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The Sisters of Dorley
The Sisters of Dorley
349.9k Views 3606 Favorites 39 Chapters 0 Chapters/Week 983 Readers
4.9 (202 ratings)
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Synopsis

Stefan Riley worked hard to get into the Royal College of Saint Almsworth for one reason and one reason only: to find out exactly what happened to the women who live at Dorley Hall, and to try and get it to happen to him, too.

Note: this story engages with some reasonably dark topics, including but not limited to torture, manipulation, dysphoria, nonconsensual surgery, and kidnapping. While it isn't intended to be a dark or dystopian story, the perspective characters are carrying a lot of baggage, and the exploration of the premise might be triggering for trans readers.

Additional content warnings will be posted on any chapters that seem like they need them.

Genre
Gender Bender
Tags
Appearance Changes College/University Female Protagonist Identity Crisis Kidnappings Male to Female Transgender
Table of Contents 39
Reviews 17
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    JulieYBM
    Status: 15. Simply Irresistible

    Beyond impressive. Like many a trans woman the force fem genre is one I'm quite familiar with and its tropes provide both humor and cringe. The Baby Boomer's force fem is a little less self-aware and a little less introspective, seemingly a way of lashing out in pain. The interesting part of reading force fem from a younger generation is that there's a degree of "Hey, let's do this instead!" and 'this' is certainly something The Sisters of Dorley has accomplished in spades. There's a habit among western creators of taboo art or erotica to not necessarily take their work seriously but whereas The Sisters of Dorley definitely remain self-aware the strength of the work is how author Rememberwhenyoutried combines knowledge of the genre's tropes with a desire to just tell story that speaks to trans women. Trans people do not receive good trans rep and stories from Hollywood and mainstream publishers. All trans stories are about our suffering and are made by and for cis people. The strength of a work like The Sisters of Dorley is that is doesn't much pay mind to cis people. In many ways I am not sure a cis person (or a non-Sapphic, even) could possibly understand the scenes of self-hatred or the bonds between the sisters. The women of Dorley Hall engage in scenes where their problems have nothing to do with men and rarely have anything to do with jealousy or taking one another down. In relationships between women the line between romance and platonic friendship is so incredibly thin that a scene that might appear like two friends sharing their feelings is really the yarn of their love being spun. Sapphic relationships have a unique and emotional flavor that set them a part from M/F or M/M relationships in large part because of how women are expected to and also develop towards interacting. In Hollywood, where media is made purely for men or at the very least expected to be accessible to men as if there were the standard such deep and emotional ties and honest expressions are non-existent. Rememberwhenyoutried waters the crops of the trans sapphic's soul with her knowledge of the communities she writes for and the genres she dabbles in. The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and other 'prestige TV'  tripe wishes it had the raw emotional and artistic intensity of The Sisters of Dorley

    I look forward to the forthcoming Chapter #16 and reccomond you do, too.

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    CrownOfLillies
    Status: 6. when i get a round...

    I started reading this series on Ao3, and am happy to see it's now also on Scribblehub (in some part because I can now write a review). At the time I found this, I was looking through the 'forced feminisation' tag (a 'bad' habit that may be familiar to some trans readers), and either expecting a story with not much depth, or one of the more modern (and enjoyable, to my tastes) self-discovery stories. This story is neither of those genres. The best genre description I can give is something like gender horror.

    In terms of writing style, rememberwhenyoutried does an exceptional job painting the story of a trans-girl who has managed to fumble their way into something far more sinister than they were anticipating. The characterisation is excellent, and really gives the reader a sense of each character's motivations and thoughts, and the story is well-paced, giving each character their time to reflect and respond to each event as it unfolds.

    On themes, this fiction is an exploration (and perhaps exorcism) of the latent horror behind the tropes of forced feminisation. In many other stories, little to no thought is given to just what forced feminisation means, in terms of both the moral implications and the general implausibility according to modern theories of gender. In this fiction, these themes are woven into the story, and acknowledged in-text by the characters.

