The Rise of Neff
My name was Lauren Marie Lucien. Well, until I left home. Though I had tried when I was 7 to get my parents to call me Nephrose Lance Pattin, or Neff, but no such luck. My parents were not very compromising. That day my father had stared at me for a beat, laughed and distinctly told me to change into something appropriate. Evidently the jeans and t-shirt that had once been my brothers were not appropriate clothing for a girl. He really did have some Neanderthalic beliefs and practices that he forced on our family, especially my older brother, Artie, and I.
So I did what he told me to do, I changed into a pretty dress and made my way out to the kitchen to be with the rest of the girls that were over for my parents' barbecue. I planted myself at the table behind the giant bowl of potato salad and watched as my mother, her sister my favorite aunt, Aunt Tusu, my father's sister, Aunt Penne and Aunt T's 'friend', Uncle Bernie, short for Bernadette, danced around the kitchen prepping ingredients chatting wildly as the oldies station played in the backyard. Even then I loved my Aunt Tusu and Uncle Bernie, who had always been family, more than I did my own parents.
After that night, I managed to make it through the next few years flying under the radar. It was 8 years later that my life fell apart. I had been hiding Neff and his clothes until Momma and Daddy were gone. It was going pretty well, I thought until one afternoon. I had gotten home from school and stripped out of the mandatory girl garb and was getting comfortable in Neff's clothes when my father barged into my room.
"What the hell are you doing?" he screamed at me as I quit adjusting "my package".
My guilt and surprise showed all over my face. he was so mad he told me to stay in my room and not to come out until I was called. Just plain freaking out, I quickly removed my pants, package, bindings and shoved everything into the half empty duffle bag in the bottom of my closet. Then dressing in my father's favorite pink ruffled dress with matching shoes, I coiffed my hair, spritzed some perfume and applied a layer of lip gloss just to perch on the edge of my bed waiting for my punishment hoping that I wouldn't have to throw out Neff's clothes.
Hours passed and my legs were going numb. I had listened to my parent's whisperings and shufflings from their bedroom, but still nothing at my door. Not even from Artie. Finally a slight knock on my door and my parents entered.
"Louisa," my mother started, "Why do you want to wear boys' clothes?"
Straightening up, looking her in the eye, "Momma, I like them. I am comfortable in them and..." My confidence wavered, stopping my voice momentarily long enough for Daddy to cut in.
"Louisa, are you..." He cleared his throat, "Louisa, do you like boys?"
Staring at him blankly I decided that I wasn't going to lie anymore. Shaking my head, "No, Daddy. I do not like boys; outside of wanting to be one." There I had said it!
While internally celebrating my bravery, the outside was getting quite scary.
My mother had burst into tears and run from the room with her face buried in her hands, her sobs trailing behind her. Daddy on the other hand, had turned purple and was seething. When he finally did speak, he hissed through his teeth, "You like girls."
Not a question really. I was definitely a statement.
I steeled myself for his reaction, "Yes, Daddy. I find girls attractive. In the same way you do."
"You want to dress as a boy? Become a boy?"
Again, "Yes, Daddy."
"You're a lesbian." Another teeth grinding statement versus an inquiry.
Nodding smoothly, "Daddy, I am a trans male."
"A WHAT?!?" He wiped his handkerchief across his sweaty face. Breathing deep he tried again, "Is this for attention? Are you punishing your mother? Artie? Me?"
Standing up, I strode to him and set my hand on his arm. "Daddy, who I am, is not to punish anyone. If anything it’s a celebration of me and my ability to live in a time of freedom to choose and love as my heart and body see fit."
He seemed to deflate, but he quickly recovered blowing up to near twice his usual size. He swatted my hand off his arm and turned his brimstone filled eyes on me.
His next words sliced through my soul, "Then Louisa, you're dead to us until you change your ways;” Stepping back, "your mother, Artie and myself." Wiping away my hand as if it were something vile, "You have 3 hours to collect what you want to keep and get the hell out of my house or I'll have the police here to remove you."
"But, Daddy," I called through the door in complete shock. "Where will I go?" I begged.
He stopped, throwing over his shoulder, "Not my problem. So long as you choose to live like trash you can live in the gutter. You're not welcome in my house until you decide to be who you are supposed to be. Time is wasting." With that he was gone.