My Name is Jane
written by Christine Unger
TABLE OF CONTENTS ›
M in Hong Kong
|M arrived in Hong Kong - the airport express - a short, fast ride into town. The technology was unbelievable, their confidence was boosted. The doctors here would be able to deliver on the promises they’d given them (until it was done ‘he AND she’, is how they thought of themself). They gripped the thick sheaf of correspondence-the labour of 13 long, tortured months of interviews, blood tests, more tests, counseling, psychological evaluation and hormone therapy. They were lucky, they were healthy, young, they only needed a little surgery, they were slim, fine boned and didn't grow much body hair even before the hormones. Cosmetic surgery would be minimal, just a little breast enhancement. They were nervours about the bottom. It would hurt, they knew it, but they weren't shy of pain. Other things were so much worse. They ran a hand over their hair, pleased with its smooth length, red for now, red for change. Self-consciously, M crossed their legs and smoothed their skirt again. They knew their makeup was perfect. The effect was stunning. They looked the part of a Hitchcock heroine. Internally they sighed. Soon it wouldn’t be a lie, it would be real and everything would feel right and all the things they’d done to be here at this moment would be justified - or at least, worth it. Canada was far away, their past, here they could begin again, a renewed person in a renewed world, beautiful, right. The flight had left them fatigued, brown and dull as a sparrow, but as they thought of their future and felt the tang of this ultra-modern, fast-paced city, their confidence expanded, the peacock spread its tail, colours shimmered again.
It hadn’t mattered so much as a child. M’s tastes and interests weren’t too out of the ordinary. They’d liked dolls a little too much for his father’s taste.
"Myron, don't play with those things, people will think you're a sissy."
M flinched reflexively, remembering their father towering over them, eyes ablaze with anger and hurt, hand ready to fly out. But his mother insisted it would make Myron a better father one day. The dolls stayed and father was mollified by Myron's 'appropriate' curiosity in trains and geography. Things were OK until female classmates began to develop breasts and they could have cared less.
When the first hairs appeared above their lips and under their chin it was as if some disease had taken hold and in the privacy of their bedroom they plucked and tortured away the evidence of their gender. They’d begun to practice in their room, taking their mother’s make up. Goth was an easy 1st step. The parents didn’t like it, but they didn’t worry, it was a NORMAL rebellion. They didn't like their changing their name to M either. That was harder to take, but again, they figured they would realize their mistake once they had to find a job in the "REAL WORLD." They'd watched old movies: Lana Turner, Lauren Bacall, Olivia de Havilland were their heroes, but Jane Wyman was their model. They wanted to be Jane, beautiful, strong, confident, everything they weren't. They taught themselves to emulate her: hair, makeup, looks and mannerisms.
They kept their secret for a long time, but the mannerisms they emulated became second nature. They started to slip up. The doctor visits started, first the GP, then the clinical psychologist, special summer camps with themes designed to make a MAN out of them: hiking, shooting, survival skills. Then there were the drugs: testosterone, lithium, Ritalin - anything the doctors and parents could think of.
One day it slipped, they caught their parents talking when they thought they were out.
“I don’t blame you, not totally, some of it must come from his DNA”
“what do you mean?”
“you remember what Sister Agathe said, twins should really be together, he had a sister. I read a paper on twins, it’s not like regular siblings, they’re connected in a way we can’t imagine, even if you raise them apart, they’re still, sort of, the same.”
“I thought that was just identical twins?”
“we don’t know, maybe they were?”
“no way, boy and girl, it’s not possible”
“I looked that up too, its really rare, but it’s possible. something with the chromosomes after the egg splits”
“you think we should have taken them both” “no, no, we did the right thing, it would just have been twice the trouble, beside, she’s probably dead. She was so sickly. At least Myron never knew her, never had to loose her.”
“well it’s too late now, it doesn’t matter anymore, we have enough to worry about”
“enough, yes, enough”
“a cup of tea?”
“yes, before he gets home, we need to calm down, Myron shouldn’t see us like this.”
“You mean M, he wants us to call him M. now, remember.
"Not even his name is good enough for him any more.”
He never asked them about it. He loved his mother, she'd always stood up for him. Even his dad, they really tried to help him. They just didn't get him. Things made sense now, sort of, it was a relief. Of course they didn't understand him. They weren't his real parents. Memories started coming back, dreams first, then flashes during the day. The other “I” in his life, his inseparable other, he felt the hole on the other side of his heart, touching his flat chest and missing, as always what he was sure should be there, that softness, that other. His twin. And now he knew, he should have been a girl, like her.
They got smart, learned to pretend. They just needed to wait till they could get away from their parents, get a job, their own place. Their first university art class was a revelation. The weirder the better - in the midst of manic depressives, ego-maniacs, rebels, and just plain free thinkers - they were home. Not particularly ambitious, they fell easily into the role of assistant, a technical wiz. Their years with electric trains and model making, learning make-up, hair and costume, it was all paying off. Artists had great ideas, but it was rare they actually had the skills to pull them off. They added photography and computer graphics to their list of skills and pretty soon they had all the work they could handle, their own apartment, and a list of clients they could pick-and-choose from. Still, they weren’t exactly happy. Then along came Jane and everything got better, clearer, cleaner. At first, it had been great. They'd loved working for Jane. When Jane offered them a full time position, working and living at the studio in Val-David, they were ecstatic.
The train came to a screeching halt. It was a short taxi ride to the TGR, the Transgender Resource Center in Hong Kong—a short taxi ride, but a long journey. Long before California, M had confessed their desire for gender reassignment to Dick. He was so sympathetic, so encouraging: he'd helped them realize how positive it would be to have gender confirming surgery rather than continue a life lived in confusion, their own and others. Jane was so busy and seemed further and further away, but Dick really understood them, really appreciated them, who they were, their art, their work. Jane didn't know how lucky she was to have Dick. Dick helped them get ready for medical management and psychiatric assessment, coordinating with WPATH (they liked to think of it as the WarPath) to get their paperwork together, covering for them with Jane when they needed to make an appointment or had to pick up medication for hormone therapy.
M hadn't been comfortable with the Human Sexuality Unit at the Montréal General. The name alone was so generic and insensitive. After California, Dick pointed out that in Hong Kong, M would be in the perfec place take up where Jane had left off, to complete her plan for "Jane in China." He'd paid for everything. M had no idea where all that money came from. Didn't want to know, really. He'd filled in paperwork, found the right doctors, he'd even taken M shopping for a whole new wardrobe. M loved the fact that their transition period would take place among people who didn't know them. When they returned to Canada, they would be someone new. There would be no connection between M and the new Jane. Gripping a bulky folder with all the documentation they needed, including their new name, Miss Jane Peacock, they walked with a new found assurance, high heels clicking a happy beat on the pavement.
A crow perched just above the door, peering down with knowing eyes. They stumbled. How could they have forgotten, it must have been the flight, the fatigue, Jane, what had they done, how COULD they have. No no, it was an accident, Dick SAID it was an accident. They pushed the darkness down and took another determined step forward. After everything they'd been through, they deserved to be happy! They'd make it right. They'd become Jane, finish what Jane had begun. They just knew that's what Jane would have wanted. And they could make Dick happy too. They felt a flush of longing. He'd been so great. So supportive, they'd never known a feeling like that before. They knew it must be love, Dick must love them so much, to wait for them. For just a moment they closed their eyes, seeing Dick, standing in the garden like a great brown bear, a broad smile on hi face, his arms spread wide in welcome. A cloud passed over, the daydream darkened and M, reopening their eyes, stepped across the threshold into a new existence.