of my trust to help Sue buy her motor car, which in return for, she would then drive me to school on her way to University and pick me up after school (unless she didn’t have afternoon classes, in which case I simply had to get the bus home) as well as to places on the weekends “IF” she was free to do so, and then allow her to take the car with her to Sydney when she left to go to University there!
After several weeks of searching around and by word of mouth, one Saturday just after lunch, dad drove off with Sue, who came back home driving behind dad in a nice (but used) dark blue manual Toyota Corolla. Of course the car required an immediate family test drive demonstration, that in the next half hour saw both mum and dad saying their daughter had aged them ten years (if you saw how my sister drove, you’d understand) although I felt (and said) she drove brilliantly. I say that because for the following few weeks she was happy to ask me if I needed to go somewhere, just so she could drive me there and back and so let all her friends see her “wheels”.
The car was registered in her name as was the insurance and she was responsible for all running costs, but dad helped out by showing her (as he’d done for my brother with his first motor bike and then car) how to service and do minor repairs. Naturally I was made to watch and learn as well and for years later I would bless dad’s insistence in making his children learn about fundamental mechanics, because he was determined that none of his children wasn't going to be able to do minor car repairs to save money or be stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Because I’d had to repeat a school year in England, by the time I finished year 10, I was already eligible for a learner driver’s permit too and eventually after obtaining one, for the few weeks that Ann had before she left for Sydney, I was constantly pestering her to let me drive her car to Wagga to go shopping while she sat in the passenger’s seat. Whenever she showed any reluctance to do so, I wasn’t above reminding her who had bought the car for her! (YES….I know I was being a little bitch)
Like a lot of girls my age, although I wasn’t a person who spent money foolishly, I was now finding that it wasn’t cheap to be a girl. Not by a long shot. Although I didn’t have “some” mandatory women’s costs (although I would have liked to experience it at least once) there were the unexpected costs. Initially mum had to spend a small fortune on me for makeup, so I could experiment on myself while I remained hidden away in Tamworth, (and didn’t I hammer that for quite while) then there were clothes, not to forget going out with other girls (where invariably you ended up buying something you mightn’t use too often) to the point where with my sister’s (and mum’s) prodding, I decided to and successfully applied to join the ranks of General Macca’s Army to earn spending money.
Although I was reasonably confident in my appearance and behaviour, it took General Mac to turn me into a female officer that was ready to command others! Since I’d become Janet, I always preferred wearing skirts and dresses (sometime shorts or skorts) and my sister told me I was a real girly girl for doing that. Besides, mum hated me wearing jeans and slacks unless it was cold.
General Mac’s female attire wasn’t that sexy to wear although you should have seen how some girls wore their “self-adjusted” uniforms. Slacks (and never skirts) were issued uniform so as to prevent accidentally spilt hot fat burns on unprotected legs. It’s a pity they had no rule about arms and you could always tell a General Mac employee most of the time by small scars on arms or hands.
Still that aside, I enjoyed the comradeship of the crews I worked with, and was always willing to take a few minutes more to change over to the next shift or start my shift early and was a quick study of the till’s computer, as well as being able to handle the drive through headpiece to where the franchisee owner (Mr Angepopolus) several times asked me if I wanted to go further along the career chain!
I’d often assist the shift supervisor if any of the girls (mainly the new staff) had till problems, I was able to quickly sort out customer’s order mix up problems (although few customers ever had or took the time to say thank you – the ignorant pigs). Still the pittance I earned for the slave hours I worked helped build up the spending money I had in my bank account.
When my sister had looked for spare money, she didn’t go down the fast food path, instead with dad’s help landing a job as a barmaid at one of the hotel’s in Wagga Wagga when she turned 18, where the pay for a part time casual work was considerably more than General Macs because she got to keep tips which you “never” saw at General Mac's.
I tended to spend my earnings wisely and aside from Xmas presents for the family and the occasional top or skirt (on sale) I only spent my earnings on essentials like make up, stockings, things to do with my sports (when they weren’t expensive) or girlfriend pressure about clothes to buy or going out somewhere with said (girl)friends.
Yes, don’t be shocked, I had friends. In fact far more friends than “Michael” (hawk spit) ever had. You’d be surprised to know how many dorks and geeks there were out there in the school world of teenage school children. In-fact between study groups, Gen Macs, sports both school and on a weekend, I felt I was living how any other girl would. If I had one deficiency (and it didn’t trouble ME personally) the only friends I didn’t have “many” of were boyfriends.
