“This is the story of a little girl named Rosie coming out as transgender and the battles she endures. When her mother brings home ‘Vivian’, an adult transgender woman, Rosie thinks she met the perfect role model. When the relationship between Rosie’s mother and Vivian becomes romantic things take a turn for the worst…”
*This is a fictonal novel inspired by a true story.
If you missed the introduction, you can read it here.
“This is your fault, you know. You are a sick human being, Asterisk, to do this to your child. Everyone knows you are forcing Franklin to be a girl. You need psychiatric help.”
I glanced away from my phone screen toward a clock on the wall. It looked ancient. Forty-eight minutes had passed since I entered the waiting room of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Center. Glancing back to my Android, I gave the text message from Rosie’s father, the middle finger.
Rosie had been attending therapy the last several months without her dad’s “permission.” Today the counselor informed us that Rosie couldn’t pursue her treatment without her father’s written consent. He didn’t live near and was seldom in the picture.
It wasn’t going well.
With a creak, the old rust-hinged door to the waiting room opened. I watched as my child and her counselor, Ms. Jess, walked out.
“Rosie did well today!” Jess told me. “Children who come out at such a young age are lucky, especially when they have the support of their families. It’s very important. We find that some older kids enjoy dressing up as the opposite sex when they hit middle and high school. They think it’s ‘cool’ but it can end up being just a phase. When it occurs at younger ages, it’s mostly permanent. I can’t even express how delighted I am that Rosie has your support. The suicide rate is statistically greater in transgender youths compared to cisgender. But the rates drop dramatically when these youngsters have access to treatments such as hormone therapy. In California, the state views ‘bottom surgery’ as a lifesaving necessity.”
“I wasn’t aware of that,” I said.
“Yes! Medi-Cal will cover sex reassignment surgery for transgender youths ages 18 to 21!”
That dumb bitch might as well have thrown a brick at my face. Yes, I would support my child through her physical transformation but I was not ready to hear about my tween having her penis cut off!
“Well, Rosie will have to decide when she has matured. I’m not prepared to be liable for that one!” I said.
Ms. Jess chuckled. I didn’t see the humor.
“Here’s the consent form for the dad. Maybe you want to leave his phone number? Sometimes when a counselor calls direct, they ease up.” Jess gave me a wink. “See you next week Rosie!”
Summer ended, and it was time for Rosie to go back to school. In preparation, we met with the principal, the school counselor and Rosie’s 4th grade teacher-to-be. We discussed important changes such as making sure everyone used Rosie’s new name and the correct pronouns (she/her/hers). We also discussed which bathrooms Rosie would use (the ladies), and if she should be introduced to her class as transgender.
Rosie had the school counselor accompany her the first day of school to explain her transformation. We had a plan in place to prevent bullying. Things could not have gone any smoother. Rosie started her first day of school as female. She was as excited as Nemo was to start his first day!
Most of her classmates accepted her new persona. Although, one horrid little monster named Jade set out to destroy my daughter.
“You aren’t a real girl! You can’t be in here!” she taunted Rosie as she attempted to use the girl’s restroom. In class, Jade called Rosie by her old name and pronoun. “His name is not Rosie!” she projected to whoever would listen, “It’s really Franklin!” Rosie’s teacher, in his last year before retirement and unwilling to rock the boat, sat idly by and ignored the ongoing abuse.
Because of the constant harassment, Rosie stopped using the bathroom altogether. Instead, she held it in for the entire school day, eventually soiling her panties. Repeatedly, I picked her up after school and before she told me, I’d smell it.
I called the school and met with the principal again, who promised to protect Rosie from her bully. When that wasn’t effective, I emailed complaints, and spoke with other teachers and parents regarding the situation. The harassment escalated. Halfway through the school year I received a call from the principal.
“Hello, Ms. Five,” she greeted me. “This is Mrs. White, Rosie’s principal. I am calling to let you know I suspended Rosie from school for one week because of inappropriate behavior.”
“Excuse me?” My shoulders slumped. “What happened?”