    Lastly, a criticism, which is that this story needs better tagging (on both Scribblehub and Ao3). It's (at least in my opinion) a work of horror, and a sort of gender horror at that, which the readers of this stories tags (i.e. Trans people) are going to be particularly sensitive to. I started reading this not expecting a horror novel, and I only read up to chapter five on my first sitting

    Spoiler

    (before the point we find out everyone who's left is somehow miraculously fine with their gender now)

    [collapse]

    and just how horrible this situation is was on my mind for the rest of the day.

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    BadgerReads
    Status: 22.waterslide

    This story is so well written it's a blackhole. Like legit staying up for 20+ hours to binge through it all, having to take breaks because my eyes are getting blurry kind of blackhole. At the start I wasn't sure, Dorley seemed nebulously evil and destructive at first to me but as the story progressed, more light was shed and the less nebulously evil Dorley seemed, I am with some characters, kind of with Lorna and Stef's point of view of the organization. But the sisters inside of it are an amazing bunch of characters. I'd also say I wish I could give the writer a time displacement bubble so  she'd have more time to write so there'd be less wait!. Give this a read and if your dissuaded by the first chapters, it gets better as it goes on and the  characters get better and funnier!

    Update was five stars now two., for the love of all that is meaningful, can we get some levity please. I can not even complete this chapter or anymore for that matter due to how dark and depressing it is getting. Every moment of happiness is dangled in front of us and then swiftly drowned mercifully like a new born puppy. I want to love this series, I love the characters but I can not stand how dark it has gotten, it is torture, focus on one plot thread at least.

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    funnysilly
    Status: 17. Afterglow

    God, this story is so good. So good, in fact, that I'm going to need a numbered list to talk about everything I love:

    1. The writing! Not only does it flow incredibly well, but every few paragraphs, there's a line that floors me. Either because it's a joke that's remarkably well set up in the text, or because it captures trans experiences so succinctly. "Give a trans woman an inch, and they'll steal ten years from themselves" is just so good, and it's somehow one of a million great sentences. The tone is also masterfully balanced. I've been trying to write a story recently, and it's leaned towards the depressing side even though it's ostensibly a romance. Somehow, this story does the exact opposite. Despite being about kidnapping and bodily mutilation, it manages to be upbeat, funny, and heartwarming. There's a lot about the way this story is written that I'm trying to work into my own writing because it's just! Really! Good!
    2. The gender! I've seen people theorize that everyone Dorley nabbed just happened to be eggs, but I don't think this is the case. Gender is so much more fluid than we believe, and I think a surprisingly large percentage of people really wouldn't mind living as the opposite s*x if they're body matched. I think Dorley also has some interesting psychology going on. By being so focused on masculinity, it creates a link between the terrible actions the characters have committed and the gender with which they identified. So, once they begin to reject the actions they take, they simultaneously reject their gender. The book never outright says this, which I like! It's cool to theorize about this kind of stuff! I think it's a little unbelievable that everyone is happy with their gender, but still. Chef's kiss.
    3. The characters! I both love and hate the way the story humanizes everyone. Sure, there are characters like Paige and Christine, who aid and abet a kidnapping ring while simultaneously dealing with their own genders. But then there are people like Aunt Bea and Maria, who literally run said kidnapping ring yet still manage to be nuanced and interesting. My only gripe is that I don't think the story criticizes their actions enough. Like yeah, there have been paragraphs about how what Dorley's doing amounts to mutilation, but the fact that none of the people in charge are really responsible (even Elle passes off the dirty work) sort of lessens the blow. But honestly, that brings me my next point, which is:
    4. Everything about this book that makes me uncomfortable simultaneously makes me like it more. First and foremost is the way the story defends Dorley Hall. Dorley is presented almost as a necessary evil. Like yeah, what they're doing is bad, but look at the results! But despite both the book and characters' insistence that their well-adjusted, there are hints of abuse lingering beneath the surface. On a metatextual level, it gave me the sense of uncovering buried trauma, and the fact that we've only focused on the people living in Dorley Hall serves to exacerbate that effect. Why do so many graduates stick around? Why does Dorley have a staffing problem? What happens to the people who leave? I only hope the author chooses to capitalize on these questions. It definitely feels like this story is building up to something, and that landing's going to be hard to stick (but if any story can stick the landing, it's this one).

