Chapter 1: The First Steps
Trigger Warnings: This fic will contain depictions and descriptions of abuse, dysphoria, transphobia, depression and self harm.
This story starts the morning after Harry asks McGonagall to sign the Hogsmeade permission slip, in the Chapter "Flight of the Fat Lady."
Also a huge thank you and credit to Twigwise (Kaniel) from the tumblr of the same name for allowing me to use his Harriet Potter artwork for this fic.
With a stretch and a yawn, Harry kicked off his blankets and lazily reached for his glasses. Rolling out of bed he plodded to the bathroom. After splashing water on his face he paused at the mirror, smiling at how his hair had finally grown passed his ears. 'Aunt Petunia would throw a fit,' he thought gleefully. What had started as a minor act of rebellion against his Aunt was truly growing on him.
Returning to his trunk, he pulled out a clean set of robes. Quickly changing, he paused, looking at his recent purchases and biting at his lip in a moment of indecision. Eventually he steeled his Gryffindor courage and reached into his trunk. 'I bought them; I might as well wear them.' He slipped a band of gold around his wrist, enjoying the way the morning light reflected off it as he turned it. Then he slipped a necklace around his neck, taking a second to settle the Snitch shaped charm on his robes.
He'd been struck by an overwhelming desire to buy them, when he spotted them during his wanderings of Diagon Alley. He would come stare at them almost as often as the Firebolt. It had taken him almost until the last moment for him to finally bring himself to buy them. And now, almost two months into the school year, he had finally managed to put them on.
Harry felt a strange thrill run through him, and felt incredibly silly over it. 'It's just some simple jewellery, why am I nervous? People wear stuff like this all the time, it's fine.' Shaking his head at how ridiculous he was being, he wandered over to poke Ron awake.
"Five mo' minutes," came the ginger's slurred reply. When further prodding simply made Ron hide under his pillow, Harry rolled his eyes and started heading for the door.
"If you're not up in ten, I'm sending Hermione up after you." He grinned at the memory of last time he'd done that – it had ended with a cursing, dripping wet Weasley chasing a laughing Hermione around the Common Room.
Harry glanced around as he reached the Common Room, frowning at the absence of his bushy haired friend. 'That's weird,' he thought. 'Usually she'd be awake by this time.' He settled on the arm of one of the red couches to wait. He was glad that it was the weekend now, and he could spend the day with his friends. It would help to distract from the disappointment of Professor McGonagall refusing to sign his Hogsmeade form.
Looking up from his thoughts, he spotted Neville passing by. He called out to him, "Hey Neville, how're you doing?"
Jerking around to look at him, the round faced boy said, "Oh hi, Harry. I'm alright. How have you been?"
Harry gave a shrug. "I'm fine."
Neville nodded agreeably, and then hesitated. "So, umm… that's a nice bracelet you're wearing. Does it mean anything?"
Harry looked down at gold band on his wrist, nervously touching it. "Ah, no. No, it doesn't mean anything. I just felt like it, is all."
"Oh, okay," Neville said cautiously. "Well it suits you, anyway."
Harry smiled at him, wondering at the sudden burst of warmth he felt. "Thanks, Neville."
With a final nod and small smile, Neville continued out of the Common Room. Harry looked back over to the girls' stairs, just as Parvati and Lavender descending them. Hopping up, he gave them a wave and hurried over. "Uh, hey Parvati, Lavender, is Hermione still up there?"
The girls gave him a smile, Lavender nodding helpfully. "Yeah, she was still in bed when we were getting ready," she said brightly.
Harry frowned at that. Even on weekends, Hermione rarely slept in. After a moment of hesitation, Harry nodded to himself. "Alright, thank you. I'm going to check on her."
He started up the stairs briskly, looking for the door labelled for Third Years. Reaching the top of the tower he saw the right one, and knocked on it. "Hermione, are you okay in there?"
He waited, and after several seconds was rewarded by the faint sounds of sheets. He turned away from the door, just in case. A moment later the door opened.
"Harry!?" He jerked at the incredulity – and volume – of Hermione's voice. "What are you doing here!?"
He turned back towards her without thinking, catching a glimpse of her dressing gown, before hurriedly turning away again. "I just wanted to check you were alright. You're usually up way earlier, is all."
There was a long silence, before Hermione finally said, "Harry. You can't be up here."
Harry winced and started quickly down the stairs. "Sorry, sorry! I didn't know that was a rule."