“There was an incident in the restroom today. A group of four girls were all playing nicely together at recess. Rosie wanted to join them. Being a tight-knit group of friends, they told her ‘no’. Because they did not give Rosie permission to play with them, she became angered and chased them. Although we don’t support ‘cliques’ in our school, we also don’t allow chasing and following others. We consider that harassment.”
“Rosie’s four classmates ran into the bathroom to hide and she followed them. She stretched her arms and legs across the exit to prevent them from leaving. Once trapped, she instructed them to pull down their pants and underwear so she could see if they were ‘real’ girls.”
My heart stopped. “Oh wow, that is terrible. However, I have a hard time believing it occurred, Mrs. White. Rosie will not set foot in the girl’s restroom and hasn’t for months because of Jade. She holds her bowels and bladder all day long and has been having accidents in her pants just to avoid the harassment. I have sent you more than one email referencing this exact issue, all of which you have ignored.”
“Although Jade was involved…”
I wasn’t finished, “If Jade was the ring leader then this would be the perfect example of bullying, wouldn’t it? Isn’t this what you promised to help prevent in the beginning of the school year?” I felt my blood boil as I tried to keep my cool. “Ms. Five, each child was brought into my office individually and asked for their version of the incident. All four girls said the same thing, Rosie trapped them in the bathroom. I asked Rosie if they were lying, she said ‘no.'”
“Rosie doesn’t do well under pressure! She thought you were trying to get her to ‘name call’. The school needs to be taking care of these issues before they escalate! Jade seems to exhibit psychopathic tendencies, don’t you agree?”
“You need to calm down, Ms. Five. Rosie starts her suspension immediately. I hope you talk to your child about ‘what is’ and ‘what is not’ acceptable behavior for school.”
I slammed my phone onto the counter.
When I picked Rosie up from school, I noticed her face was pink and puffy. “What happened today, honey?”
Tears streamed down my little angel’s face. “Am I in trouble?”
“They suspended you from school, but you are not in trouble with me.”
“I was playing tag at recess and chasing Manuel. There was a group of girls hanging out near us. Jade was one of them and she was whispering a secret to the others. Two of the girls came up to us and asked me if I ‘liked’ Manuel. I said ‘yes’ because he is my friend. Then everyone laughed.”
“Honey, when someone asks you if you ‘like’ someone that means they are asking if you want that person to be your boyfriend or girlfriend.”
I watched Rosie’s face turn red. “I didn’t know.”
“Then what happened?” I asked.
“Manuel got upset that everyone was being mean, and he left. I didn’t want to stop playing, so I chased the girls instead.”
“Then what happened?” I pressed.
“They all ran into the bathroom.”
“And you followed them in there?”
“No, Mrs. Becky, the playground teacher, saw me following them and took me into the office. I got in trouble for chasing.”
“That’s not why you were suspended. It’s because the girls said you locked them in the bathroom and told them to pull down their pants.”
Poor little Rosie’s face looked like she had eaten a ghost pepper. It was clammy and puffy with clear fluids draining from every orifice.
“Don’t worry Rosie. I know that Jade is a lying brat. You enjoy your time off from school. I’ll take care of her,” I promised.
“Where’s Joey?” Rosie asked, peering out of the car window. We were in the parking lot of a grocery store waiting to meet up with Rosie’s best friend and his grandmother. For as long as I could remember, Rosie spent at least one weekend a month with her disabled friend and his family.
Joey had a severe case of autism and was prone to “meltdowns” and the occasional seizure. He had been our neighbor for years, until his parents moved the immediate family out of the city. Joey spent weekends with his grandmother who was still local. Joey’s grandmother enjoyed having Rosie over because Joey found my child’s calm nature soothing. Other parents shunned the boy, scared that his erratic behavior might rub off on their own kids. Rosie had the magic touch with him.
“There they are!” Rosie pointed to a large green van traveling in our direction. It pulled up next to us and stopped. We watched as Joey’s grandmother opened the driver’s side door and slid out, heading in our direction. Joey usually jumped out and ran to greet Rosie.
“Who do you have with you today?” Joey’s grandmother asked, peering through my car window. “Is it Franklin or Rosie?”