    Trans people are simultaneously the victims of discrimination and fetishization, a seemingly contradictory pair of crimes. Having dipped my toe into the "trans fiction" well over the past few months, it's clear that sometimes that fetishization is self-inflicted. Even within our own communities, we sometimes fall into the same transmisogynistic tropes that have been repeated to us all our lives. That's why I believe the setting of this story deconstructs that genre so well. Forced feminization is at once wish-fulfillment and self-harm. It shows self-inserts getting exactly what the authors desire, but going through hell to get it. Being stripped down, rendered bare by the process. That's what Stef has to go through to get what she wants, but unlike in fetish stories, it's not treated as a good thing. It's treated as terrible, cruel, and the process subtly echoes the way trans people are gatekept by doctors. I've gone through that stuff in the past, and I'd imagine it's even harder in the UK. I know if someone insulted my home state (let's go New York best place in the world!!!), I'd be pretty pissed, but jeez, the UK seems like a trash country.

    I feel like there's more I want to say about this story, but I've gone on long enough, so I'll stop. 4.5/5 stars would recommend!!!

    P.S. If you need a cover, I could help?? I'm not the best artist, but I'm okay at it, and this series is too good to use the default cover pic.

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    poofy
    Status: 17. afterglow

    I've been reading this for a while, and I'm really impressed by this story in all aspects. The plot is rather ambitious and one of a kind. Forced-fem stories usually contains derogatory and transphobic language, and I'm glad to see that this story doesn't have much of that (although there isn't much surprise there, given the author is trans herself). Furthermore, I feel that the story is pretty realistic and doesn't contain too many plot holes. But what I find most fascinating is the way the characters in the story feel fleshed out and the way they interact with each other, take Aaron (Now Beth) for example. He (She) brings up really crude comments but ultimately he has a really soft heart. There's a lot of witty banter that's genuinely funny and they don't get in the way of the raw, emotional moments that hit me really hard especially with Steph or Christine. 

    But like CrownOfLillies mentioned in another review, I'd also like to see if the author can tie up the issue with how the characters that have gone through the hormones and orchi are just fine with their gender? I don't think lashing out or dissociating for a while would just ensure that they don't have any lingering dysphoria.

    Overall, I'll consider this to be one of my my favourite books that I've read. I'm really addicted to this story and I'll be sticking with this story till it ends, although I hope it doesn't (but if it ends at some point, I'd really hope to see a sequel of it). This story has got to be one of my favourite stories I've read so far, and I'd like to thank the author for creating such a masterpiece! 

    Oh and btw, my favourite character is hands down, Pippa. She's just too cute aa //>~<//

    Update as of 04/09/2023: I've been reading this for over a year now, during this time I think I have matured a lot in my worldview, and I have updated my earlier review with brackets. I will reiterate my point that The Sisters of Dorley is very much a masterpiece, at least in my eyes. Beyond a fictional setting, the author has fimly managed to steer a complex narrative, all while challenging both the traditional and modern definitions of gender through the use of a hypothetical setting, however extreme, to demostrate that there truly is no one way to be trans. Dorley is a horrifying yet fascinating anology that shocks even trans people that are familiar with trans circles, through illustrating how the definition of "trans-ness" is not static. The reactions that Lorna and Rachel have brings up the issue that trans and gender-nonconforming individuals that do not conform to the typical lived experiences of trans communities are equally valid in their own unique way, therefore answering the question that I have posed to the author earlier on in the review. Plus, the characters have never stopped being endearing, topped off with constant references, has kept this story relevant and riveting. I sincerely thank Alyson for dedicating so much time and effort to create this really amazing novel. I'll keep to my word and see this novel to the end, as much as I don't want it to end. :')

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    lushdust
    Status: chapter 23

    All the other reviews of this story are fabulous and go into great detail already (definitely scroll down and read them), so I'll try to keep my own more targeted on another point. Like everyone has said, the writing is beyond fantastic, and the characters are beyond fantastic. My sleep-deprived dark undereye circles from last night's reading binge are testimony enough. If you're trans or just into trans stories, this is a must-read.

