“And I say the time for waiting is over. He’s tried to stop us serving in the military. He’s tried to withdraw rights we’ve fought for. He wants to prevent us using appropriate washrooms. Now he wants to eliminate us completely – they’ve even taken down every reference to transgender off government websites for Christ’s sakes! Enough is enough. We have to fucking do something!” Angela slapped her hand on the table.
“You’re right — it’s time for action. No more pussyfooting around. Let the talkers keep trying to influence opinions — but we need direct action now.” Agreed Teresa.
“Count me in too.” Added Rita. “I took an oath to protect the Constitution against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic. He’s claimed his orders take precedence over the Constitution -
“Shit yes.” Confirmed Teresa. “That bastard has no concept of honour. We all served our country and were prepared to lay down our lives. What has he ever done? Fuck all, other than spend the money his daddy left him and what he could raise with promises of favours. And left a trail of bankrupt companies in his wake.”
“Crazy thing is, the British are about to announce that women, including transwomen, will be eligible for front line service including in the Regiment.”
Jacqui didn’t need to clarify which ‘Regiment’, there was only one worth mentioning in this company, 22nd Special Air Service. “I’m in.”
The rest of the group all signified their agreement.
“Don’t forget the guys too.” Reminded Rita. “They’ll want to be involved, I’m sure. And Pat. This is going to affect NBs as much as the rest of us — if the proposal is to only have male and female — where would that leave non-
“OK — but let’s keep the planning group manageable and secure. Rita: you know Jonathan well, don’t you? See if you can get him to bring one or two others. I suggest we get together at the weekend. Any chance of using your cabin at the lake Teresa?” asked Angela.
“Sure. Plenty of room at the shack. Some will have to share but I’m sure we’ll cope somehow. Shit we’ve all put up with far worse conditions in the field haven’t we? I’ll get in some supplies, everyone OK with chillies and barbecues? But each person needs to bring their own booze I can’t afford the amount this crowd can drink! Or do you see this as a dry weekend Angela?” Asked Teresa.
In reality, Teresa was more than capable of paying for everyone’s drinks and had done so many times before, thanks to a very successful surveillance business she’d established since leaving the Rangers.
“A few beers won’t be a problem — but I think we’ll be too busy with working out a plan for really serious drinking.”
Angela had naturally taking the lead. She’d been a Major in Delta force and was now President of Pacific Coast Trans Network. Almost all of the others had seen service with US forces in Iraq or Afghanistan or both or in close protection before transitioning.
Jacqui was one of the exceptions. At 64 she was oldest — and the most experienced — of all of them. Originally English, she’d moved to the USA in 2012 to join her daughter, son-
She’d grown up on a rough estate in south Manchester and joined the British Army as soon as she could and completed selection for the SAS at her first attempt when she was 21. She’d seen service in Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Gulf War — working behind Iraqi lines searching for Scud missile launchers; then in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan and in Iraq again for the war to depose Sadam Hussein. She had completed her service as a Squadron Sergeant Major, having repeatedly declined to apply for a commission. As SSM, she could stay with the regiment permanently; as an officer (or Rupert) she’d have been limited to two year tours. Of course, if anyone had realised that Jacqui was trans during her service she’d have been instantly dismissed.
It was only when she retired after thirty years’ service followed almost immediately by her wife contracting cancer and dying just four months later, that the drive that she’d suppressed for decades emerged and she started to transition.
As she drove home from the group that evening, Jacqui thought about her granddaughter. Charlotte, who was now fifteen, had been christened Charles but, when they heard about Jacqui’s transition, announced “That’s how I feel too.” Being able to help support Charlotte had been the deciding factor that had taken Jacqui to the US.
Charlotte’s parents, Heather and Barry, had been cautious but sought advice and hadn’t tried to suppress what their child was telling them. They’d agreed to her being prescribed puberty blockers and, after a period of limiting dressing to outside school, had seen the headmistress and told her about Charlotte. The school had been equally cautious but supportive. There had been inevitable problems with some bigoted parents and a handful of the school staff but the head had been adamant and made it clear that they would respect Charlotte’s decision and if any staff didn’t like it they could leave. Similarly any parents who were unhappy with the school’s ruling were at liberty to go elsewhere. Few did.
Inevitably, the dinner conversation concerned the leaked memo from the White House about the proposal to permanently identify individuals by their genitalia at birth and not allow changes to legal gender.
“I can’t let them force me to stay male. They have no idea what being trans feels like. I just can’t do it. They have to see that I’m really female and let me live as one.” Charlotte cried.
“Don’t worry darling, we won’t let them do that to you,” her mother promised — though how they’d keep that promise, she had no idea. She just knew that she would have to do whatever she could to ensure that her daughter didn’t become just another of the dreadful suicide statistics.
“California needs to cede from the Union if that passes,” said Barry.
“Maybe we’ll have to move to Canada or back to the UK,” suggested Heather. “Sorry Barry, but I’m not going to stay in a country that doesn’t recognise Charlotte.”
“I’m 100% with you, honey, I don’t know what my country is becoming under this administration,” assured her husband.
