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True Love Never Dies

James

 

Issue 7
August 1999

 
Sixteen years may seem too far away to recall, but I remember the first day I met the person I would spend the rest of my life loving as clearly as yesterday. It was my job as 'junior head boarder' to meet all the new girls coming up into senior school and nominate a senior to look after them until they were settled into the boarding house.

There was so much going on that day; old girls running around screaming, excited to see each other again after the school holidays, Mothers unpacking cases. and new girls crying at the prospect of being left alone to grow up, work hard and learn to be independent. Understandably so really - most of these ten year-olds had never been away from home before.

In the chaos I caught sight of a new girl slowly moving towards a bed in the comer of the room followed by her mother. She seemed very shy and quiet as her head faced downwards barely looking up, and she hardly spoke a word. This girl was definitely uncomfortable but not in the same way as the others. There was a sadness about her, almost as if she was lost, stranded on a desert island without a boat.

As I walked over to introduce myself to the family the girl apprehensively looked up at me. For a moment my breath was taken away, for sat staring up at me was a very good-looking teenage boy. "Hi! My name's Ashley. I'm your junior headboarder and it's my job to make sure all the new girls settle in ok."

"Thanks," she nodded.

"Don't worry. You'll be fine. The first week is the hardest. but if you have any problems just ask me"

A stern voice came from behind. "I'm sure she'll be fine." said the mother as she neatly put the girl's clothes away in a drawer.

"What's your name?" I asked.

"Kerrie." she replied.

"OK Kerrie. I'll see you later. If you need me I'm down the hall"

I walked away, not really understanding how I felt; I just knew there was something about Kerrie I was attracted to even though she was a female. At the time I thought it would pass, as I had grown up surrounded by lots of girls running around half-naked and I had never had these feelings before. I decided to take her under my wing and act as her `carer' in case she was left out because of her differences until like the others she had settled into this new life in boarding school.

Over the next months Kerrie and I became very close. Although she was 11 and I was 13 we had a connection that other people couldn't understand. We were able to talk to each other about our deepest secrets. I confided in her about my own subjective years of sexual abuse at the hands of three different men, and it was this confidential feeling that allowed Kerrie to tell me about the feelings she had about herself.

It really came as no surprise to me that she felt she had been born into the wrong body - in fact it was bloody obvious. It made no difference to me; I would support her and defend her every corner if that's what she needed. The fact that she obviously looked and acted like a boy didn't seem to bother the other girls either. If anything it made her more popular with a school full of horny hormonal teenage girls, secretly crushing out on her. I remember various love letters and diaries dedicated to her. Yes, there was an attraction there between us encouraged by innocent flirting and game playing but neither of us could ever have imagined what our future held for us. I have many good memories, lots of smiling, laughing, even arguing, but these are often clouded by the mental abuse we were subjected to by the matrons.

It was a ritual in our school for girls to be affectionate to each other, with holding hands, cuddling and occasionally sleeping in one another's beds. After all we were the only family we had. The matrons generally turned a blind eye except in our case. They often taunted us calling us lesbians and insisted on telling us we should be in mental homes. It very quickly became an obsession for them to make our lives as difficult as they could in the hope our relationship would end. Somehow our bond gave us the strength to withstand this nightmare we were going through. I couldn't quite understand why I was being persecuted for befriending a person who obviously had serious emotional problems, or their attempts to isolate me from the senior school by moving me into the junior school to sleep, bath and eat, were just demented.

However, after a period of time, I was moved back into the senior school at my mother's insistence, where these two very irrational women watched my every move.

We went through a lot of pain which was enhanced when we had our first sexual encounter. I remember waking up the morning after with a sick feeling in my stomach, "I am sick - I should be in a mental home. The matrons are right." At this point, I believed I had turned into an abuser myself. I spent the morning avoiding Kerrie and telling myself what a bad person I was. It was break-time when I was sitting alone in the dining room and Kerrie came looking for me. I couldn't look her in the face; I was so ashamed of myself although at the time it had felt so natural and right. We agreed never to let it happen again and to finish our friendship. As painful as it was, I thought it was for the best. At that moment the matrons had won their battle.

Thank God it didn't last. That evening Kerrie told me I was not an abuser. She had made the first move and was in full control of what happened. To us we were a normal boyfriend and girlfriend - we didn't have a problem. We had so much fun learning together. We still laugh about the toilets, the showers and the school swimming pool, but we never saw ourselves as lesbians. We talked about how, when we left school, we would live together, have children and seek help for Kerrie's condition. Kerrie even took me to our local church, presented me with a ring and asked me to marry her. No one could split this special love we had. It was true love, and true love never dies.

After the taunts came the punishments. I was demoted from junior head-boarder for continuing to remain friends with Kerrie. It was announced to the whole school that no one was allowed to talk to us and, if we were seen talking to each other, it was to be reported. We were stopped from seeing each other and confined to our rooms. I spent many nights standing in a dark corridor until dawn in their attempt to break me down. The times they pushed and shoved me in the sick bay screaming "Why don't you ever cry? No matter what we do you never cry!" are too many to count on my hand. I never received phone calls from home. All my mail was checked before it was sent out and I never ate as an excuse was always found to throw me out of the dining room. Even now recalling the events evokes a knot in my stomach. The pain anguish and cruelty they put us through just because Kerrie was different. "You're just like a boyfriend and girlfriend standing there. It's sick." they used to shout. If only they knew just how right they were.

