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Maybe that explainedwhy the one lady at the department store had been so warm, and so firm about reinforcing her gender expression. The three of them talked for over an hour,exploring Antonia's past and her feelings -- not because she needed to 'prove' anythinglike if she'd gone to a shrink and a regular doctor,but to help them figure out how their skillsmatched up against her needs.In the end, Antonia settled on Leelah,wanting to bring out the truth that layhidden within her body and make it real."Congratulations," Josh said, clapping his hands without a trace of jealousy.It features gender dysphoria, references to gender abuse and other extreme parental stupidity, running away from home, medical details of the not-too-messy variety, emotional tension, major life changes, and other challenges.

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It felt like peeling the skin off a sunburn, but somehow spread her body. "As for the difference --how does your body feel right now? "Exhausted, but I wasn't walkingmuch earlier.""Major changes take major energy,"Leelah explained. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go inhale a whole cheesecake."So Antonia went to her assigned room and napped, then woke up feeling subtly different as the changes made themselves known.When it finally ended, Antonia looked downat herself with a pang of disappointment."I don't look any different," she said."Remember what we talked about earlier,"said Leelah. Mariko guided her through an exerciseto explore gender identity and expression."What does being a man mean to you? " the EFA prompted, offering a worksheet."This will help you figure out your presentation."Antonia made it through a few linesin each column before a sudden surgeof emotions made her burst into tears."Hormones," Mariko explainedas she held out a box of tissues."Expect mood swings for at leasta few weeks, maybe months, butthey will taper off with time."The next day, Antonia went through much the same cycle of working and healing.Nobody was, so Mariko worked her way through the group, listening to what brought them here."Birth defect," Antonia mumbled when it was her turn."Partial or whole body?" Mariko asked."Whole," Antonia said, and the hatredwashed over her as it always did, bitter resentment of a body that just didn't fit her inner self. "Would you like some help with the psychological side of that? "I'm the Emotional First Aideon the crew, and a pretty good empath.""Yes, please," Antonia said.The steady work helped to settle her nervesa little, and she must've walked a mile doing it. sexual reassignment surgery, only it could be done with powers if I want it that way,"Antonia said, feeling her way through the options."We call this kind of work sexual realignment service,"said Leelah.

"We aren't here to very loudly, so any empath or telepath will clock you the right way.""Okay," said Antonia.

If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward."It's Your Body"It was dark when Antonia Troy made it to the Westbord dock, water slappingsoftly against the support posts.

She crept between two shipping containersand hid there, shivering in her grey sweateras she waited for the boat that wouldtake her to her future.

Antonia tugged at her straight blonde hairand wished it were longer, but her motherhad hacked it off with kitchen scissorsthe last time it touched her shoulders. Antonia slunk on board with a handfulof other people who arrived on the dock.

She counted the two hundred and two milesthat they traveled across the waves to pass out of American territory and into international waters.

"I'll leave the pair of you to it, and I'm off to my next appointment.""We can begin now, or make an appointmentfor tomorrow.