That’s not to say that they weren’t interested in me. My small group of friends at school often told me some boy or other who had been making “inquires” about me through friends of friends. I’d been asked out a few times too, but wasn’t even going to think about “that” elephant just quite yet although I’d tell Sue (and sometimes mum) about boys who seemed to like me. It was a good bet though that I’d never be able to climb the school social ladder pecking order. Not many geeks ever would in my opinion. Mind you I had Sue’s advice to help me broaden my own knowledge of girl world and sometimes I’d appear quite the sophisticated girl in our group as I offered suggestions (Sue’s usually) about some girl’s boy dilemma.
If it hadn’t been for the quickly acquired tag of “likely a lemon” because I played house cricket at school, perhaps more boys might have asked me out. Sue yelled at me the first time I told her about how I’d said no when a boy in my math’s class asked me out to the pictures. Although I felt I’d let my sister down in some way when she told me how stupid I was, I never really felt anything much for boys back then.
Weeellllll If I was truthful about it, I’d have to admit that I “was” kind of flattered if I heard that such and such a boy was asking about me. And I wasn’t backwards in coming forwards for a few weeks afterwards looking at that same boy quite closely to the point where he must have thought “I” was some sort of female predator. But I’d fallen into the trap of believing girlfriends in my “geekish” group who claimed they’d done things to and had things done to them by boys they’d gone out with, which was probably in every case complete fabrication. Still I had to be careful……didn’t I?
But I was quite happy with my life as it was then, so who could want more and consoled myself with thinking that. All I wanted for the moment was for my bust to grow more, and to learn how to kiss a boy without getting pregnant………..just joking. Sue had told me how she stopped that from ever happening to her and besides, my dad “was” 6’3”.
None of this however would change my father’s mind about ME being too young to own a car yet and for most of year 11, I had to either catch the local bus, or hope that mum (or dad at times) would drive me, or else I had to bicycle to school (and back home after 3pm). If I cycled to school and it rained, I’d have to catch the bus home after school, lugging the bike in the bus as well. Even after I passed my driving test (first time too – nyah!) my hopes of having my own car to drive around in were constantly dashed by dad although by the end of year 11, (and I was 18) even he reluctantly agreed to allow me to have my own car.
By then, I’d been living as Janet for just a smidgeon under two years and felt entirely comfortable with myself. I coped with the monthly pathology tests and their follow up consultations along with regular counselling about my eventual gender change surgery, which it had been agreed wouldn’t be done until I had finished high school. I had a small social group of friends from school (mostly girls) that I mixed with and generally got on well with and tended to get on with the rest of the kids in my school year too, provided I didn’t try climbing the school’s social ladder!
Added to everything else, my body was really blossoming as I‘d been taking female hormones since I had moved to Uranquinty with discreet and “unofficial” medical help. The reason I had to do so discreetly was because the law of the land said that my doctor in Wagga Wagga wasn’t legally allowed to prescribe me hormones until I’d turned 18. But knowing how easily they could be obtained from off the internet, he’d instead showed sensible professionalism and vaguely “suggested” names of safe medically acceptable medications to use – IF I HAD to. Mum and my sister (even dad) totally agreed with me that I HAD TO, because after all I was quite happy being (and living as) Janet, but poor Janet’s figure really could use some help and I was simply never going to be able to father a child anyway medically speaking, so the hormones were a must to have and take.
Those medications along with my healthy diet, house chores, sport and exercise saw my body blossoming out to where I became a healthy and petite size 10 girl. I was now 5’5” tall with sun bleached white coloured hair styled short (for the summer heat), bluish coloured eyes with a figure 32-23-35 who had B cup breasts and (what I thought was) an abnormally large derrière, although in fact it wasn’t. I guess it was my hidden vanity at work that made me write I had a big bum!
I’ve jumped ahead in my story a bit so if you don’t mind, I’m going to go back almost a year. Because as it turned out that with year 10 almost finished and although I was just about to turn 17, something took place then that would later affect my life and it had to do with sport. To explain to you how this all came about….……
Children turning 17 (and if they play non-school sport) often have to give up playing organised competitive sports on weekends because (and don’t ask me why) most clubs tend to only go up to Under 16’s in junior sports. From then on the kids are on their own if they wish to continue playing that particular sport unless they were in some sort of development program. So if you weren’t representing your school at sport, and you didn’t like the idea of playing sports with adults, you could quickly find your weekends free to do whatever you wished to at 17.
I haven’t mentioned much about sport in this story so far and the story title does seem to infer that perhaps cricket might be involved in it somehow (and you’d be right). So perhaps I need to tell you a bit more about “my” activities in sports participation since I’d come to Australia .…..