"Wait, that's not-" Hermione cut off, the door closing behind him. He hurried into the Common Room, passed Parvati and Lavender. He spotted Ron sitting on the same couch Harry had used earlier. Ron looked at him curiously as he approached. "What's the matter?"
Harry shook his head and sighed, slumping down next to him. "I didn't know there was a rule about us going up there." He nodded towards the stairs to the Girls' Dormitory, where Hermione had appeared. "Hope she's not too upset about it."
The two of them stood as Hermione approached, looking in rather a state. Her hair was bushier than normal and her robes looked slightly crushed. Before Harry could say anything she asked, "How did you do that?"
Harry shared a confused glance with Ron. "Um, how did I do what?"
Hermione huffed as if he was being particularly thick, putting her hands on her hips. "How did you get up the stairs, Harry? They should have activated by the third step at least."
Harry was feeling more and more confused by the second. "I don't know what you're on about Hermione. I just walked up them."
She huffed again. "That's impossible, Harry. They're charmed to prevent any boys going up them."
Harry shared another confused look with Ron. "Then how did I get up there?"
"That's what I just asked you!" she exclaimed, throwing up her hands in irritation.
"Maybe the enchantment wore off," Ron offered tentatively, before cringing at the glare Hermione gave him.
"It's been there since the Founders, Ronald! It wouldn't just wear off!"
Ron stood with a stubborn expression. "Well why don't we just see," he said, and marched over to the Girls' stairs. Pausing to make sure Hermione was watching, he began climbing the stairs. He reached the sixth step before the stairs melted together into a smooth ramp and a loud, wailing alarm filled the air. Harry winced as Ron went ass over teakettle to the bottom of the stairs. He and Hermione hurried over to help him up, even as others in the room chuckled.
As they dusted Ron off, Harry glanced at Hermione. "So if the enchantment's still working, why didn't it affect me?"
Hermione stared into the distance with a thoughtful look on her face. "He shouldn't... but what if he... and wearing a necklace... so maybe..." She shook her head and turned to them. "Harry, try the stairs again."
Harry looked at the current slide, then at Ron, before shrugging and placing his foot against the slope. After a moment, the klaxon fell silent and the slide morphed back into a step before them. Looking back to Hermione in confusion, Harry withdrew his foot. "So what does this mean?"
Hermione chewed at her lip. "Let's sit down," she said eventually, leading them over to the couches. When Harry and Ron were seated, looking confused and slightly impatient, she sighed. "Alright Harry, please just listen and let me finish. I just remembered something I read about once before coming to Hogwarts. I'd seen an article about someone who was born a man, but was living as a woman. I was curious, so I went to the library to learn more. The name for it is transgender. Transgender people typically experience a sense of their body being wrong, known as dysphoria. It is frequently described as feeling like 'being born in the wrong body', or feeling like parts of themselves are missing."
Harry suddenly found it oddly hard to breathe. It was as if something in his mind had just clicked. Distantly, he heard his friends talking. "Wait, are you saying you think Harry's a tran-whatever-the-hell?"
"Transgender, Ron. And can you think of another reason the Founders' magic would identify Harry as girl?"
"But then why has Harry never said anything about those sorts of feelings, huh?"
"Because I wasn't allowed to," said a loud voice. It took Harry a moment to realise it had been his own.
Ron and Hermione turned to Harry, who stared resolutely down at his clenched fists. The words seemed to be pouring out of him now. "I never knew there was a word for it. I always thought I was just a freak. The Dursleys hated me talking about it, so I just stopped."
"Oh, Harry!" Hermione threw her arms around him, as Ron's face took on a mixture of horror and confusion.
"So you're saying you think you're one of these transgenders?" Ron asked, before hurriedly adding, "Not that I think that makes you a freak or anything!"
Harry let out a sigh as Hermione released him and pulled back, though she took his hands into hers. "I don't know. It sounds kind of like what I've felt, but I don't know if that's actually what I am."
"The books I read said that people who think they are transgender should try experimenting with expressing their gender," Hermione said, running her thumb over the back of Harry's hand. "Trying things associated with the gender you feel like. And if they feel right, if they make the dysphoria feel less, then it's probably right and you're probably transgender."
"So he should try on a bunch of makeup and dresses and stuff and see if he likes it?" Ron asked slightly incredulously, looking between his two friends.