“Franklin doesn’t exist anymore, it’s just Rosie,” I reminded her.
“Well, that’s too bad. Franklin is welcome to come with us but we won’t be taking Rosie.”
“I think it would be too confusing for Joey. Franklin is welcome…”
“Fuck you!” I rolled up my window, flipped her “the bird” and started the car.
“What’s the matter?” Rosie asked. “Why can’t I visit Joey?”
“It’s not you, honey. Joey’s grandma is a bitch!” I yelled loud enough for the wrinkled monster to hear. I pulled my car out of the parking spot and away from the store. We passed by the green van and witnessed Joey’s small fists pounding against the glass. “Franklin! I want to play with Franklin!”
I was trying my damnedest to hold back my own tears. “Joey! Joey! I want to hang out with you!” Rosie screamed. My heart shattered.
About a week after Rosie’s suspension was completed we attended her open house. I was excited because Jade’s mom would be there and I hoped that speaking to her might be the key to ending the bullying once and for all.
“I painted this one!” Rosie pointed out the masterpiece her teacher had mounted on the classroom wall. The look on her face was priceless. She grabbed my hand and dragged me to her desk, “Over there is my computer! Come on! You can read my journal entries!” She began scrolling through her Chromebook.
Rosie looked up and her expression changed. I turned my head to follow her gaze. Standing across from us was a tall girl with terrible posture, her skeletal frame hid by an over-sized black sweatshirt. The hood was pulled up, covering her hair, and the bottom hung loosely over a pair of boy’s jeans.
“Is that Jade?” I asked.
Next to Jade was a small woman around my age, sitting in a wheelchair. I walked up to her and introduced myself. “Hi, you must be Jade’s mom. I’m Rosie’s mom, Asterisk.”
“Yes. Jade talks about Franklin all the time!”
“It’s Rosie now, not Franklin. We have some serious issues with Jade’s bullying this year.” I told her about Rosie’s suspension and what happened in the bathroom.
“I had no idea it was that bad. I’ll talk to Jade about it,” she promised. “Can I tell you a secret?”
“Jade’s had a little crush on Franklin since last year. Franklin wanting to be a girl has done a number on her. She misses him the way he was. I think Jade wants him to be her boyfriend.”
I glanced back to Jade, and I realized she didn’t look like a little girl; she looked like a boy. I bet she was struggling with gender issues of her own with lack of support. That’s why she hated my child so much, it was envy. Noticing how meek her mother was, I had the gut feeling there was an abusive man at home ruling the roost.
“Let me give you my number,” Jade’s mom suggested. “And if any new issues arise, send a text.”
“I would appreciate that.”
After exchanging numbers, we said goodbye to both Jade’s mom and Rosie’s teacher before heading back to the car. “What did Jade’s mom say?” Rosie wanted to know.
“She won’t let Jade bully you anymore.”
Rosie let out a sigh of relief, “Good because I don’t like her.”
“Don’t worry, honey,” I said. “Jade’s mom can’t stand up for her daughter, anyway.”
“Because she’s in a wheelchair!”
Later that night I was scrolling through my social media when I saw Joey’s mom, Tina, online. Having always been easygoing, I figured I could reach out to her about what had happened with her mother-in-law the weekend prior. I was hoping we could clear things up for the children’s sake. I sent her a message.
“Hi Tina. Last weekend we had an unpleasant encounter with your mother-in-law when she arrived to pick up Rosie.”
“Hello. Oh yeah, I heard. Sorry!”
“She refused to let Rosie play with Joey. She told me ‘Franklin’ was welcome but ‘Rosie’ wasn’t. Franklin is Rosie now. I wanted to make sure this was a family decision and not just your mother-in-law’s personal feelings.”
“Franklin can come over anytime. Unfortunately, we can’t have Rosie. Joey needs male friends and it would be too confusing for him.”
My fingers slammed the keys. “Joey enjoys Rosie’s companionship! I doubt he gives a shit if her shirts are pink instead of blue!”
“Franklin is welcome any time!”
Just like that, Rosie lost her best friend.
