ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the April 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] lone_cat and [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "reunion" square in my 4-3-17 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Antimatter & Stalwart Stan thread of the Polychrome Heroics series, and it follows the events of "Victory Conditions" several months later.


"This Has Always Been Me"

[August 13, 2014, senior year of high school]



It was the last first day of high school.

Stan and Lawrence walked through the doors,
hand in hand, as seniors. They felt a little fluttery
and a little relieved and a lot excited.

"It's hard to believe this is our last year,"
Stan said. "So much has changed."

"For the good," Lawrence said,
squeezing his hand. "I'm smooth with it."

Then Stan saw a tall, incredibly hot girl
walking toward them. He didn't recognize
her, so he said, "Hi, I'm Stan and this
is Lawrence. Are you new here?"

"Stan, it's me." Jayce's voice
was familiar, only a note higher.

"Oh my lord, Jayce!" Stan exclaimed,
grinning. "You sure changed over
the summer. I mean, wow."

"Yeah, my parents took me to
a fantastic healer, who borrowed
an X chromosome from my father,
so this is how I was supposed to look
all along," Jayce said with a shy smile.

"Is it still Jayce, or did you change
your name too?" Lawrence asked
as they walked toward their lockers.

"Still Jayce," she said. "Turns out,
that's a gender-neutral name and it's
familiar, so I'm comfortable with it.
I just switched to feminine pronouns."

"You're lucky," Lawrence said as he
opened his locker to stash his backpack.

"I know," Jayce said. "A lot of folks
in my support group are having trouble
finding a name that fits. Can you imagine it?
I have a hard enough time finding shoes."

Stan glanced down the tall, leggy body
and saw that Jayce's feet were just as
long and narrow as ever. It had always
been a hassle to find football cleats that fit.

That made Stan take another look at
his friend, searching for familiar features
among all the sudden changes.

Jayce's strong rectangular face
had turned into a long heart shape,
but the delicately arched eyebrows and
Cupid's bow mouth remained the same.

The wavy brown hair had darkened
to raven black and now cascaded past
the shoulders, making Jayce's blue eyes
deepen to indigo inside thick lashes.

Below, the front of the scoop-neck t-shirt
belled out like the white sails of a ship.

"It's like brother and sister," Stan mused.

"Yes, I agree," Lawrence said to Jayce.
"You used to look more like your dad,
and now you look more like your mom,
but you've still got her perky mouth
and his fashion-model eyebrows."

"I'm happy with it," Jayce said softly.
"I can't stop playing with my hair."

Lawrence laughed. "Oh, don't get
Stan started, he can't keep his hands
out of mine. Did you know he can braid?"

"Yeah, he does his sisters' hair," Jayce said.
"Sometimes when we're hanging out, they
want his attention, so he does that because
he can braid and talk at the same time."

Then she gave Stan a shy look.

"I will gladly braid your new hair
if you want me to," Stan said
as they moved along to his locker.

"I'd like that," Jayce said. "I leave it
loose when I can, but it gets all in my face,
so if the weather's windy or I'm working out,
then I have to fasten it somehow. I haven't
learned how to braid my hair yet, there's been
too much else to do. I love this body, but ...
getting used to it is taking longer than I thought."

"Your healer is amazing," Lawrence said.
"Are they public? I'd love to get contact info
in case anyone else needs that kind of help."

"Sure," Jayce said, handing Lawrence
a business card with a transgender symbol
striped in blue-pink-white-pink-blue and
marked with the Star of Life. "Referrals
are welcome, and there's no waiting list
because it's so expensive." She sighed.
"Dad sold the boat. I still feel kinda guilty."

"That's natural, but it's not necessary,"
Stan said. "He can buy a new boat.
He can't buy a new you."

Jayce gave a rueful chuckle.
"That's exactly what Dad said."

"Well, then you should listen to him,"
Stan said. "He's a smart man."

"Yeah, I know," said Jayce,
then waved a graceful hand.
"My locker is this way."

