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Taylor


Abigail Genevieve

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It was 8:04 AM, November 1.  Taylor had just gone through Security, today without hassle, because yesterday had been Halloween and he had come to work en femme. The guard had smirked and said something about Halloween was over, and Taylor looked down at his nails, still robins-egg blue and long, from yesterday, but then he had not had the heart to take them off. He suddenly realized his brows were still neat from that early morning session.  
November 1 was six months from hire, the end of probation, one way or the other.  At three months he had received a warning letter saying that his presentations were poor and he did not gel with the Marketing Team, and unless things improved he could not expect to stay on. The women thought he should not be so chatty with them, and the man sort of withdrew when they learned he did not follow football, did not hunt, did not fish, wood work or anything.  The company gave him three months anyway, and with a Communications degree there weren't any other jobs in his field right now. At the presentations he would hold product and smile, serve coffee to the clients and make sure the room was neat before and after.
He'd had a presentation yesterday.  His trans support group encouraged him to do what he wanted to do, which was to show up en femme for the day.  It could not hurt.  He had made no friends in Marketing and even if he had not been laid off he would have looked for work elsewhere as a woman.  Here there were strict rules against cross-gender behavior.  Men had one dress code, women another.  He looked down at his tie, oxford shirt and slacks and thought of the women's uniform of blouse, black skirt, dark hose and flats.  They opened their collars and were allowed a piece of jewelry and color variation.  For the presentation he'd had his face, nails and hair done and had shown up in a nice women's suit.
Over the cubicle walls he could see that guy from H.R. standing in Marketing. Taylor's heart sank as he turned into Marketing. It was 8:05.  His boss and that guy looked at their watches as if it was preplanned.  On Taylor's desk was a company box large enough for all his stuff.  
"You are wanted in H.R." his boss said,"go." With that, the boss turned back to his desk. No one said anything. They all avoided eye contact.
Taylor was ushered out, with the H.R. guy following practically at his elbow.  He said nothing except when Taylor turned, "keep going."
In H.R. the guy opened the door to a conference room. On one side of the table there was a chair pulled out.  The three on the other side motioned for him to sit. The guy who brought him vanished.
The one in the middle was the head of HR. On the right was the office manager, and on the left the vice president in charge of sales, which was over Marketing.  The guy in the middle did all the talking.
"I think you know why you are here."  Actually Taylor didn't know.  It took three big shots to fire someone?
"You are at the end of your probationary period.  We must make the difficult decision as to whether to keep you on."
Taylor wondered what was so difficult.  Firing him was cut and dried.  His next job would be as a woman.
  "However, yesterday complicates things."
Uh-oh.  
"You see - that presentation. Before our clients."
"Major clients," the VP of Sales cut in.
" The reaction was that they want that girl to do more presentations.  You were euphoric, sweet, charming and pretty."
That girl.
"Your team said you were a lot better to work with yesterday.  Cheerful, not grumpy. Focused, not wandering."
It had been a good day.
"You see, if you were a woman we could continue you in your position. That is the predicament.  You are a man."
"No," Taylor replied. "I'm not.  I've been struggling with being transgender." His face was deep red. "I thought I might as well come to work as a woman if I was going to be fired anyway. So fire me." he ended weakly.
They looked at each other. "So if you lost this job..."
"I would find the next one as a woman."
"So this would in no way be some kind of forced change?"
"No. None.  I've been wishing for this."
The vice president looked at the other two. "Consider it done."
"Thank you."
The H.R. manager stayed while the other two left. "You will need a new badge.  But more than that, you need to conform to the women's dress code.  Go home and come back in conformity.  You are no longer permitted to dress like that.  You will use the women's restrooms, use feminine pronouns, and the company will pay for whatever medical expenses, including counseling, that you need.  Is that clear?"
"Very clear."
"Okay.  The guard will be informed and your new ID issued when you come back. We will take care of the paperwork."
"Thank you," Taylor said.
"Thank you, miss," they said in different ways, and they were looking at Taylor differently.  Taylor' stomach unknotted.


Later that morning Taylor was guided back to Marketing by the VP in charge of Sales.  She was introduced and proper pronouns were expected.  Taylor's stuff was on her desk in that box - they had seen him walk across the parking lot and figured that was the last of him.  It was, but not the way they thought.  Taylor unpacked the box, putting everything back.
"Hey, girl, want to go to lunch with the girls?" this was Brenda, no longer cold. She smiled.
Taylor smiled. "Sure."  And life was good.

 

 

 

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  • Forum Moderator

This was a good read and I enjoyed it. Okay, I’m a sucker for happy endings especially ones with trans related themes. Some of us here often dreamed about events like this happening to us…especially growing up. I’m sure many still do!

 

Good job and thank you for sharing.

 

Susan R🌷

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19 minutes ago, Susan R said:

This was a good read and I enjoyed it. Okay, I’m a sucker for happy endings especially ones with trans related themes. Some of us here often dreamed about events like this happening to us…especially growing up. I’m sure many still do!

 

Good job and thank you for sharing.

 

Susan R🌷

It could use a little editing, but I will leave it alone because that would be never ending.  Thank you.

 

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Weeks went by.  The novelty faded as Taylor got used to her new life. It worked. She began HRT.  Lunch during the week was usually with Brenda, who had taken the task of mentoring Taylor in how to do everything they did in marketing; Brenda had been there ten years and had a six year old son who always had a runny nose and an on-again off-again relationship with her son's father, which she called a comet, because either he was coldly distant, like a comet out of the solar system, or they were having passionate times together.  Mary was there, also in Marketing, slightly nervous because she was a practicing Catholic and conscientious about Church teaching, but at the same time she was trying to figure out how to love this transgender person she had to work with, and also conform to the ambiguous and contradictory company policy on that, written in legalese more for the prevention of lawsuits, and no one really understood it.  They had never had to put it into practice before.   Lunch for her was sort of a duty because not eating with the others might be perceived as hostile.  Karen ate, too, and she had, it seemed, no morals and no shame: she usually had a highly detailed x-rated story of the night before: Karen was absolutely stunning and gave Taylor good tips on makeup, and on things like never turning your back on Kyle during a presentation "because he will find a way to goose you." The other girls nodded.

Karen turned towards Taylor,"Didya ever have a boyfriend?"

Taylor thought a moment.  She put down her salad fork.  "Bob, I guess, was the closest, but he was never a boy friend.  People said he was my boy friend, but he wasn't.  Bob didn't think people should be bullied, and he defended me, in sixth grade for the first time, but it kept happening, and he would just show up.  He was big and strong.  He has high moral standards and defended weak people. Me, mostly.  But we didn't even see much of each other in high school - different classes - but sometimes our eyes would meet in the hallway.  But neither of us wanted - I mean, he didn't. Maybe he did. I don't know. I wish I could ask him.  He was a dreamboat.  He protected me for years.  The kind of guy I could see marrying.  I used to say that was impossible.  Now, I don't know.  I ought to talk to people in my group about it."

"What about?"

Taylor looked at her for a moment.

"Oh. Sorry. I forgot you - I mean."

Taylor smiled. "I'll take that as a compliment that I am getting people to forget my past.  There is a lot I would like to forget. Bob is not one of them.  I kind of wish -"

"Taylor?" this was from a man who came up to the table.  He was tall, dark and handsome.  Taylor turned beet red and dropped her fork. Speak of the devil.

"Bob?  I thought you were in Philadelphia."

"I was.  I couldn't sleep at night.  I moved here."

"What do you mean?"

"Look. I mean, can I talk to you privately?"    The other women looked at each other. "Somebody is in love," Karen whispered to Mary, who looked shocked.

Taylor stood up. "Excuse me, ladies."   They said little amused things.

"I'll drive you back to your work if you need it."

"It's all right, I drove," said Brenda.  "You two have your little talk."

"I need to pay -" Taylor said, digging into her purse.

Karen and Brenda said together "I'll cover it," and they both laughed and looked at Bob.

Taylor gathered her things and Bob followed her out of the restaurant.

 

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Bob watched Taylor as she walked from his truck and up the sidewalk into her workplace.  Four months of hormones had had a major impact on her 24 year old body.  No one would guess she is a he, he thought. That was a problem that he would have to deal with: the Taylor he had always known and loved had always been in his eyes a she, but the biological fact said otherwise.  He didn't want to be a jerk about it, whatever that meant, and because she had filled his truck cab with her sweet perfume at 12:53 and it was five minutes to here and three minutes to his work, they didn't have any stop and chat time.  He wanted to learn a few things.  She told him many things in a torrent, and if what he wanted was in there, he was not seeing it. He figured she was nervous.  He was, anyway.  His hands were sweaty on his steering wheel and his heart was thumping. 

 

He learned she was thinking about wings eye makeup, whatever that was, because the pictures were pretty and it looked cute, and that there were two paragraphs in the employee handbook about how men were supposed to dress, and five PAGES about women's attire, and that it was set by the Board, which consisted of seven men over eighty - three had died in the past year and there were two vacancies now, one being filled by another man over eighty who was a friend of the board, and Taylor was pessimistic about the company.  In dress they thought it was many years ago.  Wings were out. He learned that her boss, Gibson, was called Gibbs after the guy on some TV show because he hardly ever talked, and that five years ago marketing had been split into two sections, market research and marketing, and marketing put together the sales literature, put together proposals, and basically all the documents for outside consumption.  He learned she was learning Photoshop and was feeling pretty good about that, but also something called Gimp and Microsoft Designer and twelve other software packages that they used from time to time that she was expected to master. He learned that her sister Cassie and her mother were cheering her on in her transition but her sister Aggie sent clobber verse text messages on a regular basis.  Her dad was staying out of it.He learned that Karen was a brilliant graphic designed but also enjoyed needling ultra-conservative Mary about her sexual exploits, and that John was an avid fisherman.  He learned she still did not want to be touched, in any way, shape or form, without warning, but was willing to shake his hand. She would like more, given time, and he needed to be patient with her. She was all screwed up. He remembered why, and that was reasonable.

