Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
October 10, 1998
"Unfortunately," Eve said quietly to the group in Hawthorne, "Mom was right. Tom is, well, very inflexible and sure of his opinions, which may have something to do with why heís still a truck driver. He and my folks still get along all right, but he and I have not spoken to each other in nine years, by his choice. He still refuses to believe the truth of the facts before him. Believe me, you folks are taking the revelation about me very well, and I appreciate that. Many people, like my brother, donít care to try and understand. They have preconceived notions, unwarranted beliefs, or outright prejudices that can make things difficult, or potentially even dangerous, which is why I am usually reluctant to reveal a core fact of my life. I am usually very careful who I reveal that fact to, and do so rarely." She shook her head. "I guess I threw caution to the winds tonight."
"Sometimes you have to," John said quietly. Heíd mostly been sitting back, listening to the stories without saying much.
"Yes, sometimes," Eve nodded. "And sometimes it works out." She let out a sigh. "Itís getting late, and thereís still an important part of the story to go. I can sum it up quickly, but I think the whole story is more interesting than that, if you people would like to sit and listen to me."
"I wouldnít necessarily want to speak for anyone else," Scott said. "But this has been fascinating. Iím willing to sit and listen as long as youíre willing to talk. I never would have comprehended a lot of this until you told us what you have so far tonight. Eve, Iím going to be honest and say that I had a totally different perception of transsexuals before tonight. I mean, I thought of it as something really sick, or weird, or gay, or something. Iíve learned that itís nothing like that at all."
"Thatís not always the case," Eve said. "There are those who have motivations that are exactly what you said. Again, in my work, I see some of those types of cases. But there are genuine cases of gender dysphoria out there, such as I was, and I quite literally believe the course I took saved my life." She let out another sigh. "Does anyone object to the long version? Iíll try to make it go a little quickly, and skip over some of the detail."
"Go for it, as far as Iím concerned," Emily said. "Iím like Scott, Iím fascinated; I never dreamed it was really like this."
"Anybody else? No? Well, all right. If we can get a waitress in here and refresh anyone whose drink is getting low, Iíll press on. I think we were discussing our sophomore year at Ball State when we got involved in those digressions. As I indicated, with the exception of our little sexual and exhibitionistic adventures that year, it was otherwise placid. Oh, we had this and that adventure, but nothing really remarkable, at least as it pertains to tonight. Our junior and senior years were equally placid; we had our little temporary romances and our fun with dates and other recreations, but nothing worth mentioning. Shae and I both studied hard, and since I was taking what I think we both feel was a harder course of study, I studied very hard, and with some success, to the point where I eventually graduated Magna Cum Laude. I think thatís doing pretty well for someone who was in the lower half of the class at Bradford. I believe I mentioned that Shae and I had several classes together in our freshman year, but after that our tracks diverged, and as I recall we only had one other class together all the rest of our undergraduate career.
"Our taking different tracks was not entirely unplanned," she continued. "By the time we had finished our sophomore years and I considered my transition pretty well complete, Shae and I had been the closest of friends for over three years, some of that time literally inseparable. Yet we knew that our lives were going to take us in different directions. Toward the end of our sophomore year we had a serious discussion on when we were going to have to try to pull apart and be a little more independent of each other, because the end was clearly in sight, and we would have to go our separate ways. That was not easy, and in fact, we had to work as hard at it as we did anything else. Please understand, we are still the closest of friends, but we knew we were eventually going to have to be friends at a distance, so we worked to prepare ourselves for that day, which was sure to arrive.
"In the spring of 1992, that day arrived, when we graduated. That was an interesting weekend all by itself. If you will recall, we had decided long ago that after Shaeís parents left Bradford, there was no reason not to tell them about me, but considering their friendship with my parents, we thought that my parents should be present when it was done. As it turned out, her parents sometimes must have thought that Shae had a phantom roommate, because we never met during that four-year period. It involved some dancing around in our freshman year, but after that, with them in Adairsville, it was much simplified. However, for one reason and another we could not get the six of us together at the same time until graduation. Iím afraid we got a little cute, and Shaeís parents didnít know of my parentís presence until they walked into the dorm room and found them sitting there with us as we carried out our final packing."
