Denise – New Beginning

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Life was good. A couple of years out of school, I was working as a business software developer in the mini-silicon valley near the university. I was sharing a flat with a couple of undergrads. Unfortunately, both of my “roomies” were about to graduate. One was an ROTC type and would be going off to helicopter flight training in Alabama and the other, an education major, would be going to a teaching job across the state.

Although I was making a respectable salary, I wasn’t so enthralled with the apartment that I wanted to pay full rent on it. So, it was either try two new at least semi-compatible roommates or go somewhere else myself. My older sister, Margot, lived across town. In one of my infrequent conversations with her I mentioned my dilemma. “Oh,” Margot responded, “Denise and I just lost a roommate, too.” She paused, as if considering the situation, then added perkily, “Maybe you could move in with us, little brother. At least for a little while.”

Problem solved, right? Well no. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. First of all, there’s my sister who, in her own word, ls a “Flaming Lesbian.” Seems like the only males she has ever been able to be more than passing civil with were our father and I. She is socially and, I’m pretty sure, sexually active.

I’ve occasionally been exposed to her crowd at her apartment. She even dragged me to a PFLAG meeting and an LGBT group social. While I guess I can handle her orientation on an intellectual level, I was just uncomfortable being among people of those persuasions, other than her. If I were to move into her apartment, I’d probably have to force myself to wear a non-homophobe expression till my face ached.

Then there was the matter of Denise. She used to be Dennis till she was about ten or eleven. Dennis’ parents were wealthy an apparently more understanding than I could imagine, so they found a therapist for Dennis and a sympathetic private school that would accept him as a female or transsexual or what-ever. The therapist arranged for hormone treatments, and school enrollment was accomplished. Dennis disappeared and Denise came into being. However, she had never taken the final step and was still equipped with male plumbing.

All this was probably more information than I needed to know. I understand that my sister told me so that neither Denise or I would suffer embarrassment if I were to try to hit on her. The part about the male plumbing would have sufficed in that regard. But since Margot considered it a wonderful story, she told me the whole thing and made me promise to never let on to Denise that I knew. Yeah, like that was gonna be easy.

Thus, when she invited me to move in, I did not bump the idea to the top of my list of options. Unfortunately, since my list of options was quite short, it ended up near the top anyway. Eventually, after a search for either two new roommates or a place I liked in my price range weren’t panning out, it floated to the top. Time for some heavy-duty soul searching and/or rationalization. How bad could it be? My name wouldn’t need to be on the lease. I was sure that Margot would understand if, after giving it my best shot, I still wasn’t comfortable and moved out. I decided it was time to talk to her.

We agreed to meet at a fast food place for lunch. We had to spend a little extra time in the order line because Margot insisted on being in the longer line that had the cute girl working it rather than the nerdy-looking guy. When we got to the head of the line, I wasn’t sure if Margot was silently hitting on her but there sure was a lot of eye contact, smiling, and even the occasional giggle or hand touching as she placed and picked up our order. Call me oversensitive or homophobic or whatever, but I was quite uncomfortable and starting to have second thoughts again.

Anyway, as we were running out of french fries and small talk, Margot broached the subject of me moving in with her and Denise. “I really do want you to move in with us, Little Brother, but are you sure you can handle it?” She paused, looked me straight in the eyes and added, “You being a homophobe and all.”

I threw up my hands in defense. “Oh, come on. Isn’t that a bit harsh?”

“Oh, I know it is, but I know you’re never really comfortable around my friends, especially when we start acting gay and silly.” She looked thoughtful for a minute. “Lately, when you’ve been over, you’ve seemed just barely able to coexist with Denise in a slightly stand-offish sort of way.”

Since what she said was pretty much on target, I said nothing and intently munched a french fry.

“Well?” she prompted.

I found a patch of tabletop to examine. “Sis, on a logistical level moving in with you is a great solution.” I pulled in a deep breath. “I’d like to think I can handle it on a psychological level.”

“If I agree to try to make sure my friends behave civilized when you’re around, and you try to at least act semi-sociable toward them, it might work.” She paused until I looked up at her. “Oh, and I won’t make out with my dates in the living room and I’ll make sure Denise doesn’t mardin escort try to seduce you,” she added with an impish grin.