 

She was glad he was here.  She wanted him to call but that was on him.

 

After high school and before college they had seen each other: gone bowling, movies, to the county fair.  Aggie had once intercepted him and told him to quit feeding Taylor's delusions - the boy was sick and needed help, and going out with her brother when he was cross dressed was not help. They had been friends, a couple, and they had hit it off really well.  But he had also sat by her hospital bed more than once after a beating and sexual attack, and she felt a lot safer with him around.  He was 6'6", 240 lbs, and had gotten his bachelor's degree in Physics on a football scholarship.  He had declined the NFL and obtained his Master's in chemistry with an emphasis on metallurgical science. He still worked out for an hour a day, early in the morning, and it showed.  He made good money. 

 

And that was it.  She did not give him her phone number, but then he could call her at work and get it. He had tried to have  girlfriends  and they broke it off and told him either to marry Taylor or get over it. 

 

He wanted to protect her, to make her happy, to spend lots of time with her, and that had not changed at all since he had first met her.  He understood why she did not want any touch and he respected that, even though it had been hard and it continued to be hard. 

 

The only problem was one that he did not have the answer to, and he was in an impossible situation because of it.

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All the women within a five mile radius, it seemed, were gathered around Taylor's desk.  They wanted the full story, every word, every expression. They wanted the backstory.  Taylor wanted to be left alone to sort things out. Thankfully the phone rang.

"Taylor," she answered.  Per company policy you never said good morning or anything like that.  You said your name. It was Bob.

"Hi," he said.

She closed her eyes against the sea of rising eyebrows around her, all straining to hear this.

"Hi. I can't talk now.  You want my phone number."

Ooooh---oooh.  From the chorus.

"What was that?"

"Nothing."

"Don't you people have something to do?" this was Gibbs, doing crowd control at the right moment. They vanished.

"I can't stay on." She recited it. "Call me after work?"

Gibbs was looking at her impatiently.

"Bye." and she hung up on him, glanced at Gibbs looking at her, and found her place in Photoshop and started moving the mouse and clicking.

Gibbs stared for a moment and went back to his seat.

 

Bob stared at his phone.  What had he said? Was it over on her side?  Why so terse? He did not understand any of this. He had her phone number and maybe she said to call just to be polite.  Why would she do that?  He was full of questions without answers.  Had she changed? Had she forgotten him? He didn't even know when her work ended. Ah. The website had company working hours.  But he would wait until evening. Maybe she had a date, or errands, or something.

 

Taylor stared at her phone. It was 5:03 and he had not called. Had she driven him off? Had he changed his mind? Was the romance gone?  What a good friendship it had been.   She could not eat much and she spent the evening pacing in her apartment, looking at the phone every two minutes. At 7:00 Aggie called. Aggie was concerned for Taylor's soul. Turn or burn before it is too late. That took until 7:30 and she looked.

 

Bob had called, the call register said.  He had called.  She was not going to call him, not right now. He would have to call back. 

 

 

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At exactly 8:39 each called the other.  Each got a busy signal.  Each hung up and looked at the call register and saw that the other had called.

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19 hours ago, KayC said:

GREAT JOB! @Abigail Genevieve.  The first section posted really had some great tension and buildup to the surprise (and Happy) ending.

Thanks.   This is only the beginning.  Taylor struggles with her past.  Bob helps, but he has doubts about everything, and that does not help Taylor.  Taylor's sister Aggie is out to rescue her.  Bob and Taylor work out their relationship in the end. They have some happy times. They have struggles.  They both mature and come to grips with the situation.  We meet Taylor's support group and in the small town of Millvale everyone knows each other, which makes it interesting. Bob starts going to Taylor's trans group as her supporter.  Nothing is necessarily clear cut and neither get it right all the time, but they struggle and progress in dealing with the fact they are both deeply in love with each other. 

 

 

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16 hours ago, Abigail Genevieve said:

At exactly 8:39 each called the other.  Each got a busy signal.  Each hung up and looked at the call register and saw that the other had called.

Five attempts later they finally got through.  By then there was really no time to talk, because this was important and they both wanted to be at their best.  He would make reservations for two at Caberet, one of the few white-table cloth restaurants in Millville at six.  He would pick her up. She said ok, thank you, and good night. It was good to have Bob back in her life.  Things were coming together.

 

Her sleep was interrupted.  Like it was happening, it was the second day of high school and he was using the urinal. Several guys walked in noisily.  He didn't turn around. "Runt, you are gonna be our girlfriend," he heard, and then felt a blow against the back of his head and his face crashed into the wall.  He woke up in the hospital and for a while could see nothing because his eyes were bandaged.  He heard voices, murmurs at first, his parents, Bob, his sisters.  Later it became clearer.  "We think he is going to make it." Relief from his parents. 

"The bandages will be on your eyes until later today, was the first thing he heard directed towards him.  He had been sedated. He was still sedated, but under the sedation there was still some pain that would flare up if given a chance. Face, ribs, backside.  Tubes, IV, the beeping from the hospital machines. 

The bandages came off.  There was Mom.  "Dear, you will make it.  They needed to reconstruct your face.  I told them what I thought you would want, and they did it."

He couldn't talk and nodding was painful.  Mom had always had his back.

When the tube was out of his throat he opened his eyes.  A cop was sitting there.  There was also a man who introduced himself as a detective.

"Do you know who did this?"

He tried to shake his head. "No."

Some kids had told him this was high school and people like him were not welcome. He didn't know their names. The cop took down descriptions.  Not much to go on, they told each other. Could be anyone.

Later Mom came in.  "You should make a full recovery but it will take some time.  And I know you will like your new face."

Things were hazy.  Aggie came by and told him that maybe this was a warning from God and he needed to change his ways.  Dad came, silent, anguished, staying briefly, moving quickly, reading the notes on the wall.  He came every other day. Cassie would come and hold his hand and cry.

And Bob.  Bob came by every day.  He was furious when he learned that the rape kit would not be processed for years because of the back log.  Bob had his height already and was buff as all get out.

"Don't do anything stupid," Taylor told him.  He was silent.

After Taylor went home to recuperate he learned that since the assailants were in all likelihood juveniles and there was really no evidence, there would be no charges and nothing would be done to anyone.  Bob got angry when he heard that.  

"Please don't do anything to get in trouble on my account." Taylor said.  Again he was silent.

Then it started again, from the urinal, like on automatic rewind, three times.  Taylor called her therapist, there in the middle of the night, and got the answering machine.  She had another number. She called that and talked for two hours into the middle of the night.  She checked the locks twice, three times, going around from the door to the windows, looked outside in case someone was out there, and fell asleep with her pepper spray in her right hand, her bedroom door locked and a chair propped under the knob.  This was the worst in a long time.

 

 

 

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After work Taylor put on the dress she had bought over lunch.  Suitable for evening. It displayed a little of her new cleavage, flattered her hips and matched the new low-heels she had bought - she didn't trust herself in high heels because she never wore them.  She was fixing her hair and doing a final check on her makeup when there was a knock at the door.  She jumped, and she checked - it hadn't affected her makeup.  She liked the wings.

 

Through the peephole she saw Bob, in a nice suit and tie.  Wow.  His face said it all when he saw her.

 

He had several cars.  This was a sedan "suitable for a lady" and he opened the door and she sat and turned her legs in proper like and smiled.  It was clean and smelled fresh.  She compared it to her car, full of Styrofoam coffee cups, plastic bags and other junk, because she never cleaned it.  No interest.

 

He pulled up to the door at Cabaret, opened the car door for her, took her extended hand like a gentleman and helped pull her out, although she certainly did not need the help. She smiled, nodded and went to the door.  He parked and opened this door for her, and they entered.  It was a  quiet, lovely place of about thirty tables with a clear area in front. Sometimes they had live music or a speaker. Tonight there was just a clear area with a curtain behind it that probably hid a drum set or something.  Each table had a lovely white lace tablecloth and a rose in a vase in the middle.  Soft classical music was playing somewhere, maybe Spanish guitar.

 

The hostess came up.  "Are you Taylor, the one who works in Marketing at Millvale Products?"

"Yes I am."  Word gets around. Small town.

"I'm sorry, we don't serve your kind."

"My kind?  You mean people who are not bigots?"

Now Bob was inside the door and heard this.

"Sir, are you with -this?  You are certainly welcome to eat here, but you can leave it in the truck." She pointed to Taylor when she said "it".

Bob's response, with those big muscular lungs, could be heard a block away. The manager came out. Taylor and she locked eyes but gave no recognition.  This was Doris, in Taylor's trans support group, living in stealth. 

"Sir, your voice is carrying."

The hostess turned to the manager. "This wants to eat here." 

"You are fired."

"I know my rights."

"Tell it to your lawyer. Make my day."   The  hostess looked like she was going to say something, but did not, and took off her apron and threw it on the floor.  Several customers applauded.