At the high schools I went to here, (Farrer Agricultural in Tamworth and Mt Erin College in Wagga Wagga) I quickly discovered a slight “bias” against new students trying to break into established school teams. For instance in my case I always liked playing cricket back in Essex in England, that had both my dad and my brother (who dad had also encouraged to play sport) went to great lengths over the years to instil into me the fundamentals about the game of cricket, which television also fostered along with countless games of cricket played at local parks, in school grounds, at friend’s places and even out on Essex streets.
As I mentioned somewhere earlier, unfortunately at Farrer Agricultural, I didn’t make the school cricket team when I tried out for it, but fortunately Tamworth had a thriving Saturday junior cricket competition in summer, so Saturday mornings allowed me to get my fix of cricket, although my size and stamina quickly saw me becoming “just another boy to make up the team numbers” as my “pace” bowling suddenly became more pedestrian as I grew older, although I could usually hold my own as a batsman.
However I liked bowling. But to even get a bowl anymore I decided to try spin bowling as no one in our Saturday team bowled spin. My coach watched me bowl and after a few words of encouragement and showing me himself, had me learning how to bowl “leg” spin instead of the “off” spin I’d seen and knew about from living in Essex. I found it particularly difficult to bowl leg spin, as it entailed using my wrists instead of my fingers to spin the ball, but if I wanted to get a bowl (even if it was only for two or three overs a game) it had to be leg spin bowling or no bowling.
This meant I spent as much time as possible in the backyard of our farm bowling at a set of chalk drawn stumps on the barn wall to try and master leg spin bowling………By the time I moved to Uranquinty I was far more concerned with trying to be Janet than in playing cricket, but luckily for me as it turned out, I found at Mt Erin College there was a girl’s cricket “house” sport for me to play in.
But as for playing sport (cricket in my case) on weekends, even though there was also a healthy cricket competition in the Riverina district (both junior and senior), there certainly weren’t any women’s cricket competitions (or very many teams for that matter) playing there. Usually (if you were a girl) this wouldn’t have mattered, since most girls weren’t that interested in playing it anyway. But for the few that were (and I knew of at least fourteen girls at Mt Erin besides myself) you had to look at joining a men’s team once you had turned sixteen if you wanted to play cricket, which was almost a complete waste of time even trying to get a fair go at playing for. That is of course unless you knew someone who knew someone…………
In my instance, it wasn’t a case of who “I” knew but more the case of who my “dad” knew. That “who” turned out to be a man named Bruce Dowling, one of dad’s workers who along with several other employees were playing cricket during the lunch break that dad saw during one of his stops at the various farms he managed. Bruce invited dad to have a bat and a bowl (which dad did), then whenever dad visited their growing section, dad often took a few minutes off to talk about cricket with Bruce and a sort of friendship developed. This even saw dad getting the UK parent company to provide the cricket club Bruce played for Wagga Wagga Cricket Club (WWCC) with a $500 dollar donation/sponsorship, more as a staff public relations exercise for the rest of the staff he controlled to find out about, than in any hope of getting additional income from the sponsorship.
It also saw dad telling Bruce all about his younger daughter and the lack of opportunities for her to play cricket of a weekend. Bruce somehow or other said he’d find out if the team he played in could use me whenever they were short of their playing eleven (which was most of the time). It saw me shortly thereafter attending their practices and with some quiet words among others in the club, had me being “reluctantly” tolerated by the other players there.
Bruce’s team (in all fairness to Bruce’s feelings if he's reading this) would be described as your typical Saturday afternoon sporting warriors…….lacking in talent, but more than making up for it in misguided enthusiasm and good humour. The competition they played in (B grade) was played on artificial grass laid over concrete pitches, although the club also had an A grade team besides two other teams, who played on turf pitches in first and second grade as well as junior teams from under 8’s all the way up to under 16’s who played on Saturday mornings.
My first game for the WWCC B grade side was to say the least, pretty forgettable. I got to bat last at number 11, but didn’t get to hit a ball because my partner got out before I had a chance to face a ball and I didn’t get a bowl either, although I did get to do a lot of fielding and throwing balls back from well past the boundary flags. If it hadn’t been for the constant fielding on the second Saturday of the game, I would have gone home during the afternoon tea break. Actually I wouldn’t have, because we played miles from anywhere and Bruce was my car ride back!
But at least I was always available to play each week and was able to (courtesy of dad) pay the required match fee ($15 for the two Saturdays of each game). So with the constant shortage of players for their lowest team (B Grade), I was almost always certain of being asked to play. Plus there were the two practice afternoons each week, where I was allowed to bowl as much as I wanted (and surprised a lot of the WWCC so called batsman at the nets, who quickly discovered I could actually bowl “passable” leg spin) as well as get a bit of a batting practice too (admittedly when I batted most of the bowlers had already left the practice). Still it was cricket…..of a sort, I was a girl that they were willing to let play with them, so what more could a girl hope for?
