[38—Joining Up]

The morning's headlines shocked me:

Ford Wins big in California

There was an article, giving the tally.  Every state but Washington had reported.  Spock had 155 official electoral votes.  Ford was behind, but only by six votes.  We'd taken Oregon but Ford got the big prize.  It was so close now.  And Washington had seven electoral votes.


I only had a half-day at school that day.  With my school work finished in anticipation of a busy court schedule, I was able to take it off and attend to some personal business.

I'd gotten a call back from the Peace Corps recruiter in St. Louis and he sounded delighted to meet me that afternoon.

His office was a small storefront in a strip mall off the highway.  I bet it didn't get much foot traffic.  I only found it because of the flag.

"Are you Dani," he asked, meeting me at the door.  He shook my hand. 

"Glad to meet you.  You sounded older than you look.  You are eighteen, right?"

"No," I told him but pulled out notarized letters of permission from both of my parents.  "But Tipper said I could join at sixteen with my parents' permission.  I have that, and my birth certificate.  What else do you need?"

"That should be sufficient, though your parents will still have to sign the application."

"Application?  I thought you took anybody."

"It takes a lot," he told me seriously, "for us to refuse the application of a volunteer.  I've not heard of it without a court order and a police record."

"So why application?"

"Because that's what it is.  You volunteer, and we accept you.  It's not an enlistment."

"It's not?  I wasn't sure."

"The Peace Corps has no enlistment; you are volunteers, not soldiers.  Consequently, you have no oath and are free to leave, just like a civilian job."

"Civilian.  Most people misuse that word.  Police officers especially seem to think they are not civilians, or government officials.  But they are by definitions civil authorities.  That pretty much requires civilian status."

"Smart one, aren't you.  Well, that's all true, but the Peace Corps is sort of a gray area.  Neither fish, nor foul, nor good red meat, as it were.  The officers are definitely not civilians.  They hold commissions with the US Government.

"But volunteers are non-civilians in the service of the government.  In fact, they have almost no legal status at all."

"Then why would I want to be one?
"In a word, 'money for college'."

"That's three words."

"You're right, it is, but the money is there.  You've seen our brochures, and  you know that women make the same pay men do."

"But it's not a paid position.  What to you mean by 'pay'?"

"You will have almost everything you need issued to you; room, board, food, uniforms.  Everything but socks and underwear."

"Why not those?"

"Costs too much.  Everybody likes something different, and it's cheaper just to give you a stipend.  There are other allowances, but mostly, you'll earn a small stipend.  It really ain't much."

"Yes, I've seen, but the money for college is good."

"Yes, and the longer you serve, the more you'll get.  It's progressive based on rank and time."

"Sounds excellent.  I'm ready to join."

"Let me get you the application, and a skill map."

"I have the application here; I've already filled it out.  But what is the skill map?"

"It's a tool we have to help place you, and see what training you'll need."

He took my papers and left.  When he came back, they were on a clipboard with the skill map.

I looked the form over.

"You don't have near enough space for languages," I told him.


I was helping Mother with dinner in the kitchen that evening when the doorbell rang.

Two minutes later, Gina came in to tell me I had a visitor.

"Who is it," I asked her, drying my hands.

It's Topher," she said with wide eyes.  "And he's got flowers."

"Tell hit I'll be right there," I told her and turned to Mother to beg off for a minute.

She turned off the stove.

"This ought to be good," she observed, and followed me to the front hall.

"Topher," I said, pulling open the door, "come in.  I really wasn't expecting you."

He hadn't really called on me at the house before.

"I know, I'm sorry I didn't call first," he apologized, "however, I'm not here to see you, Dani."

"Really," I asked him.  Then why the flowers?

"Really," Mother echoed behind me, "then why the flowers?"

Get out of my head!

They were mixed, about half a dozen pink carnations and white roses.  They were in a vase obviously of his making.  It was slim, with two handles, like a flat-bottomed amphora.  The glaze was a dark iridescent green craquelure, dyed neon green in the cracks.

"They are for you, Mrs. Heywood."

"Why thank you, dear," she exclaimed and moved in quickly to claim them.  She took them into the front room.

I felt left out.

"They are lovely," she said, putting the vase on the living room table.  "Now, why are you here?"