"I donít think it was anywhere near as bad as it must have been when Arlene and Eve dropped the bomb on Susie," Shae grinned. "Back in high school, Mom and Dad suspected that something was going on beyond what met the eye, but they also knew that Bill and Arlene were involved, whatever it was. And, of course, they remembered the troubles that Denis had in school much better than Susie would have. But no, theyíd never dreamed what was going on, either. What they were mostly surprised about was to find out who my roommate had been all that time they thought that Denis was in school at UNC in Colorado. Mom said once, ĎBut you could have told me!í and I told her it wasnít my secret to tell. I think she understood. At any rate, sheíd been gone from Bradford long enough by then that I donít think she was gossiping regularly with anyone up here. Since none of you had heard anything about this before tonight, I guess she must have kept her mouth shut. Iím surprised. If Iíd known that was going to happen, well, I think we could have been more open with her. But, thatís all in the past, now."
"It would have added to the risk," Eve stated flatly. "And it was high enough as it was. The fewer people who know a secret, the fewer chances there are for leaks. All of us had a pretty good motivation to keep quiet, so the secret held as long as it needed to. But, graduation from Ball State was one of the saddest days of my life, since I knew that Shae and I would have to part, and I wouldnít be seeing my parents very much over the summer, either. I did not; I took a summer seminar at the University of Pittsburgh that ate up most of the summer. For years, I had gotten along for transportation by riding in Shaeís old Monza, but in the summer before my senior year I bought a Mustang in Colorado and drove it all that winter, so we didnít even have that connection. Late that summer, I loaded up the Mustang, parked it at the Pittsburgh airport and flew to Denver for a few days with my parents, then flew back and drove to Syracuse University, where Iíd arranged to take my masterís degree. There really isnít much to be said about my first year there. I had a roommate by the name of Sarah Bingham, who did not know about my transgendering. She asked once about my not having periods, and I used the uterine cancer story Iíd told Jack and others. She said she thought I was rather lucky under the circumstances to not have to deal with them, and that was the end of that."
"You are lucky," Vicky snorted. "Believe me, youíre not missing a thing."
"The truth of the matter is," Eve said, "Given a choice, I would share it with you gladly. You will remember Barb telling me that there will always be an uncrossable gap between me and a genetic woman. Thatís part of it. I know this sounds strange, but I would really rather be in your shoes and be uncomfortable with it."
"Donít be," Emily grinned. "Believe me, donít be."
"Itís nice of you to say that," Eve smiled. "But itís a lack that I shall always feel. But, I digress. As I said, my first year among the Orangemen of Syracuse was largely unremarkable other than that I studied hard. I spent the following summer at Brown University, which ultimately resulted in my doing my doctoral work there. During a break, I flew to Greenville, South Carolina, where Shae was working at a TV station, so I could spend a few days with her. I had not seen her in more than a year and had frequently missed her. We spent some refreshing time with her parents, as well. The summer otherwise was unremarkable. But, when I came back to Syracuse in the fall, an unbelievable thing happened."
August 28, 1993
"Liz," Eve said with a sigh, "This isnít going to work and we both know it."
"Iím not real thrilled about it myself," the big, heavy-set woman said in a loud voice. Eve knew the woman from the year before Ė she was a lesbian of the overbearing bull-dyke persuasion, and didnít care much who knew it, man or woman. She also had one of the loudest speaking voices Eve had ever heard. When she was being gentle Ė which she was now Ė it was roughly on the order of a teenager playing a car stereo with big bass speakers. She was louder most of the time. They had taken an instant animal dislike to each other the year before, but fortunately they werenít in the same program, just the same dorm, and hadnít had to cross tracks much. Now, much to their mutual surprise, theyíd been assigned as roommates.
"I thought I was going to have Sarah for a roommate again."
"Guess not," the big woman said in her foghorn voice. "If you want, you could go over to the housing office and bitch about it. Iím pretty well moved in."
"I donít want to sound personal, Liz," Eve nodded. "But I think that would be a good idea."
"I do too," Liz agreed. "See if you can come up with a better roomie for me too, would you?" she added brusquely.
Eve started for her car, thinking that it was just as well she hadnít begun to unload it yet. No, it wasnít going to work with Liz, that was a given. It wasnít the first time a student housing office had screwed up room assignments on her Ė three out of four years at Ball State Shae had originally been assigned to a jock dorm, while Eve had been assigned to a random roommate elsewhere. It had taken some serious locking of horns to get the issue settled, including threats of an off-campus apartment.
That was something to consider, although it might be tough to come up with one at this point. If it came right down to it, Eve knew she could stay in a motel for a while Ė if her dad wouldnít pick up the tab she could dip into her nearly untouched trust fund, after all. But any motel had its downsides, mostly from the fact that it would be off campus, not close, with a terrible parking situation on campus. Dorms had their downside, but were convenient, after all.