When they arrived, she took off
her backpack and Stan saw that
its black body was backed with
an image of unicorns in a riot
of green, blue, purple, and pink.

"Nice backpack," Stan said.
His sister Stephanie would've
gone nuts over that thing.

"Thanks," Jayce said as she
carefully put it away. "I've always
wanted something like it, and this is
my last chance, you know? I'll be
in college next year, and unicorns
are a little too kiddie to take there."

"Jayce, a word of advice?"
Lawrence said. "Wear what
you damn please. Trying
to suit everyone else's tastes
will make nobody happy."

"I've heard that -- the folks in
my support group are pretty split --
but I'm still experimenting," Jayce said.
"It's just hard, sometimes, because
other people can be weird about it,
like they're losing something."

"Some people feel that way about
gender transitions," Lawrence said.

"I'm saying goodbye to people's perception
of me and who I am. I'm not saying goodbye
to me, because this has always been me,"
Jayce said. "I'm not saying goodbye
so much as I'm saying hello."

"I hope it works out for you,"
Stan said. "I know last semester
was ... pretty rough in places."

Fortney Sullivan slammed the locker
next to them. "Hi, Jayce," she said.
"Wow, you weren't kidding about
major changes! Your boobs are
almost as big as my cowboppers.
Are you coming back to football?
It'd be nice to have another girl on
the team; it sucks being the only one."

There was just no predicting Fortney.

"No, I'm not coming back," Jayce said.
"I don't feel comfortable with Mr. Petersen."

Just then the coach himself appeared,
walking briskly down the hall. "Sullivan!
Paperwork!" he barked, handing her
a sheaf of multicolored pages.

Jayce shied away from him.

Without a word, Stan and Lawrence
closed ranks, putting themselves
between Jayce and Mr. Petersen.

The coach saw them, flushed red,
blanched white, and then hurried away.

"Guess I can't blame you, Jayce,"
said Fortney. She sighed. "Coach
has been ... touchier than he used to be."

"That must take some doing,"
Lawrence muttered, glaring after him.

"He's had some challenges,"
Stan said diplomatically, recalling
how Mr. Petersen's orientation
had gotten out because of him.

Stan didn't know how far that
might have spread ... and if
the coach didn't either, then
no wonder he was so antsy.

"Are you quitting sports, or just
football?" Fortney asked Jayce.

"I think I'll try out for cheer squad,"
Jayce said. "They never get enough
big strong girls who are willing to get
on the bottom of the pyramids or do
the other muscle stunts, and it's
even rarer for boys to join."

"I guess that's a good idea,"
Fortney said. "I'll just miss you."

"I'll still see you at games,"
Jayce pointed out to her.

"I might come too, sometimes,"
Stan said. "Besides, we can
always play pickup in the park.
Lawrence is getting pretty good
at tossing a ball around."

"No, really?" Jayce said.
"That's great, that you are
learning each other's interests."

Then Angelica Young sidled into
the group. "Hey, I hate to break up
this reunion," she said, "but we're about
to be late for class. Fortney and I have
Sports and Entertainment Marketing."

"Oh yeah, Lawrence and I should
get to Issues in Science and Civics,"
Stan said. "Bye, girls, nice seeing you."

"What, no hug goodbye?" Jayce said.

"I don't think that's a great idea,"
Stan hedged, blushing.

Her eyes narrowed. "Why not?"

"I still like you as a friend, but
you're ... um ..." Stan cupped
his hands in front of his chest.

"So me being sexually relevant
all of a sudden is a problem?"
Jayce said, looking sad.

"You were always that to me,
I just didn't realize I was bi until
last year," Stan said. "You're just ...
squashier, now. It could get awkward."

Angelica batted him on the arm.
"Side hug," she said. "Don't be a jerk."

"Stan is the antithesis of a jerk,"
Lawrence said. "He's just
easily embarrassed."

Stan could feel his face
heating all the more, but he
didn't want Jayce to feel bad.
Hugging sideways was really
a brilliant solution to the problem.

So he slung an arm around
Jayce's shoulders and said,
"It's good to see you again.
I hope we have a great year."

