‘The air-conditioned hospital room was as still as the grave. Somewhere beyond the window, the sun climbed above the hottest city on Earth. But lying here, I couldn’t stop my teeth chattering. I gave my companion Jenny a sideways glance. Her smile had given way to puckered lines that seemed to have frozen on her cheeks.
Then came the knock.
‘Your surgeon is scrubbed.’
The doors swung open and two porters pushed a steel slab of a trolley alongside my bed.
‘Lie flat and keep your arms tucked in. We will put you to sleep. Wake up again in nine hours.’
‘Wait,’ I felt the muscles tighten in my jaw. ‘Give us a few moments. Please…’
The porter looked anxiously at the nurse. She nodded and the doors soon closed behind them.
I clasped Jenny’s hand until I felt her bones crunch. ‘I’m scared. Am I crazy?’
She took a deep breath then let it out, infinitely slowly. ‘You told me you’d kill yourself if you didn’t go through with this.’
Then another knock, this time louder, more insistent. Matron stood at the threshold, hands on hips: ‘Dr Sutin is waiting for you in the operating theatre, Miss Rachel.’
It was late in 2016 and I’d flown out to Bangkok for the first in a series of operations to change sex from male to female.’
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