She headed out the door, where cars were parked on the grass, students unloading their belongings for the fall term. Sheíd lucked out and gotten a good parking spot, and she knew she might lose it if she took the Mustang. The housing office wasnít far away, and on thinking about it, she decided to walk. Darn it, she thought as she headed across the campus, what happened to Sarah? Sheíd been a roommate, not much more, never a friend, especially not a friend like Shae, but they were used to each other. As far as she knew, Sarah had been planning to return this fall Ė could something have happened to her?
In any case, she didnít plan to argue with the housing office about it. Either she got a different roommate or she was going to be staying at the Motel 6 tonight.
She walked into the building and started down the hall toward the student housing office. From the screaming echoing up the hall, it was clear that someone else wasnít happy about their assigned roommate. "How in hell could you incompetent bozos be so stupid enough to do something like that to me?" she heard, in a high pitch of emotion. "My God! Someone as sick as that! What kind of a pervert do you take me for, anyway?"
Eve turned into the office door, to see a tallish girl hysterically screaming at a middle-aged woman behind the counter. Two or three other people, probably also unhappy with assigned roommates were standing around, looking on at the spectacle. The woman behind the counter was trying to say something, but the upset girl was so crazed and blabbering that she couldnít get a word in edgewise. This has to be pretty bad, Eve thought as the girl continued to rant: "My God, for you people to assign me to her is the grossest, most insulting thing you could do! To have this little pervert say right up front that sheís a transsexual, she used to be a boy! My God, how could you ever manage to think Iíd be sick enough to put up with something like that? I mean, what do you think I am?"
Ohhhh, shit, Eve thought, thinking a word she normally wouldnít have used verbally. Someoneís stuck their foot in it big time, outed themselves right up front. That took . . . well, it was something she wouldnít have done. But then, she had years of practice covering it up, now, and no one had ever hinted they knew. She had slowly come to realize that no one would even suspect unless she told them right up front. Well, a gynecologist with a speculum and knowledge of the procedure would probably guess, and she still might be able to lie her way out of it, with the uterine cancer story coupled with a story about reconstructive surgery afterwards. But she didnít plan to let anyone get that good of a look unless there was real reason for them to know.
" . . . how in hell someone could be that sick . . . "
Some poor girl is in serious trouble, Eve thought. I sure wouldnít want to be in her shoes right now. On the other hand, there is sort of a sisterhood there . . . oh, what the hell, after some of the people I worked with this summer, she canít be any worse than Liz. "Excuse me," she said in a moderate tone.
She was ignored. " . . . you must think Iím some kind of flaming queer or something . . . "
"Excuse me," she said a little louder, this time.
" . . . some kind of real idiot if you think . . . "
Eve put two fingers in her mouth and let go with an ear-piercing whistle Ė it was a rarely used skill left over from Denis. That made for an instantís quiet. "Perhaps I may be able to help," she dropped into the silence.
"How could you help?" the still hysterical girl continued. "A person like that, they have to be so sick they ought to be in an institution some place. I mean, my God . . . "
Eve held up her hand again, palm out. "Please calm down," she said professionally. "I think this can be easily solved. Did I understand you correctly, that your roommate told you that sheís a transsexual?"
"Yes, that little pervert said she used to be a boy. Thatís got to be pretty goddamn perverted. I mean, they let people like that run around loose . . . "
Eve held up both hands until the girl gave her a little break. "Whatever you think of her, please give her credit for telling you up front about it, and not trying to hide it from you." Like I would have done, she thought. "Like I said, I think this can be easily solved. I came down here because I know my assigned roommate, and I know I donít like her. We ought to be able to work out a swap pretty easily."
"Youíd want to room with someone like that?" the girl said, eyes wide. "Youíre crazy!"
"Itís very likely," Eve smiled. "After all, Iím working on my masterís in psych."
"Miss," the woman behind the counter said, amazed at this turn of events. "Are you sure youíre OK with this? This is, uh, something we arenít prepared for."
"I have no problem with it," Eve told her, as the still somewhat-freaked-out girl watched slack jawed. "I have a very good friend from high school who went through the procedure. I know a good deal about it and understand it about as well as any straight person can. My friend considers herself a woman in every respect, itís just that she had to deal with an unfortunate birth defect. I donít know the woman youíre talking about, but itís likely itís much the same thing. I can tell you this: whatever her gender identity, sheís still a human being, and has feelings, too."