"If Harry wants to," Hermione replied simply. "Harry can try dresses and makeup and even jewellery, if that's what she feels like." She moved her hand to touch the bracelet Harry was wearing, and looked up at Snitch necklace. Harry pulled his hands back, covering the accessories self-consciously.
"Even if we say I am transgender," Harry said carefully, "what does it matter? I don't want to go around looking like a guy in a dress. I'd look stupid."
"The muggle world has ways of helping transgender people look like the gender they feel they are," Hermione answered gently. "There's medication they can take and surgeries they can have. And surely there's something we can do with magic that would be even better than what they can offer."
Despite her reassuring tone, Harry was even more nervous. "That sounds like a lot of things for something we're still not sure about, Hermione."
She nodded and said, "Let's start by trying easy, temporary stuff first. For example, how does this feel? Harry Potter is a girl. She is my friend and I want her to be happy."
Harry's breathing hitched and tears appeared in his eyes. He turned away quickly, swiping at them irritably.
"Blimey," breathed Ron, watching wide-eyed. "You really are a transgender aren't you?"
Harry took several steadying breaths, nodding slowly. "I think so. I'm a girl," she said, with a smile, before looking to Hermione. "So what should I do?"
Hermione squeezed her hand. "I think we should go see Professor McGonagall."
The trio arrived at the Great Hall in record time, having barely refrained from running through the halls. A glance at the Staff table revealed Professor McGonagall mid-conversation with Flitwick. Harry was torn between immediately marching up to speak with her, and fleeing the Hall entirely. At Hermione's prompting, they instead sat down to quickly eat breakfast. Harry found her gaze drifting, constantly checking to make sure Professor McGonagall was still there.
"Do you really think she can help?" she asked, practically vibrating with nervous energy.
Wiping her mouth on a napkin, Hermione replied, "She's the best place to start. She's our Head of House, and Transfiguration could have some spell that does what we need. And even if she can't do anything directly, she can help find someone who can."
"'sides," Ron added, through half a mouthful, "someone'll probably tell her about the stairs this morning, and she'll want to know about it."
"Assuming she doesn't already," Hermione said, while pointedly looking away from Ron.
When Professor McGonagall began moving from the Hall, Harry shot to her feet and quickly moved to intercept her. Ron and Hermione followed shortly behind. The Head of Gryffindor House raised an eyebrow before turning to meet them.
"Could I talk to you a moment, please Professor?"
She gave a small sigh. "I already told you I can't sign your form Mr Potter."
Harry swallowed and shook her head. "Actually, we'd like to talk about something else... privately, please." She glanced around at the nearby tables, causing several people to look away quickly. She shuddered at the thought of having this conversation in public.
Professor McGonagall gave her a searching look, glancing over Hermione and Ron as well, before nodding. "Very well. Come along then." The trio followed her to her office, Harry becoming more nervous with each step. She jerked in surprise when Ron placed a steadying hand on her shoulder.
"Easy, Harry. We're here for you." She took a deep breath and nodded, even as Hermione took her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze.
When they arrived at Professor McGonagall's office, she ushered them in, following behind. The door automatically closed behind her. She moved behind her desk, swishing her wand to produce additional chairs.
"Now, what did you wish to speak to me about?"
Harry opened her mouth, but no words came out. She threw a helpless glance at Hermione, who nodded and turned to the Professor.
"This morning, I was woken up by Harry knocking on my dormitory door."
Professor McGonagall stared at her, frowning. "If the enchantment on the stairwell has failed, that is indeed concerning. We can have a look to see if we can restore-"
"I'm sorry, Professor," Hermione said. Professor McGonagall looked thoroughly shocked at being interrupted by Hermione Granger of all people. "But we already tested with Ron, and the enchantment did work when he tried them."
"And it hurt like buggery when I hit the ground too," Ron grumbled to Harry quietly.
Professor McGonagall's lips pressed thin as she listened to Hermione, before looking at Ron and then Harry. She rested her arms on the table, folded her hands and raised an expectant eyebrow at Hermione, who flushed slightly before answering.
"I remembered something I read about from the muggle world. There a people who are called transgender. They are born with the body of the opposite gender to what they truly are. It was described as being an intensely uncomfortable feeling towards one's own body."
Her other eyebrow joining the first, Professor McGonagall asked, "And what, besides the staircase, makes you believe Potter is… transgender?"