"Yeah, thanks," she said
as Stan let go of her.

"Come on, or we really
will be late," Lawrence said,
tugging on Stan's shirt.

As they walked to class,
Stan draped an arm
around his boyfriend.

Then he felt Lawrence's hand
slip into his back pocket.

* * *

Notes:

Jayce Olson -- She has pinkish-fair skin, dark blue eyes, and long black hair with just a little wave. Jayce lives in Omaha, Nebraska where she attends the same high school as Stanley Wood. Jayce used to play football as a safety, but is now more interested in cheerleading. She excels at civics class and enjoys social studies too. She has taken all the opportunities for fundraising and community service, earning a lot of extra credit that way, and she volunteers for local charities outside of school too. However, she has been struggling with identity issues for some time, recently transitioned from male to female, and hasn't really settled into her new gender expression yet.
Qualities: Good (+2) Athletic, Good (+2) Charity, Good (+2) Civics Student, Good (+2) Left/Right Brain Balance, Good (+2) Teamwork
Poor (-2) Transgender

Fortney Sullivan -- She has pinkish-fair skin, brown eyes, and light brown hair usually pulled back in a short braid. She is tall and beefy, but quick on her feet. Her four older brothers have inspired her to keep up with the guys. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska where she plays football on the same team that Stanley Wood used to be on. As a cornerback she excels at agility and catching the ball. Hyperconscious of her precarious social position -- football is respected but girls are unwelcome there, and playing football is seen as unfeminine -- she is always looking for ways to move up the popularity ladder. In her senior fall semester, her first class is Sports and Entertainment Marketing with Angelica Young.
Qualities: Good (+2) Determination, Good (+2) Cornerback Football Player, Good (+2) Student
Poor (-2) Unpopular

Bo Ray Petersen -- He has ruddy skin, blue eyes, and short brown hair. He goes by Ray. He serves as the boys' coach and one of the P.E. teachers at the Omaha, Nebraska high school where Stan and Lawrence go. He and the science teacher, Bruce Marshall, squabble the way jocks and nerds usually do. Ray is known for making excellent chili.
Qualities: Good (+2) Crockpot Cook, Good (+2) High School Coach, Good (+2) Physically Fit
Poor (-2) Not the Sharpest Marble in the Stack

Angelica Young -- She is a lively high school student with a cheerful, athletic bearing. She has blue eyes and bleached blond hair in a short, sassy cut. Angelica comes from a good family and can afford fashionable clothes. She is popular at school. Formerly the girlfriend of Stanley Wood (Stalwart Stan) and victim of Antimatter (Lawrence Cunningham), she has since become school friends with both of them. Angelica wants to become an event manager. She is currently debating whether to settle for a Hospitality degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, try for an out-of-state trade school with an Event Manager degree, or combine an online certificate with some other program. In her senior fall semester, her first class is Sports and Entertainment Marketing with Fortney Sullivan.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Cheerleader, Good (+2) Social Studies, Good (+2) Video Gamer
Poor (-2) Jealous

Good socialite careers include event planning, offered at a few colleges. Hospitality is another degree useful in this field, offered more widely. Some trade schools also teach event planning, and there are certificates or online programs too.

* * *

"I'm saying goodbye to people's perception of me and who I am, I'm not saying goodbye to me, because this has always been me."
-- Bruce Jenner

Transgender people realize their nature at different ages. Parents may recognize this early or later. There is a surge in visibility of transgender teens. Here are some clues that a child may be transgender.

One of the extremely convenient things about trans identity in Terramagne is that superpowers make it objectively verifiable in many cases. Healers can detect physiological differences -- some medical conditions tend to cause a masculine personality in a female-seeming body, or vice versa. Telepaths and empaths can often perceive what's called an idsig, or identity signature, a little thumbnail of a person's self-image that customarily includes gender among other traits. Access to objective confirmation may make transfolk feel much more secure from that validation, and can greatly speed up the transition process by skipping months or years of "trying it on" to convince bystanders that it's real.