"My God!" the freaked-out girl said. "You are crazy! Why do they let people like that run around? I mean there ought to be some way a decent person could know these things!"
That yanked Eveís chain just a little. She turned to the girl and said in a level but hard voice, "What would you suggest? A yellow Star of David painted on the back for Jews? A pink triangle for homosexuals? Those are the signs they used in Nazi Germany. Death camps, perhaps? As I said, give the woman credit. She did tell you."
"But . . . but . . . "
"Thereís no reason to be hysterical," Eve smiled. "As I said, itís easily solved." She turned to the woman behind the counter, "Maíam, Iím Eve Riley, Iím in Powers 213. Can you make the arrangements?"
"Is that all right with you?" the woman asked the girl, who was looking on sullenly.
"Yes, yes," she panted, realizing that the specter of . . . death, disgrace, something . . . had been lifted from her shoulders. "Anyone would be better."
"All right, weíll work it out," the woman said, grateful that what could have been a serious problem had been lifted from her shoulders so easily. "Eve, why donít you go have a talk with this woman, just to be sure? If youíre not comfortable with it, we can work something out."
"I doubt there will be," Eve nodded, wondering how bad the girl was going to freak out about Liz, but glad to have that problem off her shoulders as well.
* * *
The door to the dorm room stood halfway open, and Eve could hear serious crying coming from inside. She knocked on it out of courtesy, anyway, wondering if sheíd be heard. After a few seconds, she decided she wouldnít be and walked in, to find a brunette girl curled up on one of the beds almost fetally, crying her eyes out. "Cheryl?" she said gently, using the name sheíd gotten from the housing office.
"Are you from the university?" the girl asked through her sobs. "Did you come to throw me off campus?"
"No, nothing like that," Eve said, trying to calm the girl.
"Donít you hate me, too?" she replied, face still buried in her arms.
"Why should I hate you?" Eve asked quietly, coming over to sit on the bed next to her.
"Because Iím transsexual," she said, getting it out. "I thought . . . she was going to kill me when I told her."
"Cheryl, please, itís over with now," Eve said gently, putting a hand on the distraught girlís shoulder. "Please, listen to me; Iím on your side."
"How could you be?" she asked. "My God, everyone hates me."
"I donít hate you, Cheryl," Eve said gently. "Listen, Cheryl, I knew you were transsexual when I offered to come here."
"Why would you do something like that?" she said, looking up for the first time, almost amazed to hear the words.
"Because, Cheryl, I have a very, very close friend whoís transsexual. I know a great deal about the whole thing, and Iím comfortable with it. I also know that most people donít understand transsexuals, so they hate or fear them. I have no reason to, since I know better."
"You know about trans people?" she replied, looking up curiously.
"Probably more than most straight women should legally know," Eve smiled, seeing that she was getting through to her, but gently reinforcing the message would be important to settling her down. "Come on, pull yourself together. I donít bite, and I wonít freak out on you. Like I said, I know what itís all about; Iím on your side."
"I . . . I donít believe it!" She rolled to sit up on the bed. "I could see things just going to hell, getting thrown out."
"Torches and pitchforks, like the villagers in the old horror movies, my friend used to say."
"Well, yeah," Cheryl said, just the hint of a smile on her face.
"If itís any consolation, I got away with calling your former roommate a Nazi," Eve laughed, hoping the little joke would lighten the atmosphere. "So, tell me. How long are you post-op?"
Whatever progress sheíd made seemed to collapse. The girl buried her head in her hands, crying again. "Thatís the problem," she whispered. "Itís not till December."
Ohhhh yes, that could be a real problem, Eve thought, the situation taking on a little different cast. But still, it wasnít an unsolvable one. "Where at?" she asked conversationally, like the announcement sheíd just heard was no big deal.
"St. Priscillasville," Cheryl cried softly. "If I make it that far."
"St. Priscillasville?" Eve smiled. "They do good work! You should be very satisfied. Have you finished your RLT?"
"Not for another couple months," Cheryl said quietly, beginning to realize that Eve wasnít going to freak out on her. "I . . . I had a job that was just too good to give up until it ran out."
"Have you been certified?" Eve asked, knowing the answer already Ė she knew St. Priscillasville wouldnít schedule the surgery without the professional approval, not necessarily after the RLT but late in it.
