By Molly McMann
Author’s Note: I’ve come to realize that I did not organize this particular story properly and some people might come to this page thinking it is the very beginning of the tale. It is not. There is a Preface that you should read first.
When the First National Bank of Janesburg opened its doors that morning, Jamie Taylor was waiting. She had walked through the night, following highway signs to the town.
The bank officer on duty, Ned Briggs, could tell from her clothing that she’d come from that Gated In place, but he wondered why she was dressed like a boy. That Jamie was a girl was so obvious to Ned that he didn’t even question it. He’d occasionally seen a group of “gaters” come to town for supplies, but the fact that this one was by herself made him suspect she quit the community. Good for her, he thought, as he watched a teller point the girl to his desk.
Ned stood to greet her with a smile and invited her to have a seat across from his desk.
“And what can I do for you this morning, miss?” he asked cheerily. The girl seemed flustered but produced a savings book and her Citizen ID.
“I have this account from my mother’s life insurance,” Jamie said, “and I’d like to . . . start using the money.” She considered correcting him for calling her “miss,” but decided not to bother. She knew how she must look to strangers.
Typing in the codes from Jamie’s birth certificate and Citizen ID card, Ned issued a debit card Jamie could use to access her account. “We’ll get you some cash also,” he said, and almost added “miss” when he noticed that Jamie’s birth certificate said “male.” That explained why she was wearing boys’ clothing, but how could . . . and then Ned put it together. He’d never met a herm in person before, not that he knew of, but Jamie was far too pretty to be anything else. She darned well was not a boy, that was for sure.
As he counted out the cash, Ned tried to decide what the proper thing was for him to do. He wanted to help her, but he couldn’t afford to make a professional blunder. He hadn’t become the first male assistant bank manager in the tri-province area by being careless. It wasn’t enough that his record was spotless. He still had to play the game, wearing tight little shirts that displayed his muscles and pretending to enjoy it when female bankers twice his age flirted with him.
“Here, let me show you how the card works,” he said, putting off his decision. At a cash machine in the lobby, Ned demonstrated how the debit card worked and made sure she understood about the PIN. “I guess you’re all set,” he finally said with a small sigh, having decided there was no acceptable way to broach the subject of a customer’s gender. “Is there anything else I can help you with? You mentioned you were traveling?”
“Yes,” Jamie said. “I want to go to . . . Scarborough University.” She had chosen S.U. for no other reasons than that she’d heard of it and knew it was on the other side of the country.
Good for you, Ned thought. Get as far away from here as possible. “Well, we need to get you to the airport then, don’t we?” He could do this, at least. Janesburg did not have its own airport, but it was near the interstate loop of a larger city and Ned quickly arranged for a taxi for Jamie and he even explained to her how much to tip the driver. She’d be okay, he was sure. After all, she was a herm.
Half an hour later, after taking her very first ride in a motorized vehicle, Jamie stood in the middle of a busy airport terminal. She had tried to prepare herself for the noise and crowds, but it was still overwhelming and for a while she just sat quietly on a bench and watched. Hunger eventually motivated her to explore the shops, where she awkwardly used some of her new cash to buy doughnuts, orange juice and a newspaper. She devoured all three sitting on a bench while humming along to a song that came out of the ceiling somewhere.
As Jamie had long suspected, the Outside World did not appear to be anywhere near as wicked and immoral as she’d been told. The most negative things she found in the newspaper were traffic deaths, an earthquake and a report on the continuing decline in male birth rates ever since it became possible for mothers to choose their babies’ gender. Although some women still followed the ancient tradition of taking husbands, the story said, nowadays most women married each other and used males only as sperm donors. But this left young men struggling to get by financially in dead-end jobs while working out constantly to make themselves attractive in the increasingly remote hope of becoming chosen as someone’s husband. To get by, they sold their sperm, which was then stripped of its Y chromosome in order to guarantee female births — and so the spiral toward male obsolescence continued.
Those few negative stories aside, Jamie found most of the newspaper filled with positive stories about medical advances, the progress of government agencies, and lots of entertainment and fashion news. On this particular day, the front page was dominated by profiles of the three major candidates for queen.
After she ate, Jamie carried the newspaper under her arm as she explored the terminal. She studied the monitors, watched what other people did and got in a ticket line. Half an hour later she was getting on a plane.
