Jun 10, 2024 | Real life | 0 comments

One of my FABS (far away best-friends) just dropped a shot of hot news into my inbox. Sally mailed me from Brisbane, Australia, to tell me that her brother Phil is now her sister Fern. Fern transitioned a couple of months ago, quite successfully, it seems, and is saving to go to a transgender clinic to do the final deed.

Having seen that wonderful film TransAmerica (with the superb Felicity Hoffman) I can understand how important it is for Fern to become who she truly is and I’m happy that she can. I said so when I zoomed Sally to get the lowdown. Sally said in turn that it’s been a rather painful experience all round.

What for Fern is a ‘liberation’ means a ‘loss’ for her family, which also includes Fern’s wife Alice. Evidently Fern finds it hard to comprehend that although she is very much alive, there is still a sense of bereavement for her family. Sally said sadly, “Mum suddenly doesn’t have a son, I’ve lost my brother, and Alice now shares her home and life not with a husband, but with another woman who may not have been her first choice of a best friend.”

Considering Fern and Alice married as a straight couple 25 years ago, would the marriage last under these new circumstances? I wanted to ask but didn’t dare. Had Fern become a lesbian? Or had she stayed as straight as Alice?  Again, I didn’t dare ask. Instead, I told Sally this story about Moses, a straight man I met in Amsterdam, to get her mind off Fern.

Moses was a brash, swaggering hippy who lived on a houseboat parked on the Amstel river that runs through Amsterdam. He worked nearby at the old Waterloo street market, on a second-hand junk stall, so you can imagine his entertaining gab. Moses fascinated me, perhaps because I intuited something about him that wasn’t quite… What? I could never put my finger on it. Anyway, he was forever trying to race me into his bunk, a crass seduction I always managed to resist. Then one day Moses said he’d tell me His Great Secret, but only if I visited his boat on my own.

Never one able to resist a secret, curiosity got the better of me and off I went to the boat. Following the predictable but fruitless chase, fore and aft and back again, Moses settled down, admitted defeat and told me his secret anyway. For most of his life Moses had been Mary. He’d transitioned some five years before we met. So that was the strange thing. I’d sensed the cute butch in him and now, as a cute femme myself (well, I was in those days), I was offended he’d disowned (a) his true gender and (b) his true sexuality. Why couldn’t Mary have stayed female and been proud to be lesbian? Like me. In my pigheaded way I thought Moses wasn’t a straight male. Mary had obviously been too scared of her sexuality and had turned herself into a man so that she could safely love women without the hassle of belonging to an ostracised minority.

Well, I told Sally, how naïve and delusional I was to think that! Turns out Moses is a man, all right, and I should never have been stupid enough to doubt him. He proved it to me in typical brash fashion, the time he nabbed me at a party and demanded a kiss. I puckered up for a dry peck but Moses thrust his tongue past my tight lips and rambo’d my throat so hard and deep I was instantly convinced of his heterocredentials. Men are so into penetration, aren’t they? Believe me, I’ve never been kissed like that by a woman of any persuasion. And that’s enough of that!

At least Sally laughed. Yet she was soon back on the topic of her new sister. She said: “It’s getting easier for us to remember to call her Fern, though there’s the inevitable slip, especially for Mum, who was 83 last week and, not surprisingly, has trouble changing a lifetime of habit, even if her son is wearing a very nice frock, pink nail polish and has just swanned in from the hairdressers.”

“Families can be hell,” added Sally in closing. “But even if they drive you up the wall, blood speaks, as they say, and you keep on trying to take it all on board.”

And, thinking of Moses on board his houseboat, I couldn’t agree more. I accepted Moses for who he is and love how supportive Sally is of Fern, even when she finds it hard. In fact Sally is just as supportive of her far away friends, like me, and that’s why I think she’s fab.

Further reading
The truth about trans



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