His mommy doesn’t mess up very often, so her apologizing is pretty rare and makes him feel funny when it happens.
A few hours later, when everyone is tired and Sebastian, at least, is sleepy, they head back to the changing room. Mommy opens the locker and gets out everyone’s towels and street clothes, and Sebastian and Stella take the next couple of available booths.
Sebastian feels better after he gets back into his regular clothes, even though he’s had fun on the slides and in the wave-pool and the river-pool. He wants to take a nap when they get back to Mommy and Stella’s house.
The bus and train rides feel longer than they did this morning. Sebastian is tired enough to fall asleep, but can’t because there aren’t any seats available at this time of day, so he just leans against Mommy while they both hold onto a support pole. As soon as they get back to the house, he crawls into bed and sleeps for a couple of hours.
When he gets up, Hadley is cooking supper while Mommy and Stella are watching something on TV. Sebastian wordlessly sits down next to Mommy and cuddles up to her, and she wordlessly smiles and tousles his hair. Whatever program they were watching is over a few minutes later, before Hadley is finished with supper, and Sebastian’s comfortable snuggle comes to an end.
“Sebastian, sweetie,” Mommy says, turning off the TV, “you’ve been talking with Daddy about changing to inframale or beringer?”
“Yeah, and Zoe too. They told me a lot of stuff about the different types. And Daddy made an appointment with the doctor, and he said if I can’t make up my mind by then they can just stop me from changing any more until I decide. And Mx. Herschel came to supper, fae’s a beringer that works with Daddy.”
“That’s good. I’m sorry for how I reacted this morning. You can be whatever type makes you most comfortable. You don’t need to think about whether you want to have children for years to come, and then you’ll be talking about it with your partner or partners, not with your mom and dad.”
“It’s okay,” Sebastian says, not sure what to say. His mommy doesn’t mess up very often, so her apologizing is pretty rare and makes him feel funny when it happens.
“What is it about inframale and beringer that makes you think you might want to be one of those types?”
“Well, Daddy’s nice. And he’s soft and huggable, and doesn’t have hair all over like boys and elzinga.”
“Girls can be soft too,” Stella pipes up.
“Yeah, but I don’t want to have breasts,” Sebastian replies. “And beringer, well, I kind of like the way they look, without the penis and — and — and the testicles dangling and getting in the way.”
“Does your penis get in the way of stuff often?” Stella asks.
“Not much, but Daddy and Zoe said it’ll get bigger and bigger if I stay a parr. Or change to inframale, though probably not as much. And it seems like that would get in the way a lot.”
“It does get in the way sometimes,” Hadley says, coming into the room and hugging Mommy from behind, “but I think it’s worth it. But if you want to have a vulva instead, that’s cool. It took me a while to make up my mind whether I wanted to be a girl or a heikki or maybe a merck, and maybe someday I might change again.”
“What were you before?” Sebastian asks.
“A boy until I was fifteen, and then an inframale for a few years.”
“Have you thought about maybe being a girl with very small breasts?” Mommy asks. “Breasts can come in any size, you know.”
“No, but I guess I’ll think about it. But, uh, don’t girls have commas?”
Everyone is silent for a moment, looking puzzled, and then Hadley bursts into giggles. Mommy glares at her and says, “Do you mean periods?”
“Oh, yeah, that.”
“Well, yes, unmodified girls and merck have periods. Most of us have our periods turned off when we’re not trying to have babies, though.”
“Oh, yeah, Mx. Herschel said something about that.”
“Well, that’s something else to think about.”
“Oh, and by the way, supper is ready,” Hadley says, finally getting her giggles under control.
After supper, Sebastian and Stella go to Stella’s bedroom to play some more Miracle Racetrack for an hour or two before bed. When they’re between games, setting up for the next one, Stella asks, “What did you think about Mom’s suggestion? Being a girl with small breasts, I mean.”
Sebastian shrugs. “I don’t know. I didn’t know you could be a girl and not have your breasts get big after a while. But I still think I’ll be a beringer. They don’t have nipples and don’t have to wear shirts in hot weather.”