Harry took a deep breath, wrapping her arms around herself protectively. "Everything feels wrong." She winced at the quaver in her voice. "It hurts every time someone calls me 'Sir' or 'Mister' or 'Boy'. I look at girls and I'm so jealous. I want to be able to look like them and act like them and dress like them without being laughed at or yelled at or-" She cut herself off and looked away, taking several deep breaths. "I just want to feel comfortable being me."
She waited, shrinking back in her seat at the Transfiguration Professor's scrutiny. She grew tenser as the silence drew on, and Professor McGonagall continued to stare at her. Finally, the Professor asked, "Were there any suggestions in the muggle literature for helping such people?" Harry let out a near-sobbing sigh of relief. Professor McGonagall smiled gently at her. "We will do everything we can to help you, Harry."
"The literature advises that transgender people be allowed to express their correct gender in what they wear and how they are treated. It also had information on muggle medical treatments to change hormones, giving them the correct puberty. There are also surgeries available, to change the things hormones can't. We were hoping that you would know of a Transfiguration that could have the same effects, or better, for Harry."
Professor McGonagall looked away in thought. "I can't think of any magics that can do something quite like that. Not truly. Human Transfigurations such as that are only performed by qualified Mediwizards to repair significant damage. You must understand, permanent Transfigurations are immensely rare. All things seek to return to their original state."
"So there's nothing you can do," Harry said heavily, fighting back a sudden wave of tears.
"None of that now," Professor McGonagall said, conjuring a handkerchief and passing it to her. "I do not currently know any spell that will help, but I can certainly investigate to see if such a spell exists. And even if one does not, there is no reason it cannot be created."
Harry wiped her eyes, nodding, even as the feeling of disappointment continued to pool in her stomach. Professor McGonagall stood then, gesturing for the trio to do so as well. "Now, I believe, it would be good to consult with Madam Pomfrey. As a fully qualified Mediwitch, she may know more about such matters."
Harry blinked at her uncomprehendingly for a few seconds, before jumping to her feet, a dizzying rush of excitement and nervousness rushing through her.
Professor McGonagall led them briskly to the Hospital Wing. Harry tried to use the walk to calm herself down. 'Just relax. You don't know that she'll be able to do anything. Stop getting your hopes up.' She suddenly realised that Hermione was still holding her hand, occasionally giving it a reassuringly squeeze. She gave a tentative smile to her bushy haired friend, and steadied her breathing. 'I have the best friends in the world,' she mused, turning her smile towards Ron. He was humming as he walked along beside her. 'They're so much better than I deserve.'
Professor McGonagall clearing her throat brought her out of her thoughts, and she realised they had arrived. She reclaimed her hand from Hermione's grasp and pushed open the doors, squashing down the sudden urge to turn and run and pretend this never happened.
As the trio plus teacher entered the Wing, Madam Pomfrey bustled over. "What have you done to yourself this time, Mr Potter?"
Harry flinched. "I'm not hurt, Madam Pomfrey," she murmured. The matron paused then looked to Professor McGonagall, who nodded.
"We are here for a consultation, Poppy, if you aren't busy right now," she said. Madam Pomfrey nodded, swiping her wand to send some potion vials on the nearby counter sailing into the cupboard.
"No, I'm not busy at all. Please come into my office." She led them into her office, which was surprisingly large. As well as a desk and bookshelves, there were several beds, some closets and even an armchair by the fire. She created chairs for them with a quick swipe of her wand. Once they were all settled, she looked to Professor McGonagall expectantly.
The Transfiguration Professor seemed to consider her words before speaking. "Miss Granger here was just telling me about something most fascinating, which she learnt about in the muggle world. It seems certain people can be born as – what was the term? Transgender? Ah, yes, that was it. People born transgender, who while their bodies are one gender, have the minds of the other. And despite lacking magic, they've found ways to treat them, using their medicines to give them bodies that match their mental gender."
Madam Pomfrey looked both confused and curious. "That does sound rather interesting Minerva, but I must ask what this is about?"
Professor McGonagall smiled. "Well, as it just so happens, this morning, Potter here was able to walk to the top of the Gryffindor girls' dormitory stairs without the anti-male enchantment activating."
Madam Pomfrey looked between Professor McGonagall and Harry blankly before it dawned on her. "Oh!" she gasped. "So you are female, Mist- Miss Potter?"
Harry felt a blush on her cheeks as she nodded. "Yes, Madam Pomfrey," she replied quietly.
