Rating: Teen and Up Audiences
Category: Gen (no relationship)
Characters: Castiel, Original Female Character
Tags: POV Outsider, Trans Character, Queer Themes, Gender Identity, Angel Gender (Supernatural), Episode: s09e03 I'm No Angel, Canon Compliant
Summary: It’s cold, the day’s already been a long one, and Annalise is just about to take a bite of her burrito when a man sits next to her.
Originally posted on the Archive of Our Own on January 7th, 2021. Complete.
It’s cold, the day’s already been a long one, and Annalise is just about to take a bite of her burrito when a man sits next to her.
He’s average-looking, not too tall, with dark hair and stubble and a fleecy sweatshirt. He sits heavily on the step next to her, and lets out a long-suffering sigh. She’s ready to ignore him, and so she scooches a bit away. No harm in being careful.
He doesn’t get the hint. “What’s your name?” the guy says, glancing sideways at her.
She gives him a look, and chews her burrito. “Annalise.”
“Annalise. That’s a nice name.”
She stares at him for a moment. No one’s ever told her that before. But sometimes they try to lure you in with compliments—she doesn’t allow herself to relax just yet. “Thanks.”
The man rifles around in his pocket and brings out a matchbox and a dirty newspaper. Looking around the ground in front of him, he spots a tin can and grabs it, setting it at his feet. He attempts to light his match. After a few moments, he realizes Annalise has been looking at him and raises his head, catches her eye. The almost-lit match fizzles in his hand.
“Are you…?” she tries not to laugh. “Do you need help with that?”
He sighs in relief. “Yes. Please. Thank you.”
She takes the matches from him, and in a swift motion, lights one, dropping it into the can at his feet. “There. What’s your name, anyway?”
He tilts his head. “Castiel. But here people call me Clarence.”
“What’re you, Mormon?” she says, with an incredulous snort.
“No. Why would you think that?”
“Castiel’s a weird name. Sometimes that’s a Mormon thing.”
“Oh.” He settles back against the concrete. “No, I’m not Mormon. But I had… religious parents.”
Ah. That would explain it. Annalise nods understandingly. “I feel you. ‘S why I’m here, actually.”
Maybe she shouldn’t be telling this to a total stranger, but knowing the fact that he’s a grown man who can’t light a match has lowered her defenses.
“How’s that?” he asks.
She shrugs, flicking a lock of dirty blonde hair over her shoulder, and then gestures at herself. “Well. Y’know.”
It appears the man—Castiel—Clarence doesn’t, in fact, know. He looks at her.
“What, you don’t—you didn’t clock me? Huh. Guess you’re more obtuse than I thought.”
“Hello? Big old T.S. here?” she says, a hint of exasperation in her voice.
Clarence doesn’t respond, just looks at her expectantly. His stomach rumbles, audibly. Her hand tightens around her burrito.
“Dude. I’m transgender. That’s why my parents kicked me to the curb.”
“Ah. And that means… what, exactly?”
Well, the guy did say he was raised religious. “Um,” Annalise hesitates. This is the guy’s first introduction to trans people, so she’s got to phrase it exactly right.
“Well,” she says, attempting professionalism, “you know how when babies are born, people either say ‘it’s a boy’ or ‘it’s a girl’?”
“I… guess so.”
“Yeah, well, sometimes the baby grows up and realizes that the gender they were assigned at birth wasn’t all that accurate, and they’re actually something else. Like a boy if they were a girl, or a girl if they were a boy, or neither.”
Clarence squints at her. He’s still sitting perfectly still, in the exact position he assumed when he sat down. Maybe he’s on the spectrum or something, Annalise thinks in the back of her mind.
“So… that’s you?” he says. “You were told you were a boy, but you’re really a girl?”
She breathes a sigh of relief. That’s a good reaction, all things considered. She can check “don’t get hate crimed” off her to-do list for the day. “Yeah. Yep. Pretty much.”
She figures that’s the end of the conversation, ‘cause Clarence doesn’t really seem to say much in general, but as she bites into her burrito again he tilts his head quizzically and speaks.
“What does it mean, then, if you weren’t told… anything, by a doctor?”
Huh? Annalise thinks. “What do you mean, like, a midwife helped give birth to you or something?”
He frowns. “No, no. Like… no one ever told me I was anything. But I’m a man now. I think.”
Well. Annalise didn’t expect to be talking to a stranger about gender crises today, but what the heck. He’s not intimidating, or giving her any major creep vibes. A little awkward, but aren’t most people living in the streets?
“Oh,” she says, “I think I get it. Your parents just didn’t care? Let you do whatever you want for gender stuff?”