    What's particularly interesting and unique about this story is the VERY unique spin it puts on the forced-fem genre. It converts it from a purely erotic kink trope/genre that is (imo) rarely even about/by trans people into a non-s*xual thought-provoking story. 

    On that note however, because I haven't seen anyone else explicitly say this - if you're cis... maaaybe uhh, don't read this unless you're super looped into trans issues and the trope that this story is playing on (forced-fem). I doubt anyone else even would, but still, just wanted to emphasize this in case someone stumbles across this who is unfamiliar with trans nuances and thought about jumping in. There's a lot of authenticity in this story, but it's mixed together with too many things that might confuse people to be a good point of introduction to actual trans experiences for someone uninformed.

    In the story, bad (rapists/etc) men are forcibly feminized and this almost always seems to work to turn them into new, better, more empathetic, and happier people. In reality, even putting aside ethics, many/most of these cases would end up with someone who is now experiencing gender dysphoria because they are in the wrong body. The story hints that this is avoided by 'careful selection'. Even in real life, it *is* true that *some* people have gender identities that are less strongly 'defined' and could be comfortable as either s*x without dysphoria (some rare few clinical case studies actually exist that indicate this, but the exact number of people who fall into that camp is impossible to know as any human study to determine that would be insanely unethical). In reality, predicting this wouldn't really be possible. In the context of the story, though, hey, I can roll with that. And of course, the ethics of forcibly changing something like someone's s*x, even for their own good, even for genuinely bad people are... yeaaaah... sketch. But it's a story playing on a trope, and I can roll with that. 

    Part of what makes the story good is that it is self-aware - the main character (who actually is trans herself) has all the same concerned reactions. The results the main character sees (near-100% successful rehabilitation of bad, non-trans, people) slowly begins to persuade them, even if they remain on the fence about the ethics of it all. It's compelling because if not for the real-life outcome (actually inducing gender dysphoria by transitioning the wrong people, instead of helping them), it even makes us as the readers, thinking in context of the story, continuously think "Well maaaybe... wait no, no no no!... but maybe...". 

    But yeah, if a reader didn't know the trope/kink this story was playing on, and didn't know much about gender identity or dysphoria or anything in real life, all of this could cause some real misunderstanding and confusion. You need a PHD in transology to read this safely imo :)  

    So! Great story...a must read for many. But just be aware it's most definitely not a good thing to read in order to learn about what being trans is, as I think the intentionally blurred line between authentic trans+gender issues (which are present and well-conveyed in the story) and purely fictional and unrealistic things would confuse people. There are many fabulous trans coming-of-age/coming-out/self-discovery/egg-cracking stories on here that do a good job in that department. This is the story you read when you know what's what in real life for sure, and just want to enjoy a fun fictional thought experiment with great writing. And in that context, it's great - one of my new favorite stories.

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    ROTWENCH
    Status: c20

    So, first up I want to say I absolutely love this work, made an account to say so. It does a fantastic job dissecting every tgirl's favorite p*rn genre and it does so in a stunningly artful fashion. There are countless ways the basic construction of the story interrogates the nature of gender and I'd be here all day if I got into all of them - but my favorite is the way Aunt Bea so cleanly represents both the weight of womanhood and the modern history of trans women.

    There's been a lot of talk in the reviews and the comments about how the acceptance is unrealistic, how less of the girls should end up dorleypilled, how more should end up with dysphoria later on. But this, I'd argue, is an egregiously shallow way to engage with this work. What I believe rememberwhenyoutried has constructed in The Sisters of Dorley is a story about trans womanhood in a universe where everything the cis think about us is right.