For someone who had only recently experienced her first ride in an automobile, air travel was an otherworldly experience. Jamie kept her face glued to the window the whole way, even when they were in the clouds and all she could see was white. Her flight had a layover at Hariston International Airport, which was even more gigantic that the first airport, but somehow Jamie found her way to the next gate, bought more food, read magazines and bobbed her head to pop music that always seemed to come from somewhere.
By the time she disembarked at her third airport, Jamie felt like a veteran traveler. After another cab ride she was on the steps of the Scarborough University Admissions Office.
“Honey, you’re a week too early to register for Summer session,” the admissions counselor told her, gesturing at the sign above her head listing the dates. It hadn’t occurred to Jamie that enrollment in colleges was only done at certain times of the year, but as luck would have it she wasn’t far off.
“I see you graduated from a Gated In school,” the counselor went on. “Do you have a transcript?”
“No,” Jamie admitted. “I left . . . a little unexpectedly and didn’t have time to get that. But I did very well in school. “
“I’m sure you did dear, but in the absence of a record, I’ll have to schedule you for a series of placement tests so we can determine where you fit in.”
Jamie almost laughed. Fit in? Like that was going to happen. Her only plan, such as it was, was to blend into a big the crowd and not be noticed.
“We’ll get you started on those tests this week so you’ll be ready to register next week,” the counselor said, “and I’m sure we can find you a temporary bed in one of the girls’ dorms.”
Jamie sighed, cleared her voice and said, “you mean . . . a boys’ dorm. I’m a . . . I’m . . . male.”
The admissions officer took second look at Jamie’s documents and quickly came to the same conclusion as the bank official. No one this beautiful could possibly be a male, and if she grew up in a Gated In community there was only one logical answer. It broke her heart to think of it.
“Lastly, dear,” she lied, “you’re required to have a full medical exam at the campus clinic. Here, let me show you where it is on the map. You really should . . . tend to this before you do anything else because . . . well, we just can’t process you until we have this medical paperwork turned in. Okay, dear?”
The admissions counselor was not used to lying to students, and she wasn’t very good at it, but Jamie did not pick up on it. She did what she was told, following her map to the Campus Clinic. By the time she arrived, the admissions counselor had telephoned the physician on duty, Dr. Jane Burkhart, who was waiting when Jamie came through the door.
Because it was Finals Week, the clinic was not at all busy. Students had either gone home or were too busy taking tests to hurt themselves doing stupid things. Dr. Burkhart had all the time she needed so she eased into the examination slowly, starting with Jamie’s eyes, ears and throat. Then she carefully worked her way downward.
“I see you’re a herm,” she said matter-of-factly.
Jamie shrugged. “What does that mean?”
“Well . . . for one thing, Jamie,” the doctor said slowly, “it means you’re female.”
“What??? But you just saw that I–”
“Have a penis? Yes, but that’s not what determines gender. It’s just an indicator of probable gender, and sometimes that rule of thumb is wrong. You also have two X chromosomes, breasts and a vagina, and that makes you a hermaphrodite which makes you a girl.”
“But I . . . but they told me—“
“They were wrong, dear. Jamie, I know you were born Gated In. I can see how a non-physician may have missed it in a newborn, but your gender should have been obvious to everyone once you hit puberty.”
“They said I was just . . . behind.”
“No, Jamie. You’re not behind. You’re never going to have facial hair or man-shaped body because you’re not a male.”
“Are you sure?” Jamie sobbed. “Every morning I wake up afraid that I’ll have hair on my face.” Although she hated being considered a freak, Jamie didn’t want her body to change.
“That’s not going to happen,” the doctor said. “Here, let me explain.” Opening her notebook to project onto the wall illustrations of male, female and herm anatomy, she used a pointer to circle part of the herm illustration.
“This is the organ herms have instead of testicles or ovaries. It produces both the testosterone that gives you erections and the estrogen that makes the rest of your body so feminine. It also manufactures the clear liquid that comes out of your penis when you masturbate.”
Jamie flushed in embarrassment at these words being spoken out loud. “How do you know that I . . .”