“Let’s hope that won’t be necessary,” said Jacqui. “A group of us from PCTN are meeting this weekend to see what we can do. I’ll be away from Friday. Don’t worry Charlotte, we are determined to prevent this latest insanity from affecting you or anyone else like us.” She saw Barry’s intense look from under hooded eyelids and held his stare for a few moments before Barry shook his head and reached for his coffee cup.
Friday morning, Jacqui packed her Bergen. The distinctive framed rucksack with its DPM — disruptive pattern material — had served her well through years of service around the world. She didn’t need a lot of the kit she would normally have stowed in the various pouches for this trip but it felt right to use it rather than a holdall or suitcase. She then joined the rest of the family for breakfast.
Charlotte and Heather hugged Jacqui as she stood by the front door preparing to go out to Angela’s Mercedes GLC now waiting for her at the kerb.
“Just be careful Jacqui,” cautioned Barry.
“We’re only going to be talking. No need to worry.” Jacqui assured him.
He’d raised his eyebrows. “Yeah, sure,” he’d said.
Barry picked up Jacqui’s Bergen. “Come on I’ll walk to the SUV with you.”
At the kerbside, Barry hoisted the bag into the back then Angela closed the liftgate from the driver’s seat.
“I’m not a fool you know, Jacqui. I’m aware of your background and Angela’s. I may not have spent as long in the military as you two — but I can recognise signs of someone preparing for a mission — and using your Bergen tells me exactly what your mental state is right now. I don’t know exactly what you have in mind but I know whatever it is, it’s for Charlotte’s benefit and all the others like her. So, if there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jacqui replied with a smile. “A gang of us are just going up to Teresa’s cabin for a chat and to have a few drinks and a barbecue.”
“Fine. Well, I’ve said what I wanted to say. So, have a good weekend.”
“We’re picking up Rita and Bella on the way.” Angela told Jacqui as they pulled away from the kerb. “Teresa is collecting Martina and the supplies. Jonathan is bringing Dave and Gerry. Yvonne is bringing Susan, Camila and Gillian in her RV. Pat is coming on their motorbike.”
“Sounds perfect. Carrot top may just have bitten off more than he can chew this time.”
“Well, let’s not underestimate the opposition. It’s pretty formidable.”
“So are we.”
“Too fucking true.”
“Rita should be along this block. Twelve thirty six — ah, here we are Twelve fifty four. Yep, there she is.”
“Lovely morning ladies. Perfect for a weekend in the mountains.” Remarked Rita as she slung her pack into the back of the Mercedes then climbed into the back seat.
Their next stop was only just over a mile for Bella.
Then it was head east out of the city on I-
As they reached the cabin, they could see that Yvonne’s RV was already parked up next to Teresa’s Range Rover, Yvonne was another Brit. She’d been in the Special Boat Service, the Royal Navy’s equivalent to the SAS.
The earlier arrivals had already unloaded the supplies and stored them in the kitchen. Teresa came out of the front door wearing a barbecuing apron.
“Hi gang, Welcome to the lodge. Angie, you’re in the second bedroom on the main level; I’m in the other. Jacqui’s in the first room on the left on the upper level; Rita and Bella are sharing the room next to Jacqui.”
“Sounds perfect. This is some ‘shack’ you’ve got here.”
“It suits me. Good for entertaining clients of course, excellent fishing in the lake. There’s a hot tub out back if anyone wants to chill out later. What’s the order of business for the weekend?”
“I figured we need to agree what we aim to do — work out what intelligence we’ll need and how to obtain it; then start to work up mission plans.”
“When are the others expected?”
“They should be here anytime in the next hour or so.” Teresa told her.
“Fine, well, why don’t you get yourself squared away then grab a beer? I’ll be in the kitchen preparing a pot of chilli for dinner.”
“I’ll do that but I want to get set up for the planning meeting later — I assume the television in the main lounge has an HDMI socket I can plug my laptop into?”
“We can do better than the lounge, there’s a home movie room. The screen in there is even bigger than the one in the lounge. There’s also an interactive white board, flip charts and the like. We use it for corporate strategy meetings. It’s next to the den which we use for break-
Just then, the growl of 900cc of thoroughbred motorcycle engine announced Pat’s arrival on their Triumph Bonneville.
They removed their helmet, and shook their head to allow their long blond hair to fluff out after being confined. “My God that’s one hell of a fabulous ride out here on those winding roads up over the hills. Absolutely incredible. The guys should be about half an hour behind me, I passed Jonathan’s pickup just before Tenaya Lake.”
Angela looked at her watch and nodded her head. “So about five?”
“About then, if they don’t stop on the way.”
“Your room is on the upper level second on the right off the balcony.” Teresa told Pat. “There are plenty of beers in the fridge once you’re unpacked.”
As predicted, Jonathan’s pickup arrived a little over half an hour later. The transguys unloaded their kit and put it in their room. Everyone then gathered in the dining room for the meal that Teresa had prepared.
“Needs a bit more chilli,” joked Bella as she reached for her beer to quench the fire that had erupted in her mouth.
The twelve quart pot of chilli and the four quarts of rice were soon emptied. The crockery, cutlery and pots were loaded into two dishwashers and left to clean while the team refilled their coffee mugs or picked up another beer and took them into the theatre.