Virtually Feminine - Part 8 - Forced out
Andy's meeting with Julie takes an unexpected direction.
Julie gestured for me to sit, she perched on the edge of the desk and retrieved a letter from her folder.
She looked down at it, took a deep breath and said "Andy, we've received an anonymous letter accusing you of 'wearing women's clothing'".
Part 8 - Forced out
"So.." said Julie with a heavy sigh "How do you want to deal with this letter?"
"What do you suggest?" I asked with a sinking heart.
"I despise this kind of hate crime!" Julie said "This is a copy of the original that I took as soon as I realised what it was. The original, and the envelope it came in are in a plastic bag. I don't know if the police can still use it as evidence but I'm happy to back you on whatever action you choose to take."
My mouth hung open. I'm not sure what I expected but I felt like this conversation had just taken a detour through the looking glass.
"So… I'm not in trouble?" I ventured.
"Why would you be in trouble? You didn't send this hateful letter. Frankly, whatever you do in private outside of company time is none of our business. It's not as though you were trying to put the company into disrepute, or anything is it?" Julie said.
"No! Not at all. My ex-wife barged her way into my house without an invitation and found me dressed…" I petered out.
"As a woman, yes. It's ok. I hate to be indelicate… is there something you would like to inform HR about?" Julie asked. She looked truly concerned for me.
My throat felt tight, but… maybe… maybe this was the opportunity to come clean? I'd been stalled for months. I kind of knew where I was heading but I had no map of how to get there. Maybe this was a silver lining with all the trimmings?
"Oh god" I muttered to myself "here goes nothing". Then louder to Julie I announced "I've been having gender issues for some months. I've been to my G.P. but the waiting list for adult referrals is ridiculous. I've been seeing a support group. Reading online and talking with some close friends. I… I think I'm Trans. I think I have gender dysphoria and it's been the cause of my depression".
"You poor woman" Julie said "I thought it must be something like that. My cousin came out as trans last year. The first we knew was when she tried to take her life. I know that I can't fully understand the pain that you are going through, but I do sympathize. But, this letter might be the ugly duck that laid the golden egg, as far as you are concerned!"
"I'm sorry? I have no idea what you mean by that?" I said.
Julie looked very pleased with herself. She said "Because of my cousin, I have looked into HR, personnel law and our medical benefits. Tell me, Andy, how long have you worked for us now?"
"Five years, roughly".
"Aha! I guess you didn't know that gender dysphoria is one of the conditions covered under our medical plan?" Julie said.
"I can honestly say it never occurred to me to enquire." I said. I thought to myself 'This could change everything '.
"I've looked into it and the cover is capped at £150,000 so as not to discriminate against F2M transitions, so you should be fine. Frankly, no one ever expected us to need to claim. But I guess your condition is more common than we thought?" Julie said with a smile.
That was the closest anyone other than Kathryn and the support group had ever come to calling me 'normal'. I smiled back.
"I guess it is!" I said "and I'm your first guinea pig for the process?"
"I think so" Julie said "Unless someone is keeping it confidential with Dianne being the only one who knows."
"Is that an option?" I asked.
"Of course, like all medical treatment. If you are sensitive about it we can keep it on a need to know basis with the HR director only." Julie left the implied question hanging in the air for a moment before she continued; "but, you should know, trans is one of the categories of people protected under our diversity policy. If you come out, you will receive the full protection of the policy and the HR team. I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but it could be a very canny career move to be openly trans at the moment."
We talked for another two hours. Julie had to go away and come back with some documents and papers. I won't bore you with the details. Partly because it was a bit of a blur and I'm not sure that I remember them all myself. But the upshot was that Julie would provisionally register me as Trans for now, and inform Dianne, the HR director, but no one else. I would then be referred privately for treatment and, depending on the report from the doctor, they would discuss further options. I had to sign a declaration for Julie, so HR had a legal record of when I informed them of my status.
"For now, I'd like you to continue using the male toilets, if you don't mind? Or the disabled toilets on the ground floor? They're unisex." Julie said, she looked sad that she couldn't wave a wand and grant me access to all things feminine, but I was already sitting to pee most of the time now, it just felt more comfortable to me. Even if I was using the men's loos.
Doing anything else would risk a lynch mob, I'm pretty sure.
Julie gave me a copy of the declaration.
Then she got more serious and took up the copy of the letter again.
"I'm sorry to go back to the thing that started all this, but, what do you want to do about this letter? Do you know who it's from?" Julie asked.
"Well, it's clearly from my ex-wife. I'm guessing that she hasn't gone to her lawyer with this because he would have had to advise her not to do it… I'm guessing the best thing I can do, what will piss her off and not hurt my kids, is to ignore it and carry on with my life." I said.