Topher gave me a questioning look.  I raised my eyebrows; I had warned him about Mother.

"So you are Topher."  It was a statement, not a question.  "It's nice to finally meet you."

Daddy appeared in the hall, as if by magic, and I wondered how Mother had summoned him.

"Nice to meet you young man," Daddy said, shaking hits hand.  "I mean, well, I don't know what I mean.  It's nice to meet you, Topher."

"Likewise," Topher answered.

"So what brings you here this evening," Daddy asked, showing every bit as much tact as his wife.

"I came to see you two.  I realized I got off on the wrong foot with you two.  Today, I realized why..."

"And why is that," Mother asked, smooth as silk and innocent as a cobra.

"Because I've never called on you before.  I've been effectively sneaking around with Dani, and you two have no idea who I am, or what I stand for.  It's proper to introduce oneself to the relatives of one's close friends."

"That's a good start," Mother observed. 

"I'm Topher Grant," he announced, handing Daddy a bottle of wine, "and I am Dani's friend."

"Please," Mother stepped up to him, taking by the arm, "do come in."

They led him to the office—the closest thing we had to a parlor—and Mother came back to get me.

"That's a smart boy," she told me.  "I mean person.  Sucking up to us like that.  It took some chutzpah.  I hope he makes it."

"What do you mean, Mother?"

"I mean, he's in the parlor with your father, who's no doubt asking him this very minute what his intentions are."

"Daddy's a pussy cat, Mom.  Besides, Topher's motivations are innocent."

"Is that so?  You just don't get it, do you child.  This isn't about sex, as much as about age and boundaries.  We need to make sure any beau of yours is suitable. 

"And if you think your father is a pussy cat, then you don't know him as well as you think you do.  He's more like a lion when someone messes with his cubs."


Topher stayed for dinner.  It was very formal. 

Robbie was either awed or intimidated by hit; I couldn't figure out which, but he didn't say a word during the meal. 

Gina was as silent as a mouse.

But Mother and Daddy were certainly loquacious—or at least inquisitive.

They asked about Topher's job, his plans for the future, his family.  There was a lot of stuff I didn't know.

I thought the jig was up when Daddy asked hit about Christy, but Topher explained that she was an out-of-town relative who, unfortunately had to leave for the West Coast again.

"I would like," Topher said, taking a sip of his wine, "your permission to see Dani socially.  I'd like to take her out tomorrow night."

Daddy had poured four glasses of it and given one to me. 

I took a drink.  It was good, but I liked the beer better.

"I don't see that's a problem, Topher," Daddy said.  He looked at me.  "That is, if it's okay with Dani."

"Of course, Daddy.  I'd like that."

"So where will you go," Mother sprung on him, ever the paranoid.  "What will you do?"

"Dinner and a movie.  I'd like to take hir to a movie."  Hit turned to me.

"That would be lovely.  Daddy, is that okay?"

"Of course it is, punkin'.  We'll alter your curfew for the evening.  Whatsay, dear?  Would midnight be too late?"

Mother might have had other ideas; she didn't look exactly happy about it, but nor did she object.

"That would be fine."

[37—Super Tuesday]

There was no court the next day, so I had to go to school.  This week had promised to be a stone-cold bitch.  So far, that was an understatement.

School was a real blow-off, since I'd done all of my Spanish IV homework last week and chemistry was cancelled because of a fire in the lab.

I saw Tammy for the first time since the party.

"Tammy," I told her in confidence.  "I'm gonna tell you something, and you have to keep it a secret.  Don't freak out or anything when I tell you."

"Okay.  What is it?"


"Okay, whatever.  Now tell it, hirl."

"You know I don't like that world.  Okay, here goes.  Gina had sex."


"Well, isn't that shocking?"

"You haven't told me anything yet."

"Yes I have.  Gina had sex."

"That," she scoffed.  "I'm supposed to freak out 'cause Wonder Woman's understudy got laid?  How old is she?"


"And this is her first time?"

"Of course.  Aren't you shocked?"

"Did she get paid for it?  Did your Daddy trade her to a friend for a kilo of dope?"

"No."  She could be so dramatic sometimes.

"Then I ain't surprised."

"She's my baby sister."

"That's what sisters do, shug, when they get big.  And they always get big.  Is she preggers?"

"We don't know yet."


