For what felt like the hundredth time, I looked in the mirror and checked my hair, clothes, and make-up. It was the day of my appointment at the Planned Parenthood clinic, where I would (hopefully) get prescribed hormones, so I wanted to look my best: I was wearing a blue one-piece dress I’d borrowed from Lena – the same one I’d been wearing when I first realised my true name, in fact – and the make-up was a bit unsure, but hopefully no one would notice. Thanks to Molly’s instruction I was able to do a basic look, with some difficulty; I still needed lots of practice, though.
When the doorbell rang I grabbed a jacket and purse – two more things I’d borrowed from Lena – and rushed downstairs; I slipped my sneakers on (they matched my dress to give a sporty look, which was good since I hadn’t had time to go shoe shopping yet – or clothes shopping, for that matter) and opened the door.
“Hi Rog,” I said, smiling.
Roger opened his mouth as if to say something, but then stopped and looked me up and down, wide-eyed. I realised that was the first time he’d seen me in a casual outfit: the only other time he’d seen me dressed in girls’ clothes had been that evening at the restaurant, two weeks before, and I’d been wearing my uniform then.
I suddenly felt extremely self-conscious. I started fidgeting and squirming under his gaze. After a few moments I felt the need to break the ice; “How do I look?” I asked, spreading my arms and turning on the spot to let him get a good glance at my outfit.
“You look… Stunning,” he said.
I felt my ears go red; thankfully my long hair hid them, so I don’t think Roger noticed.
“Aw, you flatterer. You should save it for your girlfriend,” I teased him.
He gave me a weird look, but simply said, “Ready to go?”, and motioned to his car, which was parked in the street at the end of the driveway.
I nodded. “Let’s do this.” I stepped outside the door.
I suddenly realised one important fact: this was the very first time I would be outside a safe space (either my house or Silvia’s restaurant) while dressed in girls’ clothes.
This was a terrible idea. What if the neighbours saw me? What if they started gossiping? What if--
Roger seemed to intuit what I was thinking. “Hey,” he said, stepping closer, and putting his hand on my arm. “Don’t worry, Lexi. Even if someone sees you, they’ll probably think you’re Lena; who else could you be? Such a cute girl, coming out of the Hamiltons’ house. They’re not going to say anything weird.” He smiled. “And if they do, I’ll be sure to give them an earful.”
I smiled in gratitude. Roger always knew what to say to assuage my fears. “Okay. Let’s go then,” I said, and together we walked to the car.
The clinic was about a twenty minutes’ drive away, in the next town over, set between a hardware store and a men’s clothes shop along a minor road; we had no trouble finding it. When we got there though, we noticed there was a group of people on the other side of the road, waving signs, seemingly… Protesting?
Roger parked his car a bit further down the road, and then we walked to the entrance of the clinic; when the protesters saw us approach they started screaming and chanting. I could just barely make out what they were saying: something about the fact that I should be ashamed of myself, and that I would burn in hell?
I stood in front of the door for a couple seconds, trying to figure out what the protesters were shouting, until Roger grabbed my arm and dragged me inside.
“Don’t give them the time of day, Lexi,” he said. “Arguing with them is not worth it.”
“What were they going on about?” I asked.
Roger stared at me. “You didn’t get it? They were anti-abortion protesters. They probably thought you were a girl… A cis girl, I mean, coming to the clinic to get an abortion.”
“...Oh,” I replied, dumbly.
“Well, I can’t blame them for the mistake, though,” he continued with a smirk. “You’re so cute that sometimes I have to remind myself you’re my best friend.”
Once again, I blushed. Just slightly, this time.
I looked around; we were in a waiting room, it seems: on one side of the room a middle-aged woman was sitting behind what looked like a reception desk, typing away on a laptop, while a number of chairs, some occupied, were lined against the opposite wall. I gulped, and took a deep breath. This was it.
I approached the desk, Roger following close behind me. The receptionist looked up and smiled. “May I help you?” she asked.
Okay, Lexi. Steady voice now. “Hi, I have an appointment with doctor Wilkerson?” Well, that came out more as a question than an answer, but it was okay.
“Sure,” the woman answered. She took hold of the computer’s mouse, and clicked a few times. “Hamilton, was it?”
“That’s right,” I nodded.
“Okay, please fill this out,” she said, handing me a clipboard.
I took the clipboard and a pen I was offered, and sat down in a chair to fill out the intake form. It was surprisingly thorough: I noticed it had two separate fields for name – legal name and preferred name, and also a box in which to write my preferred pronouns. I appreciated that.
I returned the form to the woman, along with my insurance card, and she gave it a brief once-over; then she looked up at me, smiled and say, “Alright, miss Hamilton. Please have a seat, the doctor will be right with you.”
Roger and I sat down, and started chatting; we were talking only for a few minutes, though, before a door at the far end of the room opened, and another woman stepped through.
“Lexi Hamilton? Miss Lexi Hamilton?” she called out.
“Yes, I’m here,” I replied, and got up and walked to her.