As I’ve already stated, the Wagga Wagga Cricket Club’s (WWCC) B grade team weren’t exactly cricketing all-stars, although there actually were a few good players in the side. The first two games I played with them saw them comprehensively beaten, although that wasn’t any of my fault, as I still hadn’t been able to face a ball when I batted or been allowed to bowl a ball either.
But during my third game playing for them, our opponents were hammering every bowler given the chance to bowl, all over (and out of) the park. By 5pm they had scored well over 350 runs for only a few wickets out, but had decided not to declare, instead deciding to play on till stumps at 5.30pm to allow the two batsmen in at the moment, to try and score centuries (100 runs) as well as allow the rest of the players to have a hit if need be.
Our good natured captain (Simon) decided that since I seemed to have had to chase after and field the ball more often than any other player that afternoon, I should be rewarded for all my running around, by being allowed to bowl a few overs too. Our opponents obviously thought it was a good idea as well judging by the humorous remarks being shouted out and encouraging advice being offered to their batting teammates out “in the middle”.
When I ran in to bowl my first delivery I was so nervous that my first ball was an absolute dolly of a full toss that was hit hard and high, almost landing on the nearby road (over 130 metres away) on the full. This not only pleased our opponents but even had my own teammates laughing out loud and saying funny remarks about me losing the ball for them so everyone could go home early! My next two balls however were much better and saw them (surprisingly) being defensively blocked away safely. With my fourth ball, I saw the still overconfident batsmen coming down the pitch to slog me, only for him to see the ball bounce and turn sharply off the pitch and leave him hopelessly swinging at empty air and being stranded well out of his crease to allow our wicket keeper to stump him out…….
As soon as the bails came off the stumps, our opposing team appeared to go suddenly mute, while my teammates raced over to congratulate me. I wish I could tell you (like Ms. OES did several years ago when she posted her cricketing story) that I proceeded to dazzle my opponents, but it wouldn’t have been true. Instead I ended up only bowling three overs, before I was taken off although not before taking three more wickets………and getting totally hammered in return by the batsmen.
Those three overs, ended up with me having the bowling figures of 3/0/4-54 …….which for any non cricket people reading this means I bowled 3 overs, (which is six legitimate balls delivered in each over) no maiden overs (no runs scored in an over) took 4 wickets and had 54 runs scored against my bowling. Since there are always two sides to a story, the good side was that I had bowling figures of 4/54.
The bad (read disastrous) side of the story was that for only bowling 18 balls, I had had 54 runs scored off them, which averaged out at just a smidgeon under 3½ runs for each ball I bowled after my first wicket! Another way to look at it is that almost every ball I bowled was either hit for 4 or 6 because I can’t actually remember many dot balls being recorded.
I prefer to think of the other side of the equation, that my bowling average was 13.50 runs scored for each wicket I took, which even in B grade, Simon told me at the pub afterwards, wasn’t shabby for a first time effort (I just wished at the time, I felt the same way he did about it). The following Saturday saw our side being bowled out twice to lose outright. But at least I finally got to score my first run (not out) in WWCC’s first batting innings, only to see my stumps skittled first ball in the second innings.
Of course I didn’t mention any of this at school to my friends at school the following Monday, mainly because I thought my “lemon” reputation would only be set in concrete by my school enemies if I did. I did find however that from them on at team practices during the week, my bowling efforts were being encouraged and taken more seriously by the batsmen I bowled at. In our Saturday afternoon games, Simon (perhaps in some way to help provide humour for the drinks after each Saturday) bowled me more often, especially in an effort to achieve a break through if two batsmen were batting well, and often (but not always) I managed to get him the wicket he was after.
By the end of that first season, I was accepted by everyone at the WWCC and even played a game for the A grade side when their spinner had to ring early Saturday and say he was working. In that game I took 3 for 11, that actually had a small piece written about it in the local newspaper (along with a photograph of me bowling in the nets) which although nice, also saw me being unmercifully ragged at school the following day after the paper came out ……..“Lemon!”
Bringing the story back up to the present, by the time I finished year11, I was living 100% Janet and loving it, be it at home, work, at school, even at cricket. No one seemed to think I could have been a boy (thank goodness) and I’d managed somehow or other getting by without having my sister being there to advise me for almost an entire year (although we Skyped every week). I was privately looking forward to going into my final year at school (year 12) and secretly hoping of possibly being invited by “someone” to the school formal………if my girlfriends weren’t teasing/lying to me that is.
I'd like to thank "Joanna" who at the time of uploading hadn't got back to me saying if she'd allow me to credit her (in her BCTS name) with assisting me in editing this story.
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