"But you don't have to say it like that.  This is tragic."

"No," Tammy corrected me.  "President Kennedy's assassination was tragic.  This is pathos."

"It's tragic for her."

"She can't see the forest for the trees.  Dani, this happens all the time."

"Maybe in your neighborhood."

"Yours too.  Pregnancy isn't a poor kid thing, Dani.  There are just as many girls from your hood in line over at the Clinic on my side of the river."

"I'm not talking about them, Tammy.  I'm talking about my little sister.  And for the purpose of this conversation, it is tragic.  Do you understand?"

"Yeah, sure.  But what am I supposed to do?  I didn't knock her up."


"I didn't.  So when did this happen?"

"Halloween night."

"Oh, I see.  And you feel responsible for her, 'cause she went off dressed like a patriotic prostitute?"

"That's not fair.  I'll grant you patriotic, but she wasn't dressed like a prostitute."

"Yeah she was.  You wanna test that?  Let's stick her on the corner of Old Miss and Tenth Street, and see who stops."

"Tammy, you're being unfair."

"No I'm not; I just don't share your double standard."

"I don't have a double standard."

"Look, Dani, just 'cause Princess is privileged, don't mean I have to feel bad for her 'cause she made the same mistakes I see little girls make every day.  It's not like there are a lot of thirteen-year old virgins around here.  You just don't see it."

"You make me sound like a prude."

"You are a prude, hon, but you're getting over it."

"Are you a virgin, Tammy?"

"Yes, but I can run pretty fast."


It was Super Tuesday, and I was excited, but I have to admit to a certain amount of distraction.  This had already been the longest week of my life, and there were still four days left.

Most of the mainstream polls were predicting Gerald Ford by a landslide, but the South was voting for George Wallace.  I had no illusions that my political manipulation would have no widespread effects, regardless of how effective it might be locally. 

The campaign season had been long, it had started last winter, but it was all coming to a head today.  Soon we would see the end of the commercials and signs, and the endless bunting and flags.

Well, maybe not the flags.  The Bicentennial was great for flags.  Congress passed the Flag Act on the Fourth of July; it regulated use of the flag and all flags that used the 48 stars and 13 bars pattern.

Besides the National Flag with its familiar red and white stripes the Act also enshrined into law the Seal flag, so called because it was a white flag with red stripes.  It had been used since 1944, when General MacArthur flew it in occupied South Carolina.  Since the end of that war, it had been more-or-less a tradition for vanquished rebel states to fly it.

Flags had been integral to this campaign and the big parties had flags for their caucus, and a separate flag for each of their candidates.

Wallace had even incorporated the design into his skywagon.  He'd painted the touring-rocket with red and blue stripes along the hull, with a white nose-cap with a ring of blue stars.  It was very patriotic.

Modern high-profile candidates wouldn't be caught dead touring on a bus.  With the breakneck schedule and endless pressure to appear in public, it made more sense to use a ballistic bus.  You could see four or five times the number of people if you went by rocket.

The President didn't campaign that hard, of course, and he took Air Force One everywhere.  He seemed pretty confident he'd win tonight.

My candidate, like all the rest, did his touring in a ground-bus.  He was mostly restricted to California, as that was where his appeal was.   Back before Kennedy, that meant he'd lose for sure, but all Dr. Spock had to do was get his name out, and not piss anyone off.

He might take some of the Western states, but he didn't have to beat the other candidates to win.  If enough people would vote against the two primary candidates, then his platform would stand a chance. 

His campaign strategy hinged on that fact.  He couldn't admit it publicly, of course, but the People's Party had been encouraging its members to convince other voters to vote against their opponent's candidates, instead of for their own.  That's where I'd gotten the idea.

I just hoped it worked.  Ford was big-business politics as usual, and a President Wallace would probably start a pogrom; God forbid he might be elected.

No other candidate was really running.  The People's Party had convinced most of the would-be competitors that success lay behind a unified front and Dr. Spock was running consistently third in the polls behind the Republicrats.

I sat on the couch with my parents and watched the tube.  It takes a special kind of mind to find election results exciting, but I could see history made here tonight.  President Spock would be good for the kind of world I wanted it to be four years from now.

The evening started with a surprise:  Maine, which reported it's votes first split them between Ford and Spock.  It was a tie.

