“Are you sure you want to do this, Allie?” Coach Davis said. “You don’t have to, you know. And I can’t put you on the roster in any case, even if you’re the fastest out there today. Rules are rules.”
“Yes, Coach,” I reassured him. “I know I won’t be eligible until early May. But this is just a training race, after all; and me being out there will probably spur the other girls on the team to go faster.”
“Alright,” he shrugged. “If you’re okay with it, that’s enough in my book. Go on now.”
I nodded, and walked towards the changing rooms.
It was the second Monday of October, and for the first time ever, I was about to take part in the try-outs for the triathlon team as a girl.
With the support of my closest friends and the coach, I’d come out to the team at the end-of-year party, like – I later learned – Lexi had done a year earlier; and like the year before, everyone was accepting. Or, if they weren’t, at least they kept it to themselves.
Ever since I’d come back to school in September, I’d started using the women’s facilities; luckily, like the men’s, they had single-occupancy stalls – I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, after all; even though my friends and teammates had repeatedly told me that that was where I belonged, my brain unfortunately didn’t work that way. Maybe later on, when the hormones would have had more time to have an effect on my body: after six months, the changes I’d noticed were that my features and skin had softened a lot, and I had the beginning of a pair of breasts growing on my chest; nothing much, but enough to make me excited for what else was to come.
And, of course, my athletic ability had decreased quite a bit. I was still above the girls’ level, but I most certainly wouldn’t have made the cut if I’d tried out for the boys’ team. My days of competing as a man were over, the national championship – in which Bradford McKinley came in fifth overall, and I personally was in sixteenth place – had been my last race as a boy. As for racing as a girl… We would have to see. But I didn’t mind: I was happy being a girl, and if that meant I would no longer be able to compete at a high level, that was a trade-off I was more than willing to make.
Though it did cost me my scholarship, as I’d feared; despite all his attempts, Coach Davis couldn’t prevent it. Luckily, the money I got from my mother, from taking out a small loan – advised by Roger and Nathaniel’s father – and from starting a part-time job at CoffeePB would allow me to cover tuition costs without going too deeply into debt. I was grateful for that, not many people get that chance.
I carefully pulled on my swimsuit and admired myself in the mirror. I really liked what I saw: my build was still stocky, and would probably always be, but the cloth was tenting out a bit in my chest area, and nothing showed down below. The suit had been a present from Lexi, who’d introduced me to ‘gaffs,’ special underwear designed to hide… Stuff, and which could also be sewn into apparently normal clothing, such as swimsuits: I was wearing one at the moment, and it was having its intended effect.
I walked out of the stall, through the changing room, and, along with the other girls, made my way to the pool.
The other girls. That thought still gave me the chills, a happy, giddy feeling, deep in my belly.
Ahead of me, I saw my teammates pause as they walked through the door; then they started chuckling.
“What’s up?” I asked, walking up to them.
One of them, still giggling, said, “Looks like you have some fans,” and pointed to the bleachers.
Patrick and Lena were standing on the top tier, holding a large banner with “GO ALLIE!!!” written on it; they shouted and cheered when they spotted me. I blushed, and wondered how they’d managed to hide the banner from me until it was time: after all, we were living together.
College by-laws prohibited boys and girls from rooming together in the school’s dormitories; Darrell, our RA, was really apologetic about it, and managed to bend the rules for the few weeks between my coming out and the start of summer break, but it meant that I could not share a dorm room with Patrick from our second year onwards. So we’d pooled our money together, and rented out a room in a house just off campus, along with a few other students; technically it was a double room, with two separate beds, but the first thing we’d done was push them together. Lena joined us almost every night – her mother had joked that she might as well move in with us officially at that point – and the two of them really enjoyed taking full advantage of my softening skin, and exploring every other change they could notice.
Our families, all three of them, knew about our relationship. My mother and siblings were the first one to learn of it, since they were visiting when we got together: I decided to strike while the iron was hot, and came out to them, the second time I did so in as many days. Mom was quite a bit startled, but in the end she took it in stride – her words were, “I can tell you all love each other, and as long as you’re happy, that’s enough for me.”
Lena’s family didn’t have any problem with it, as did Patrick’s: his relatives, according to him, had always been remarkably liberal, and his parents and sisters already knew he was bisexual, so him being in a polyamorous relationship made a few eyebrows rise, but nothing beyond that.
My only regret was that my family back home, beyond my mother and siblings, didn’t take my transition and coming out well; my grandparents – Mother’s parents – refused to use my real name, or gender me correctly, the few times we’d met. So I cut off contact with them: it hurt, quite a bit, but it was the right thing for me – I needed to think about myself, and to surround myself with accepting people. Mother says she’s working on them, talking to them almost every day, in an effort to make them come around. It will probably take a while. Maybe they never will. You win some, and you lose some.
Uncle Adam had been absolutely furious about Mother selling the family home. He’d started calling her every day, at all hours of the day and the night, so my mother blocked his number. Next, he’d started going over to her house every time he had a spare moment, ringing the doorbell endlessly, in an effort to convince her not to sell; he only desisted when Mother said she would take out a restraining order on him if he kept it up. In the end, the house was sold, and my mother cut off all contact with him.
As I climbed up on the starting block, I looked over at Pat and Lena, and waved at them with a smile. In response, they started cheering once again; everyone was looking at them, and they got a few annoyed stares because of the ruckus they were making, but they didn’t seem to mind.
As I took my position, I thought back to all that had happened over the past year. It had been a mix of good and bad things; mostly good, though.
I didn’t know what the future would bring, but I was sure that, with Pat and Lena – my best friends, my partners – by my side, I could face it without worry. They would always be there for me, as I would always be there for them.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Coach Davis raise the gun; I adjusted my position on the starting block one last time.
My muscles tightened.
And I was off.
Thank you for reading, folks! I really enjoyed writing this story and sharing it with you, and I hope you enjoyed it, too. Of course, this isn't the end: I'm still writing stuff, so I hope I'll see you when I start my next tale.