The Emperor’s New Body
Contributed by the grandmother of a trans-identified child…
It was all very well being an emperor, but the Emperor didn’t have a lot to do. He had plenty of time to view himself in the gold-framed mirrors that adorned the walls of his bathrooms, his ballrooms, his bedrooms, his staircases, his banqueting halls and his landings. He liked to pass the time by looking at himself and, best of all, he liked to take selfies.
He had a ready-made audience. He was, after all, an emperor. He didn’t need to ‘follow’ anyone or have anyone ‘follow’ him. All he needed to do was get his social media aides to post his latest selfie and immediately he got results. ‘Like! Like! Like!’ went the people and they filled the screen with pulsating red hearts.
‘Like, like, like,’ the Emperor said to the social media aides, ‘look how they like me!’
‘Yes, Your Majesty,’ said the social media aides, ‘how they like you! How they love you! How they adore Your Majesty!’
The Emperor was tickled pink. The people loved him! What more could he want! And he looked in a few more mirrors and took a few more selfies.
What more? he asked himself. What more? What more could I want?
More likes, came the answer from himself, to himself. I want more likes.
He got the aides to put more selfies on social media and told them too to Zoom.
‘I want feedback!’ he said to the aides. ‘Zoom the whole country! Report back on the feelings of the people! Let me know how much they love me. Do a survey. Let the people rate me on a scale of 10 to 10!’
The aides looked at each other and sighed. They found the Emperor tiresome, not only in his insatiable vanity, but also in his dictatorial manner. But they complied. They had to, they told themselves, and they reported to the Emperor that they had done thorough surveys and had concluded that everyone loved him and adored him and worshipped him. The results of their comprehensive surveys were 100% positive.
The Emperor was very pleased. He would repay his people by showing them his magnificence. He got a new wig and dusted it with talcum powder. He got a new beauty spot, very black on his white powdered face. He got some dangly earrings. ‘Like! Like! Like!’ went the people when he put his selfies on social media. The Emperor got sheer white tights and new shoes with thick high heels and big buckles. ‘Like! Like! Like!’
He spent a lot of time looking in the massive mirrors. He posed for his selfies, lying across his enormous silk-covered bed and pouting at the camera, or looking back confrontationally over his shoulder with smoldering, or standing, legs apart and hands on hips, eyes half-closed.
But the truth was, the Emperor was bored. He didn’t have a lot to do. Despite having been born to be an emperor, he sometimes felt he was an imposter. He had been born in the wrong body. Was that possible? Was it wrong that he had been born an emperor? What should he have been born as?
He watched a lot of television in his enormous cold marble-floored palace. He noticed that there were people called women, as well as people like him who were called men. He liked how the women looked. Perhaps he could look like that. He had been a man for quite a while now and it was getting boring. He posed in front of the mirrors. He took selfies of his frontal view and of his back view, of his right side view and of his left side view. He took selfies from above and selfies from below. None of them looked right.
Perhaps he should have been a woman?
He commanded his aides to get his tailor to make him women’s dresses and underwear. But when he put them on, they didn’t look right. He seemed to bulge in all the wrong places and the seams came undone and the zips wouldn’t do up, and the buttons popped off and the collars were much too tight. He was too big and hairy and the silks and satins didn’t look right with his beard.
‘We can deal with that!’ said the social media aides and they called in the cosmetic aides who shaved off the Emperor’s beard, waxed his legs and arms and smeared depilatory cream all over his chest and nether parts.
The Emperor was very pleased but within a day he called the aides back.
‘It’s no good,’ he said. ‘The hairs are all coming back! It’s not fair!’
‘No problem!’ said the cosmetic aides and they ordered a bevy of little boys to pluck out the Emperor’s hairs one by one from his toes to his head. But the Emperor was still not happy; he just couldn’t get his body smooth.
‘It’s not fair!’ he wailed. ‘I have been born in the wrong body!’