"My deepest, most humble apologies.  I had no idea she would do that.  Dinner tonight is on us.  In fact, five dinners are on us.  Again, I am tremendously sorry.  I will see that you get decent service." She picked up the apron and led them to a table.

"Well, that was something."

"Yeah. Millville has a few jerks.  Some you can educate, some you cannot. Like Aggie, my sister."

"She is still bothering you?"

"Yeah.  Later. So what brings you to Millville? Of all the places on the planet, you come here."

"I think you know why."

"Okay, you don't have to say it. But I hope you stay a while." She paused.  "Remember when I got beat up really badly on the second day of high school? I remembered that last night."

"How can I forget?  We were all worried."

"I never asked you if you dd anything stupid."

"I didn't.  But I will tell you what I know.  I was on the football team, and whether I liked it or not, everyone considered you and me more than friends.  You were supposed to be my girlfriend."

"Oh.  Well, I can see how they though that.  But we weren't seeing each other."

"We hung around all summer.  You cut your hair only right before school and you wore girl clothes day in and day out all summer. In a place like Roosevelt it gets noticed."

"Yeah.  My parents were told it was just a phase when I was about three that I would likely grow out of it.  But I never got a Barbie as a present.  My sisters' Barbies were there, though, and Cassie and I used to play. So what happened?"

"I don't know who did it, but people were saying if you touch one Rooster, you touch us all, and that goes for girl friends, too. Meaning you."

"Oh, my."

"And there were a lot of people who liked you and hated what happened.  I don't know who did it, but after that no one in high school would dare touch you again. It might not have been anyone on the team."

"That's true - I had no trouble after that.  The girls encouraged me to use their restrooms. The admin didn't like it but I was not going back to that boys' restroom anyway. I never want to go back to Roosevelt. I see my folks and get out of town. I  always thought they were still at large and not punished."

"They were dealt with.  You don't need the details. They will never bother you again."

They talked on.  Marketing was a dead end.  He suggested she get a master's - she said they did have tuition reimbursement - and see what happened. 

"What are you interested in?"

"I am learning Excel.  There is a lot more to it than I thought..  I learned pie charts and stuff like that, but you can do all sorts of mathematical functions."

"I know. I use it.  I use R a lot, too, for data analysis."

They sketched out a tentative plan.  He was going to stay there.  She would get her master's, maybe in applied mathematics, and then go for GRS. 

"That will allow you to change your M to an F on your identity in this state."

"Yes. And I think you would be a whole lot more comfortable if I looked like a girl down there."

He looked embarrassed. "Definitely."

"I've never really been a boy."

"Really?"

"Do we need to get into a debate on what is real? Or go over all that right now?"

"No, let's not, not tonight.  We can talk about things most couples talk about, like how beautiful your eyes are."

 

The rest of the evening left Taylor floating on a cloud as he dropped her off.  As a courtesy he went into her apartment quickly to be sure no one was there, at her request, and he noted the nine pillows on the comforter on the bed, the ungodly number of bottles in the shower, and how it was -we don't use language like that here- and span throughout.  It had a woman's touch everywhere. His efficiency apartment had a disassembled motorcycle next to the unmade bed, dirty laundry over the floor, two moving boxed he used as a table, on on top of the other, and motorcycle parts on the counter and in the sink. It was home. He kept telling himself he would clean it someday.  What if Taylor came over?  Maybe he would clean the toilet.

 

"Thank you," she said,"I had a lovely time." She held out her hand.  He was uncertain whether to shake it or kiss it.

"Kiss it, Big Guy,: she said at last.  He did, and with that she was inside, and he heard three locks being locked from the inside as he made his way back to the car, floating on air.

 

 

 

 

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Sounds like a great time! Especially how the manager handled it. It sucks that she caused a scene. I'm glad she got fired. Sounds like he has a lot of cleaning to do. I can't handle when the car is full of trash. It annoys me to no end. The carpet is dirty in the car from the kids. I'm looking forward to when they aren't going to be so messy. 

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Taylor leaned against the closed door and listened to Bob's footsteps and then his car drive off. Then she could exhale.

 

No, he had not come to say he was marrying someone else. She realized she had been very, very afraid of this.  Totally illogical, or that he had moved here and taken her out to tell her he didn't like her.  Or he found someone else. Or he was gay after all, something he was afraid of because he was attracted to her. 

 

Yes, they both had just gone with the assumption they would get married.

 

They would get married.

 

They would get married.

 

The old fire was still there.  It was if there had been no interlude since that summer between high school and college.  At the end of the summer, because she liked him so much, she had decided she was actually gay and had cut her hair and had a disastrous two years in college that way before deciding that was wrong: she was transgender.  Most gay men like men who look like men, not like someone who doesn't. So she started in a trans support group in college, and since it was likely she could not get a job as a newly trans person, she had gotten a job as a guy and that had been miserable until November 1.

 

They would get married.

 

He was staying.  He would protect her.  People would see this massive guy never hesitated to protect her and she would be safe.  They both were interested in no one else.  They were a couple.  Automatic date.  Safety.

 

They would get married.  She had wanted to marry him since junior high but it would never happen.  Could not happen.

 

They.would.get.married.

 

Makeup was running down on to her new dress.  Her wings were ruined.  She blotted things up and in a flash, after checking the directions, the dress was in the washer with the proper soaps and additives.  She slipped into shorts and a cami top and opened up her computer.  She shook her head back so her hair was in back of her shoulders.  It was time to respond to Aggie. She found the latest clobber verse Aggie had sent and began, Dear Aggie......

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Bob was euphoric at first, but the more he thought about, the worse he felt.  He should have been more assertive with the hostess. Or less.  He hadn't talked about that with Taylor; they both had ignored it.  He had pulled her chair out and seated her and acted like a gentleman - what if she didn't like that stuff? Had he been too assertive? Not assertive enough? Maybe he should have asked more questions. Was she just being polite and that last kiss on the hand was a 'farewell, I never want to see you again'?

 

What if it bothered her that he was only interested in her after her transition?  But he had never seen her as a guy, she had never been much of one, in girl clothes growing up whenever not in school.  It wasn't a transition as much as a coming home to what she always was.  And he was definitely not interested in guys that way. Or in most women, either.  Those he had dated had reminded him of her. He had dated no guys. Never wanted to. The old accusation about their relationship had no merit.

 

Why had he moved here?  It was for her.  No other possible reason.  He had moved halfway across the country when he had heard she had transitioned.  Was he barking up the wrong tree?  Everything seemed fine; this was a new and improved and better Taylor than he had thought he would find.  He examined his every move and contemplated six ways she probably had hated it.  Probably she never wanted to see him again after this disaster of a first date.  Would she want to go out with him again, be seen with him? There was a risk here.  But he must take it, even if his heart was broken as a result. Was his heart breaking even now? No, but he must be prepared for that.

 

He could not afford to lose her.  He had to think of the exact right time to call her tomorrow and see when she was available.  If she was available.  Maybe she had four other boyfriends.  She hadn't said anything, and she was so sweet, poised, charming, intelligent, beautiful and lovely in every way that it was entirely possible. He examined every word.  No. Nothing either way. He examined everything.  It was a delight to think about her, to remember her face, and he spent the rest of the evening doing just that. Who were these guys? He knew few people here, but there were some single guys.  He would have to deal with the competition. Get ahead of them.  Who were they? He thought of one guy he knew.  Was he Taylor's type? Did they know each other?  Small town, everyone knew everybody.  How could he win her back?

 

Probably he had already lost her.  But he would try to call her tomorrow and see what happened.

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Taylor came back from a meeting to find a dozen red roses on her desk.

"They're from BOB," Karen tittered.  Nothing indicated that until Taylor pulled out the little note from the envelope.  "I had a wonderful evening.  I beseech the honor of calling you again after work and I would like to eat a quick meal and check out Community Church.  Thank you again.  Later, Bob"

 

The note had been read and replaced.  Everyone here went to church on Wednesday evening and Sunday morning unless you are a militant atheist, of which there were a few.  But that meant only the fast food places were open.  Taylor had delayed joining a church, so necessary for social standing here, because she had been afraid if she showed up alone. With Bob there was no fear.  There were seven churches in town they would possibly consider: three Baptist, one Catholic, one Presbyterian, one Lutheran and one independent charismatic.  Community Church was the last.  Knowing Bob, she expected he wanted to visit them all before deciding.  She didn't think he went for charismatic theology, but they had not discussed it.  In Roosevelt they had been raised in the loosely Presbyterian Roosevelt Church.  She missed church, which she had not attended since high school, when Bob and she had been in Youth Group together, more fun than anything else. The name of the church told her how to dress, anyway.

 

She looked at Karen. "I would appreciate it if you would not violate my privacy."

 

Karen said she was sorry but didn't sound like it. "You must have had a good time in the hay last night."

"Leave me alone"

"Okay, okay, okay, Miss Sensitivity. Okay. I won't tease you about it."

"Thank you."

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Bob met her in the parking  lot.  "I tried to call, but no answer."

"My phone is missing. I thought it was in my purse but it wasn't. I emptied my purse and my desk but no phone. I checked around.  I don't know where it is."

"Well, I found you."

"You did, and I am glad."

"You are?  I was afraid you were off on a date with one of a dozen of your boyfriends."

"Bob, let me be perfectly clear.  There is no one else.  There never has been anyone else. There never will be anyone else. "

"Sounds serious."

