As I walked into the pithead with my fellows, I silently said farewell to the sun for another day. The pale watery glow filtering through the mist was only just beginning to wake the rest of the town, but I knew that it was the last that I should see of it. By the time that the shift was due to end, the autumn sun would already have dropped behind the looming mass of the spoil heap.
As we proceeded through the Lamp Room, I picked up a helmet lamp and handed my brass check over to the tallyman behind the counter. He noted my lamp check number on the Daily Record Sheet and hung the brass token on the large board behind him. That was my marker, until I returned from the depths and handed over my lamp, it would hang there, a silent witness to my sojourn below the surface.
The first of us stepped into the cage at the top of Shaft C of the Barstow Colliery and, when twenty had entered, the cage-front rolled down to enclose us. There was a hiss of steam outside and the cage began its descent with a lurch. None of us talked as we slipped into the inky depths of the mine; we just stared at the rough rock walls as the cage dropped and dropped, every second taking us further from the light. No matter how many shifts a person may have endured below ground, the descent always drains the humour and positivity from the atmosphere; turning smiling comrades into grim-faced workers.
The cage finally slowed and came to a halt; the cage-front rolled up and I stepped out with my fellows to begin another day’s toil. As I moved away from the lights around the lift shaft, I flicked the switch on my helmet lamp and a shaky yellow circle appeared in the black dust; and, by this inadequate illumination, I trudged along the narrow tunnel towards the coalface. The air was hot and humid, full of choking black dust and billows of steam; the combination already threatening to clog my nose and coating my mouth with a foul-tasting sheen.
Bending beneath the beams, I walked along the crosscut tunnel until I reach my allotted place. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I made myself known to the face-boss. "Mr. Thomas, what is my place today?"
The foreman looked me up and down, a speculative expression on his grimy features. "It is your turn to operate the drill."
I nodded and shuffled the last few yards to the exposed face of the seam. Elijah was already there, preparing the equipment, and he acknowledged me with a tight smile. ‘He can afford to smile,’ I thought to myself, ‘he has the easier of the tasks today.’ Looking back, I am shamed by my thoughts; they tell me that Elijah did not survive the blast; and he had a wife and three children to clothe and feed.
Elijah held up the harness of the rig and I slipped into it, my shoulders taking most of the weight of the drill. I turned towards the seam of coal and he screwed the lines into the side of the drill, the hot incoming steam furthest from me. I shook my body carefully, allowing the various parts of the rig to settle upon my frame, and then I pulled the trigger for an instant, so that the noise of its operation would warn anyone nearby that steam was in motion. Then I brought the drill up to full speed and attacked the coal.
From that point on I can relate nothing sensible. When one is working at the coalface it is simply a series of sensory impressions; there is noise, choking heat, and darkness. All that I do recall is the shift halting, as usual, thrice for water and easement breaks, and once for us to eat our greasy pies. And so it must have been close to the end of the shift when disaster struck.
As far as I could tell at the time, nothing was out of the ordinary, but I am not a geologist and my job was simply to drill until told to stop. I was doing precisely that, drilling; my back aching and my head pounding, when there was an ear-splitting roar. The coalface in front of me, glistening like polished jet as water ran down it, burst into a million pieces and the blackness of the mine translated into the blackness of unconsciousness.
* * *
When I awoke, I was lying immobile; everything was quiet except for the sound of a single pump.
I could not see. In my left eye there was nothing but blackness, in my right, a faint redness, as if bright light was filtering through my eyelid. I strained and slowly managed to open my right eye to allow in a flash of blinding brightness. In shock I clamped it shut again.
"Doctor. Doctor Hemming! He is waking up!" The voice was female, young sounding.
"Thank you nurse, now please calm yourself," came the gruff reply. "Mister Jayne. Please try to just lie still. I am Doctor Hemming, I'm here to look after you."
I tried to respond and it was then that I realised that there was a tube in my mouth; I must have been almost insensible from drugs not to have noticed that before.
"Mister Jayne,” continued the doctor, “there was an accident at the mine. There was an explosion. The rescuers managed to reach you and get you to the surface, but you have suffered some major injuries. You will recover, but, for now, you will need to be immobilised, and under sedation for much of the time. Please trust me; we will make you whole again."
I could feel the effects of whatever drugs they were using taking hold once more. As I drifted off, one word echoed through my brain. What did the doctor mean by "whole"?
