Ever since ancient times, our pastoral town practiced a pagan tradition, welcoming spring by sacrificing the genders of four young men. I know what you are thinking, magic doesn’t exist. Wrong. The Stone of Venus exists. The lottery, the first stage in the Metamorphosis Ceremony came that year, and without fail my name was read from the hundreds of slips of paper that represented our community’s young men. My stomach dropped sick knowing the implication, and what it meant to refuse; even in 2016, declining the ceremony meant banishment from your friends, family, and our otherwise picturesque town. As fearlessly as I could, I let go of my girlfriend’s hand and kissed her tenderly on her forehead in the knowledge this would be our last romantic moment together. She stared aghast as I stepped forward through the crowd. My own Mother was picked many years ago, and now I would follow in her footsteps. ‘Come, come,’ I was ushered by my townspeople to the trail that would lead me to the the Stone of Venus in the grotto.
Feeling your body become irreversibly changed, imagine the feeling of your penis shriveling as your body softens and curves, into a girl is one level of embarrassment; running between the throngs of townsfolk topless for all to judge your new body in the frigid air is a whole different level. Damn tradition as we quickly made our way to a boutique where we would be fitted for our first dresses and become the “Maids of Honor” at the Spring Welcoming Festival. At least we didn’t go completely naked, they gave us underwear and shoes, unlike years past. I caught my girlfriend’s eye as I trotted through the flanks of people. I knew she recognized me, I looked just like one of my sisters as I cupped my new breasts in shame. My heart sank. We now shared the same flatness, lack of strength, and supple bust that defined OUR gender. I am not saying this to be sarcastic, but I am sure in a few months once we get over our past relationship we will be sharing flirty gossip about the town’s guys, ick.
So I was compliant and abashed: being prepped with makeup, donning my first dress, being coqueted over by my drunk old friends as is town tradition, and eventually being escorted to my parent’s home where an impromptu reception was held. My parents were, “So proud of me!” I tried to wake myself from this nightmare, but I couldn’t despite my best efforts. Waking up and seeing breasts became expected, I quickly became familiar with women’s fashion and shoes, feminine hygiene products and Midol became my friend, and I was constantly complimented with how effeminate I acted (I cringe hearing that, I can’t help it!). Mom tried setting me up with a friend of a friend’s son, and his charm shamelessly worked on me. Uh, I sighed, my ex-girlfriend and I really do share flirty gossip about our new love interests. So how did I feel the next coming spring when I went to the ceremony with my new boyfriend? Quite relieved I wasn’t going to go through that again.