What Pegman Saw – Finding Out

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Baltimore, Maryland.

WPS - Finding Out 180714

Peabody Institute of John’s Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland  © S. Kalugin Google Maps

Finding out

“Honey, what are you doing?” asked Laura.

Jeff turned from the mirror, his face scarlet.

“Mom! I didn’t hear you come in!”

“Come here, hun.”

Jeff hesitated. Laura’s dress hung loose on him, and he tottered on her high heels.

Laura sat down and patted the place beside her. “Sit beside me, sweetie.”

She hugged him.

“Honey, I love you,” she said.

Then she asked “You’ve borrowed my clothes before, haven’t you?”

Jeff nodded.

“Is it like that TV programme we saw?”

Jeff nodded again.

“Mom,” he blurted, “I feel like I’m a girl, not a boy.”

“Do you have a special name, sweetheart?”

Jeff looked at his toes. “Myleene”

“My, that’s a pretty name.” She drew breath. “You want I should take you to Johns Hopkins, like the girl on the TV?”

“What about dad?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll talk him round.”

She hugged her son again, her heart breaking.

Author’s Notes

Johns Hopkins Hospital pioneered gender reassignment surgery in the USA. However, in 1979 they stopped carrying out such surgery, taking the view that gender dysphoria was a mental illness and should be treated as such. They maintained this policy for 38 years, only changing it in 2017. They now offer a range of medical treatments for gender dysphoria, including surgery.

 

35 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – Finding Out

  1. Jeff is lucky his mother is more understanding that Johns Hopkins was. How sad that the university took that position for so many years. Your story conveys the tenderness between mother and child beautifully.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Karen
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comments. There has always been a battle between conservatives and liberals as to how to view difference from the gender norm. While Johns Hopkins stance was justified by a study that purported to evaluate outcomes, subsequent work showed clearly that the study was seriously flawed. By denying appropriate treatment to those with gender dysphoria, Johns Hopkins will have caused much distress, and almost certainly many deaths.
      Thank you for your nice comment about the tenderness between mother and child. I’m glad that came across well.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  2. wow – did not realize the stance the hospital changed with…/
    and very nice job on writing about this topic…
    – last week I was talking with a transgender young lady and you know Penny, it felt nice to just converse with her person to person. It was the third time we had a chance to talk (has to do with a short term work project) and she revealed to me she was trans (which I knew from minute one) but it was such a non issue for me and we got back to our project and well – my heart goes out to those who have parents who are not so tender on this issue or other issues – and then they lose their child – ugh

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Yvette
      Thank you for reading and for your kind comments. I’m glad you had such a positive encounter with the young transwoman, but I’m not surprised – we’re just women, you know!
      As you say, parental acceptance is very important. I knew one transwoman who couldn’t live as she truly was because her parents said that if she did, she would be denied access to all family events – births, marriages, funerals. As she was Jewish, this was a big deal.
      Anyway, my story this week has a happy ending; Myleene will get the help and support that she needs.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • oh penny, that is how I felt – this unity and bond and “just women, you know” and I tear up (just a tad) now to think of her plight –

        and that being cut off is a big deal for any race or any human being – but I can see all the more in certain traditional families

        and sadly, we have seen families cut off their kids for just picking a spouse they did not support – not lying – and all I have to say it “Their loss”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. hard for him and mother…for mother because she realize how much he must suffer….you had a story like this half a year ago…can´t remember the title…but she, as a family Das went up the hill to be one moment free, to feel one moment being a woman…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear anie
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m flattered that you remember my story “Me Time” from last year. Still, this story has a happy ending, because Myleene will receive the care that she needs; the medical team will evaluate carefully and propose options from which she can choose. Her mom, Laura – well, it’s more mixed for her. She will find that she loves her daughter Myleene as much as she loved her son, Jeff, but there will be a grieving period – and there will always be a part of her that feels the loss of her son.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Of course, I remember this story that made me very pondering back then. How nice that there is a happy ending here. I imagine how I would lose a son or daughter in this way and win a daughter / son for it. It’s hard to imagine, but I think I would not mourn any more than the time when the kids were small anyway …. you lose the “little ones” and win “teenagers”. You lose the “teenagers” and you win “adults” .. and here you just lose one gender to another….the persons are the same, but the physical shapes and our function change.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent story, Penny. I know two trans young men and one trans woman, and the societal acceptance of who they are has always been iffy at best. People fear what they don’t understand, and they can be especially cruel about sexuality. I like how you use dialog to show the emotional stakes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Josh
      Thank you for reading, and for your kind comments. As you say, a lot of the problem with acceptance is fear of difference. Good luck to your trans friends – I hope their acceptance improves with time.
      Thank you for your comment about the dialogue; I’m glad you liked it.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Penny,