On that note we ceremoniously shook hands over the remains of our lunch. By the next weekend, I was moved in with Margot and Denise.

*****

The first night in my new digs, Margot and Denise made supper for all of us. I had sat through a couple of meals with Denise before and had made it through with minimal discomfort, nut I hoped that they weren’t planning to make this communal dining a regular thing.

As I worked my way through a rather tasty pasta dish of some sort, I tried to inconspicuously study Denise. Like a lot of people I had my share of preconceived notions about transsexuals. They had been running through my head since I had begun to consider sharing an apartment with one. Like any other normal American male, I had first learned of transsexuals through adolescent Christine Jorgensen jokes explained to me by more enlightened peers. Then there were the usually unflattering portrayals of “she-males” or “trannies”, often as prostitutes, on mainstream television and occasional exposure while surfing pornographic websites. The ones on mainstream television were usually obviously masculine, over-dressed, and had way too much makeup. Some of those on the porno sites seemed to be rather attractive and feminine as long as their nether region weren’t exposed.

Denise didn’t fit either profile. She didn’t really look like a guy in drag and her day-to-day behavior seemed womanly enough. In terms of physical appearance, she wouldn’t have come close to lighting up the porn industry. She was bland with minimal makeup and a no-frills hairstyle. Her wardrobe, at least what I had seen of it, was generally frumpy. She had it all, pale complexion, not at all luminous, mousy lifeless brown hair, and no shape to speak of. She had plain, regular features and while her eyes were intelligent, they were not particularly lively or engaging. In all, she fit my idea of what a librarian should look like. What a coincidence! That’s exactly what she was, the head software librarian for a major industrial firm in town.

If my sister had been serious about Denise wanting to seduce me, I certainly didn’t think there was even the hint of danger in that regard. As for me initiating anything illicit with Denise, I expected there was far less chance of that than me trying to do something incestuous with my bright-eyed, redheaded, button-nosed lesbian sister. And that was never going to happen except in uninvited fantasies.

Actually, all that made my coexistence with Denise relatively easy. We actually had a lot in common due to our somewhat related jobs. She was willing to admit that software developers were indeed a notch or two above plant life in the overall scheme of things. I allowed as to how it was okay for software librarians to form enlightened opinions about software beyond just how to catalog it. Of course we both felt that my sister’s job as a game and smart phone app designer was only slightly beneath contempt, though, as she was quite successful, we did both envy her free-wheeling work environment and exorbitant salary.

As I settled into my life as a part of this all-geek trio, it occurred to me that my knowledge of transsexuals and their world was spotty and limited at best. Admitting that, I did what any red-blooded techie would do. I got on Google. By designing my searches carefully, I was able to significantly cut down on the porn site listings and get articles with substance. (Hell, I admit it. I may have checked out a porn site or two for strictly academic reasons.) Anyway, after discovering that the phenomenon is known as Gender Identity Disorder (GID) I did learn a lot, especially about real-life everyday transsexuals who risked or gave up a great deal to live life in the sex they felt they really should be. Apparently, a significant number of them did complete the transformation and lived happily ever after, one being Wendy Carlos, the synthesizer musician. On the other hand, I found that there were a very high number of suicides among transsexuals in the years immediately following the surgery. I also read up on the transition process as a whole, an alphabet soup of abbreviations in addition to GID, such as HRT (hormone replacement therapy), RLE (real life experience), and SRS (sex reassignment surgery, the biggie). I wasn’t sure where Denise was in all this or what her agenda was in this regard. Somehow, it just didn’t seem like the sort of subject I could bring up for light dinner table conversation.

Things went smoothly for the next several months. I got so amazingly tolerant that Denise and Margot even began to introduce me to their friends, and told me the apartment was again feeling more like home than a dormitory. I dated some and had a couple fun-but-go-nowhere flings with girls who weren’t into it for the long haul. Then Margot dropped her little bombshell. A company in game designer heaven out on the Coast wanted her. They were offering an even more freewheeling mardin escort bayan work environment and a more ridiculous salary. Naturally we went through the drama of her saying she was going to turn it down because she just couldn’t bear to break up our merry little group and us saying she was crazy not to grab the opportunity. When this had played out sufficiently, she boogied on out to binary Nirvana.