“Everyone masturbates, dear. Especially people your age. There are some similarities between herm and male ejaculations, but for the most part they are quite different. For example, a male will ejaculate a few ounces of a thick, milky liquid called semen, and if he is lying on his back masturbating the force of the ejaculation sends it no farther than his belly.”
“Really?” Jamie asked, incredulous. “That’s all?”
“But when a herm ejaculates, her penis expels a considerably larger quantity of a liquid that is chemically identical to sweat. The medical term is ‘hermaphroditic saline,’ but most people just call it sweat because that’s what it is. And it doesn’t just dribble on your belly, does it?”
Despite her embarrassment, Jamie could not help but smile. “No, it’s–”
“More like someone threw a glass of water in your face?”
Jamie hid her face in embarrassment and nodded.
“That’s why they call it ‘splashing yourself.’ Okay, now lets talk about your vagina. Yours is almost the same as those of ordinary women, but there are a few subtle differences. All healthy women get wet down there when they’re sexually excited, but most women produce a mucousy lubricant with a strong, musky odor. But what your body produces is—“
“It’s the same as what comes out of my . . . my . . .”
“Your penis. Correct.”
“I could tell, because sometimes when I . . . have a . . . have a . . .”
“And if don’t . . . if I can’t . . .”
“Ejaculate. You’re allowed to say these words, Jamie.”
“My . . . my erection will last a really long time before it goes down, and during that whole time I’ll be so wet in my . . . my . . .”
“Vagina. Say the word, Jamie.”
“My vagina. And my underwear will get completely soaked.”
“That’s perfectly normal. Herms produce about twice as much moisture between their legs than regular women do, but it’s just sweat so there’s no odor. Now, are you familiar with the word clitoris?”
Jamie shook her head and the doctor went back to her illustrations.
“Strictly speaking, the vagina is specifically this opening here, which is normally hidden behind the labia, but people sometimes use the word vagina to describe the whole area. The more common colloquial term is “pussy,” which is a bit ironic since so few women have pubic hair anymore. Now at the very top where the labia come together just above the urethra there is a little bump of tissue called the clitoris. Your urethra, of course, is in your penis and you do not have a visible clitoris per se, however you do still have all of the clitoral nerve endings.”
“I’m confused,” Jamie said. “I know what the urethra does, but what does a clitoris do?”
The doctor smiled. “Its only purpose is to make you feel good. Now, in the case of herms, the clitoral nerve endings are not clustered in this little bump but instead are distributed along the underside of the penis, as depicted in this illustration. I assume you’ve noticed that this area is the most sensitive?”
There were not many things in which Jamie was experienced, but masturbation was one of them. Almost every night she would wake at 3 or 4 a.m., unbutton her nightshirt and gently stroke the underside of her erect penis until the warm salty splash hit her in the face and chest. Sweat would roll in rivulets down the sides of her face and body, and the breeze from an open window would feel cool on her wet skin.
“Has that been your experience, Jamie?” the doctor repeated.
Jamie nodded. It was all making sense. “So are there other herms? Other people like me in the world?”
“Yes, but not many. It only occurs about once in every five million female births, so let’s do the math. There are about 200 million people in the U.Q., and 75% of those are women. That’s 150 million. Statistically, if one in every five million is a hermaphrodite, then there are only about 30 hermaphrodites alive today. That makes you pretty special.”
Jamie laughed darkly. “I’ve been called special before.”
“This time it’s in a good way. Herms are most beautiful women in the world. Many have become movie stars like Angelina Jolyn, or supermodels like Heidi Klunen.”
Jamie shrugged, not recognizing the names.
The doctor sighed. “Do you know anything about Queen Belle?”
“Of course I do! She was the first queen chosen by the people after the Restoration. She was said to be so beautiful that . . . oh wait, are you saying that—“
“Yes, Jamie, the most famous queen in U.Q. history was a herm. Her beauty was legendary because she was a herm, and you are just as beautiful as she was.”
Jamie shook her head in disbelief, but tears welled in her eyes and she could not speak.
“And while we’re talking about Queen Belle,” the doctor went on, clicking on her notebook to bring up a portrait. “This was painted when Belle was 95 years old. Does she look 95 to you?”
“No, of course not,” Jamie laughed, “but that’s an official portrait. They could make her look as young as they wanted to.”