    One of my favorite managers before I retired was a transgender man. He had worked in the same store as a woman. Not only was the change of gender dramatic, but also the personality change. She was a very surly woman but a lot of fun as a man. Go figure.
    Myleene is lucky to have an understanding mother. I hope her father will understand. Nicely done.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rochelle
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m not surprised that your colleague’s manner changed so dramatically. When you start living as the gender that is right for you, social interaction suddenly becomes easy and pleasant. One of the good things about being trans is that you realise how joyful it is to be normal!
      Shalom
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Penny,

        One night after a particularly grueling work day, he stayed late to help me get the bakery cleaned up and put two full racks of cake into a backroom cooler. I said, “Kasey, you’re a gentleman and a scholar.” I treasure the look on his face. 😉

        Shalom,

        Rochelle

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dale
      Yes, Laura gets it right. She’s thought about it beforehand, because she guessed Jeff/Myleene had been borrowing her clothes (‘Then she asked “You’ve borrowed my clothes before, haven’t you?”’). And she’d seen his/her response to the TV programme. You’re right that mothers tend to be more understanding than fathers.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dahlia
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      I’ve painted an idealised picture of how a mom can help her child with the realisation that they’re transgendered. It doesn’t usually happen like that, sadly.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a touching story, Penny, sweet and sincere, with dialogue that felt real.

    I have supported, emotionally, many mothers whose sons have pursued transitioning. As well as from sons who are transitioning whose parents do not figure in their thinking.

    Interesting that you picked up on this surgery when I focussed on the musicality of the place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Kelvin
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comments. I’m intrigued that you’ve given emotional support to many people affected by trans issues – there are only a few people who can say that.
      As a transwoman myself, I can understand those whose parents do not figure in their plans for transition. Living an authentic life is more important than just about anything else, so if you meet strong family opposition you have to sacrifice family ties.
      Of course, the reason I picked up on the surgery issue is that Johns Hopkins were notorious in the trans community for years for their stance on gender reassignment.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So well done Penny. The way you describe mother and son’s love and connection is emotionally powerful and touching, and subtly hints at the challenges ahead, starting with dad.

    On a historical note, I was surprised to learn about the John Hopkins’ stance on re-alignment surgery, til 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Francine
      Thank you so much for your kind comment. There’s a lot of trust between mother and son; Laura’s a great mom! There will certainly be challenges, but nowadays diagnosis is (usually) rigorous, and where gender dysphoria is confirmed, gender reassignment has good results. Myleene should be okay!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  8. Very genuine dialog here Penny. A lovely vision of unconditional love.

    Parenting is often about rising above our own feelings, shaped inevitably by our own experiences and upbringing and limited exposure to those different from us, to meet the needs of our children. We (and our children) are lucky these days to live in a more open atmosphere, where such things are no longer quite as taboo as they once were.I take your point about the grieving process. Parents often grieve for their vision of who they believed their children were or could be, as opposed to celebrating the fine people they actually are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Andi
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments on my story. I agree that parenting is about rising above our own feelings and wishes. You’re right when you mention that parents grieve for their vision of who they believe their child to be – but, actually, I believe grieving for a trans child is a step beyond that. A trans person, no matter what they say, is a different person from their dysphoric predecessor – one enormous and quite unarguable difference is that instead of being a sad person, they’re now happy! And there are all sorts of learned behaviours that have been learned to enable the trans person to survive in society when they felt they were the wrong gender. So, there is a real loss to be confronted, and grieving is inevitable – and valid.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • It reminds me alot of a piece often given to parents when they find out their children has a disability. It’s about planning a trip to Italy, i think, but winding up instead in Holland. The point is, Holland is nice too. 🌷🌷( coincidentally, one of my son’s earliest therapists, who taught him to walk, happened to be from Holland.)

        I know its not the same thing, but it reminds me of it. And the important thing is that in each case, the child/young adult is happy!

        Liked by 1 person

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