"Dead serious.  Now stop worrying. Don't even tease me about it."

"Did I tell you that the only girls I dated reminded me of you, and they both broke it off. They said the same thing: either marry you or get over you."

"I think you said that.  I am not ready for that yet."

"Neither am I."

"I need to change before we go." He had the Wrangler. 

It would have been rude to make him wait outside, so he sat in her main room while she went down the hall. He heard her lock the door, no surprise.  Absolutely clean. The laptop on the corner desk had its cover closed, and there was a thick Excel workbook beside it.  Printer.  Wall calendar with cats.  A sunflower wall decoration.  Love seat. Coffee table that was clear.  A Bible underneath it and some books from high school days: John Powell's Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am topped one neat pile, and Success with Seasons: How To Look Your Best headed another, with geometric perfection. He could see into the kitchen.  There were a few clean dishes in the dish drainer but the sink was clean. Around the corner, behind the entrance door, was the laundry room and he could see the dress she wore last night hanging there. She had washed it after wearing it once? Wow.

 

Now she was out: figure-hugging jeans, knee-high boots, a pretty pink top, her hair pulled back with a band. She smiled at him, grabbed a cross-body bag and proclaimed herself ready.

"I didn't leave my phone here, either. Let me try something."

She went to the computer and logged in, entered a website, entered a number.  "This should GPS my phone but it is dead. Very strange. Like someone stole it."

"Do you want to report it missing?"

"No. I have a feeling it will turn up tomorrow  Probably in my desk, lower drawer, at the back, the batteries out. I have a co-worker who would think it is funny."

"I'm not amused."

"Likewise.  Oh. Church. Bible.  She grabbed a worn ESV from a shelf and flashed a smile at Bob that lit up his world from head to toe and said, "Ready."

It was a fast food restaurant with a limited menu.  She had ordered quickly last night.  But now she stood and stared at the menu.  Several times she went up to the counter and asked questions, and finally was handed their Nutritional Fact Sheet. It was twenty minutes from the time they entered to when she ordered a side salad, a small cheeseburger (no pickle, no mustard, no ketchup, but BBQ sauce and no onion rings) and iced tea.  He paid for both meals.

"Let's say grace."

"Okay, now that we are going to be church people, we should."  He did, and they ate.

"You are beautiful."

"Focus, Bob, focus."

He smiled.  "How was your day?"

"I love the roses, but don't do it again, please.  The women in my office are terrible."

"Okay. Saves me some money."

"That's what I love about you."

They laughed. 

They pulled into the parking lot of Community Church.  It was a friendly crowd dressed as they were and they fit right in. They buried themselves in the middle of a pew towards the back.  The Worship Team cranked up and they could feel the vibrations throughout their bodies.  They went through a number of high-paced songs. 

"Uh-oh," Taylor whispered, and gestured.  The offering was being taken by the hostess who got fired the previous night.

"Should we leave now?"

"I should talk you into Thursday evenings.  We are talking about not backing down.  Not hiding."

The ex-hostess prayed over the offering , eyes closed, and opened them.  Somehow she was looking right at Taylor. She stared for a moment, and then said "Brother Mike, time for the Word."   As he came on stage she whispered something to him.  He turned, scanned the crowd until he found Taylor, and stared at her for ten seconds or so.

"You sure you don't want to leave?"

"I want to crawl under my seat.  But I would not respect myself in the morning."

Brother Mike began with a long prayer about sin in the camp.  Society was degenerating. Men were thinking they were women and women men. He had been meaning to address this issue since he had heard about sin coming even to their own city, and now was the Kairos, for the devil was among them tonight.

"Now would be a good time to go."

"Ssssh."

"In the beginning God made them male and female. Amen?"

He got a big amen.  Bob and Taylor amen-ed along with the rest of them.  Brother Mike was surprised.  He continued. This was off the cuff.  He went down the same list that Aggie liked to send her, which amused Taylor.  Taylor amen-ed all of them. 

"Oooh, now, tonight there will be DELIVERANCE in the house of the Lord!"

AMEN

"Freedom from bondage in the Name of the LORD!"

"Amen!"

"You once were slaves, but Christ has set you free!"

This continued for some twenty minutes.  Brother Mike wiped the sweat off his forehead with a towel someone gave him.

"Any SINNERS tonight who need DELIVERANCE? Come on down!"

Bob and Taylor watched as a few people made their way to the front.  Brother Mike looked directly at Bob and Taylor.

"There are more tonight for the  harvest of the LORD!" He looked at them again.  People in this section!" That was the front right.  And here!" That was the section they were in.  About twenty people around them responded and went up front.

"We have a mighty harvest here tonight! Altar workers, come Fooorwaaard and minister to God's children."  Several older people, clutching Bibles and wearing vests that said ALTAR WORKER on the back, came forward.

"Pray for mercy! Oh, sinners do you feel the mercy of God in the House of the Lord tonight!"

He looked at Bob and Taylor, now sitting in a large area of otherwise empty seats.  Ahead of them and behind them and on the other side of the main aisle there were a lot more people.  "There are more sinners here tonight. I can feel it. Isn't the grace of God tugging on your heart?"

"I like the grace of God tugging on my heart part, but no way am I going down there."

"Agreed."

After a while no one else came forward.  Brother Mike took one more last look at them and signaled for the Worship Team to come up and do a closing number.

"Ready to leave?"

"No, I'm not."

"What are you waiting for, Taylor?"

"I'm not sure.  We might have an interesting conversation."

"Here?"

"Yes."

"I want to hear your definition of an interesting conversation sometime."

They sat and watched as those up front diminished in number.  Other people slipped out.  Brother Mike looked at them several times, but he was mainly praying for people.

The last worship number ended.  People were still up front praying.

"Well that was fun," Taylor said in the Wrangler.

"Strike that one off the list of churches to go to."  Someone was running up to them.

"Wait a minute!  Y'all are first time visitors?"

"Yes, we are."   The guy smiled.  "Here is a complimentary coffee cup for each of you.  Sorry we missed you earlier.  God bless.."  With that he was gone. They looked at the cups.

Community Church, Millvale.  Have a Blessed Day.

"Something to remember it by."

"I don't think I will forget. I wonder what second time visitors get?"

"I am so not interested. "

 

The next day her phone was exactly where she thought it would be.  Something would have to be done, but she was not sure what.  In the meantime her phone and purse would be in the drawer, and the drawer would be locked whenever she was away from her desk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The tornado called Taylor ripped through Bob's apartment. After a trip to a laundromat, two trips to grocery stores for cleaning supplies and what Taylor opined were Basic Staples, everything was scrubbed within an inch of its life.  A new dish  drainer with a new hand towel and dish cloth were by the side of the scrubbed out sink; motorcycle parts were in a box under the newly made bed.  Floor, shower, toilet, sink had been hit in the bathroom and new towels hung there the way Taylor liked them.

"I don't recognize the place/"

"So move out." Taylor was sitting on one of the new kitchen chairs.  There were four of them around the little wooden table.  In the middle was a flower arrangement.  Bob had made his last trip to the dumpster.  Not a pizza box remained. A row of card board boxes with books had been replaced by shelves full of neatly arranged books.

"Look at this."

"I am not going to do this all the time.  You clean your own place from now on. I am bushed."

"Many thanks, babe."

"No problem, Big Guy."

"Hey, I wanted to talk to you about exercise.  Karate in particular."  He pronounced it ka-ra-tay. "I am a second Dan black belt and there is a certain obligation there to teach other people."

"Kara-tay? I don't know."

"A friend of mine runs a dojo here and needs my help. He talked to me already.  Tuesday and Thursday night and Saturday mornings."

"Oh.  So you will be there then." She looked disappointed.
"I'm hoping you will be there."

"Sounds dangerous.  But I could use the exercise."

"And self-defense would be good. It might help."

"It might. Huh.  Saturday morning?"

"8 AM I need to be there. Classes run until noon. I don't need to be there the whole time."

"Is there an intro class or anything?"

"Yes. 10 to 11."

"How about if I try that."  She was not very enthusiastic.  Punches and kicks and stuff.

 

Saturday morning they arrived together.  She wanted to watch the Green Belt class that met then just to see what she was in for.

Sensei Mark came to the front of the room, before the big American and Japanese flags. Between them was a picture. 

"I am honored to introduce to you Sensei Bob.  He is a second Dan black belt.  He has actually beaten me in tournaments.  I have known him through tournaments.  You will listen to him as you listen to me.   Sensei Bob, take the class.

The two sensei bowed to each other.  Sensei Bob pointed out that Sensei Mark had beaten him, as well. Taylor was sort of standing against the back wall, scrunched up, a mouse in her crisp new beltless gi.  Her t-shirt was off white underneath it and she was hoping no one would notice.

"I am Sensei Mark. You are Taylor."

"Yes, sensei!" she stood at attention and shouted it.

He laughed.  "This is not Cobra Kai and we are not in a Karate Kind movie.  You do that here only between bows.  Bob tells me you are a complete beginner."

"That is an understatement."

"Here, let me fix your gi."  She had it on a little incorrectly.  She drew back.

"What's the matter?"

"I am pretty touchy."

"Okay.  Untie the straps in front and tie them the other way, like mine."

"I don't have a belt."
"There. That is right. You will get a belt after three months and passing tests on kata, kumite and karate knowledge."

"I don't know what that is."

"And we touch a lot here.  Not romantically. You see how Sensei Bob is going around and adjusting people's stances and arm locations."