* * *
Later … much later would be my guess, I slowly surfaced from the depths and I could hear Doctor Hemming talking with someone, as if it were down a long tunnel. “We can make him better than he was. Better … stronger …” In the background I could still hear the pump … Sssshhhh-kuff … Tentatively, I opened my right eye; my left still did not seem to be working. The bewhiskered face of an elderly man appeared in front of me and smiled. “Welcome back to the land of the living Mister Jayne; I’m Doctor Hemming,” he leaned back and another face appeared, “and this is Doctor Larkin.”
The second doctor nodded to me and said, “Pleased to meet you Mister Jayne, I am honoured to be working on your case.”
I realised that the tube had been removed from my mouth and so I tried to talk. The words that came were slurred and only half formed. “W … waa … what’s huh … happened to me?”
I would guess that they must still have been pumping copious amounts of drugs into my unresisting body. I cannot think that I could have taken what came next so calmly if that had not been so. Doctor Hemming came into view again and related all that had happened since the explosion.
“Five miners died instantly in the explosion, and four had relatively minor injuries … Now, I want you to try and remain calm, I need to tell you the extent of your injuries.” I knew at that point that it was more serious than I had initially thought. “The first thing, that you have probably guessed, is that you have lost your left eye, apart from that, we also had to remove major sections of your skull, which we have patched for the moment.” I could feel that my heart was beginning to speed up, but the drugs kept that in check somewhat. “The explosion caused the roof of the mine to collapse, and the rock crushed your body at the waist. As a result we had to amputate both legs and your right arm. The crushing also damaged major internal organs, and so, at the moment, we have you connected to an artificial lung and your heart’s operation is being supplemented by a blood pump.”
At this I couldn’t keep calm any longer. I was still finding it hard to talk, my mouth was not totally under my control, but I was able to blurt out what I felt. “So … So I am going to live out my days in this hospital bed? If that is to be my fate, then just switch off the pump now!”
Doctor Larkin leaned forward into view. “No Mister Jayne; do not jump to any conclusions, please try to calm yourself. That is why I am here. You are, in fact, a very lucky man; one would normally expect the victim of a mining accident to wither away and die; but you have been selected for special treatment. I have been working on an experimental technique; one where the technology used to produce Mechanicals is adapted to carry a human ‘passenger’ so to speak. We can create a Mechanical that will accept your body at its heart.”
The idea of becoming a Mechanical was just too much to comprehend at that time, and so, gratefully, I closed my eyes and let myself slip back into the darkness.
* * *
Over the next few days, Doctor Larkin outlined the whole process to me. He explained how the Mechanical’s systems would be married with my body’s circulatory system and how there would be a pump that would do the work of my ruined lungs. With my body having suffered so much damage, it had been decided that, rather than attempting to attach individual Mechanical prosthetics, a full Mechanical ‘skin’ would be fitted. This would enable what remained of my body to be constantly bathed in a vital fluid that would both prevent infection and enable the transmission of electrical signals between my body and my Mechanical support. Doctor Larkin went on to explain that the form of the Mechanical could mirror my looks from before the accident; I would be perhaps eighteen inches taller than I had been, but, apart from having cold bronze skin, I would look as I did. It was at this point that I started to think; perhaps this tragedy could be turned to something positive, perhaps I could finally become what I had always felt that I was.
* * *
One thing that I had never shared with anyone was that I had never felt comfortable within myself. Often, as a child, I would find myself thinking as a girl, would take on the mannerisms of my female friends. At least, I did until my schoolmates noticed something different in the way that I acted; and proceeded to mock me. When that happened, I responded by becoming the strongest in any feat of strength. In that way I built a wall; on the outside was the male person that all could see, while, on the inside, carefully nurtured but hidden away, was my true self; the girl that I knew myself to be.
Years later, as I came into my full growth and began to toil underground, I worked hard and developed the muscles that meant that there was never again any question over my masculinity.
Throughout the years I had stretched my mind too. As a child I taught myself what I could; Miss Fanshawe, my teacher at the local school, could see that I had an enquiring mind and allowed me access to books; however, I knew that it would be unlikely that I would end up anywhere but working down the mine. I learned of other cultures, other ways for people such as myself to live. But, for me, a member of the toiling classes, there were no options and, as expected, the mine swallowed me up. Now, with Doctor Larkin explaining that they could shape my ‘shell’ in any fashion, I began to consider the chances of changing my form.
* * *
One day, after much thought, I finally plucked up the courage to tell the doctor what I really wanted. My weakened heart full of trepidation, I broached the subject, "Doctor?"
"Yes, Mr. Jayne?"
"You say that my Mechanical skin could take any form?"