Hermione leaned forward. "We were hoping you knew some spell or potion that would allow Harry to have the correct body for her gender."
Harry held her breath as Madam Pomfrey looked away thoughtfully. She felt her heart plummet as the matron shook her head. "I'm sorry but there is nothing that can do that currently. The closest possibilities would be Human Transfiguration, or perhaps some variation of the Polyjuice Potion, but neither of those would be permanent."
Harry slumped in her seat and looked away. She gave a wan smile as Ron put his arm around her.
"Don't give up hope yet, Miss Potter," Professor McGonagall said firmly. "Miss Granger, you mentioned muggle methods of helping transgender people."
Hermione nodded. "Yes, it involves the use of medications to supress certain hormones, and replace them with others. This allows the body to undergo the correct puberty for that persons gender. And then there are surgeries to alter the parts that hormones can't change."
A look of deep thought was on Madam Pomfrey's face. "It is possible we could replicate those medications with potions. I will need more detailed information on the process, but I believe it is possible."
Hermione beamed, looking between Madam Pomfrey and Harry. "I'll write to my parents and get them to find books detailing the process. They're dentists so they should be able to find it more easily than most muggles."
"Excellent," proclaimed Professor McGonagall, standing with a satisfied expression. "I will also investigate potential means of allowing permanent human Transfiguration for this. Between myself and the Headmaster, I'm sure we will be able to find some way to achieve it." She turned to the trio of students. "Now, these will take some time, Miss Potter, but we will make sure we find something to help you. Even if we find nothing, we can help you acquire the muggle methods."
Harry looked between Professor McGonagall to Madam Pomfrey, and was utterly unable to stop her tears of gratitude. "Thank you," she whispered.
Professor McGonagall conjured her another handkerchief, while Hermione grasped her hand again. "Don't forget," her bushy haired friend added. "You can experiment with your gender expression, while we wait for these things. It is okay for Harry to try wearing more feminine things isn't it Professor?" she asked.
Professor McGonagall nodded. "I will make sure the other Professors are informed about all this. If you would like, Miss Potter, we can provide you some spare sets of female uniforms."
Harry looked at her with wide eyes. "Uh, I don't know. People might think I'm weird, wearing girl's robes while I look like this," she said with a gesture to herself.
"You will find," Professor McGonagall said, "that rules about the gender of clothes matter somewhat less in the magical world than the muggle. I will have them ready for you and you can wear them or not as you choose." Before Harry could respond, she continued. "I will see that the rest of the faculty are informed before classes resume, and that they will address you properly. I must ask you to promise me, Miss Potter, that you will not attempt to perform human Transfiguration upon yourself. It is NEWT level spellwork and can cause permanent damage if done incorrectly."
Harry nodded regretfully. "I promise Professor." Hermione and Ron echoed her, as the Transfiguration Professor turned her eye to them.
"If you can achieve at least an E on your Transfiguration OWL, you will be able to study human Transfiguration. I hope I will see you in those classes. Have a good day, Miss Potter, Miss Granger, Mr Weasly." She turned to Madam Pomfrey. "Thank you for your time Poppy," she said, before turning and leaving the office.
"Well," Madam Pomfrey said briskly, "Miss Granger, I would appreciate you providing me those books when they arrive. Miss Potter, let me know if this transgender business affects your health. Until then, do try to stay out of here, hmm?"
Harry nodded sheepishly, as Hermione laughed and a grinning Ron ruffled her hair.
"Well, go on. Enjoy your day," she said as she ushered them out of her Hospital Wing. As they walked away, Harry found that she couldn't stop smiling.
First of all, thank you for reading my fic. This one is very important to me. I'm drawing on aspects of my personal experiences for this. This is just my personal experience, and should not be taken as applying to all trans people.
I'd like to note that since this is set in 1993, Hermione's information and terminology may be considered outdated. Anything I have her say will be generally correct, but please do further research because transgender terminology has progressed in the last 24 years.
Due to how unknown the idea of being transgender is in the magical world there are going to be characters that say things or act in ways that are offensive and harmful to trans people, even without intending to be. Obviously, this is not reflective of my views and should not be seen as behaviour to emulate.
For example, Professor McGonagall is going to out Harry to the faculty, and they will out her to the other students. Never do this to a trans person in real life. Always privately check if it's okay to disclose someone's trans status before doing so, or you could legitimately put their life in danger.