"Yes, I see that." No enthusiasm.

"You are Sensei Bob's girl, right?"
"Yes.  What is important to him is important to me, so here I am."  He wished her well and told her to go see Margie, who handled registration at the little table.

"Hi, I heard about you." Margie began.

"What does that mean?"

"It means we treat everyone here with respect.  That was the wrong way to start."

"I'll say. Try again."

"Good morning. How can I help you?"

"I want to register for the beginner class."

"You are Taylor, right?"

"Right."

"Sensei Bob paid for your lesson today."

He would.

She gave name, address, age, height, weight, and they came to gender. Margie asked it twice.

"Put down female."

"The only other choice is male."

"Then that is it."

"Earlier I was thinking about tournaments, which are big here. The rules are that boys fight boys and girls fight girls - there are Men's and Women's Divisions.  I know you look like a woman, but they go by the birth certificate."

This was awkward.  Really awkward.  Down at the other end of the room they were moving in unison when Bob said HAI!, turning, punching, kicking, etc.

"I don't plan to go to tournaments.  One step at a time, shall we?"

"Okay.  And I meant it when I said respect.  We bow to each other.  You will see. As a sign of honoring other people."

Margie bowed slightly, sitting down.  Taylor returned the bow and smiled.

The class moved into sparring, breaking into twos and practicing moves against each other.  Bob was moving among the pairs, adjusting positions of hands, hips, feet.  Taylor was unsure about someone touching her like that, her hips particularly. 

 

The green belt class ended as new students came in for the beginners' class. Down at the other end the brown belt class began.  The room was large enough you could do two classes at the same time.   The other beginners, nervous, lined up at Margie's table.  People got into gis, the men in their big area and only woman in the little restroom that was for them.

 

Sensei Mark greeted them and showed them where to stand: on the little x's on the floor. He explained the School Code.  They would recite it at the beginning of class and they needed to memorize it for the white belt test, at which time they would, of course, receive a white belt. He explained some terms. 

 

They warmed up with some basic, easy stretches.

 

They learned a kata called Taikyoku Shodan, involving blocks, punches and some movements.

This was not bad.

 

She was now paired off with Judy.  Things were going well and this was not too bad. Judy was sixty years old and had been told to exercise by her doctor.  Taylor said her boyfriend was teaching the other class, which was impressive, and he wanted her involved.

 

"You remember the gedan barai - downward block?"  They did. Everyone showed him and he went around and made sure everyone had it down.

"And the lunge punch?"  They did.

"Now we are going to put them together. One of you will punch and the other block it. Okay?"

 

Taylor squared off against Judy.  Her heart was pounding.  She practiced her gedan barai as Judy practiced her lower lunge punch.  Then they faced each other.

"Okay, first partner, lunge punch.  Second partner, lower block.  Slowly.  Go!"

Taylor saw the punch coming at her, but instead of blocking it her eyes welled up with tears and she dropped to the floor, weeping uncontrollably.

"Oh God, Oh, God, Oh God, make it stop, make it stop" she shouted to parties unseen. Fetal position, rocking back and forth. Crying hysterically.

"I didn't go near her," Judy said, bewildered.

"Taylor?"  this was Sensei Bob.  Both classes had stopped and were looking at her.

She kept crying.

"I am here, "Bob told her, not touching. 

"Oh Bob you need a wife who can be a real woman to you. I am making you into a monk or something." And she continued crying at full volume. "You need someone better than me, someone who can give you kids." Everyone could hear this.  They were turning away, trying to pretend they could not hear this.

"I need to get her out of here and take her." Bob said, and he and Mark bowed to each other.

He scooped her up and she bawled into his shoulder.  She clung to him.  First hug ever. Death grip, more like it.

"Judy, would you get her things?"

"I did nothing," Judy said, and moved towards the restroom, stunned.  "Nothing."

"I know what she was wearing," Margie said, and got them.

"I've got a gym bag. It 's red and it says Roosters on it. Can you get it?

Mark got it.  He accompanied them to the car.  Taylor was non-stop crying deeply, clinging to him for dear life.

Mark unlocked the car and together they managed to pry Taylor off of him, even though it took both of them to do it.  She was in the car seat and they managed to buckle her in it.

"I am going to take you to your apartment," he said.

"No. Emergency room," she said. "Maybe the psych ward."  He didn't doubt it. She calmed down in a few minutes on the way.

"Well, that was embarrassing."

"Everyone remembers their first day of karate class."

"Bob, what I love about you is your sense of humor."

"I love everything about you."

"Even this?"

"Yes. Even this."

She managed to walk into the ER.  They were both still in gis.

"Karate accident?"

"No. I am Taylor and I am a nut. I wear a gi all the time. I make my boyfriend wear one, too."

"She had a triggered event.  She's had some difficult times."

"I see. Do you you know are bleeding?"

"No."  Her crotch was wet with blood and the blood was seeping down both legs.

She was wheeled away. "Sir, please wait here."

He did.  He had no legal right to see her right now.

After a while a nurse came out and said he could come on  back.

There she was in a hospital gown. 

"Seems like old times."

"yeah.  We gotta stop meeting like this."

The nurse buzzed around and left them.

"They are running tests."

"I bet they are."

"I got an MRI. On a Saturday morning, too."  First ever.

"You rate.  But why?"

"They figure some of the old scar tissue - you know, from the- from the past - ripped open and they need to see what is going on."

"We know what is going on,"said a doctor, stepping in. He looked at her.

"I am Doctor Michaels.  They called me in.  I just happened to be in the building and they wanted me to see this and take the case.  My specialty is Disorders of Sexual Development. But what I am seeing is little in the way of disorder.  Look at this."

They looked at the image.

"This is a perfectly ordinary uterus."

"Uterus?"

"Yes, your uterus."

"What?"

"That is not all.  This is a cervix, and this is a vagina."

"It's blocked up."

"Yes.  It looks like you had surgery to do exactly that when you were an infant.  They used to do that."

"This is me?"

"You."

"Really?"

"I imagine this takes some getting used to.

"Can it be undone?"

"Absolutely. I mean, I cannot guarantee it, but it is more than likely. I would like to run some tests."

"And the bleeding?"

"It looks like the hormones you have been taking have kicked of a regular monthly cycle. Then you did a whole bunch of exercise.  Not surprising."

"What?"

"I want you to come to my office next week for follow-up.  Have you ever had a genetic test of any sort?"

"No."

"Well, your testes - one looks at first glance more like an ovary."

"Ovary. Can I have kids?"

"Too soon to tell.  You look happy."

She did.  "Bob, you look stunned."

"I am."

"Given what happened earlier today we want to keep you overnight for observation.  I understand you are a trauma victim and something triggered it."

"I got a punch thrown at me in kara-tay class, is all. I am a wimp."

"Well, I will let you two talk for a minute and they will come and get you shortly.  No bad news here."

"They are coming to take me away, hah-hah, they are coming to take me away," Taylor chanted.

"Bob, I am not done with kara-tay.  I want to at least finish a first class. I mean, you paid for it and I want you to get your money's worth."

"I think I got that."

"Kiss me, you fool,"  she said, and he did, with energy.

 

 

 

 

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They put her in a room with soft walls, low lighting, even a soft floor, for observation.  The bed was fastened to the wall and the blankets and sheets on the bottom and far side could not be pulled out.  There was a built in pillow.  There was a stainless steel toilet with a tank on the other side of the wall and a stainless steel sink where you had to put your hand under to start it. Lukewarm water.  Soap dispenser with the tank on the other side of the wall. Small black half-globe in the middle of the ceiling.  Soft grey walls.  If this did not drive someone crazy, nothing would.  No clock.  Just the ventilation constantly humming and no outside noises, no window, no clue as to the time of day.  She had a hospital gown on and paper underwear furnished by the hospital, lest, she supposed, she find a way to kill herself with her regular underwear.  That would be a sad way to go.

"Please put my gi in cold water. I don't want the blood to set," she said to the camera, but there was no response.

Act normal, she told herself. You want out of here.  This was the low-stimulation therapy chamber, supposed to calm people down. She had read about it.

Nothing to read, nothing to look at.  Finally she looked at the bands on her wrist.  The bright orange one said UNIT 304.  She closed her eyes and thought about the map of the hospital in the ER room.  It had all three floors.  ER on one, operating rooms and stuff on two, maternity and an unnamed area on 3.  It might as well say PSYCH WARD she figured. Or LOONEY BIN.  If she was here much longer she would go nuts.

She looked at the other band, a white band with black lettering. Arial font.  Nicely spaced borders around everything.  Text above and the UPC code or whatever below.  She thought maybe she had time to crack the code and be able to figure out what it read.

She read the text.  JONES TAYLOR A.  Correct. DOB.  No periods, just the letters.  04-03-2000. That was correct. Nice they kept the zeros so these things would be consistent. F.  She stared at that.  F.   The next line was MICHAELS A.  That was her doctor.  The F could only be gender.  He was some kind of a specialist in the field of sex and he had called her F.  Her drivers' license and medical insurance and Social Security card and birth certificate, even her Voter ID, had M. 

She went over and over it.  There was no M anyway that would indicate gender. Only F.

She had plenty to think about. 

Lunch was a tasteless hamburger served by an expressionless somebody who obviously had orders not to talk.  She also got grapes, somehow rendered tasteless and chips and a plastic glass of lemonade.  When she was done the somebody took them and exited a door that she had not noticed.  She searched the wall but could not find any hint of where the door was. 