At twenty-three, I found out I was pregnant with Rosie. After taking the home pregnancy test, I called her father and asked him if we could meet at his place. “I figured,” he admitted after hearing the news. “I could tell because your breasts have gotten huge. You are planning to abort it, right?”
I jumped back.
“Um, no. Abortion isn’t one of my options!”
“Okay, I guess adoption would be all right too.”
“I’m keeping the baby, Matt.”
“I suppose you want to get married now?”
“No. I wasn’t considering marriage to be the answer either.”
“Well then Asterisk, I don’t understand what you want from me. It’s not like we are in a committed relationship. There’s a good chance that baby isn’t even mine.”
I blinked several times.
“What? Of course it’s yours! I wouldn’t be here telling you I’m pregnant if it wasn’t!”
“Uh-huh, well that’s your side of the story. I suppose we will have to wait for a DNA test then, won’t we? We are done here, please leave.”
I grabbed my coat and slammed his apartment door on the way out to my car. Matt didn’t come around again until several months later.
The date arrived for my ultrasound; I was in my second trimester and finally going to find out the sex of my baby. I figured the appointment was silly because I knew what I was having, a girl. I was so sure, I already had given her a name and picked out multiple dresses for her wardrobe. In the weeks leading up to this day, I crocheted six pink baby blankets with matching hats and booties. So when the doctor ran the sonic wand over my abdomen that afternoon and declared that I was having a boy, it bewildered me.
“How can it be?” I asked, more to myself than anyone in the room.
“Well, see right here?” the doctor pointed, “that’s a penis.” And he was right, there it was. There was no mistaking it. Sometimes I wonder if I knew all along that Rosie should have been a girl. Other times I blame myself for willing it to happen. The doctor printed two black and white images of my little man to take home with me. I was happy to have memorabilia for the baby book.
It was later that same week Matt called. “Hey, listen,” he began, “I don’t want there to be any hard feelings between us. I was hoping I could make it up to you. How about we start with lunch? I know a great place we can eat. You just name the day.”
Sunday afternoon I saw Matt at the restaurant. They seated us and the server took our order. As he shuffled away, I pulled out the pictures of our child. “I wanted to show you these,” I said, “We are having a boy. I think he looks like you.”
Matt examined the photos. “I think he looks like an alien. Listen Asterisk, I met this wonderful couple a few weeks back. They have always wanted to be parents and they think this baby might be the one they have been waiting for…”
I stood up with such force the chair I was sitting on slid across the floor and hit the chair behind me.
“Asterisk, calm down, you’re making a scene,” Matt whispered. “They want to adopt the baby.”
“Fuck you Matt!” I snatched the photos back from that piece of shit and stormed out of the restaurant.
“Wow Asterisk, your daughter looks just like you!” my client, Anna, exclaimed as I prepped her hair to apply root color. It was a Saturday afternoon and my employer agreed to allow me to bring Rosie into the salon for the day as long as she stayed on the outside patio. “I wasn’t aware you had a daughter, I thought you only had a son!”
Because of Rosie’s age, she hadn’t developed defining characteristics of either sex. She effortlessly passed as female to anyone who hadn’t yet familiarized themselves with her on a personal level. I took a deep breath in. Would I be ready to explain the situation to one of my clients? If Anna didn’t approve, I might lose business. However, this particular woman had been coming for quite a while and always seemed open-minded. I decided to tell her.
“This is, or, used to be my son. That’s Franklin, she has come out as transgender, she goes by Rosie now,” I confessed.
“What? Seriously? That’s so cool! Tell her to come here!”
“You want to talk to her?”
Anna waved her arms trying to get Rosie’s attention. “Rosie! Come here!” she beckoned to my babe through the glass barrier. Rosie looked at her, confused, then glanced my way for approval. I nodded. She made her way inside and shyly approached my client.
“Rosie, you are so brave and beautiful. Don’t you feel beautiful?”
“I don’t know.”
“When is picture day at school?” Anna quizzed. “Is it coming up?”
“Next week,” Rosie said.
“What are you going to wear?”
“This is what I want you to do, walk to the front of the salon and look through the dresses in the boutique. Try on at least three, then come over and show me what they look like on, okay? If you find a good one, I will buy it for you! Will you come show me?”
