A few weeks after I returned home from London my health improved and I started healing, mentally and physically. My mother knew that my stay in London had been traumatic, she had seen how gaunt I looked on the television programmes I had been on. I was only seven stone and I looked gangly. My breasts had started to grow after the operation, which my doctor said was impossible. So with fillets stuffed in my brassiere I had the makings of a pair of breasts. Netherless I yearned for the breast implants that dad had promised to pay for; “When the money comes in”, that was dad’s mantra.
It was mum’s habit to visit the Llanishen Leisure centre each week, she loved to swim as did I and the pool had a water slide and a wave machine. I always loved going with mum before my operation when I was a kid, a skinny boy. On one occasion the wave machine had taken me over because I was so light and I nearly drowned. I was rescued by the female lifeguard who happened to be pregnant. I gave her a piece of my collection of jumble sale jewellery to thank her.
It was nice when mum suggested I join her at the leisure centre one morning in late April, I was beginning to feeling housebound. I applied some waterproof mascara and lipstick and as It was a dark rainy day I dressed in my long grey Kate Moss Woolen dress under my long black velvet coat. To keep the line I wore long black leather boots. My hair was still an unruly mass of blonde curls which I hoped wouldn’t get too wet. Mum and I were happy bunnies as we approached the leisure centre, it was like old times.
Unlike me mum was dressed casually in a pair of black leather trousers and a white angora short sleeved sweater. She topped this with a black Ralph Lauren blazer. Her only jewellery was her gold wedding ring. I had gone completely overboard as usual, rings on four fingers, a large amethyst pendant around my neck and a bracelet on each wrist. It had taken a long time for me to be allowed to dress as a woman and I was getting a bit carried away.
As we checked in, the receptionists stared at us, but we were used to this and took no notice. It was nice that I could go to the ladies changing room with mum. In the past I had used the men’s room and had always felt very uncomfortable seeing naked male bodies. I was still shy at showing my new body so I went into the disabled private cubicle to change. I removed my clothes and donned my pink one piece swimming costume with a nice padded brassiere top.I kept my jewellery on. I felt a bit embarrassed leaving the cubicle to mix with the other ladies and to find a locker but mum came up to me right away. “You look nice” she said, “ My lockers by here why don’t you use the one next door”?
We both showered before entering the swimming pool area. I cautiously entered the water, I didn’t want to get my hair wet but when the wave machine started I couldn’t resist swimming into it. I loved the excitement. Then I went down the water shoot that landed me at the bottom of the pool. I was exhilarated, exercise always had that effect on me.
Mum was swimming her usual fifty lengths in the pool and paid little attention to me.
I was swimming in the middle of the pool on my back looking up at the ceiling when I heard a male voice shout “Heh you, come here” I looked around to see who he was referring to and was surprised when I realised it was me. He did a kind of charade to indicate he wanted me to get out of the pool to come to get out of the pool. Puzzled I swam over to him and climbed out; there was no sign of mum. The man was dressed in a red tee-shirt and white trousers and had muscles coming out of his eyeballs.I felt vulnerable and freezing cold as I stood at the side of the pool with dripping wet hair and dressed only in a bathing suit. I prayed the floor to open and swallow me as he said ”I need you to move your clothes from the ladies room to the men’s changing room, you shouldn’t be in the ladies” . In shock I went to the ladies, I had to get out of here. A female in a grey official looking suit approached us, she wearing a nametag that said ‘assistant manageress’. “Would you come with me love?, I’ll stay with you while you change locker rooms”.
I was speechless, all the bullying, verbal and mental abuse I had experienced over the years came flooding over me as I timidly followed the woman. As we reached the ladies locker room, I went to enter but the lady blocked my way. “Give me your locker key love” she said and I’ll get your things” Something took me over and I forced my way past the woman. I could see a crowd of women and children as I entered the locker room, I couldn’t look at them. The women was still at my side “Leave now please?, don’t make the matter worse” she said. I ignored her as I unpinned my key from my suit and searched for my locker, I always forgot things like locker numbers and it didn’t occur to me to look at the key.
In a fog I heard the manageress say “does anyone mind if this person dresses in here”? Nobody said a word they just stared at me distastefully, one began to cover her children with towels so I couldn’t look at them.
The lady asked me what my number was but I was so confused and upset I had to show her the key, but I held tightly on to it so she couldn’t take it. She escorted me to my locker and I opened it. My badly packed clothes came tumbling out, could see bra, knickers, everything that was private to me in she went into the disabled cubicle and locked myself in, I was trembling, I put my underwear in my gym bag and donned my dress without drying myself, I didn’t want to stay to dry myself, I had to get out of here. The manageress was waiting outside the cubicle as I pushed open the squeaky door. The women were still looking at me with hostility and the poor children were confused. I gripped my velvet coat and my gym bag to my breast tightly and walked quickly, blindly past reception and into the car park. The manageress tried to keep up with me as if it were her job to evict me from the premises. I reached the car park and leaned on a wall, I was still shaking both with cold and shock. I found mum’s car but it was locked so I leant on it, hoping no-one would see me.