Well, in the future she would be able to understand what it means to be in a psych ward.

 

Dinner was similar.  There was a breakfast, too, and sometime later the door opened and a nurse smiled and called her out to the hall.  There was Dr. Michaels.

"I see no reason to keep you, so I am sending you home.  My notes have been sent to your therapist and she will be talking to you soon. If not, call her."

"Thank you.  Oh, my gi."

She was given scrubs to wear home and a bucket of cold water that they had been soaking her gi in.

"You need to wait for discharge, miss."  Miss.  Here's proof. The other documents would be easy to change.

She waited in a waiting room.  They gave her lunch at noon, and at 2:00 the discharge papers finally arrived.

"I will need some way to get home."

"He's downstairs in the lobby.  You can meet him there."

"Great."

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

"What are we going to do about Marketing?"  this was the Chairman of the Board.  He had been asking this for years. This Saturday afternoon the Board had dropped their golf game in light of the sudden drop in sales.  This was not quite an emergency, but close.

There was debate.  They finally agreed that since Gibson had been given something that they now considered a raw deal, and turned it into a cash cow for the company anyway, he deserved promotion.  They needed to ramp up Marketing  and Sales because the traditional products were market laggers now and there was pressure to open up the forty acres of industrial facilities they had closed when the jobs went to China.  They needed to find a way to create jobs.

Gibson would be moved from Marketing to be the new Vice President of Marketing and Sales. A key job would be identifying new markets they could enter and expanding product appeal.

"So who gets his job?"

Discussion. Obviously it needed a college graduate.  There was only one in Marketing, this Taylor person.  Should they promote a transgender?  HR spoke up and said that since she was the only one in Marketing with a degree, it would be almost a fatal flaw not to promote her if they could.  Policy was to always promote from within if possible. She was beginning to work on her Master's. Point in her favor.  She brought fresh, young blood to the company. Another point.  Everyone liked her. Quick learner. Sharp. Emotionally stable.  Positive. They had confidence in her, even if she was new to the company, that she could handle the job.  When could HR have the paperwork ready?  Good. This would be announced first thing Monday morning.

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

Bob found himself at a loss as to what to do with himself.  He made himself coffee with the new coffee maker and the new coffee, made a PBJ with the new bread, the new PB and the new jelly, and ate an apple, all at the new table.  It was almost like she was there.  He even did the dishes and put the clean ones in the dish rack and made his bed.

 

He threw himself into work that could have waited for Monday.  He worked on a financial projection and his personal budget and then went over to the hospital. No, he would not be allowed to see her.  She was fine. Don't worry.

 

He went for a walk this nice spring day.  He just happened to walk around the hospital, hoping she would be standing at a window somewhere. Nope.  He ate a TV dinner she had bought him and tinkered with his motorcycle and went to bed.

 

The next day he ate a breakfast that happened to be there from the stuff Taylor had bought, which made him miss her even more.  He went to the church they had visited Wednesday night, partly because he was curious, but mainly to sit next to the chair she had sat in Wednesday night, as if that would make her appear.

 

Worship was similar to Wednesday night and Brother Mike spoke.  Before he began he saw Bob and in surprise said, "Sir, I wanted to catch you Wednesday night but I didn't. Can  I ask you please to stay afterwards and come up here and talk to me?" That was fine with Bob.  They also had information no one in town had.

 

The sermon, altar call and closing song over, Bob made his way to the front. Brother Mike came over to him.  "Sir,I want to ask your forgiveness for want it must have seemed like to you Wednesday night.  And on behalf of my wife, for Tuesday. She had Taylor confused with someone else.  Will you forgive us?"

Quite the start.  "Sure."

"In 2015 I was the youth pastor at Hutton Church." [Hutton is a little village outside of Roosevelt, consisting of a church, half a dozen houses, a gas station and a Dollar General Store. The kids go to Roosevelt schools.]

"Small world."

"I remember there was a terrible assault on one of the youth at the high school, and there was a prayer campaign for that boy. He made a full recovery.  I recall a number of  news articles even though the family requested privacy.  I remember a Bob being mentioned as a close friend of the assaulted.  You strongly resemble him, and I am puzzled by your companion. She looks like the boy a lot.  That is why I kept looking in your direction.  Not in accusation."

"She was him."

"Really."

"This is the same Taylor people are talking about - who changed from male to female?"

"I think she was never a male, actually."

"Really.  Well, I didn't build this church by accusing anyone or making anyone feel bad, and I think both those things happened with you and - Taylor.  I want you to know you are welcome here.  If there is anything I can do to help, let me know.  Did you know that over half this church came forward Wednesday night with sexual issues of one sort or another?  You are not alone. Excuse me, that is presumptuous, that you have such issues. I have no right to pry.  But thank you for coming back."

 

Not bad, Bob thought. Not bad at all. 

 

A quick fast food lunch and he was at the hospital.  Was she being discharged? He was her ride, so they were willing to tell him. He could wait. And he did.

 

 

 

 

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This is actually a decent stopping point.  I am wondering if anyone is reading it and would like me to continue.  I could, if there is interest.

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It was 7:50 when Taylor walked into Marketing, rubbing her sore forearm.  She had made Bob practice the lunge-punch, front stance, lower block, and then they did middle punches and middle blocks and high punches and high blocks.  She had forced herself to accept being touched to adjust her position and she thought she was getting used to it.  When her new gi arrived (the one she had was stained) she would return. She was determined to overcome this.

 

She had run through the day's work on her way in.  They had an astonishing 50 proposals from outside to work on: small accounting, legal, engineering firms without in-house staff. She had even gone and presented sometimes. McElvey was on their fourth proposal with them as they had won the first three. She was on a roll.  There was even a framed certificate from the CEO on her board thanking her for her outstanding work.

 

What is this? The HR guy was there at her desk, loading her stuff into a box. Her stomach went through the floor.  She watched him put the self-same certificate in there and all her other personal effects.

 

"Looks like they are canning you," Karen said,"Little Miss Sunshine going bye-bye."

 

The HR guy was expressionless.  He was not allowed to discuss anything. He was gone in a minute.

"Ignore her. I am sorry." Brenda hugged her. "I enjoyed working with you."

 

Mary said, "When God shuts a door He opens a window. I am sure it will work out for the better." 

 

"Where is Gibbs?"  He was usually here by now.  And his stuff was already boxed up.

 

"He's in a meeting."

 

"Oh."  Both of them?  This made no sense. No sense at all.  The two web guys that she hardly ever talked to came over and murmured that they were sorry and would miss her.

 

She stood there for a minute, uncertain whether to even sit down.  Things here had gone so well.  It was 8:00 and they went to work around her.

 

The office manager and Gibson came into Marketing.

 

"Okay, everybody. Gather round."  They did.

 

"I have some important news.  Mr. Gibson here has done such an outstanding job at outside sales that he is being promoted to Vice President of Marketing. He will report directing to the Vice President of Sales and see if we can't fire up our factories."

 

Taylor wondered when they would replace him.  It didn't matter, because she would be long gone.

 

"And because of her outstanding work in supporting Mr. Gibson, and her many excellencies, Taylor is the new Head of Marketing. I am sure you will give her your full support and cooperation."  Everyone, including a worried-looking Karen, clapped. With that he picked up her box and put it on what had been Gibb's desk.

"Allow me," he said, and picked up Gibb's two boxes and off they went.

 

Karen came up to her. "I have been such a jerk."

"I don't hold grudges.  Just work on changing."

"I know I can be abrasive."

"Work on it."

 

Gibb's phone rang. Rather, hers.  She was called away to a meeting.  And the day went on.

 

 

 

 

 

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The CEO was at the head of the table. Then there was the CFO, the office manager, the head of legal, Gibbs, the head of sales, Taylor, and around the other side various VPs and what not.  HR. 

 

Both Gibson and Taylor were congratulated on their promotions.  The suddenness underscored the urgency of the company.

 

"What exactly do we produce?"  Taylor's first question.  As far as she knew nothing was produced in Millvale.

 

There was some clearing of throats.  Finally someone said "We don't know."  That, she realized, was the head of production.

 

"We don't know?"  Most of the table asked that.

 

"We began off-shoring some thirty or forty years ago - there are people who can tell you when - and now we get paid by a shell company that is owned by another, and another, like a Russian doll, and deep down in there are the production companies.  We don't know where or what. It's opaque."

 

The CFO continued, "we have had a fine revenue stream.  But with all this talk of bringing back jobs - we have forty acres that used to make product sitting there with rail spurs and a water tower and everything needed - we wanted to bring some of it back to Millvale.  But we don't know what it is that we make or how to make it, and no one is around any more who remembers what was made where."

 

"Sounds like a problem."  Taylor thought that for her first meeting she was talking to much.

 

"It is.  It is vacant and deteriorating and we pay taxes on it, provide security and maintenance.  That is why the Board decided that it needs to be brought back to production."

"Sounds good to me," Taylor put into the silence.

"I hope so," said the CEO. "You are in charge of marketing the property and seeing that it is fully productive in ten years. Your first year goal is ten percent.  Bear in mind that the City of Millvale has been trying to market it for the past forty years without success.  We are far from an interstate."
"Me? Do you think I am Superwoman?"