Rosie’s eyes lit up like little firecrackers. “Yes!” she exclaimed. I had never seen her so thrilled in her life. Mimicking a model, she tried on dress after dress. Anna told Rosie to set the ones she liked the most to the side and they would choose at the end. Anna did more than keep her word. Rosie not only had an outfit for picture day but Anna bought her every dress she had set aside. To top it off, Anna purchased purses, makeup, hair accessories and jewelry to go along with them.
When picture day came, Rosie went to school dressed like a princess. The photographs turned out fabulous, and I made sure she mailed one to Anna, along with a homemade thank-you card.
Rosie and I became regulars at the LGBT Center. Not only did she continue her counseling sessions, we checked out several of their therapy groups and speakers. The first meeting we attended was a two-hour introduction for parents of young children going through transition. I left Rosie across the hall with other kids to play. Some of them were transgender, others siblings.
The first half was an introduction into hormone therapy and “hormone blockers.” With a doctor’s referral, blockers could allow Rosie the chance to put her puberty on hold for a few years. Meaning, she could transition into her teens without going through a physical change before making a permanent decision. With the new advancements in hormone treatments, Rosie didn’t have to develop into the gender she had been assigned at birth. Instead, she might transition into the sex she related to. She didn’t have to suffer from her gender dysphoria long term. With the help of estrogen, Rosie could develop breasts similar to those of cisgender girls. Estrogen would prevent unwanted hair growth on her body and face. Her hips would fill out with fatty tissues but her jaw line would remain soft. She’d develop similar characteristics to other girls in her age group. Once she turned eighteen, she would have the choice to medically alter her genitals to that of a female.
There was a short break, and the meeting continued. Parents of transitioning children made their way to the front of the room and told their stories. In that hour together, we laughed, cried and formed emotional bonds. When it ended, people scurried to their cars like cockroaches with the light turned on.
Each time we attended a meeting I exchanged phone numbers with parents of transgender kids Rosie befriended. Despite my best efforts I never made a play date happen outside the group.
Rosie grew bored with her therapy sessions and Ms. Jess relocated to another area. We chose not to continue on with a new counselor. The groups catered to new parents of transitioning kids and the information seemed to be on a loop. I learned more searching the internet on my own.
School ended for the summer and it relieved Rosie from Jade and all the bullying. I enrolled her in a new elementary in a different district and she planned to attend as female the following year, a fresh new start where nobody knew Franklin.
Summer started out slow for us, I worked a lot of hours and Rosie, then eleven, spent most of the time I was gone at home alone. I longed for a life partner and I know Rosie wished for a friend like her, someone she related to. So when Vivian showed up I thought she was everything we both needed and more.
“Five! Five! Hey Five!” her boisterous and addictive voice rang through the speaker of my car. “What-cha doin’ girl?”
Oh my God, she cracked me up, and I loved the shit out of her. Vivian appeared out of thin air one night and never left. At the time it was all-encompassing, yet thrilling and magnetic. Even though I knew she was probably a sociopath, I didn’t care.
“Ha haha! You kill me. I’m just leaving work. What are we doing tonight?” I asked.
“Ta-co Tues-day! Hurry home bitch. I’m putting on my makeup so I’ll be hot for you when you get here. See you soon.”
Vivian hung up the phone, and I put the pedal to the metal.
Honestly, it happened so fast I can’t really remember the exact details of how she came into my life, but I can recall the morning after. Now, I’ve woken up next to some beasts in my time but nothing prepared me for this. I rolled over in bed to find a full-grown man sleeping next to me wearing a pair of woman’s panties. Again, not a first time on that front either, but this one had a little something special. If by special, I mean he was wearing a full set of glittery pink acrylic nails. Upon further inspection, I discovered he also had a considerably large pair of breasts stuffed into a bra better looking than anything I had ever owned. He was Vivian.
I met Vivian online a few weeks prior and thought she could make a good mentor to Rosie, even though most of our conversations started out with the weird selfies she would send. Vivian was in her mid-thirties and in her second year of hormone therapy. We had been texting for a while and even though I explained I wasn’t interested in dating her; I was still happy to be friends. I figured my friendship had plenty to offer, with me working in the beauty industry. I’d be happy to share some of my hacks.