"Within reason; yes. I had just assumed that you would wish to be as close as possible to that which you were before the accident."
"I do. But … the thing is … what I looked like before, that wasn't me. That was just the outside, the face that I presented to the world. For most of my life I have known that, inside, I was really a woman."
"Please Doctor Larkin, please do me the courtesy of hearing me out."
"But … My apologies, please proceed."
I made as if to take a deep breath, only to be confounded by the regularity of the air pump. I paused for a second and then continued. "I first realised that I was somewhat different as a small child …”
* * *
After I had finished my tale, Doctor Larkin sat for a few moments. Then, with a solicitous look upon his face, he responded. "Thank you, Mister Jayne, for being so open with me. I am sure that it took great courage. However, I cannot support you in your mania. You are a man; there is no doubt about it. My work at the Mechanics' Institute has been funded to investigate the possibilities of restorative use of the principles that operate the Mechanicals, not the pandering to fanciful ideas."
The response did not surprise me; it was concomitant with everything that I had heard throughout my life; but this time I was both prepared and determined. "I can understand your point of view, Doctor. However, it is my body and my life. If you are not willing to comply with my wishes, then I must call upon the medical ethics board of this hospital. I wish to put my case to them."
Doctor Larkin looked at me with, what I am sure was greater respect, and nodded. "Of course, sir, that is your right. I will initiate the proceedings. You may wish to call for support in your case. If you would consider that option, we can discuss what can be done."
* * *
Doctor Larkin was true to his word; indeed, the Mechanic’s Institute provided me with support through one of their esteemed members who was also a King's Counsel. Sir Justin McCall KC had taken silk twenty years before, and had made something of a speciality in supporting cases against the medical establishment. This had not endeared him to the hospitals of the realm, but the Mechanic’s Institute was known for supporting those dissenters who relied upon evidence rather than established practice. Sir Justin came to my bed in a cloud of cigar smoke and settled himself down upon a chair.
“Good morning Mister Jayne. It is a pleasure to meet you, sir, a pleasure. Your case is most interesting; yes, most interesting.”
“Good morning Sir Justin, I am very grateful to you for agreeing to support me at the hearing.”
“Not at all, not at all. It may not be fashionable you know, challenging received wisdom, but I see it as my duty to shine the light of reason upon outdated practices. Now, tell me about yourself.”
* * *
And so it was, three days later, that the hearing was convened. Sir Justin had insisted that I had a right to be present and so my room had been remodelled; space was made for a table at which the three members of the panel sat. With a second provided at which sat Doctor Larkin and Sir Justin.
The hearing began with Doctor Larkin; he outlined the medical issues resulting from the accident, the decision by the Mechanic’s Institute to fund the surgical transformation, and his subsequent decision to create a ‘shell’ that closely matched my previous appearance. Throughout, Sir Justin nodded his head, agreeing the points that Doctor Larkin was making.
When Doctor Larkin had finished his presentation, it was Sir Justin’s turn. He stood, let his eyes track across the three members of the panel, and then pronounced, “I agree totally with everything that my esteemed colleague has said. He is obviously a genius of the age to be even contemplating surgery such as this. Indeed; a genius. However, while Doctor Larkin may be uniquely placed to judge purely physical matters, of how the human body may be joined with Mechanical technology, he has no experience of matters pertaining to the mind. No; none whatsoever.”
“Before speaking to the rights of my client; I would like to speak to the condition that has become known as Gender Dysphoria. The condition is well documented around the world; there are many papers that give the histories of patients who experience a state of conflict between their gender and the physical manifestations of their sex. I have to say though, that, due to Queen Victoria’s attitudes towards the discussion of matters sexual, research within this Kingdom is woefully behind that of other countries. My hope is that, with a more enlightened monarch upon the throne, albeit as a result of a terrible tragedy, we will open up the shroud that has been suffocating research.”
“If one looks to countries that fall outside the beneficent influence of our Empire, the existence of, what we could call transitioning-sexuals, has long been accepted.”
“The Dine, or Navajo, of New Spain, recognise that there are three sexes instead of just two. For the Dine, there are Males, Females, and Nadles, which are considered somewhat both and neither. Those born with the physical characteristics of both sexes are automatically considered Nadle, however, individuals may define themselves as Nadle based upon their own self-definition of their gender.”