“They might have, had Belle been an ordinary woman. But the single most extraordinary medical fact about hermaphrodites is that they never show their age. Their average lifespan is only slightly longer that women in general, but other than gray hair and some facial wrinkles, herms simply don’t show the external effects of aging.”
“Wait. You mean that I . . .?”
“If you color your hair, you’ll never look a day over 35.”
Jamie was wondering if she could be dreaming all of this as Dr. Burkhart flipped to another page on her tablet that now displayed on the wall. “Okay, this is your master medical record, Jamie. As your physician, it is my conclusion after conducting a complete physical examination that there was an error on your birth record. With your permission, I’m going to change it from “male” to “female” which will automatically change all government records, including your Citizen ID. Do you authorize me to proceed?”
“Yes,” Jamie said determinedly, tears running down her cheeks. “Yes, please change . . . please correct that error. Someone made a mistake. I have never been male.”
“Done,” the doctor said, hitting the button. Jamie looked at her Citizen ID card and watched as the “M” changed to an “F.”
“So,” Dr. Burkhart said, “now that we’ve taken care of that little detail, I suggest you go find the girls dorm to which you have been assigned and begin your new life. And by the way, there’s a nice little dress shop down on the corner. I think you need to do some shopping.”
Out on the sidewalk in the sunshine, Jamie felt giddy. She practically ran to the dress shop. They were having a sidewalk sale and Jamie stopped in the middle of it, captivated by a very tiny yellow sun dress with string straps.
“You’d look great in that,” said a girl a couple of years old her than Jamie. She pulled an identical dress off the rack and held it in front of Jamie to judge the size. “You’re obviously a Small. You can try it on if you want, but there’s a bit of a wait to get into the dressing room. But I promise, honey, this will fit you perfectly. And if it doesn’t you can return it.”
“It’s wonderful,” Jamie said, her voice cracking with emotion.
“Awesome!” the sales clerk declared, snapping her gum. “How about some accessories to go with it? We have purses, sandals, jewelry. This red bead necklace would be a nice accent against that yellow and we have earrings to match. Let’s try these on you.”
Like all modern earrings, these had dainty magnetic clamps that had long ago made ear piercing obsolete. The clerk clamped them snugly on Jamie’s earlobes and tilted a mirror so she could see herself in it.
“These sandals have a red accent stripe,” the salesgirl went on, “and ooooh, look at this little red purse! Isn’t it just perfect?”
It was all perfect and Jamie wanted it all. She pulled out her debit card to make the purchase, and then thought of something else. “Oh, where could I buy some shampoo and, um, shaving cream?”
“Drug store across the street,” the girl said, pointing with a nod of her head as she handed Jamie the bag.
Jamie decided she did not want to show up at that dorm dressed the way she still was – in the black pants and white shirt of a Gated In boy. But if she was actually going to wear this so-skimpy dress, she wanted to shower and to . . . shave her legs.
In the drug store, Jamie was overwhelmed by aisle after aisle of feminine beauty products and had no idea what most of them were for. After some wandering, she located the items she knew she needed — bath soap, shaving cream and razor – and then she found herself in the make-up aisle.
The specific purpose of most of these products was even more mysterious, but Jamie spotted a few things she could interpret from the photos. She understood what eye liner and mascara were, but was afraid of trying either. Lipstick seemed safe, she decided, and perhaps also blush.
Having made all of her purchases, Jamie retraced her steps to the campus gym, which she remembered passing. She found the women’s locker room and tentatively stepped in. Perhaps because of Finals Week, the locker room was vacant except for a female custodian emptying trash cans and restocking the towels.
Jamie put the shopping bag containing her dress, sandals and red bead jewelry in one of the lockers and closed it. She didn’t have a lock, but that didn’t seem likely to matter. Repeating the locker number to herself, Jamie made her way to shower area where she began to undress.
She took off her shoes and dropped them into the trash can. Then her socks, shirt, pants and underwear, all of it going into the trash can — never, ever, she vowed, to be seen by her again. Naked, she carried her bag of beauty products into a shower stall. There, in the hot, steamy water, Jamie shaved her legs and her armpits for the first time in her life. A strawberry blond, Jamie had only soft blond hairs on her body but she wanted all of it gone.