“Huh.” The game starts, and they concentrate on driving and dodging the obstacles and other cars for a while. After about ten minutes, Stella says, “There’s places where girls and other types with breasts don’t have to wear shirts in hot weather, either. Mostly out west, like California and Nevada.”
“But you and Mommy and Daddy and my friends all live here,” Sebastian points out, swerving to dodge a boulder that’s fallen in the road.
“Yeah. Just saying. I was doing a report on California for social studies and when I said that, everybody in class giggled, and Ms. Ruskin said I should talk more about what they manufacture and grow instead.”
Mommy comes in a little while later and tells them it’s time for bed. She hugs Sebastian good night, and he goes to his room to change into his pajamas. But he tosses and turns and can’t sleep, so he asks Peri to tell him a bedtime story.
“A story about a girl,” he adds. He’s still thinking about maybe being a girl instead of a beringer. There are a lot more girls than beringers, and maybe he wouldn’t have to explain as much if he were a girl?
Peri starts telling him a story. “Once upon a time there were two farmers, a boy and a girl, and they had three daughters. Their oldest daughter said, ‘I want to go out and see the world,’ so they gave her their blessing and a bag of food and money and off she went...”
Of course the oldest and the middle girl get in trouble, and the youngest has to get them out of it, and comes home to shower her parents with money and gems and seeds of nifty foreign plants. But by then, Sebastian is asleep.
Sunday is pretty uneventful. Sebastian plays Evacuation! with Stella in the morning, and later in the day they play board games with Mommy and Hadley. Daddy comes over for supper in the evening.
“Did Sebastian tell you he’s thinking about changing his type?” Daddy asks during supper.
“Yes, he told us he’s thinking about being inframale or beringer,” Mommy says. “I suggested if he doesn’t want noticeable breasts or a penis, he could also be a variant girl type with small or no breasts.” That’s not exactly what she said on Saturday, but Sebastian doesn’t speak up and correct her.
“What do you think, Sebastian?” Daddy asks.
Sebastian shrugs. “I still think I want to be a beringer, but I’ll read more about girl types and see.”
Daddy and Sebastian go home after supper. When they get home, Sebastian thinks about looking up girl types, but he’s pretty tired, so instead he asks Zoe to remind him about it after he finishes his homework tomorrow, and goes to bed.
At school the next day, Sebastian finally tells his lunch friends what he’s been thinking about.
“I don’t want to be a parr anymore,” he says. “My daddy made a doctor’s appointment for me next week and I’m trying to decide if I want to be a beringer or an inframale or a girl or what.”
“You’re a parr?” Julius asks, looking surprised.
“What’s a parr?” Vincent asks.
“My daddy was a parr when I was born,” Sebastian explains to Vincent. “So if I don’t get the doctor to stop it, I’m going to grow breasts like a girl or heikki or merck.”
“If you don’t want to be a parr anymore, why not just be a boy?” Julius asks. “Why a girl or — what were the other types you said?”
“Beringer or inframale. I’m pretty sure I’ll pick beringer, but I promised Mommy I’d read about girl bodies before I decide. She said I didn’t have to have breasts to be a girl.”
Vincent makes a disgusted face. Sebastian feels his insides twist up and he doesn’t feel like eating anymore.
“So what are inframale and beringer like?” Julius asks.
Sebastian starts to explain, but Vincent starts laughing and Sebastian blushes, stammering for a few moments and then shutting up. Julius glares at Vincent.
“Be nice,” he says. “Or go sit somewhere else.” Sebastian feels grateful and almost wants to hug Julius, but isn’t sure he’d like it.
“Oh, okay. I still think it’s stupid,” Vincent says.
“Saying that isn’t being nice,” Julius says sternly.
“Whatever. So you want to be a girl without tits? What’s the point?”
“I don’t want breasts, though,” Sebastian says, his eyes on the tray of food he’s not eating. “I don’t know if I want to keep my penis, either. I guess it’s okay right now, but if it gets bigger and hairy like in the diagrams, that would be gross.”
“If you got rid of it, you’d have to pee sitting down,” Julius points out. “But that doesn’t seem to bother girls too much.” Julius has two sisters.