*******

So there we were, Denise and I, left in a three-bedroom pad. It had been right to encourage Margot to move on and seize a golden opportunity. However, she had been the catalyst for the survival of our trio of misfits. Things seemed to be getting increasingly awkward between us. Any family feeling was gone.

As time progressed she gradually related her story of growing up transgendered. It seemed that Dennis had liked girlish things and had wished he had been a girl from his earliest memories. When he was in kindergarten, on a family visit to his uncle’s home, he had persuaded his five-year-old cousin Sarah to show him her “little girl thing”. Being a very polite child he showed her his “little boy thing”. They decided hers was kind of cute and his was kind of ugly. Or a long time after that he prayed fervently every night that his ugly boy thing would disappear and he would be a little girl with a cute girl thing.

He had visited Sarah’s home often during his elementary school years. He really liked playing “tea party” with Sarah. She would dress up in fancy clothes, dress her dolls in feminine finery, and they would sit at the little table in her playroom. Sarah would serve pretend tea from with her little tea set. During a visit when they were both seven, one of them came up with the idea of not only dressing up her dolls but also dressing up Dennis in Sarah’s clothes. They eagerly tried it and Dennis was thrilled with the experience. They laughed at the little bulge when he put on her panties. Dennis couldn’t remember any time he’d been so happy.

After that she always dressed him for their tea parties, letting him wear her fanciest clothes and prettiest undies. When Sarah came to visit at his house, she’s sneak over a set of her undies for him to wear while they were playing. Somehow none of the family discovered what was going on till just after Easter when Dennis and Sarah were ten. Dennis was all decked out in the new outfit Sarah had gotten for Easter, including her flowered Easter bonnet. They had just seated themselves at the table when Dennis’ mother walked into the playroom.

Her jaw dropped. “Dennis, what in the…” Dennis and Sarah froze. As she studied him, trying to figure out what was going on, she couldn’t help thinking how cute and happy Dennis looked. “Jim,” she called to his father, “come and see how cute our daughter looks!”

“Our daughter?” responded Jim as he came down the hallway. Like his wife, he did a double take when he caught site of Dennis. All the stock thoughts one might expect rushed through his mind, but they seemed to be overridden by the fact that Dennis, though obviously embarrassed, looked so happy with no sign of guilt or shame. Damn, somehow it just looked right. “You look very nice, ah…” To use the name Dennis just didn’t seem to fit.

Sarah picked up on this immediately. “Denise, she announced. “Her name is Denise!”

“Well, so it is! You look very nice, Denise.”

“Thank you, Daddy!” said Denise with a big smile. She got up, ran over to her parents, and gave them both a hug.

No one mentioned her changing clothes, so she wore the outfit for the rest of the day. Her aunt and uncle, seeing her parents going along with the transformation, went along also. They even let her wear it home. After they arrived, she went to the bathroom and checked to see if her little pecker was still there. It was, but she pulled down her panties, hoisted her skirt, and sat down to pee just like Sarah did.

The next six months were a whirlwind of medical doctors, counselors, and child psychologists. He was still Dennis at school and church, but must of the rest of the time she was Denise. Her mom and dad let her build up a girl’s wardrobe and she redecorated her room in a feminine way. In the end, all the professionals they consulted agreed that it would probably be less harmful to allow her to live as a girl than to force her to live as a boy. After much debate and soul-searching, she had been started on early hormone therapy. As a result, her puberty had been more female than male. Her voice hadn’t changed perceptibly, she hadn’t developed much body hair, and her breasts had developed. Though they were small, she was happy with them. “My boobs are me,” she once quipped in a lighter moment.

She felt great gratitude to her parents for supporting her. And thankfulness that they could afford the expenses associated with preoperative transition. They had been able to send her to a supportive school that had allowed her to attend as a girl. She had even had a date for the prom. Good grades had gotten her a full ride to the state escort mardin university that didn’t care about her sexual persuasion.

Surgery was another matter. It would have been terribly expensive. As she felt shouldn’t place any further burden on her parents and opted to postpone it indefinitely. She had settled into a job she really enjoyed with a good company. I knew she was somewhat socially active in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual) community. As to whether she had a sex life, she didn’t tell and I didn’t ask.