“Indeed, the New World has a number of examples of this enlightened practice. Within the Zuni people, also of New Spain, there is an accomplished weaver and potter, We'Wha, who, according to Zuni tradition, was born two spirit; that is, born male but with the spirit of a woman. We'Wha spent six months in Washington, DC, and met the President of the Twenty Colonies, Grover Cleveland, who never realized that the six-foot Zuni maiden was born male.”
“I could go on to outline numerous examples of a similar nature, but I am sure that the panel will already be aware of many of them. And so, let me now come to the most important aspect of this case; the rights of the individual.”
“I would first like to put on record that my client is most grateful for the offer of transformative surgery. He realises that this experimental approach could offer him freedom from his hospital bed. However, that would be the freedom to remain held by the chains put upon him by society’s outdated approach to gender. Mister Jayne has always known himself to be different, known that he is, in fact ‘Nadle’ as the Navajo would put it. All that he is asking is that the fact be recognised by the board and that the outer appearance of the Mechanical ‘shell’ be constructed to match what he feels himself to be. The change to Doctor Larkin’s procedure would purely be in relation to the ‘shell’; it would not affect the experiment in terms of proving the concept of marrying Mechanical technology with a human subject.”
“Therefore my client would like to appeal to this esteemed medical board to grant that the wishes of the patient be paramount in deciding the form of treatment to be carried out.” With that, Sir Justin bowed his head and then sat down.
From my bed I could see that the three members of the panel were deep in thought. The chairman looked across at me and nodded. “Mister Jayne, the arguments, both for and against, have been made. We will retire now to consider the issues raised and will return here once we have agreed our decision.”
* * *
It must have been a very thorny issue to decide. For the rest of the day the panel remained cloistered in its offices and no word escaped of the direction that the discussion was taking. Eventually word was passed to me that the deliberations were not conclusive, and that I would have to wait another night before receiving my answer. My brain was in such a heightened state that I do not believe that I slept a single wink.
The next day the panel was convened once more and all of the players took their marks upon the stage. The chairman of the panel gave a short recapping of the major arguments that had been presented and then pronounced the decision. “This panel had to consider two intertwined issues; on the face of it the question was one of rights; should Mister Jayne be allowed to decide the mode of his own treatment. However, we also had to consider the soundness of Mister Jayne’s judgement. We would not allow a patient to dictate medical practice based purely upon some demented fixation. As you can imagine, it was this second point that exercised our minds. As was stated yesterday, there is much research that supports the case for what Sir Justin has termed ‘transitioning-sexuals’ and this panel would agree that it is unfortunate that the dearth of such research into the issue within the Empire is holding back medical practice. However, we uphold the claim that there is enough evidence of the phenomena to grant that Mister Jayne has a solid case to proclaim that he is a woman inside a man’s body. With that agreed, we then came to the matter of the rights of the patient.” He looked across at me once more, and smiled. “And so, this panel finds in favour of Mister Jayne and instructs that the outer appearance of the Mechanical shell be built to the specifications of the patient in question.”
If I could have physically shouted I would have. Here I was, half of a body, lying in a hospital bed; but I had won!
* * *
With the case decided by the medical ethics board, there was nothing for Doctor Larkin and his team to do but put together a plan of action for the upcoming procedure. Much of the work was well on its way, what remained was for the proportions, the look, the feel of the skin to be agreed and the parts to be modelled. The engineering work took another three weeks to complete; something for which I was grateful, I was still quite weak then and, looking back on the experience, I doubt that I would have been able to survive the procedure at that point.
As the day approached, Doctor Larkin spent numerous hours explaining what was going to happen to me. He and his technical team were all as positive as they could be when discussing the surgery, but it was clear to me that they expected it to be a very painful process. I tried to ignore the ordeal to come and focussed upon what I would be post surgery, not only would I be mobile and independent once more, I would, at last, be a woman. I knew that I would be a curiosity, the first of my kind could hardly be anything else, but, crucially to me, I would have a female form.
* * *
Eventually, all of the preparations were completed and I lay upon the operating table, surrounded by great glass columns filled with the glowing vital fluid that Doctor Larkin had prepared, and which would be the bringer of life to me. Doctor Larkin leaned over me, his eyes twinkling above his surgical mask. "Well Mister Jayne, this is it. You won the case, and, I must admit, I am interested in the additional implications of this surgery. When you wake, you will be well upon your way to becoming the first Mechanical Biological Organism.
I could feel the drugs flowing through my veins and, with a smile on my face; I slipped into a dreamless sleep.