"You're more forgiving than I would be, I think. But, I guess you must have loved her once?" Julie said.
"I guess, but I can't remember why. As far as I'm concerned my wife is dead and there's a soul-sucking bitch walking around in her skin now." I said.
"Now, now - you know sitting on the fence is not good for you, why don't you come out and tell me how you really feel!" Julie said with a chuckle.
"She's still the mother of my children?" I asked.
"Hmm, for now. Maybe you will be their other mother someday?" Julie asked with a smile.
Later that day I managed to tell Kathryn what had happened with HR.
"That bitch!" she exclaimed.
"I don't know, she seemed quite nice. But it did give me a turn at the start" I said with a smirk.
"Not Julie, you doofus, Linda!" Kathryn said with a pained roll of her eyes to underscore her point.
"Well, I kinda figured out Linda was a bitch sometime during the divorce" I said reasonably "but, yes… even by Linda's historically low standards, this is shit. I'm just happy something good seems to have come from it".
"I'll say, it never occurred to me that our company medical cover would be able to help like that. But it will mean more people will know. Is that what you want?" Kathryn asked.
"Well…" I sighed "I don't really see it as being any of their business, really. But, on the other hand, I can't deny that it will be nice… to be able to be my real self. For so long now, I've felt like a liar and a cheat. At first for pretending to be a girl, and then for pretending not to be a woman. It would be nice to just be… me, I guess".
"Whatever that is…" said Kathryn.
"Well, I'll admit I'm still a work in progress, but, aren't we all?" I asked.
"Ooh, how deep you are, now you have a little feminine insight!" Kathryn laughed.
"I'm kind of looking forward to discussing things with a gender specialist, you know? Someone I can open up to" I said.
"...and not be judged? I must admit, I'm a little sceptical about that, given the company is paying their bills" Kathryn said.
"I'm trusting medical ethics to keep me safe, I guess. Plus, Julie genuinely seemed to be on my side, she has a family member who is trans…" I said, trying to be vague enough not to drop anyone into the shit, including me.
"I'm guessing you're not going to say anymore than that, even if you know…" Kathryn said, musing.
I mimed locking my lips and throwing the keys.
Kathryn changed the subject.
"Are you coming as Andy or Cathy to my Thanksgiving party?" she asked.
"Am I invited? I am very British!" I said.
"As long as you make pumpkin pie, you can be an honourary yank" Kathryn said.
"Well, if I'm expected to bake, I better come as Cathy, I don't want people to think I'm gay!" I said.
Kathryn rolled her eyes again. "You don't have to wear red, white and blue or dress as an Indian or pilgrim or anything, just jeans and a t-shirt is fine…"
"Denim skirt and cowboy boots?" I asked.
"Err… ok, I guess…" she said.
"Don't worry, I'll find something… appropriate" I said.
Kathryn looked a little concerned, but I was getting better at dressing thanks to all my practice. I had a long 'old gold' dark yellow skirt, a white blouse, a boxy Tweed jacket and some flat suede boots that, combined with the skirt, might disguise how tall I was. It would all be quite autumnal. Especially with my Auburn wig. I was quite looking forward to it.
There wasn't much else exciting that happened between that invitation and the appointment with the specialist. Linda didn't mention the letter at all when I picked up the kids and there were no other incidents. Swimming lessons on Saturday, sandwiches from 'Loafers' sandwich shop, watching Doctor Who in the evening, everything was very normal.
Kevin claimed to be doing homework most of Sunday, but we both know he was playing on the PC in his room. Rachael followed me round as I did housework, washed and ironed their schools clothes (and sewed on buttons and repaired them, how did Linda let their clothes get in this state, this wasn't damage from one day?)
Rachael 'helped' peeling carrots and other things when I started cooking dinner. She left me in a heartbeat when my Mum rang the doorbell.
We had a nice Sunday roast dinner. I told Mum I had an appointment with a specialist in the week but I didn't get a chance to go into detail. I was quite aware that Linda wasn't above pumping the kids for information on Monday night.
I ironed my suit and shirt while I watched TV that night after Mum helped me get the kids to bed and then left. I made our sandwiches for the next day and put them in the fridge. Doing them in the morning would be better, but getting them both up and into school so that I could get to work on time was difficult enough without putting the pressure of preparing food on me as well.
There was there usual running around shouting for the kids to hurry on Monday morning then dropping them off with a last kiss and driving off leaving them to walk into school.
Linda complained a couple of years ago that she didn't get a kiss at the school gates anymore, I don't insist, but I offer, and they still want a hug and a kiss.
Then work… the week seemed to drag. The appointment was on Thursday. I didn't have a lot of information, just an address and time.
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