He was beginning to doubt his own selfies. When he put them online the people still said, Like, like, like, but he wasn’t satisfied.
He didn’t look right in his satin dresses and his sequins didn’t sparkle like they should. Perhaps the problem was that he didn’t have breasts. Well, not real ones like women had, he just had man breasts and they did nothing for his silk underwear and cocktail dresses.
‘It’s not fair!’ he said again and again and he threw his buckled shoes at the mirrors.
It was a crisis of state! The aides consulted each other. They called in the physicians and the surgeons and the therapists. They sat at long tables in conference rooms and discussed the matter over gin and tonics.
‘It’s too late for puberty blockers,’ said the pediatrician, ‘much as I like to get pre-pubescent children onto them. We start them as early as we can.’
‘But not too late for other hormones,’ said the gynecologist, rubbing his hands. So they set the Emperor on a course of estrogen.
‘Oh goodie!’ said the Emperor. ‘I’m going to ovulate! And I will have real periods! And then I will have a baby! And then I will have purpose to my life and I won’t have to spend my time dressing up and taking selfies!’
The Emperor’s body began to change.
He went to bed with a hot water bottle. ‘I’ve got period pains!’ he wailed, his words echoing through the palace. ‘Come and help me! Come and see me! Come and affirm me!’
The aides sighed but they did as the Emperor commanded. Behind his back though, they were talking.
‘Can’t he see how ridiculous he looks!’ one of the aides said. ‘Can’t he see what an embarrassment he is!’
‘Don’t for God sake say such a thing ever again!’ said another aide.
‘This is an advanced case of narcissism,’ the therapist said. ‘There is no treatment. All you can do is indulge him.Otherwise he might smash up all the furniture, burn down the palace and start a war.’
And so they indulged him. But the Emperor’s desires were insatiable.
‘I want, I want, I want,’ he said pouting and stamping his feet. He put out more selfies. His skin was hairless, his body was smooth, his silks and satins were gorgeous. All the people said Like! Like! Like! and filled the screen with pulsing hearts. But the Emperor was not satisfied. ‘I want, I want, I want!’ he said.
The aides called in a plastic surgeon who told the Emperor that he could do what he liked to his body, change it in any way he wanted. After all, it was his body.
‘Oh goody, goody,’ said the Emperor. ‘We’ll start with my nose. It’s too big and it has hairs in the nostrils. Make it smaller and prettier.’
So the plastic surgeons smashed the bone in his nose, chiseled off a bit, reset it and bandaged it up.
‘Now what about my chin?’ said the Emperor. ‘It’s square. I want it pointed. I want it to go with my new voice.’
The Emperor’s voice had gone all squeaky but he seemed to like it like that.
The plastic surgeon smashed the Emperor’s chin, shaped it with his tools and bandaged it up again. And the Emperor’s little dog which had been hanging around under the operating table gobbled up the bits of flesh and shards of bone as they fell.
When the time came to remove the bandages, the Emperor examined himself closely in the mirror.
‘Mmm,’ he said. ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
His body had grown little mock breasts and he had hips too.
‘I need clothes,’ he said to the social media aides. So the social media aides called in the tailoring aides and the tailoring aides called in the dress-making aides who made tight-fitting women’s clothes for the Emperor’s curvaceous new body and threw away the clumpy buckled shoes and got stilettos so high he could scarcely climb into his golden carriage.
He looked at himself in the mirrors and said, ‘I need hair. I need blond hair like Marilyn Monroe and I need it styled and set and lacquered.’ So the hairdressing aides were summoned and did what they could to the balding Emperor.
‘I need makeup!’ said the Emperor. ‘I want to look like a woman. Women wear makeup. I want to look like Marilyn Monroe.’
So the makeup aides were summoned and they did what they could.
It was hard for the aides not to laugh but they kept their sniggers private, hiding them behind their hands.