* * *
I am told that I was under the knife for more than eighteen hours. When I finally awoke I could not feel my body as a whole; it was as if every nerve of my body had been scraped raw and dipped in acid. Each individual nerve burned with terrible intensity. I tried to scream but my mouth would not move. I tried to tear the fire ants from my skin, but my hands lay unresponsive at my side.
"Mister Jayne? Mister Jayne?" The voice was akin to the sound that a mountain makes as boulders tumble to the valley. It assaulted me, it pressed in upon my brain like pliers crushing down. I could feel a tidal wave of hurt pushing up from deep within me, washing away everything; until, finally, my body responded.
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarggggggh!" It was not my voice; it was the tortured scream of an animal in a trap.
"Mister Jayne," roared the voice, "we are going to increase the analgesics, but we cannot make you insensible. Your body must adapt, it must learn to interpret the signals, not as pain, but as messages from your Mechanical skin." I felt a wave of chemical relief wash over me, the agony at the tip of each nerve eased to a dull ache. An ache that reached to my very core, but an ache that was survivable.
Once my mind was no longer concentrated totally upon my pain, I opened my eyes. Yes eyes. My right eye gave me my normal view, through a protective sheen of tears. However, my left presented something completely different; something Mechanical. What it saw was in variegated shades of grey, as if I were watching a cinematograph. Together the effect was strange, a combination of wavering colour overlaid with grainy black and white. And yet, somehow, it worked.
The face of Doctor Larkin came into view. “Mister Jayne, I hope that you are a little more comfortable? We are now going to move you into an upright position.”
There was a metallic grinding noise and the table slowly lifted, inch by inch my view rotated, my gaze shifted from the ceiling, down the wall of the surgery, until I was standing, supported by straps, staring out at the team that had transformed me. Whatever the pain, whatever the consequences, I was alive!
* * *
Over the next hour, Nurse Williamson assisted me in learning how to move, until, eventually, I was able to lurch around the surgery unassisted. It was strange; I had to walk more slowly than I remembered and the weight of my metal feet meant that my footsteps echoed throughout the room. I asked for her to bring me a glass, which she did, and I gazed at myself for the first time.
My face was smooth, a golden burnished bronze. While my features were different to how I had looked formerly, and a complete change to the ravaged piece of meat that I was after the accident, I could see that it was still my face that stared back at me; albeit different, more refined. Where my chin had previously been square, now it was tapered, feminine. My cheekbones were higher, except that they were not cheekbones; it was my metal Mechanical skin. I stood there, staring in wonder. The impassive face was not quite human, it was, in fact, more than human. I let my gaze drift down over my body and my heart, constrained as it was by the small supplementary pump, quickened. I had breasts, a narrow waist, and my legs …
* * *
I spent the next weeks undergoing numerous tests; interminable tests. Eventually I insisted that I wanted to leave the hospital that had been both my prison and the source of my salvation.
Mechanicals were a common sight in the towns and cities of England, even then, but true Mechanicals were constructed to a standardised androgynous form. As such, the artificial helpers of Mankind walked the streets about their business as innocent as Adam and Eve before the fall, and just as naked. My body, however, was clearly female, and so I refused to leave before I had a wardrobe of individually tailored clothes. Standing more than a foot taller than any man that I had ever met, my clothes had to be made especially for me. A team of three seamstresses attended upon me and soon I had a collection of dresses and skirts of the latest fashion. As I was helped into my clothes for the first time, my mind travelled back to those far off days when I was a boy, when I would gaze at my sister’s dresses piled ready for the pressing iron. As a lad, I would listen for movement in the house and surreptitiously run my hands over the clothes, dreaming of being able to dress as a girl; and now, almost unbelievably, my dream was a reality. I delighted in turning before the full-length glass watching as the trumpet shaped shirts flared out from my knees; pleased by the close fit of the wasp-waist cut that, in me, did not require a corset.
And so, months after Mister William Jayne entered the ward as a broken man, and weeks after the transformative surgery; Miss Jane Willams left the hospital. The doctors advised me to wait, to spend some more time to get used to what I was feeling; but I had had enough of the antiseptic smell of the hospital. The Mechanic’s Institute had arranged for a small apartment to be adapted to my needs; the furniture had to be slightly larger than usual and able to take the strain of my prodigious weight. The apartment was in Cheetham Hill, a cosmopolitan ward of Manchester that had welcomed divers groups of migrants over the years. To this day I remain ensconced in my ground-floor flat, across from the brewery on Empire Road; although much of the housing has been ‘gentrified’ to accommodate the burgeoning middle classes that make a living from the trading opportunities that sprang up as a result of the Mechanical Revolution.