However, the worst was yet to come. In 1985, we were told that our parents didn't love us, and that they wanted a stop put to our friendship. Unfortunately for Kerrie the headmistress was a very good friend with her wealthy family. This put her under a lot of pressure; and the strain was starting to show. She couldn't bear what the matrons were doing to me and there was nothing she could do to stop it. We had tried staying away from each other but that never worked because it wasn't what we wanted. That night Kerrie came down to my room to see me, she had been in there less than five minutes when the matrons walked in followed by the headmistress, shouting "We have got you now. This is what we have waited for!" (It's a good job they weren't twenty minutes later, they would have put us in prison.)

"Ashley Ward, we are expelling you for breaking school rules. You are not allowed other people in your dorm. There were various words exchanged, but I surprisingly laughed at them.

So this was it. They had found away to stop a situation that their own obsessional behaviour had encouraged. The next day I was put on a train and sent home to face the music. I wasn't allowed do see anyone before I left, not even my own sister. I was 15, my education was ruined, the life I had been conditioned to was taken away. I was alone. The girls I had defended and grew up with were 200 miles away. My parents were very disappointed that I had wrecked my education after they spent so many years financially struggling to keep me there and I didn't have the one person that my life revolved around. Her mother kept all the letters I sent to her, and I received a letter from the family solicitor informing me that if I had any further contact with Kerrie I would be prosecuted.

So much pain, hurt and upset was so unnecessary. If only someone had taken the time to understand Kerrie. Ask, why was she withdrawn? Why did she lack so much self-esteem" The facts were there staring at you right in the face! She looked like a boy, walked like a boy and acted like a boy. We were lost without each other. I went home and had a nervous breakdown. I never stopped crying. Kerrie was at school with no one to understand her and was sent to a psychiatrist at the school's insistence. The damage was done. How could she trust anyone after what the matrons had called us?

We did stay in contact through the phone and post, but it wasn't enough for us. It hurt too much not to be together. Neither of us was able to function productively. After 18 months we decided to let each other go. I married the first boyfriend I had had since Kerrie at 17 years old. I lived in a very unhappy marriage with a man I didn't truly love and had 2 beautiful children. Kerrie developed a drink problem after leaving school and had lots of sexual encounters with both men and women. Every now and then she could pop up our of the woodwork to come and see me when she had saved enough money for the train fare, but our lives had moved on. She couldn't accept my marriage, and I couldn't accept the fact that she had had another girlfriend after I was sent away from school.

Although we drifted apart, we were always in each other's hearts, we loved each other. It was family pressures that kept us apart. Her family would never have accepted us together especially after all her mother's efforts to keep us apart. In 1991, I decided to go abroad to live. My husband left to return to England shortly after leaving me there with a 2 year-old infant and a 2 week-old baby. After some time I settled down again, in an abusive relationship. I hadn't heard from Kerrie in three years. Then one day I received a letter from her out of the blue. She was coming to see me. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was still in love with her after all the years we had apart. For me it was make or break!

We spent a week together talking about our past and what had happened to us, and it soon became very apparent to both of us that the flame was still there though ten years had passed. We desperately wanted and needed to be together. Despite our family's outrage, we made the move. I packed a suitcase and came back to England with Kerrie and the children. We might have been homeless but for the first time in our lives we were both happy.

In 1998, after counselling, psychiatric assessments and various appointments at Charing Cross Hospital Kerrie finally became KAMRON. It seemed such a long time between our first appointment with the counsellor and the psychologist finally agreeing to treatment. However, the strangest thing about it was after the waiting, the ups and downs, disappointments and constant explaining, the night before his first injection of testosterone, I felt I was losing the person I had spent so many years fighting for. I was grieving for a person that hadn't died. I remember looking at him and feeling very emotional. I insisted on playing all our old records and we sat for hours reminiscing about our childhood. I wanted to have one more night with the old Kerrie, as from tomorrow Kerrie would slowly die with every injection given.

At the time I had failed to remember the real person inside. The kind, considerate, caring and loving person that I had fallen in love with 16 years previously. After all, Kamron had always been there, he just hadn't been given the correct name at birth for his gender. The only real changes in Kamron are his increased positive attitudes towards life. He has become more assertive, confident, and outgoing. He no longer walks with his head faced to the floor but held high with grace and pride, and me? I have spent the last three years in college regaining the education taken from me at school. In September I start university.

No longer do we hide from the neighbours, Kamron is out! Surprisingly his family took his news very well. I don't know why we spent so many months worrying about their reaction. His mother seems to find it a lot easier to accept us as boyfriend & girlfriend than as lesbians. My parents have been very supportive from the beginning and the children love him as any child would love their father. People often ask me if the girls have been affected by our relationship and its changes, and I have to be honest and say that they haven't. As long as we give children the right information, time and understanding, they will own the tools and correct knowledge to educate others. The girls are very open-minded and accepting of others, regardless of colour, gender and sexuality.

I feel that if we can make a change to attitudes, regardless how small, just by teaching our young not to be afraid of the unknown, we will be one small step closer to helping the future generations of transsexuals feel more comfortable with both their condition and seeking the appropriate help. No longer will they have to suffer in silence, in order to hide the cruel trick Mother Nature played on their bodies. We have come a long way over the last sixteen years, but all our dreams will come true on Saturday 7th. August, when we vow to be husband & wife in front of our family and friends.

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