As she meticulously shaved her legs, Jamie found herself having an erection, which gradually became full as she completed her task. She carefully did her underarms as her penis stood rigidly straight up. As she rinsed off, she began caressing herself, starting behind her penis as she always did. “This is my pussy,” she whispered as her fingers found their way into its familiar warmth and then sliding her fingers up and along the underside of her penis. She was within seconds of an orgasm when she froze, hearing the voices of two women entering the shower room. Jamie listened as the chatting women each chose a shower stall and turned on the water.
Jamie felt too distracted by the proximity of the women to continue masturbating, but she did not want to leave the shower with a full erection. She knew from experience that once it was this big it would not go down for a very long time unless she splashed. There was, however, one other alternative. Jamie turned off the hot water spigot and in a second the water went icy cold. Her determined penis was not easily discouraged and Jamie had to endure the cold shower for a good 30 seconds before her erection finally subsided.
As she exited the shower stall, Jamie’s teeth were chattering, goose bumps covered her skin and her nipples were having little erections of their own. She dried off with the little white towels that were provided, but these were too small to wrap around her body so Jamie had to walk naked back to her locker, holding one of the little towels in front of her crotch in case someone came in.
Jamie was pleased to see that the trash can in which she’d placed her old clothes was now gone — until she realized she’d forgotten the locker number. The locker room was vast, with so many rows that all looked the same. She went down row after row opening all lockers at the height she remembered, but none of them held the shopping bag containing her new outfit. She was making so much noise she almost didn’t notice when the entire rugby team entered the locker room after their final game of the season.
Panicked at the sound of so many voices heading in her direction, Jamie hurried to the next row of lockers and was going so fast she nearly went right past the locker containing her dress. Miraculously, there it was still in the bag, but as she reached for it two boisterous girls came into the same aisle and began opening their lockers while talking brashly about the game they’d apparently just won. Jamie kept her back to them so they only saw her bottom as she pulled the yellow dress out of the bag. She was not quite sure whether to put it over her head or step into it but somehow she managed to get the dress on before she turned around. The rugby girls watched as Jamie put on her, gathered up her shopping bags and began to walk past them. One of the rugby players stood up and blocked her way.
“You left your zipper undone, sweetie,” the girl said. “Want me to get it for you?”
“Oh! Um, yes, thank you,” Jamie nervously said as the sweaty, muscular girl wearing only panties and a sports bra reached behind Jamie’s neck and pulled up her zipper.
“There you go, babe,” the girl said and as Jamie made eye contact with her to say thank you, the girl’s expression was like something Jamie had never experienced in her life. As she walked away, Jamie heard the second girl say to her friend, “flirt all you want, but she’s way out of your league.”
As Jamie approached the big mirrors over the sinks she almost thought it was someone else – a pretty girl wearing a yellow dress. Her shoulder-length hair hung wet and limp, and every day of her life she had tied it back in a short pony tale. Not anymore. She figured out how to use the blow-dryer and experimented with a product she’d bought at the drug store until her hair was dry and fluffy.
She put on the red bead necklace and clamped on the dangly earrings. Leaning close to the mirror, she clumsily applied the lipstick and blush.
As Jamie stepped back from the mirror to take in the full effect of her transformation, she did not notice behind her that all of the rugby players were watching her. They all saw an astonishingly beautiful girl – very likely the most beautiful girl any of them had ever seen in person. But Jamie could not yet see that girl. She still saw a freak who was only technically a girl. She was grateful to have that much – to officially be a girl in the eyes of the queendom –but she feared that the “real” girls at the dorm would not accept her as one of them no matter what her Citizen ID might say.
When she stepped outside in the sunshine Jamie felt almost as if she were naked. The dress left her arms, shoulders and legs completely bare, and that was tantalizing enough all by itself. But since she had forgotten to buy new underwear the summer breeze billowed sensuously under her skirt and as she walked her penis bounced around between her thighs.
Following her map, Jamie made her way to Lake Hall. She knew she was supposed report to the Resident Adviser for the 3rd floor, Samantha McCain, but she didn’t have a room number. Looking for a sign on a door, Jamie walked all the way to the end of the hallway and then turned back to try the other way. As she did so, Jamie saw something for which she was utterly unprepared — a naked girl.