I cannot say that adapting to my new life has been unreservedly positive. While female in form, I still am not what many would call ‘totally human’. Living within a Mechanical skin I am treated, by most people, as a woman, albeit a strange one; but, I will never blend in as I would want in a perfect world. That said; I did make the best of my situation, my feminine curves helping me to accept myself as a woman – which is a pre-requisite for acceptance from others.
I settled into my new life as a lady about town. I had a small stipend and little to spend it on, and so I spent my spare pennies on tram fares. I ranged far and wide across the city of Manchester, attending lectures at the Workers' Educational Association, visiting the galleries and museums. My excursions were often interrupted by small crowds of people desirous of seeing the famous medical wonder, but my great size and weight ensured that my person was not encroached upon too closely. The ‘snappers’ were always on my trail and many a day one could find my likeness within one or other of the more salacious rags, topped with lurid headlines that I hesitate to include here.
* * *
I had been made to understand that a ‘payment’ for my treatment was expected, and, in truth, I was so grateful that I would have agreed to almost any request. And so it was not long after my discharge from hospital that I found myself standing at the front of a lecture hall in the Mechanic’s Institute on Major Street. I had become the latest in a line of medical curiosities; running from Sarah Baartman, the so-called Hottentot Venus, to Joseph Merrick, whom the world knew as the Elephant Man.
The sessions generally ran along a standard path. At first Doctor Larkin would speak of his procedure and the audience would ask about the challenges of this innovatory technique. Secondly, I would be asked about my experience; how it had felt to be merged with a Mechanical skin, how I had learned to control my new form. It was at one of these presentations that a journalist first used the term that has become commonly accepted, Mechaniborg, instead of the full Mechanical Biological Organism, and I must say that I came to be quite proud of that name. The final part of each session was not planned for; however, without fail, I would be asked why I had felt the need to transform myself from a man into a woman. At first I found this to be an unwarranted intrusion upon my privacy, but, over time, I came to see those questions as the most important function of the whole demonstration. The medical questions and technical issues had been discussed many times and, in truth, there was little that I could say in that area. Over the months, Doctor Larkin had begun planning his next Mechaniborg transformation and so I could see that I may not be the principal cause for enquiry for much longer. The technical issues had been dealt with, but the issue of sexual transformation had not.
* * *
It became clear to me that I was considered by most, to be a singular instance, one that could safely be ignored. Strangely enough, I knew that I had been lucky to have been so mutilated in the mines. If I had remained an unregarded member of the toiling classes I would still be trapped within the body of a man; and I knew that there were uncounted others like me, who still hid their true nature from the world.
And so, outside of my commitments to demonstrating the effectiveness of the Mechaniborg approach, I began to speak on the political aspects of gender. I visited the office of the Manchester Guardian and gained some notoriety for advocating that those who were living with gender dysphoria should be offered the same opportunity for transformation that I had received. After months of being a single voice in the wilderness, I was contacted by two others who felt as I did and, from that small seed, we grew.
Within a year we officially launched ‘The Society for Sexual Transformation’. There was much opposition from the church authorities, who put forward the view that to transform oneself was against the will of God. This argument held much weight within the general populous; however, amongst the medical and scientific community, there were many who came to agree with the opinions that we professed. Indeed, I was invited to address the Royal Society upon the subject, and it was after my lecture there, that the more respected of the newspapers took up the cause in earnest. The issue had come to the attention of King Albert, and his peculiar history was the last piece of ammunition needed to break down the walls of denial.
As a young man, there had been many whispers about ‘Young Prince Eddy’ as he had been affectionately known. There were stories of him being rescued from the meanest of dives just prior to the Peelers raiding; there was even talk that he had been found dressed as a woman. While his grandmother, Queen Victoria, was on the throne, things were hushed up; but, following the dirigible accident that took the Queen and the Prince of Wales, Young Prince Eddy was unexpectedly raised up to be the highest in the land. Now, whatever society may feel about the rumours, no-one was willing to speak out against change and risk the displeasure of the King.
When the matter of the rights of transitioning-sexuals was debated in the House, King Albert made it known that he was in favour; and so, today, the Gender Recognition Act is about to pass into the law of the land; and I have been invited to witness the process.
And so that brings my story to the present. I am finishing these notes on the express train to London. I am sitting in the finest of my gowns in the carriage, completing my story so that I can deposit it with my publisher. Once I have met with Messrs. Hall and Goode of Soho, I will set off down The Mall. For, this afternoon, Miss Jane Williams is going to meet a King!