I was afraid to go back in the gym, I had no phone with me, I didn’t know what to do.
It seemed a lifetime until my mum appeared in the car park, she was still in her bathing costume with a towel around her. “Lauren what’s wrong, they told me you had left, are you alright”? “Can we go mum, I have to go”. “But what is wrong” mum said. “Just get your car keys mum, I want to wait in the car” Mum had begun to shiver, “I’ll get the car keys sweetheart, then I will get dressed. Mum re-entered the gym and came back minutes later with the keys of her car. “Get in the car and I will go back in and get dressed” she said. She put her arms around me, “Whatever’s happened, we will sort it out.
I shrunk into the passenger seat of the car sobbing quietly, desperately, what was the point I thought, what was the point?
Mum was back in ten minutes, “What happened”? she asked. I explained to mum trying not to cry, I didn’t like mum seeing me cry. Mum was shaking with fury, she said “just wait here sweetheart, I’m going to see the manager, I will leave the car heater on for you”.
My mother re-entered the gym and walked through to the office at the rear of reception, ignoring the receptionists except to say, Is the manager in? One of the two men in the office stood up as mum entered and asked her what she wanted. “Unless you are the manager”, she said” I wont waste my breath, where is the manager”? The man who had remained sitting down said he was the manager and gym users weren’t allowed into his office, accept by appointment” You had better get used to it” mum said, “Until I know who is responsible for abusing my daughter, I won’t leave.” Mum was in the toilet when the incident had happened and she was blaming herself for abandoning me,
The manager said, “One of our lifeguards noticed that your erm companion was in the ladies changing room, now we know your companion is a male and the council do not consider it appropriate that a male should be using the ladies facilities, especially as there are young children in there” “You stupid stupid man” mum said, you stupid stupid man, how dare you, how dare you” “Do you realise what my child has been through physically and legally to become a woman”? “Yes you idiot my daughter a WOMAN, legally and you have broken the law, you are guilty of sexual discrimination in a big way lad, you are finished as a manager of this place,I will see to it”. I want the names of everyone involved and I will sue this place for sexual discrimination, your staff are spiteful unaware fools and I am going to make them suffer for it”. Mum read the managers name tag was Steve Jones and she asked for a pen and paper. “So you Steve agree with what your staff have done, do you? mum asked. “Well yes I do, this is council procedure” “Council procedure my arse, mum replied, “have you no idea what a mistake you have made”? “If you continue to be confrontational, I shall have to ask you to leave the office” Steve said.
“I’ll leave when I’m ready” mum said but I need the name of the guard and the female who humiliated my daughter before I leave. Thinking anything to get rid of mum Steve wrote down the name of the people concerned and mum said “I will leave now Steve, my daughter needs me, but be aware that I am going to sue the council and you for sexual discrimination, look it up Steve, you might need to start preparing your defense”
I was glad to see mum approach the car, I was shaking with shock and cold, My woolen dress had soaked up the water from my body and was now damp.
Mum’s face was white when she entered the car. “How are you sweetheart”? “Just cold mum” I said, can’t wait for the car heating to be on.
Our journey back home was quiet, I was laying in the back with my eyes clothes, I was not ready to talk and mum knew it.
When we returned home dad and the boys were still at our office in town. Mum made us a pot of tea as I changed into a warm fleecy cotton dressing gown and slippers. The tea warmed me and I was slowly coming round. I was so glad to be out of that place, I was trying hard to remember the way I felt as the lifeguard spoke to me on the edge of the pool with the bored swimmers watching the show. Then the ladies in the dressing room, how could they?, why didn’t just one of them say something to help me? Why did they just to have stare at me as if I had just drowned a basket of kittens. Why was there so much animosity in people?.
Then the inevitable came from mum, “we will sue them Lauren, and we will win, no-one can treat a transgender like you have been treated today, I am so sorry sweetheart” mum said for the tenth time, I know you are not ready to talk about it. No I didn’t want to talk about it, I was still in shock, Although I had been insulted about my sexuality many times it was taking me a long time to get over this incident.
Mum went upstairs and I heard her talking on the telephone, mum like me was in shock and she needed to tell the story to some-one. She was speaking to my cousin Caroline, she had tried ringing dad but he was with clients and she didn’t want to tell the boys yet. Mum didn’t have friends and Caroline was one of the two people mum spoke to in her large family. I knew Caroline wouldn’t care less, I knew that Caroline thought I was weird too but I didn’t say anything to mum. Mum had learn’t what shites the rest of her family were and she was yet to find out about Caroline’s falseness, family love is blind...