“Right this way, please,” she said, motioning along a corridor that was behind the door. I was about to step through, when she continued, “Ah, I’m sorry, but your boyfriend will have to wait here. Official policy, I’m afraid.”
I turned around; Roger was standing close behind me, an indecipherable expression on his face.
“Oh!” I said. For the third time that day, I blushed. “Oh… I mean…”
“Don’t worry, Lexi, I can wait. It’s not a problem,” Roger said; he turned around and walked back to the chairs, took a seat, and waved to me. “Go on then.”
I nodded, and mouthed Thanks, then followed the woman down the corridor to another door, which had the nameplate Maddy Wilkerson, M.D. on it. She knocked, and waited for an answer.
“Come in!” came a voice from inside.
The woman opened the door. “Lexi Hamilton, doctor,” she said, and motioned for me to enter.
The room was sparsely furnished: all that was inside were a few chairs, a desk, and an exam table. Inside was a woman, about mid-fifties if I had to guess, with long blonde hair and blue eyes, dressed in a doctor’s coat.
“Thank you, Sarah,” she said. She turned to me. “Welcome, miss Hamilton; I’m doctor Maddy Wilkerson… As you might have guessed.” She smiled as I sat down in one of the chairs. “Now, what can I help you with today?”
“Well…” I replied. Okay. I’d rehearsed this a few times, so I knew what to say. Here goes. “I’m transgender. As in, I thought I was a boy until recently, but I realised I was wrong. I would like to start hormones… Estrogen, that is… To begin bringing my body more in line with my real gender.”
Doctor Wilkerson nodded. “Okay. And I’m assuming you have done all required blood work?”
I nodded in return: I’d had it done the previous week. I took a sheaf of paper from my purse, and handed it to her; she put on a pair of reading glasses, unfolded the papers, and started reading through them, nodding and mumbling occasionally.
“Alright, everything seems to be in order here,” she said. “Please sit on the exam table, we just need to do a couple quick tests.”
I complied, and she took my blood pressure, heart rate, and listened to my lungs and heart with a stethoscope.
“Good,” she said as I straightened my dress, “There are no problems I can find here either. Do you have any chronic health issues? Does anyone in your immediate family?”
“No, and no,” I replied.
“Do you smoke?”
I hesitated. “Ah… yes,” I said. When she frowned I asked, “Is that a problem?”
“You should quit,” she said. “Besides being really bad for your lungs, it increases the chance of a blood clot. Same as hormones, by the way; between the two of them your chances of getting a heart attack or stroke go way up.” She paused. “I will still write the prescription, it’s not an absolute counter-indication. Just, you know… Keep that in mind.”
“I will.” Well then, I guess I’d smoked my last cigarette the previous evening without even realising it.
“Good. Then, I think we’re done here; the front desk will have your prescription slip ready in a few minutes. You’re getting two drugs: spironolactone, the yellowish pill, which will lower your testosterone levels, and estradiol, the blue one, which is the estrogen,” doctor Wilkerson explained. “Take them as directed. I suggest you start with spiro, and watch for any ill effects, though there usually aren’t any; after a week, you can add the estradiol.” I nodded, and she continued, “If there are no unexpected issues I’ll see you in three months for a check up, and we’ll adjust the dosage as needed.”
And that was that. I thanked her, walked out of her office and back to the waiting room. Roger looked up from his phone when I entered; “How did it go?” he asked.
“Very good,” I replied, smiling. “I got the prescription.”
“That’s wonderful, Lexi!” he said, hugging me. “I’m so happy for you.”
After picking up my prescription slip – I’d already decided to have it filled at a pharmacy near my home, so the actual meds would have to wait a couple days – we walked out of the clinic, again to the screams and jeers of the protesters. But I didn’t mind them; I was on cloud nine.
“Okay,” Roger said as we got in the car. “It’s almost noon, wanna go grab a bite to eat? I’ve been in this town before, there’s a mall not far from here, we can go to the food court there.”
“Okay, let’s go,” I said, smiling.
In short order we’d parked the car again, and we were making our way through the mall, Roger guiding me while looking at his phone occasionally. “They should be around here somewhere,” he said, as we were approaching the tables set out in a wide plaza.
“What?” I asked. “Who should be here?”
Roger smirked, and kept looking around. “Oh, there they are,” he said after a few moments, pointing.
I followed that direction with my gaze: sitting at a table, looking at us, were my sister Lena, Molly, Silvia, Skylar, and Ash. They all waved and smiled as they saw us approach.
“Hi Lexi!” Molly said as we reached them. “Congrats!” She got up from her chair and hugged me.
“What’s this?” I asked when she broke the embrace, looking between all the people who were there. “Why are you all here?”
“Do not worry, this is not an intervention, Lexi,” Silvia said, with a smirk. “You can call it… An ambush.”
“That’s right,” Roger continued. “A surprise party of sorts. We all wanted to congratulate you on such a big step, so we’re buying you lunch.”
I turned to face him. “Did you plan this out?”