The next two were not surprising.  Ford took New Hampshire and Vermont, but the numbers were lower than expected.  People must be voting against them both.  Spock had about 10% in each of those states.

That put Ford way ahead—nine to two in terms of electoral votes, but those wouldn't be cast until later.

Massachusetts was next, and it went to Dr. Spock—he had 22% over Ford's 13%; Wallace had 2% with 50% of precincts reporting.  That put our candidate in the lead for the first time. 

The Eastern seaboard popular vote tallies came in, but I kept my eyes on the electoral votes.  They showed a dramatic fight in New England as the states with smaller populations which could have results the soonest reported in.

Rhode Island and Delaware both went to Spock but Ford carried Connecticut. 

The Disctrict of Columbia was too close to call, but would likely split their votes.

Spock held his lead until Maryland, which was sure to cast its eight votes to Ford, who was now the projected winner 25 to 21 and Wallace had yet to take a single state.

About same time Florida reported her first precincts, Spock's New York numbers jumped from 8% to 12%, and kept on rising.  By 9:00 PM he was neck-and-neck with Ford at 19%.  Then Fords numbers went down.

When New Jersey polls showed 27% Spock, 19% Ford, 8% Wallace with 85% precincts reporting, it became clear Spock was back in the lead. 

Then it started happening in New York—Spocks' votes stayed at a steady 21% while Fords share dropped to 12%, then ten, then into the single digits.  Wallaces' votes had long since evaported.  The Garden State's final tally was 23% Spock, 13% Ford, less than 0% Wallace.

As the evening progressed, so evolved the map.  Spock and Ford had split the smaller states in New England, but with New York going to Spock and Pennsylvania to Ford, he was back in the race.

The rest of the Atlantic States reported next and for a long time, only Ford and Wallace got any of their votes.  By 10:00 PM, Spock was only leading Ford by three electoral votes. 

Wallace took the Deep South, of course, but Ford wound up taking Kentucky, and with it, the lead for the third time this evening.

As the last of the South gave way to the Midwest, however, the pattern changed.  Spock was doing well enough in Ohio to call it, and he took a fourteen vote lead.  In a short time, he had every Midwestern state on the Missisippi except Iowa, which gave him 130 probable electoral votes, as opposed to Ford's 70-odd and Wallace's 61.

But the next column of states was a different story.  Ford dominated there, taking all the votes except three split votes from Nebraska and Oklahoma for Spock and those of Texas—which went to Wallace and put him within eight votes of second place. 

Ford kept winning the rest of the night, but it did him no good.  After the last two votes, from Oklahoma, Spock was virtually guaranteed 150 electoral votes, out of 392. 

Winning in Montana had brought Ford's total to 92, and it continued to rise, but he would have to win nearly every remaining contest. 

By midnight it was all but a forgone conclusion that Spock would win.  The map was by no means completely green, but he had won some important upsets.

I went to bed confident, and happy with what I saw.  The entire west coast had yet to report.  Oregon had just voted for Spock, bringing the score to:  Spock, 155;  Ford, 118; Wallace 81.  Ford would have to take California and Washington to win.  California was Spock's home state and he was projected to do well there.



After the unexpected end of court that morning, Mother took me out to lunch, with shopping to follow.

"So what makes you two think," she asked me during dessert—a decadent tiramisu—"that you can pull anything over on your father and me?"

That was a loaded question if I ever heard one.  Tread carefully, Dani.

"Whatever do you mean mother?"

"Don't play coy, Dani, it's unbecoming.  I'm giving you a rare chance to speak, woman-to...I mean as adults."

"A new game?  What are the rules?"

"You get more like your father every day.  What I'm offering you is amnesty.  Now spill it."

"Spill what?"  I wasn't being coy; I just didn't know which of my plethora of recent indiscretions she was talking about.  I'd been on a spree.

"I'm talking about last night."  She took a forkful of heaven into her mouth and closed her eyes blissfully.

"How much do you know?"

Maybe Gina spilled the beans.

"Dani, answer in full and truthfully or this will become an investigation.  I offered you immunity; you can't hide behind the Fifth Amendment anymore."

She was right.  The prohibition on self-incrimination wasn't in force if there were no consequences of your testimony.  Damn her.  It sucks sometimes to have a mother who is a legal scholar.