The night before, I invited Vivian over for a few drinks and perhaps I had one too many.
“Hey, are you awake?” I asked my slumber buddy.
“Good morning girl,” she greeted me in a nasal enhanced voice as high-pitched as one could muster while being burdened with an Adam’s apple.
I looked under the covers to see myself naked. Glancing at the floor I spotted yesterday’s clothes.
“Did we what?” Vivian asked me with the attitude of an eight-year-old girl.
“Do… anything? Sex? Did we have sex?” The question was more about “How” did we have it rather than “if.” By the sharp throbbing sensation I was feeling in my vagina I had the sneaking suspicion I might had been fingered by that exact set of acrylics.
“Please, girl! Don’t be acting like you don’t remember raping me last night!”
“Mommy?” I heard Rosie’s voice.
Crap! I had some serious questions but they would have to wait for later. I grabbed my garb and quickly threw it on. Vivian reached for her T-shirt and did the same.
“Oh honey, I have a friend over, someone I want you to meet,” I told Rosie as she appeared in the hallway to my bedroom. “This is Vivian. She is transgender too.”
By the look on Rosie’s face, you would have thought I brought home Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny at the same time. She had heard about full-grown transgender women before but she had never met one. Luckily she was so blown away by Vivian’s presence she wasn’t aware of the inappropriateness of the situation. Immediately, Rosie stuck to Vivian like a vulture to a dying elephant.
“Do you ladies want to grab an early lunch?” Vivian asked us, “My treat!”
“Sure,” I agreed.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” Rosie screamed.
“You drive, is that cool?” Vivian inquired. “My car is filled to the brim with clothing. It’s been my home for the last six months.”
“Yes, sure. Why are you living in your car?” I asked.
“Times have been hard since I came out. None of my friends or family can accept it. I was with my last girlfriend for five years. I told her in the beginning I wanted to be female but she didn’t believe me. When I finally went forward with the change, she freaked out and threw me on the streets. I’ve been living in my car ever since.”
“Oh my God, how terrible! I hate people! Rosie has been going through so much torment since she came out too. I completely understand what it is like,” I empathized.
Once in my car we headed to the restaurant. While driving, Vivian grabbed my hand and started sensually rubbing it with her giant pink nails. Noticing the look on Rosie’s face, I gently pulled my hand away.
“I’ve been coming here with my family since I was a teenager. You guys will love this place! It’s so good,” Vivian promised.
Several miles later we pulled into an old industrial complex. The “restaurant” turned out to be a walk up counter with a few metal tables scattered outside. I watched Vivian climb out of my SUV and over a curb. She wore a pair of silver studded flats, a mid-length skirt, and an old T-shirt. The outfit didn’t really go together, but I figured I’d save my “tips” for later. Immediately I observed strangers staring at her. I caught their gazes one by one and gave them each a look that said, “fuck off.” This negative attention seemed new and I couldn’t let my friend be gawked at.
Once at the counter, Vivian placed her order. This threw me for a loop because I had been accustomed to being in the company of men who always let the woman go first. I figured if we continued hanging out, I needed to get used to it. After she finished ordering, I placed one for both Rosie and myself. When it came time to pay, Vivian handed the clerk her debit card.
“Thank you,” I said to her with a smile. “Rosie, Vivian just bought you lunch, what do you say?”
But before Rosie could reply, Vivian’s card was declined.
“That’s okay!” I said, “Here!” I handed the clerk my credit card.
“Sorry, this is so embarrassing,” Vivian said, pulling up banking information on her phone. “Shit! It looks like my car payment cleared today. I wasn’t expecting that. What’s the date? Is it the 10th already? I over drafted by $18. Crap, I left all my cash at your place. After lunch I’ll have to swing back and grab a twenty to put in the bank.”
“We can do it on the way home. I’ll loan you the $20,” I offered.
“You are amazing!” Vivian gushed. “You really are. I’m so glad I met you girls!”