“Me and your sister,” he replied. “Man, it was so hard not to give it away!”
“Well you managed to surprise me alright, you doofus,” I said, smiling and punching him lightly in the shoulder. “Thank you, Rog. Thank you, everyone.”
“And,” Lena added, “Since I’m getting tired of having you borrow my clothes, we’re also taking you shopping, as a present. We have a decent budget, everyone pitched in. Mom and dad too.”
“Whoa, really?” I asked, and they all smiled and nodded. I was almost moved to tears; to think I would find this much support in such an important moment of my life.
“Well then!” said Skylar. “We have a busy afternoon ahead of us, so what do you say we get something to eat?”
After lunch we took a trip around the mall; there were several clothes stores, from cheap outlet stuff to high-end name brand shops which were way out of my league. We selected a low-to-mid range store to begin with, and went in. I stopped among the racks, marvelling at the wide selection; I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the colourful clothes that surrounded me.
My friends saw me hesitating. “What’s the matter, Lexi?” Skylar asked.
“Uh, I…” I replied. “I just… Well, I have to build an entirely new wardrobe, and I don’t know where to even begin.”
Lena and Molly looked at each other.
“Capsule wardrobe?” Molly asked.
“Capsule wardrobe,” Lena replied, nodding. Ash, Silvia, and Skylar nodded too. “Yeah, that’s a good idea,” Ash said.
As for Roger, he was as bewildered as I was. “Wait, what?” he asked. “What’s a capsule wardrobe?”
“Basically, you buy a collection of basic staple clothes in neutral colours. The kind that don’t go out of fashion,” Skylar explained. “And then use those as a base, adding other stuff on top to get the look you want.”
“I see,” I said. “Well, I trust you. Let’s go then.”
The next few hours were a whirlwind. I was dragged along with the group through several stores, and I tried on so many pieces of clothing I honestly lost count. The four ladies (and one enby) in the group taught me a great deals of things: female clothing is much more complex and involved than male clothing, and I didn’t have the privilege of absorbing knowledge through cultural osmosis as I grew up, I had to learn everything from scratch, which was bit daunting to be honest. Still, I tried to do my best to remember everything.
Roger tagged along, and surprisingly he took an active interest in the situation: many times he offered some input on what to choose, and commented on how something I was trying on fit me perfectly (or not).
When we were done I had several bags full of basic clothing, which I would then augment down the line with more stuff to find my own personal style. (Also, I could always borrow from Lena, and she from me; sharing clothes with my sister, as dumb it may sound, was one of the things I was most looking forward to.)
“Alright, I think we’re done for now,” Lena said. “Man, this is a lot of clothes.”
“Gotta start somewhere,” I said, shrugging.
“I’m going to take these out to the car,” she continued. “Roger, give me a hand here.”
“I can--” I started to say, but my sister cut me off.
“No you don’t, Lexi,” she replied, smiling. “This is your day, so relax and enjoy it. Sit down somewhere at the food court, we’ll be right back.”
“As for us,” Silvia interjected, “I am afraid it is getting late. I have to open the restaurant for tonight.”
“And we came here in her car,” Ash said, smiling, “So we have to go too, or we’ll be stranded.”
I nodded. “Okay. Then, see you next time!”
“Yes,” Silvia said. “Lexi, Molly, I will see you tomorrow at work.”
As the trio, Lena, and Roger went their own way, I found myself alone with Molly; we walked to the food court, ordered a soda, and found a table. We just sat there, without speaking; I was basking in how wonderful the day had been.
After a while I heard Molly take a deep breath, and exhale slowly. “Um, Lexi, I’d been meaning to ask…” she said, then stopped.
I raised a questioning eyebrow at her.
“Do you… Well, if you don’t mind…” she continued. “Do you want to maybe go out together one of these days?”
I took a sip of my drink, as I tried to understand what she’d meant with those words. There were a couple possibilities, but…
“As a date, I mean,” Molly clarified.
Well, only one possibility, really.
“What brought this on?” I asked, with a small smile.
“It’s just… We’ve known each other only for a few months, but the more we talk, the more we chat, the more I find myself thinking I like you,” she said. “You know. Like you.” She was wringing her hands; she was clearly very nervous.
I nodded. “Okay.” Then I sighed. “Molly, I’m sorry, but… I’m going through a lot right now. I don’t know if I’m ready for… You know, a relationship.”
Her face fell a bit, but then she looked up again at me. “As friends then? Just to try?”
I considered that. Molly was a nice girl; it probably would be fun going out with her, at the movies for example. And maybe this way I could begin being Lexi outside the house more often.
“As a group, to begin with? Would that be okay?” I asked. “We could ask Lena and Roger to come too.”
“Sure!” Molly said, perking up. It wasn’t exactly what she wanted, but I guess she didn’t want to miss the chance to be with me, even if other people were present.
“Great,” I replied. “Look, here they are,” I said, pointing towards Lena and Roger, who were approaching our table. “Let’s ask them, and see if we can find a day that’s good for everyone.”