So life was pretty comfortable with my intelligent, appreciative, possibly celibate, preoperative transsexual roommate. We enjoyed each other’s company and made no demands on one another. I admired her strength and courage.

*******

A new phase in our relationship launched when Denise’s birthday rolled around. Her parents had missed her birthday last year because of her dad’s work, but they were going to come up this year to help her celebrate. She was really excited. I was looking forward to meeting people who could be such loving, supportive parents. My parents had been good to me and loved me. I would like to think that they would have reacted as Denise’s mom and dad did, but I had never confronted them with anything near the magnitude of a gender identity problem.

We spent the week before their arrival tidying the place up and preparing Margot’s old room for them to stay in. Fortunately, Margot had left her “so last year” bedroom furniture behind, including a queen size bed. As their arrival on Thursday approached, I began to feel a little trepidation. After all, theirs was a tad beyond the typical relationship and my relationship with Denise wasn’t what you’d call normal. I knew I would have to expend every effort not to commit a major faux pas. Oh well, I would put on a happy face and do my best.

I was not surprised to find them a pleasant attractive couple in their late forties, easy to talk to. Jim was vice president of a large accounting firm and Martha was assistant director of the public library system in their city. While they relaxed from their drive, Denise prepared one of her signature pasta dishes while I whipped up a salad, set the table, and poured the wine.

Dinner went well. Denise and her parents did a lot of catching up. Jim and Martha asked me a few non-intrusive questions about my background and job. I relaxed and had a pleasant time. After dinner mom and daughter continued to chat as they cleaned up while Jim and I went into the living room to catch the end of a college football game on TV.

When the game was over Martha and Denise came back in the living room. We all sort of looked at each other. It was after ten o’clock, and everyone allowed as how he or she was tired, so we hammered out a bathroom schedule and a time for breakfast in the morning. As we headed toward our respective rooms, Martha asked casually, “You will be joining us tomorrow evening, won’t you?”

“Tomorrow evening?”

“Yes. We’re going to Stephan’s for Denise’s birthday dinner,” Jim informed me. Stephan’s was an exclusive supper club in the affluent part of town. “We really do hope you’ll come!” added Martha.

“Oh, I wouldn’t think of imposing.” I was mentally scrambling for a plausible excuse. Our code was nothing together outside the apartment at night. I caught a glimpse of Denise. She seemed as surprised as I was.

“No imposition at all.”

“Mom!” interjected Denise.

“I really appreciate you including me,” I said, moving quickly to avoid any potential unpleasantness. “I’m honored and I’d be delighted to join you.” I hoped I was sounding sincere and not laying it on to thickly.

“Good!” said Jim. “We’ll sort out the details n the morning. Goodnight, Tony. Goodnight, Princess,” he added nodding to Denise. He turned toward their room before he could see the look of exasperation on her face.

“Good night, Daddy,” she managed to say in a near normal voice. “Good night, Mom.”

“Good night, Darling.” Was that a hint of a grin on her face?

I took a glance at Denise. I could tell she wanted to talk, but we couldn’t just hang back here. And I was sure that she didn’t want her parents to see us going into the same bedroom together any more than I did. We retreated quickly to our own rooms.

Just after I closed my door my cell phone rang.

It was Denise. “Tony, I’m so sorry! I was as surprised as you were.”

“Not to worry. I like your folks and it seemed they were pretty set on including me.” I paused. When she didn’t respond, I added, “I hope you don’t mind that I accepted…”

“It’s not that. It’s just we…”

“I know. But hey! What good is a birthday if you can’t break a rule or two. How old will you be, anyway?”

“Very funny! Thanks, Tony.”

“G’night, Denise.”

“G’night, Tony.”

Somehow I managed to get a little sleep, but all sorts of strange thoughts were playing bumper cars in my mind. I believed that Denise was really as surprised as I was. Did her parents assume that there was more to our relationship than the coexistence we had hammered out? Did they want there to be? Maybe it was simple gratitude for my staying in the apartment so Denise wouldn’t have to find new roommates, or for agreeing to let them stay in the apartment? Perhaps I was a token outsider to make it seem like more of a party. No idea emerged as a front runner.

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