“I… I suppose. That’s a good way to put it.”
“Dude, what kind of religious were your folks? Never mind. Don’t answer that.” She shrugs her jacket up over her shoulders. It keeps slipping down. “But yeah, I guess I could see how that could be confusing, not getting any gender-y influences growing up and then having to figure it out to conform once you grew up. Makes sense.”
He smiles a little. “Yes. Thank you.”
She can’t help herself, though. She has to ask. “I’m curious, man. Why’d you ask, about not being told anything by a doctor? I mean, you are a dude, right?”
Clarence grunts, rubbing his hands together over the tiny blazing can. He must be new at this, she thinks.
“Yes,” he answers. “I’m a ‘dude’.” (He makes little air quotes, and Annalise smiles in spite of herself.) “But I think my situation is similar to yours, in a way.”
“What, being trans? No offense, guy, but if you’re a dude, and you’ve got a dick, then you aren’t trans. Even if your parents were hippies.”
She feels a little sorry for being so blunt as soon as the words leave her mouth, but hey, she can’t be expected to be Number One Tran Educator all the time, can she? And it’s not her fault if she feels a little defensive. Comes with the territory.
Clarence just squints at her some more, though. “I don’t understand.”
“Well,” she scoffs a little, “dude, trans stuff doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It also includes like, all the stuff that comes along with gender. Like, society associates girls with vaginas and guys with dicks, right? So if you’re a girl, but society says you’re a boy ‘cause you have a dick, then you’re trans. Or vice versa.”
“I thought you said it meant differing from what you started as…?”
Annalise has no clue what point the guy’s trying to make, but she soldiers on. “Same difference, right?”
“I don’t think so, no. At least not going off of what you said before.”
She gestures at him. “Elaborate….?”
He sighs heavily and shifts in his seat. “Well. If starting out being seen as a girl, but really being a boy, makes you trans, then wouldn’t starting out being seen as nothing, but really being a boy, also make one trans?”
“Do you mean like,” she struggles for the wording, “intersex? Or just gender-neutral parenting? When you say ‘starting out being seen as nothing’.”
She’d assumed he was cis when he sat down next to her, but she figures she should know better than to just assume. She doesn’t know his whole story, after all. And this is his first exposure to trans stuff.
“Um,” he says. Annalise is once again reminded how she was not expecting to have this conversation with him. Her plan was to sit and eat her burrito, and if weird men came along, she’d either hustle out of their way if they were creepy or maybe keep her spot if they were gay or something. Maybe Clarence is gay or something.
He clears his throat. “I think… both. What you said. Another sex. And gender-neutral parenting.”
Annalise raises an eyebrow. “Okay, well… I don’t really know too much about intersex stuff, but I do know all the trans lore, so…”
He smiles a little.
“What, something I said?”
“No. Carry on.”
“...Uh, well. What I mean is, I guess, yeah, what you described would probably fit under my definition of trans. Like, even if you were a cis guy but had some weird thoughts about your own gender, or wanted to play around with it, then, like. That’s trans enough in my book.”
He gives her a smile. It’s so genuine Annalise can’t help but return it. “So if you’re trans… and a girl. The term is ‘trans girl’?”
“And if I’m trans in your book, and a guy, I’d be—”
“A trans guy. Right. If you want to call yourself that, I mean. I figure people who’re intersex or raised genderless or whatever might have a more complicated relationship with this stuff.”
“I like the sound of trans guy,” Clarence shrugs. “I think it describes the situation more or less aptly.”
She grins. “Works for me, then, dude. Welcome to the club.” She holds up her hand for a fist bump.
He stares. “What does that mean? Is that a trans thing?”
She laughs out loud. “No! No, it’s just a fist bump. Everyone does it. See?” She grabs his hand and folds his knuckles into a fist, then bumps his against hers. “Solidarity.”
“Solidarity,” he echoes.
She finishes her burrito and turns back to him. The fire’s gone out in his can, and she shivers reflexively. “I wish you well, Annalise,” he says. “I hope we meet again in a better place.”
It’s an odd comment. She smiles, though, in spite of herself. “Thanks, Clarence.”
He drifts away a few minutes later, and she loses track of him after she heads downtown for the afternoon. When she comes back to the camp, he’s gone. She wonders about him from time to time, though, thinks about how Clarence is very much not a nickname for Castiel, thinks about how he squinted at her and how he tilted his head and how he asked odd questions because he wanted to understand.
She never sees him again, they don’t meet again in a better place. But one day in the far future, after her pharmacist fistbumps her in celebration of picking up her first estrogen prescription, she drives home and laughs alone in her car, remembering.