"Yes, we do.  We are confident you can pull this off.  Your performance will be evaluated by your success. The bench mark for the coming year is 10% occupancy, or three, excuse me, four acres.  We will give you whatever staffing resources you need.  Simply ask Gibson, who will liaison with accounting, legal and everyone else in this endeavor, which we are calling Onshoring. It is the most important thing we are doing now."

Taylor was stunned.

Gibson leaned over to her. "By this time tomorrow I want to review your fully developed action plan."

She nodded, wondering how she was going to pull this off.

"That is our girl.  Meeting adjourned.

 

She went back to her desk.  There were fifteen emails and three phone messages.  Three people had questions about the proposals in development.   So much for a low pressure job. Most of the emails were internal CONGRATULATIONS but people also had a habit of adding something needing doing to it, so she had to read them all. Slowly.  And it wasn't that long ago that they almost fired her.

 

 

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She had time to think on her way out to the former factory grounds.  She was met at the gate by an armed guard. She was expected, and there was a four-wheel drive golf-cart type thing to go around in.  The guard would drive.  He had a rifle.

"Is that necessary?"

"We get some people coming in here, sneaking in here, tough customers, sometimes.  Persuasion is sometimes necessary. We haven't shot anything except rats in a long time, and the rats are gone. Nothing to eat anymore."

He drove her through the abandoned parking lots and around the buildings.  They were commonplace industrial buildings.

"I want to look in one," she said.

"How about this one?"

"Okay." He unlocked the door and with a shove it opened with a creak on long-disused hinges.  A big open space. Glass-walled office corner. Mezzanine, empty.  One or two machines of uncertain function.  Lots of open floor.  No sign of leakage.

"Is there power?"

"It's shut off from outside.  No sense wasting it.  We light up the outside at night but people will come in here and tap into the power if we leave it on."

"I see."

Musty smell. Washrooms.  This one was ready for occupancy.

On the way back she realized she still had absolutely no idea of what to write except they needed to identify barriers in the way of bringing jobs to Millvale. Legal. Production costs.  Transportation.  Off hand she was not thinking of others. Material costs.

The guard had been a perfect gentleman.  She had Bob on speed dial and had prepared a short speech and they would see each other if not, and she had not had to do that.

 

It was even worse when she got back to her desk.  The only consolation was that the HR guy showed up and  handed her an envelope, and in it was her new salary amount.  It had been almost doubled.  Gibson came by and gave her the desk key.  HR wanted to know what positions she wanted to fill.  Descriptions needed ASAP, preferably by COB today. She decided to work through lunch, and she did, grabbing vending machine food.  She realized she was no longer going to eat lunch with the girls.  She was now Management, and it could be lonely. They were sending her on a two-week wilderness expedition next summer and they needed to know which session to put her in, because it filled up quickly.  She picked the first, and worked through her email. 

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Ah. Email from Gibson. [it was actually less legible than this, as he didn't use punctuation, it was all caps, and he ran all his words together. Taylor was used to it.

 

T - As everyone was under my super. this last year, don't worry about the evals. I will handle it. Send all email about new proposals to me, your unit handles work under way.  You will be involved but the first step is those go to me. Thanks

 

Here is an outline of what questions I want to see answered tomorrow.  Feel free to just jot down your thoughts.  If you don't know, say so and maybe point to how we can find that out............

 

Your new position will seem very challenging for a while but I am sure you can handle it.  Everyone has the utmost confidence in you.

 

PS your performance evaluation will be stellar, as reflected in your new position and compensation.  You get 100. One less thing to worry about.

 

Taylor sent him 45 emails right after that, gave some thought to the questions, and then had to turn to one of the proposals under way and review it.  That done, she read through the personnel files on her people so she would better understand them and what they could do. There was a very thin folder with her name on it.  It had one piece of paper on it. On it was written "the best!".  The others were thicker but didn't take long either, and she returned to answering the questions. 

 

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Bob had the night off from teaching kara-tay and they planned to spend a lot of it at Cabaret.

 

Once in, Taylor waited for her man to park and looked around.  There was a sign "Mary, Paul and Peter LIVE tonight" and, sure enough, three microphones were standing in the open area.  A new hostess came up to her.

"Are you alone?"

"Oh, no.  He's coming."

Taylor was led to a table. Bob was there in a minute and managed to get in there and seat her.  She smiled.

"The act will be along in a few minutes. And Congratulations! I am SO EXCITED!!"

Taylor responded to his look. "I got promoted."

"To what?"

"Head of Marketing."

"You're kidding."

"Nope.  It seems the Board finally woke up to the fact that the China cash cow may come to an end and they need to do something. Did you know that the VPs on up all get over a million dollars in compensation without really doing anything?"

"No."

"I am supposed to figure out how to re-energize over thirty acres of factory that have laid idle for forty years or more."

"Why don't they do it?"

She whispered,"the head of production is the son of the previous head of production. He has never produced anything."  She explained that everything was made in China and exported back to the US and sold under different brand names. "How am I going to find someone?"

He smiled. "Congratulations. Sounds like a problem.  Hey, today we were talking about problems at our Philly plant.  One, it was built before World War 2. Second the city and state are tightening regulations and the tax structure is adverse.  Third, we get protestors every day, some of whom break into the factory.  People are talking about relocating."

"We are forty miles from an interstate."

"That is a plus.  Makes it harder for protestors to find us if we moved here."

"You are really thinking that?"

"I am, right now. I can't speak for the company.  I know there is a rail line."

"Spur, actually, with several sidings.  The buildings are in good shape."

"Do you have about five acres we could look at? How about if I take some pictures and send them off?"

"Great.  And protestors would not be tolerated in Millville.  The factory area once upon a time was the main employer and people are very protective."

Two weeks later she was in Philadelphia with Gibson and a few others.  The deal was signed and by end of summer ten acres, with an option on another ten, were being upgraded and equipment was coming in by rail. Not five, but ten.  She got a $20,000 bonus out of the blue.  The company was flush with Chinese cash that they didn't know what to do with. She was developing plans.

But back to dinner.  "Did I tell you what they are paying me?"

"No."

She told him.

"That is more than I am making."

"You don't sound happy."

"It takes some getting used to.  You are Management and Croesus combined."

"Yeah. Is this a problem?"

"No.  As I said, it takes some getting used to." 

The musicians arrived and were introduced: three local teenagers in Peter Paul and Mary clothing and wigs like it was the 60s.  They began singing.

"They are good," she said.

"They are lip-synching."

"They are good at lip-synching."

They listened for a while.

"Work is going to be intense for a while."

"I'll bet."

"I won't be able to talk to you about some of it."

"I bet."

They had a good evening.   The high point for Bob was that she let him put his hand on hers.  The high point for her was Bob did not seem threatened by her now being Management and making more than he did with a Masters. She didn't tell him she was likely to be in on the distribution of money the Chinese sent every year to keep them fat and happy.  But she had to finish up that report, so the evening ended early.  He drove her home, checked her apartment for people and again walked away hearing her lock the door three times.  She didn't say it, but he knew she was going to have a long talk with her therapist as well.   Her therapist was a night owl.

 

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Tuesday night.  They had a quick supper together at a fast food place.  Bob went off to teach karate and Taylor locked herself inside her apartment and worked on her hiring plan.

 

First the web site problem.  The two guys who ran it were self-taught and knew little.  It currently had three pages, the Home page, the About page and the Contact page,  She asked them to work with Karen in terms of redesigning it and she needed three designs to show Gibbs tomorrow.  The problem was three fold: the two guys and Karen.  Millville was a small town and all three were relatives of members of the Board.  Millville, Millvale. She was doing it.  People here called it either way, sometimes in the space of a few seconds.  She thought it was Millville.  All three had complained about the work, because the two boys regarded it as done and untouchable, even though they actually had not worked on it at all for months.  Like a number of people, they showed up and collected generous pay checks and did nothing.  She had looked at a number of websites and she had been told the company wanted one both internal and external customers could log into.  Her chief difficulty at the moment there was that there was very little content.  She decided to send the three complainers out tomorrow to take numerous pictures of the thirty acres  Or was it forty?  No one seemed to care. She cared, because she needed to get it right.  She debated outsourcing the website to a company, but first she needed something to outsource, and before then she needed to decide whether to keep these people.  She didn't need to mess with them.  So she decided to recommend they hire an experienced website developer with management skills. Would such a person come to Millville?  The schools were good, because the company had poured money into them, and the streets were well paved.  The company had bought all the abandoned houses and maintained them, hoping someday they would be filled again. Millville was crime-free.  People did not lock their doors. Neighborly. Very conservative, but in a good way.  Hard working, ethical, honest. Maybe the Chinese money was corrupting the town?  Not sure.  So she thought they would hire someone, even if it were a remote position.  She would rather have them here, but she would take what she would get.  That would move the website out of her hair.

Secondly, she needed an effective presenter.  She could not do all these presentations herself.  She had natural talent but a lot could be passed on.

She needed another Mary and another Brenda, or their understudies, effective hardworking people.

 

Bob. Was he okay with this?  He said she was Management.  Was that a problem?  And she was now earning a ridiculous salary, which she put down to company dysfunction more than anything she had done.  Was that a problem? She was not sure.  He was highly competitive and he had that male ego.  She did not.  A feeling of guilt rose.

 

Her therapist had brought up her feelings of guilt about not making Dad's expectations, never being the man Dad wanted her to be.  She never could, and this physical evidence backed that up.  What would the doctor say?  She thought about it, and that her therapist said she needed to find a sexual assault survivor's group more than a transgender group right now. Was there one here?  She thought about serving in a women's shelter.  There was one here, oddly enough connected to the church they had visited.  That F on her drivers' license would help.  She was waiting until after she talked to the doctor again to move on that stuff.