"Just last week," Cheryl replied. "Dr. Ramsdell said I had an excellent evaluation."
"Dr. Ramsdell?" Eve asked, a little surprised to hear a name out of the past. "In Chicago?"
"Yes, Chicago. Do you know him?"
"My friend knew him," Eve smiled. "I take it youíre on a pretty good dose of Premarin?"
"A year and a half, and I was on blockers before that." Cheryl stopped, and looked very strangely at Eve. "You sure seem to know a lot about this. Just how close a friend of yours is this girl, anyway?"
"Very close," Eve sighed, realizing that she had little choice. And Cheryl had been honest with her. "Cheryl," she continued softly. "Sheís the girl I see every time I look in the mirror."
"You!" Cheryl gasped. "Youíre . . . "
" . . . over four years post-op," Eve finished for her. "And when I say they do good work at St. Priscillasville, I mean it."
"Oh, my Godddddd!" Cheryl said, eyes wide. "No wonder you know so much about it."
"Cheryl, please listen to me," Eve said intently. "I admire you for being honest with the girl who was in here. Iím not very open about it. Youíre the first person Iíve told about it in over a year, and those people were the parents of a very close friend, a real one this time, who helped me through the process for years. Iíve told you the truth, but I ask that you keep it between you and me."
"I will," she nodded. "I wonít tell. I wish I hadnít told whatís her name, but I figured because I wasnít yet post-op, Iíd better be up front about it rather than have her find out accidentally."
"Iím not so sure that wasnít the wise choice," Eve smiled. "Fortunately, I didnít have that issue. My friend I just told you about was my undergraduate roommate, and she knew about it long before we went to college."
"Oh, God, you were lucky to have a friend like that," Cheryl sighed. "I donít have anyone. God, everybody I knew who I told just absolutely flipped out completely. My folks threw me out on my ass. I mean, physically, and my dad beat me up first. Iíd hoped my brother would understand, at least a little; we went through hell together all through school, but no. Heíd still talk to me, but all he would do is try to talk me out of it, not try to listen to me, so when I started my RLT, I moved and didnít let him know where I was. Other than my counselors and doctors, youíre the first person who hasnít flipped out when they hear about it."
"Until just now, only seven other people knew about me," Eve told her. "And my brother flipped out so bad he wonít talk to me."
"I really wish at least my brother had tried to listen," Cheryl said, nearing the verge of tears again. "I thought we could talk about anything and he would listen! God, we went through so much together! I mean, I was always put down at school, kicked around, beat up on, like that. He tried to protect me; heís not big and strong or anything, and he got beat up for me a lot, too. My God, my brother, my only friend, and he turned on me."
"Donít you think maybe he was still trying to protect you?" Eve suggested. "Cheryl, Iím going to be honest. The first words of the very first person I talked to about transgendering who knew anything about the process were: ĎDonít do it! Donít do it unless there just absolutely isnít any other way. Youíre going to go through a lot of pain and difficulties.í Now, Iíll admit I didnít listen to her, and itís worked out for me so far, but Iíll tell you right now, if weíre going to be friends I will be questioning you about it too, right up until they roll you into the operating room if need be. Would you like to guess what my friendís last words to me were before they rolled me in?"
"Donít do it?" Cheryl smiled.
"You guessed," Eve told her with a grin. "Right up to the last minute, she was trying to protect me from myself, from making a bad decision." She let out a sigh. "She protected me a lot for a long time; I imagine much like your brother. Like you, I was beaten up, called gay, stuffed into lockers, put down in probably every way you were. Then my friend took me under her great big, strong wing like your brother did, and things were different afterwards, God bless her." She gave another grin at the memory of those days Ė my God, how things had changed! "Of course, it was just a little different than it must have been for you. My friend, her name is Shae, sheís a long haired blonde like me, but sheís six feet eight inches tall, very strong. She . . . "
"Oh my God!" Cheryl gasped, absolutely dumbstruck. "It canít be! Oh, my God! Oh, my Goddddddd!!!"
"You . . . you . . . oh, my God . . . it has to be . . . you had the most gorgeous red prom dress! It was the prettiest thing I ever saw . . . you were so beautiful! I envied you so much because you could wear something like that, and I could only dream of being able to wear anything feminine at all, when I danced with you!"
It was Eveís turn to gasp. She struggled with the word for a second, then finally managed in a small voice, "Paul?"
Cheryl just sat there in open amazement, and could only nod her head a little in acknowledgement.
"Oh, my God!"