‘Summon all the people!’ the Emperor said to his aides. ‘No more virtual reality, this is the real thing! I look exactly like Marilyn Monroe! I have arrived into my new body, the one I should have been born into in the first place and I am going to show it off.’
He put on his fringed ra-ra skirt and his deep-plunge bra and his see-through polyester blouse. His skirt was so short it only just covered his bottom but his penis had withered so it was not in any danger of causing offense. His breasts could just about be made out wobbling loosely in their oversized bra. The hairs on his chin had been growing back but his stubble looked no worse than a five o’clock shadow. His broken chin and broken nose had not mended completely but he thought they weren’t too bad at all. And at least he was now in the right body, his new body. And if he didn’t look exactly like Marilyn Monroe then he certainly did look exactly like Audrey Hepburn.
He would do a grand tour of the kingdom and let everyone see their magnificent Emperor.
The aides did more zooms, this time announcing a REAL event with the REAL PRESENCE of the Emperor in his new body.
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the streets and parks for the Emperor’s parade. They were going to see the REAL Emperor in his REAL body, the one he should have been born in.
The aides rolled out an enormous long carpet of rather disturbing pastel colours. The therapists and the doctors and the surgeons and the hairdressers and the makeup artists and the couturiers led the parade waving banners and flags of pastel colors which appeal to babies and to those people who refuse to grow up and throw tantrums if they can’t get their own way.
How happy everyone was! How pleased they were that the Emperor had found his identity, his real self. They could tell the Emperor had done well just by the size of the crowd. They took thousands of photos and filled social media with them and pulsing red hearts came flooding in. So any people were holding up phones and taking pictures that no-one could actually see the parade. But that didn’t matter, and if they didn’t get round to watching it later, that didn’t matter either. They knew what their Emperor looked like and they would rather be taking selfies anyway.
Now in the crowd was a young girl. Her name was Elonie.
‘What’s the matter with everyone?’ she said. ‘Why are they all encouraging this deluded old idiot?’
She got no answer but people moved away from her as if to make a distance.
‘He’s a danger,’ she said, ‘a danger to himself and a danger to all the people.’
The people though went on cheering and waving sickly pastel flags.
But Leonie saw that they were not actually watching the parade. Their thicket of mobile phones had blocked out the view.
None of them could actually see the Emperor as he truly was. They were seeing only themselves. And the Emperor continued in his delusion, tottering in his six inch heels, wobbling in his body that had been so altered that it made no logical sense, his long blond hair balding at the temples, his beard determined to go on growing, his voice still trembling, his arms and legs, his chest and nether parts rough as sandpaper.
Elonie called the social media aides and told them to get real.
‘This delusion has gone far enough,’ she said. ‘Nobody can benefit from it and it is causing a lot of damage especially to young children.’
There were a great many children in the crowds and they were lined up in the front to see the parade as well as they could. The minor-attracted people, were standing in amongst them and they had all been waving flags and cheering as the Emperor came by.
But Elonie had called in her followers and there were a great many of them and they seemed like normal human beings. The Emperor’s crowd began to look fake even to themselves. A wave of doubt spread through the crowd and they dropped their pastel flags and took the Spectacles of Illusion from their eyes. Suddenly they could see, they could see clearly, they could see that their Emperor was living a lie. He was so caught up in his own image that he couldn’t see anything else, he couldn’t see Reality. All he could see when he looked out at the world was himself. And the people weren’t doing him any good.
‘Tell the truth!’ Leonie shouted. ‘Tell the truth!’
At first it was only a few people who told the Emperor the truth.
‘We don’t want to hurt you, your Majesty, but we think you look ridiculous. And we don’t think it is right for you to be so deluded. And we don’t like the effect you are having on children.’
And then the numbers of people prepared to hear and speak the truth began to grow. And then, even the Emperor could see how deluded he had been.
‘What a dangerous ideology I have been following,’ he said. And he put on a pair of old jeans and took up gardening. And the Empire flourished.