“Yeah, that would be fine. But inframale types aren’t hairy, so that might be okay. And they’re soft and nice to hug.”
“That sounds comfy,” Julius says, but Sebastian meets his eyes for a moment and it feels like Julius is just trying to find something nice to say. He doesn’t get it any more than Vincent, he’s just being polite.
“I need to go to the restroom,” Sebastian says. He buses his tray and then goes to ask one of the lunchroom monitors if he can go down the hall to the restroom. All he really wants to do is get away from Vincent’s amused disgust and Julius’s puzzled politeness.
After school, Sebastian plays Evacuation! for a while before settling to his homework. He’s having trouble with stubborn people who don’t want to leave their homes and don’t believe the volcano is really going to erupt. There are always several of those when you play on the harder settings. After the game is over with 99.7% of the island evacuated, he pulls out his homework and looks at it. Several fraction problems for math, and a vocabulary worksheet for English.
He doesn’t want to do it. But he knows he’d feel guilty if he just keeps playing games until Daddy asks him if he’s done his homework. So he asks Zoe to tell him about girls without breasts.
“Girl variants without breasts, or with very small breasts as your mother suggested, include abaroa, nikolov and jiang.” She displays a few anatomical diagrams and Sebastian studies them.
It looks like abaroa not only have flat chests, but no nipples like beringer. The other two have big nipples like the older girls, but no breasts to speak of. The abaroa and nikolov look hard and muscular, and the jiang is soft and cuddly like Daddy, but otherwise they all look like girls, with narrow waist, wide hips, and a vulva. And they all have the inside parts that let them make babies.
“Is there one that doesn’t have any breasts or the inside parts like the beringer, but it’s soft and cuddly like inframale or jiang?”
“The lefevre type matches your criteria. It is classified as a beringer variant.”
The lefevre looks like the beringer pictures, but softer, with a little bit of widening at the hips, though not as much as the girls and heikki have.
“I like that one.”
“Have you decided?”
“...Yeah, I think so... that one fixes the only thing I didn’t quite like about the beringer type. Thanks!”
“Do you want me to inform your father, or would you rather tell him yourself?”
“I’ll go tell him.” No, wait. Daddy might be proud of him for making up his mind, but that won’t stop him from asking if he’s done his homework. He starts working on the vocabulary sheet.
When Daddy calls him to supper, Sebastian tells him, “I’ve made up my mind. I want to be a lefevre.”
“Oh? That seems out of the blue. What about the types you were thinking about before?”
“Lefevre is kind of like beringer, except you’re softer and more huggable,” Sebastian tries to explain. “Zoe, you can explain it better.”
“Lefevre is a beringer subtype with slightly wider hips and a tendency to subcutaneous fat similar to inframale or girl.”
“Oh. Well, that makes sense. If you’re sure you’ve made up your mind, I’ll call the doctor’s office and let them know, so when we come in for your appointment next week they’ll be ready with the medicine that will change your body to a lefevre type.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure. I couldn’t make up my mind between the inframale and the beringer, but the lefevre has the things I liked about both of them.”
“Well, I’m proud of you for deciding. Remember, you can still change your mind any time before next Tuesday, but after that, you’ll have to stick with the lefevre body until January.”
Sebastian nods. “I don’t think I’m gonna change my mind.”
“Zoe, what pronouns do lefevre usually use?”
“88% use fae/faer, similar to baseline beringer and other beringer subtypes.”
“Do you want me to start using fae/faer pronouns for you?” Daddy asks Sebastian. “And do you think you’ll want to change your name?”
“I looked at the list of beringer names Zoe gave me, and a lot of them are pretty cool, but I don’t know if I like them for me, you know? And yeah, I might as well start getting used to fae/faer.”
“All right. How’s this... ‘Sebastian is a clever and hard-working lefevre and faer daddy loves faer very much.’”
Sebastian feels warm and fuzzy, and it takes faer a moment to say, “Yeah, that feels nice.”
My new short fiction collection, Gender Panic and Other Stories, contains 253,948 words of transgender fiction: seven short stories, seven novelettes, one novella, and two short novels. Six of the stories (including both novels), 163,318 words, have never appeared online before. It can be found at:
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