"Tammy and I went to a party with Topher."  When they have you dead to rights—always plead guilty to a lesser offense; I'd learned that stratagem at my mother's milk.

"Gina went trick-or-treating by herself.  She's thirteen Mother.  I went by myself at that age."

"You were more responsible than she is."

"What?  When has she ever defied you?  I've been a lot more of a pain-in-the-ass lately."

"Yes you have.  I said you were more responsible, not are.  Sixteen-year-olds are always recidivists.  It'll be worse when you're nineteen and know-it-all."


"Am I getting to you, Dani?"

She was right, she was playing me.  I didn't like it.

"I won't be like that.  Okay, I've told you.  Now what?"


"What?  Then why all the skullduggery?"

"Because now I know, and you can quit worrying about it.  Child-of-mine, I'm going to tell you something I probably shouldn't, not at your stage of development:  I didn't know anything for sure until you told me, just now."

"You tricked me?"

"Hardly.  I outwitted you.  I know you feel safe playing fast and loose with mores and folkways because you don't think they're relevant to you, but your weakness is law.  I exploited a loophole and you felt compelled to answer."

My mother's powers of deduction were awesome—and scary when turned against me.


I had to tell Gina that Mother had tricked me into narking us out, but she came home and went straight to her room.

She came out for dinner.  I could see she'd been crying.  Maybe Mother had confronted her already.

Dinner passed in silence, but that wasn't surprising.  Daddy and I had an Understanding, and he knew nothing about Gina.  Mother and I had a Deal, and it involved ratting out my sister.  Gina, for all I knew, was already in trouble and hating me for it.

I excused myself early and waited for her in the bathroom.  With luck, she'd have to go.  If not, could still probably head her off before she could get to her room.  I needed to talk to her, but didn't want there to be a scene.

She came dragging up the stairs and stopped in the bathroom.  She looked in the medicine cabinet and rummaged under the sink.  She seemed oblivious to my presence.

"Gina," I called to her, and she freaked.  She jumped and cussed at me before settling against the door and drawing her knees up close.  She hugged them and glowered at me.

She was crying again.

"Gina, I'm sorry."

"Why," she sobbed.  "It's not your fault.  You couldn't have known.  I'm so sorry, Dani..." her voice trailed off.

"It's okay."  I moved over to be near her.  When I touched her, she hugged me so tight I couldn't breathe.

"Easy baby," I told her, stroking her hair.  "I need air."

She didn't let up one bit.

"I'm so sorry," she repeated.  "I didn't think it would happen..."

"Didn't think what would happen, Gina?"

Were we talking about the same thing?

"I did it," she explained, as if I knew what it was.  "I'd been wondering and then at the hospital they said all that awful stuff.  I thought I was ready, but..."

She was crying again.

"It's okay...I've got you.  Let's go to your room; we can talk there."

I led her to her room, and locked the door behind us.  We sat on the floor on the other side of her bed—out of earshot of the door.

"I'm not sure what you're trying to tell me," I explained as quietly as I could, "what happened?"

"We did it..." he face was a perfect mask of horror.

"Who did what, hon?"

"I didn't go trick-or-treating last night."

"What?  I don't understand.  You did what with whom last night, Gina?"

"I went with Sanjin instead."

"Who's Sanjin?"

"He's my partner, from dance class."

"You went with a boy in you class, and you didn't go trick-or-treating.  What did you do?"

"We went to the studio, and we danced.  I watched us in the mirror.  He's so beautiful.  He moves like a swan."

She was a little calmer now, and the tears had been replaced by an odd smile.

"Okay, and then what?"

"Then," the anxiety was back.  "Then..."

"What, Gina?  What happened?"

"We had sex."

"WHAT?"  I'd yelled in my surprise and hoped nobody else heard it.  I didn't see that coming.

"Gina, you're only thirteen.  Why?"

"I don't know.  I thought I wanted to; I thought I was ready."

"Oh my God, Gina, I can't believe this."

"Wait," I said, trying to sort this out.  Maybe there was a misunderstanding.  "Sex is a lot of things.  What did he do to you?"

"It wasn't like that.  He didn't force me, or take advantage.  I wanted to."

"Oh."  Calm down Dani.   This isn't as bad as it seems.

