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Mallory thought of her father and his hearing aids, wishing she inherited his disability rather than the acute aural ability of her mother.

For most, distinct voices melded into cacophony, cloaking table-centred conversations.  Mallory heard the comments and answering laughter, eroding away her diminishing dignity.

“She looks like a linebacker in drag!”

“Size matters.”

“Justin, she’s just your type.  Go ask her out.”

“Shut the fuck up, Kyle.  Her face looks like my dog’s ass.”

“…with the same amount of hair!”

“She’s a boy, or I’m a cat.”

Each comment rolled laughter forward and encouraged ignorant minds to fish for new humour-feeding insults, with no effort to muffle their crass conversation.

“Ignore the comments, Mallory,” Eric leaned over and advised.

“Easy for you to say, you pass.”  Eric knew the truth of it, because of the inherent body-changing power of testosterone.  “Please don’t cry.”

Tears eroded makeup and exposed effectiveness of taunts.  Therapy failed to teach Mallory the value of self-kindness.  No matter the encouragement, the curse of hearing tuned in to uttered slights.

If her life history lay exposed, All-American linebacker for a Division II college would scroll along the timeline ten years previous, from days when unchecked testosterone ran amok through her body, before courage felled fear and placed Mallory in league with the truth.  Hormones reshaped her body over seven years, but did nothing to her six-foot-three inches of height.

Eric left the barstool.

“Do the rules say women cannot play football, Gentlemen?”  Eric, friend to Mallory and seven years post-transition transman, asked the unanswered question.  Shocked Mallory watched.

Two of the three commenters rose, stepped around the table, and threatened smaller Eric.  One twitched a move, and observant eyes triggered two mongoose-quick kicks.

“I’m curious.  Please explain again your theory on how size matters,” Eric asked.