    Spoiler

    It's a story where vulnerable men are abducted, mutilated and brainwashed against their will into joining a secretive cult that helps them pass perfectly, backed by mysterious money with unthinkable social power - yet nearly everything the girls say absolutely smacks of trans womanhood, even all their claims the word doesn't fit. Think about the choice to make Christine a coder! What could better communicate innate transfemininity than that? (Cat ears? The name "Lily?")
    This extends to the "boys, " too - it extends to the terror, the rage, the isolation, the inability to go outside for a full year. The story's entire structure is built from allegories to aspects of transfeminine transition, from the three-year structure to the omnipresent threat of "washing out."

    [collapse]

    This is a story about why, though terrifying, transition is good. This is a story about why transition would be good even if every last transmisogynist conspiracy theory was entirely correct. This is a story which claims that transition is not merely good because it relieves gender dysphoria, but because it grants empty shells personhood and self-worth and empathy and family. This is a story that could explain to a cis person why we do not have a choice in transitioning, and the full, incredible extent of what it can do for us. This is a story about why you should transition... Or, at least, finish what you started. Your Sisters are waiting for you!

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    goblingoddess
    Status: 20. all the little pieces of...

    The psychology of every character is so genuinely interesting and well-written, and the author has done a fantastic job. The ethics of the entire situation are so complex and compelling that both Steph and the reader are always wavering on whether or not the hall is ultimately a bad thing.  Great job on this and I always look forward to future chapters! 😊

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    Chatios1
    Status: c18

    Just read though the entire thing this week and am really excited for more in the future. There are so many unanswered questions. It's interesting that Mark went missing on November 3rd, Considering the girls in Dorley house make mention that late additions are rare and Stef joined them October 13th so there must be more special circumstances for him to have joined up three weeks in. Going off of Stef's timeline she was on hormones for one week by then so the rest of Melissa's class would have been.

    Paige and Christine are adorable, needed to be said.

     I'm not clear how the Dorley girls, especially those under Grandmother don't have massive dysphoria but part of the forced femme package and suspension of disbelief, so I'm not overly worried about it.

    I absolutely believe Mark's 17th Birthday was the straw the broke the camels back for him becoming Melissa. Shahida went from being at Mark's party to no showing for Stefs the next day. Maybe she was being polite to the 13 year old kid by acting interested, but the two of them broke up or didn't work out very suddenly. Mark didn't explain much to Stefan. Maybe he came out to her in some way, I don't think he necessarily did something bad based on how the Dorley girls speak about 'Lissa'. Mark spent the next year sullen and withdrawn even at the shared birthday by going to his room alone. Two months later he had disappeared. Melissa has been referenced as the star of her class. Looking like Melissa Joan Hart [at least to a drunk Christine] is a fun little note.  Honestly I would love if toward the middle of end of this story we get some flash back as Melissa catches Stef up on everything.

    Also love the chat Easter egg to your other works. Keep up the great work.

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    mceajc
    Status: 33. until you make it

    Astonishing.

    The writing - it beams the images and feelings straight into my brain.

    The characters - how one mind can invent and inhabit so completely such a wild array of beleivable characters, I'm gobsmacked.

    The story itself. Well. Mild non-explicit spoilers ahead.

    There's a lot to take in. Deeply distrubing at times, very emotionally charged at others, dipping into dark moments in the characters history and present situations. This is not a piece of lighthearted fluff. Having got this far in the story, I'm wondering if my own views and thoughts have been significantly shifted because of what I have read, or if certain aspects of the story, when put up in contrast with others, reveals a deeper understanding or different perspective of some universal truth? Well, the story makes you think. Or rather, it gives ample opportunity to reflect on things multiple times from different angles.

    But! This story is no drudge. I had to take pauses, but I desperately wanted - needed - to know what happened next. In addition, the humour is sharp, clever, truly twisted and often a welcome surprise. Scattered throughout are adorable, heartwarming and uplifting moments that leave me snotty-nosed and weepy with joy and hope.

    This is up there with Of Heroes and Villains, or... I'm struggling to think of other works to compare it with. It's broken new ground, as far as I can see. It's self-aware, because it exists in our universe's here and now, but trips around tropes like a tango partner.

    It's brilliant, and I can't recommend it enough - even though I second guess myself about who I recommend it to.

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