"It started out ballet," she explained.  "Then we started slow dancing, only with no music.  He liked my costume, and kissed me.  I kissed him back."

She seemed pretty wistful about that.   

"Okay, then what."

"He unzipped my costume.  I didn't have anything on under it."

"I see.  Did he stop when you asked him to?"

"I didn't ask him to.  I took it off."

"Oh."  What the hell?  This was my little sister.  I'd kill the little twerp when I found out who it was.

"He kissed me all over, and rubbed his hands on me.  Dani, it felt so good."

I wasn't sure I was old enough to hear this.

"Go on," I forced myself to say, not sure I could abide what happened next.

"He laid me down and kissed me, down there...oh my God, Dani, I saw stars."

"Gina, what the hell?  I didn't even know you had a boyfriend.  Okay, was that it?"

"No, we did it.  We fucked, Dani."

Was there no decency left in the world?  Whatever happened to values?  Little sisters weren't supposed to have sex.

"I liked it too, but then I had a cow.  I started crying and Sanjin freaked out."

"I don't know what to say, Gina.  I think you took it too fast.  Maybe you shouldn't have let it go so far.  At least you know to use protection."

She looked at her feet.

"You did use a condom, didn't you?"

"No," she cried, "he didn't have one."

"What?  Gina, that's insane.  Are you trying to get pregnant?  No, wait, I shouldn't say that.  It's okay.  Everything will be fine.  What's happened has happened; we'll just have to deal."

"That's easy for you to say, Dani.  I had my period two weeks ago."

"Oh my God!  Gina, do you think we should tell Mother?"

"What?  No, Dani!  She'll kill me for sure; Sanjin is seventeen."

"Seventeen?  She won't have to kill him, Gina, I will.  Shit, what are we gonna do?"

"I was hoping you'd know.  You're always so reasonable about these things."

"I don't know what to do, Gina.  I'm sorry.  When will you know?  I mean, if you're..."  I couldn't finish the thought.

"When I miss my next period.  I'm so screwed Dani.  I won't make it two weeks."

"There are other options," I pointed out.

"Not in Missouri."  She was right.  The VIII Circuit didn't allow abortion, even though two Constitutional Amendments said it was in no uncertain terms.

"It's okay," I told her, patting her hand.  "We can go to Illinois.  I have some money saved up.  If that's what you want."

"Thanks Dani.  We'll worry about that when and if.  But right now I just want it to all go away."

"We'll be okay," I assured her.  "I'll be with you no matter what."

[35—Heywood v. MoDOT]

In spite of my mother's and lawyer's warnings, I still thought winning my court case would be a piece of cake.  The facts were on my side.

Not all cakes are worth eating, though.  Soap comes in cakes, and it tastes awful.

I kept nodding off the next morning.  I'd already drunk five cups of coffee and still I was a zombie. 

Mr. Richter seemed annoyed but Mother seemed to think it was some part of growing up—I intentionally left her with that impression.

"Heywood et al," the bailiff boomed over the courtroom, "versus Missouri Department of Transportation.  The Honorable Judge Sarah Wentworth-Stocks presiding.  All rise."

We stood up, the judge walked in.

"Be seated," she said, and sat herself.  She was tiny, and old.  She looked like a wizened pink raisin. 

Her air of authority was absolute and reminded me of Miss Tilly.

"The issue at hand," she began, without stopping to refer to any documents, "is the legal gender classification of the minor child, Danielle Lynn Heywood, born May 15, 1960 in the State of Missouri.  Are these facts correct Counselor?"

She looked at Mr. Richter. 

"Yes, Your Honor," he answered.  He was wearing a spiffy pinstriped suit and looked like a well-groomed million bucks—or at least a hundred-G's.

"Very well, has the plaintiff been apprised of the relevant statutes?"

"Yes, Your Honor, but we believe the Federal Constitution presides here."

"Do you?"   She seemed dubious.  "I'll be the judge of that."

That elicited a laugh from the gallery and a stern look from her.  Judge Wentworth-Stocks had no sense of humor.

"Please approach the bench with your client."

We went up front, in sight of everybody but out of their hearing.

"So tell me, Miss Heywood, why do you think your birth certificate should be amended?"

"It says I'm a girl," I answered with less conviction that I'd have liked, "and I'm not."