 

Was Bob really buying 160 acres near the old air strip on speculation?  Much of the land around Millville had been for sale for a long time.  That land was being offered at a dollar an acre, the owners having inherited it and now living out of state. Common knowledge.  They would take the first offer, and it had been for sale since the airstrip closed twenty years ago. Airstrip.  That would help.  Not tonight.

Focus, girl, she told herself, and read over her notes to do so, which were making less sense the further down she went. It was eleven, and she gave up and went to bed.

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    • VickySGV
      This was from my May 2018 Face Book post and a friend of mine IRL asked to use it on a blog spot for the Personal Stories Project which is an effort of love for he and his husband.   From Diversity To Sameness, A PRIDE Meditation    May 21, 2018   It is Pride season again, and on Saturday I was at the Pride event in Long Beach CA to help out the San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ Center which I volunteer at these days. This was the first of several events I will be going to over the next few weeks, and others stretching over the next month or two. One of the people I was with made the comment that “We really are a diverse group here!!” The comment got me thinking, and re-opened my eyes to something that has amazed me in the relatively few years I have recognized that I am part of the LGBTQIA**** (the letters keep adding on) alphabet soup of life that does and will exist. My friend was right about the scope of the diversity that does exist and is on display at Pride events without shame and yes, with PRIDE in what and who each individual really is. To many people Diversity is one of those concepts that ranks up with blasphemy against a deity and the most horrendous of demons the Evil One (human imagination) has ever created. A person who is different is to be hated, feared, shamed and made valueless. The fear of diversity fuels minds to pull away from others, and to protect themselves by taking on feelings of superiority and exclusiveness above the different person. For the most part people with those feelings are good people in many many ways, but the fear and false god of superiority they have created masks that goodness terribly. At Pride events such as the one I was at, the diversity is so intense and so visible that after a moment or two the differences become the sameness of those who participate in them. We celebrate our differences to achieve our sameness and oneness by mentally stripping off the visual differences that at first overload us and can be dizzying to the point of a feeling of sickness for some who fit the pattern I described above. With the sameness we become even more aware of the other person’s humanity, and begin to look for the good elements that we share and find them more readily. Our conversations become how to help each other and take that helpfulness beyond those immediately with us. We reassure ourselves of our value, and explore new ways to add to that value in all ways, not just for ourselves, but those of our fellow humans who fear us and thus hide themselves deeper and deeper from the good that we could share fully. The LGBTQIA**** margin is not the only place where this can be present. The reason for other Pride events such as cultural gatherings of people “othered” and devalued, or even those of persons with what are declared to be disabilities, or mental diversity do the same thing, and people of different margins, as well as those who consider themselves “mainstream” are invited to submerge themselves in those groups by the same process of celebrating the diversity that will create the sameness of humanity. One group though who has suggested that it hold massive “Pride” events does not suggest their pride to be a celebration of diversity within that group, but rather enforced rigidity of an imagined sameness for only that group. Where that has been tried in recent months, there has been universal tragedy in many ways, the least of which has been murder. A celebration of false arrogance and even more false superiority is a hell on earth, and not a thing of pride, only of tears that they are afraid to show. I could have been in this last group believing it’s agenda and set of beliefs, but I was not allowed to be there because of something strange and wonderful in me that I did not accept about my life for over 50 years until it was to celebrate or die with my Gender Dysphoria. Today it is so “ordinary” for me to see inside of the differences in the outsides of people that I forget the lesson I relearned this past week.   Pride and Peace be in your lives.
    • VickySGV
      I for one am actually pleased with how this one played out.  Local issues need to remain local and I am not on the States Rights bandwagon for all cases.  The facts of the matter did not constitute a case or controversy since the plaintiffs did not show actual or immediately impending harm to their children.  Now if the parents can show that the child had developed some type of sleep and eating disorder because they were in a bathroom with a Trans child or are involved in self harm over the idea (which is probably the parent's doing and not the school) then there might be something of a case or controversy for the court to take up.   I have six text books on U.S. Constitutional Law grinning down evilly at me that all say the SCOTUS should avoid this type of case, and shows where they have done it consistently for a couple of centuries. 
    • Ladypcnj
      When I was a kid growing up, I was considered the baby sibling of the family. I was often the last to know of everything, and since I wasn't old enough just yet to stay home by myself, I had to tagged along with my family members who drove their cars, this included going to church. I never knew other religions existed; all I knew was about the teachings of Christianity. It's easy to join a church, but what if things aren't what it appears to be than what is preached? Strange things began going on at the church in which group leaders didn't want the news media to know about it, such as an almost drowning during a baptizing among other things. The preacher/minister began to sense I wanted out of the cult. Followers that was nice to me in the beginning, was now talking behind my back, not encouraging me to find another church that I would feel more spiritually connected to.     
    • Ivy
      An option to opt out is one thing, but removing the content entirely (for everyone) is something different.  I don't think it's beneficial to isolate one's kids from the broader culture since they are going to have to live in it eventually.  If something about it bothers you, you need to explain why.  Pretending it doesn't exist is a disservice to them.   In my (and my ex's) more conservative past, we considered homeschooling.  But we also realized our kids had to live in the broader culture and needed the socialization. Two of my adult children do homeschool now.  I have mixed feelings about that. Another of them is a public school teacher.   I personally would prefer that scarce resources not be diverted from public education.  The current move against public education bothers me.  For many kids it's all they have. 
    • April Marie
      Looking in the mirror brings joy.   The woman smiles back at me.
    • Charlize
      Perhaps a bit of light might exist if i look at this as a further verification that simply disliking the existence of a school's policy is not a reason to sue.  The rights of these parents or their children are not harmed.  They simply cannot dictate policy because of dubious beliefs.   Hugs,   Charlize
    • Mmindy
      Life has its twist, and who knows what the future holds. She may only want to know your family and medical history’s long term chronic health history. Then again she may become your biggest supporter in your current life situation.   I am an optimist. So much so that if you put me in a room full of puppy poo, I’m going to look for the puppies.    Hugs and best wishes,   Mindy🌈🐛🏳️‍⚧️🦋
    • Charlize
      Managing a support group takes a great deal of work.  When i found this site there were ,to my knowledge, only 2 sites that supported anyone whose gender was out of the "norm".  I had searched before and only found porn.  i'd almost given up. I hope that you are finding what you need here.   Hugs,   Charlize
    • RaineOnYourParade
      This also isn't necessarily trans-positive in itself. They're just saying the case doesn't have strong enough ground to sue because the plaintiff didn't bring enough evidence to court. Basically, that could mean that, rather than not wanting to do the case, they feel that there is insufficient information given to do so. By leaving the suit be, it also leaves no precedent for future cases to be built off of. This just leaves holes for court to get messier in the future. Precedent is essential in all types of cases. Giving a ruling, one way or another, would be pretty essential to building cases of the same nature in the future. By letting this go, they aren't really supporting trans people -- they're just dismissing the issue all together, which, in reality, doesn't help either side of it. 
    • RaineOnYourParade
      I don't personally agree with people opting out of LGBT education, but I suppose it would depend on the context it was taught in. Parents do have the right to opt their children out of sex ed and such for various reasons, so if it was taught in line with sex ed (which would make sense, as those classes also cover puberty as well as sometimes relationship health, so it would be about in-line with how heterosexual students are taught about their own types of relationships), I would understand them then being able to opt out. Similarly, parents often have options to opt their child out of reading books with "disturbing" content, so if the novels chosen for LGBT discussion have a large focus on homophobia/etc., an opt-out option might be made available due to the intensity of the content rather than the content itself. I've seen these for books like To Kill a Mockingbird and All-American Boys that discuss racism in-depth, as some parents might not be comfortable with their child/teenager reading intense content. I disagree with the choices to opt-out of reading these books since I think they're important, but I do understand why they're provided.   So, I think whether an opt-out option would be provided for these topics would depend on the way that they were presented. I didn't see anything in the article saying where the topics were being presented (though correct me if I'm wrong). Are they being talked about in sex ed or in content that may be considered disturbing? In that case, it wouldn't necessarily be LGBT-phobic legislation, per se -- It's about in line with what is in line for dozens of topics. 
    • Birdie
      I feel much better after a nice nap, breakfast, and a cup of tea.    I go to see a specialist today at the hospital, so I won't be at the day-centre till this afternoon. ☺️
    • RaineOnYourParade
      G'morning! Green tea for my morning beverage. My mom made me eat breakfast so I could take a pill... and now I feel sick, thanks to my weird stomach .-.   Stomach issues aside, I signed up for a story gift exchange a little while ago and just got in the story with four minutes to spare! Liiiiittle close for comfort, but, hey, it's in!   We're at that point in the school year where we aren't doing much. AP testing is done for my history class, so we're watching a WWII film rn (Dunkirk). My college course is already over as well (the semester ends earlier), so I've really only got two classes to worry about, and one of those is an art class. Lowest stress I've had all year.
    • Heather Shay
      Another Hidden Treasure I heard for the first time today. Well written, wonderful vocals and nice instrumental work throughot and even covered two Dalton and Dubarri songs.  
    • Ladypcnj
      I noticed that there is not too many online intersex support groups?  
    • Lydia_R
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