In Jayce's case, the parents already suspected transgender due to behavior patterns, but Jayce kept trying to meet social expectations of masculinity, so they didn't push. When Jayce finally admitted that living en homme wasn't working, they were ready to provide support immediately. That way, Jayce could get some counseling to work through personal feelings, then transition during the summer and have a little time to get used to the changes before returning to school en femme.

Another interesting thing in Terramagne is the wider diversity of options for sexual realignment. Conventional surgery is still available, and preferred by people with a specific idea of how they should look afterwards. Some healers can do it, and they have different methods. The one Jayce used involves taking an X chromosome from the father to replace the natal non-X chromosome, so the end result has a strong sibling resemblance but often looks pretty different than the original body. Simply modifying the natal chromosome into a different configuration produces less dramatic changes in nonsexual features.

Transitioning
can produce dramatic changes in appearance. Understand how to support and respect a transgender friend.

Take a look at different lip shapes.

There are many transgender symbols. One basic version combines the male and female symbols. This symbol incorporates the Star of Life used for emergency medical services. In T-America, it indicates medics, healers, and other caregivers who provide support for transfolk. It also includes the color pattern of the transgender pride flag. This version is used for people whose trans nature involves superpowers. That includes gendershifters, cissexual people made otherwise by superpowers, and so forth. A few transfolk who got sexual realignment service from a healer also use this symbol, but most don't. This one includes the international No symbol and is most often used by transneuter folks. The asterisk version is related to the Star of Life version. Here is a linked symbol, which is good for showing the gender spectrum.

Gender expression is how people display their gender identity. Transfolk often wish they could dress differently than they do. A gender coach can help transwomen to dress and act in more feminine ways.

Jayce's unicorn backpack is the kind of thing many girls adore. Part of the reason she likes that one in particular is the color range reflects the transgender pride spectrum.

While often scorned as prudish or unfriendly, side hugs are great for people who who don't want personal bits squashed together. They look like this.

A pocket hug is a more intimate version of a side hug in which each person puts their hand in the other person's back pocket.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-10 02:05 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Wow! I'll have more to say when I get back from the road trip, but I wanted you to know I'd seen this.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-11 12:23 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This has such an impact and is sweet and I just want to hand all those kids their favorite treat as a thank you for being decent people.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-11 10:16 am (UTC)
thnidu: plus sign (plus)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
This. (Should have been in bed many hours ago, cannot think to write much more.)

• multicolored pages."
> Delete quotation mark.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-11 07:47 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
Go Jayce! I want the email for that healer, too.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-15 12:50 pm (UTC)
mama_kestrel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mama_kestrel
Awesome parents are are AWESOME!

More when I'm with the day.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-21 04:10 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Okay, now I have more time to think and respond.

Things I love about this:
- The healer's approach to reassignment. It makes so much sense to actually do it genetically, either the way Jayce did or the other way you mentioned. Jayce is obviously very fond of both her parents, so I can see why she would want to use an X chromosome from her father instead of just altering her own Y.

- Fortney being tactless but completely unfazed and accepting. She makes me shake my head, but in affection/amusement rather than annoyance.

- Angelica! I don't think we ever got a good look at her beyond her getting mad and dumping Stan when he started hanging around with Lawrence, so that scene came as a very welcome surprise.

- Jayce thinking about trying out for cheerleading, because she probably still has some of the muscle development from her male life -- the part that comes from working out rather than just genetics.

- Lawrence's advice to Jayce about just being who you are instead of trying to fulfill other people's expectations. "You know, you can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Is she a reader of SF/F? Because that backpack would certainly attract fantasy readers at any decent college.

There isn't anything I don't like, but the bits above are the highlights for me.

Jayce is lucky for T-American healers. Transitioning from female to male here is much easier than the other way around unless it starts fairly young, because some of the changes testosterone makes in the body are difficult or impossible to reverse. It's much easier for me to spot a MTF than a FTM -- the voice timbre tends to be one of those things that just doesn't go all the way back, and that pings my ear pretty hard.

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