"And you can prove this."

"Yes, Your Honor," Mr. Richter handed her a sheaf of papers.  "If it pleases the court, I have filed a medical report signed by six medical doctors—three of whom are licensed to practice medicine in the State of Missouri—and an amicus curiae brief from a noted specialist in gender morphology with your clerk.  Here are additional copies for your perusal."

She looked them over briefly.

"Most irregular," she replied.  "Is it my understanding that if I grant your request, you will still be dissatisfied.  Is this true, Miss Heywood?"

"Excuse me?"

"Missouri law only allows a birth certificate or other pertinent document to be amended consistent with current state laws.  There are only two choices, and you aren't asking for either."

"Correct.  I'm neither a male nor a female.  It's in your reports, if you'd bother to read them.  It's not fair that I have to pretend to be something I'm not because the old dead men who made that law didn't know that a coin could land on its edge."

"Explain yourself," she told me tersely.  Then to my lawyer, "Counselor, please advise you client that she is in danger of a Contempt charge."

He gave me a look too; this was not what we'd planned, but I was tired of taking everyone's guff.  Maybe Tammy was influencing me, but she was right.

"Most people are male or female, like the two sides of a coin.  But sometimes, a coin lands on its edge.  It doesn't happen very often, but it did in my case.  I'm not a boy.  I'm not a girl.  I'm something else."

"Miss Heywood, as I just explained, my hands are tied.  I can grant your petition, in which your birth certificate will be amended to reflect that you are a male, or I can refuse, and you will remain legally a female.

"But let me be perfectly clear here; this is about legal classifications, not biology.  What gender do you most resemble?"


"Okay.  You've had the tests, what is your genetic sex?"

"Neither, Your Honor.  The report classified me as 'RR', a sex-selecting gene previously unknown.  I know you know this."  

"I'm merely asking for the record, young lady, on which you are not making yourself look very good."  She nodded to the stenographer.

"Look.  I'm neither a boy who thinks he's a girl, nor a girl who thinks she's a boy.  I'm new, and improved if you ask me.  It's not fair to make me fit into a category that I'm intrinsically not part of.  At least let me have 'other'."


Mr. Richter looked stricken.  I was a loose cannon, firing at our own waterline.  What was wrong with me?

"Take your client outside and calm her down, and don't bring her back into my courtroom until she can be civil.  I will see you in my chambers in five minutes.  Alone."


"Well, we're done," Richter said, tossing his briefcase onto the table at which we were sitting in the cafeteria. 

"What?"  Mother and I asked the question in harmony, like we'd practiced it that way.

"The Judge has already ruled."

"Am I in trouble?"

"No, Dani."

"What was her ruling," Mother asked.

"Petition Denied."

"I'm sorry Mr. Richter."

"Don't be.  I told you it would be an uphill battle.  But I do have to insist that you refrain from ad hominem diatribes in future courtrooms.  And trust me, there will be plenty."

"What next?"

"We appeal.  First to the state appeals board, then to the State Supreme Court, if they'll take it—unless we can get a Federal Judge to take it sooner for some other reason—and I've got a few ideas.  Then, and only then, can we take it to the District Court of Appeals."

"How long to the Supreme Court?"

"Ten years, three as a minimum, if they'll hear it at all.  The chances aren't good that it'll go that high."

"You said in your briefing the Constitution protects me based on Gender.  I know the XVI Amendment says that."

"Yes, but it's more complicated than that, Dani.  Gender is a suspect class, and you clearly fall under that.  But only if the court construes the case narrowly."

"What is wrong with these Judges?"

I could have been Tammy saying that.

"That's the wrong kind of question, Dani.  It would be better to ask what is wrong with the law, or the Constitution."

"There's nothing wrong with the Constitution," I spat back automatically.

"Isn't there," he anwered amiably.  "Then why is it subject to interpretation by sour old biddies with no sense of humor?"

"What?  You agree with me on that?"

"I have eyes, Dani.  But if you ever say that in public I shall deny it on a stack of Bibles.  The system isn't perfect, but it's better than most. 

"But what you have to learn, and I see a hard life for you if you don't, is to live with the system we have, and to change it when you can.

"But you mustn't let it get to you, or it'll kill you.  I'm not being hyperbolic; worry kills as sure as bullets."