Not being Trans
There's this thing I do where I look at my surroundings and reach out with
my mind and pull them into my reality. It makes everything feel oddly
and real and present around me. My need to do this varies with my state of
mind. Right now, I can't do it for more than a moment before reality
becomes too much to bear. If I insist, my mind takes the self-protective
tactic of flickering around and refusing to concentrate. This should be
enough to tell me I'm fucked up, but there's so much more. I have a rare
and persistent case of carpal tunnel; my whole back was clenched up like
a fist grasping my spine; my stress levels skyrocketed suddenly to the
point where I drank a whole can of Coke to calm down, like the soda junkie
I haven't been since high school. I've been sleeping twelve hours a day,
just to deal. I've been clenching my teeth during those twelve hours.
Whenever I try to meditate, my heart announces that it hurts and that I'd
better not go any deeper if I don't want to start crying. And all Tuesday
evening, sitting with Timanna at Mary's kitchen table, I felt like I was
going to pass out. I sound like the little kid in the Shel Silverstein
poem who's listing improbable ailments to get out of school, till she
finds out it's Saturday.
Even I can trace the events back to a logical cause.
On Tuesday, I went to the Tom Waddell Clinic. Four weeks ago, Dr.
Martinez told me that she wanted to make sure that I knew what I was
talking about and ws absolutely sure when I asked for hormones. She sent
me away for four weeks to think about it. It was a disturbing visit; she
outlined by memory all the bad things testosterone can do to you (like put
you at a higher risk for heart disease, male pattern baldness, anger and
violence) and said most of the changes were irreversible. As we parted,
she added offhand that she wanted to be sure I knew that I could never
stop taking testosterone and implied it was because almost all the changes
would reverse. On top of that, I explained to her that I was bi-gendered
and just wanted to take testosterone long enough to lower my voice a few
notes and become more androgynous. She didn't say anything about my not
being able to stop hormones at the time, which is one of the things that
made me think she didn't understand anything I said.
The visit before that, I'd been "interviewed" by some guy called
Larry, who was a sort of counselor for new "customers," and by another
doctor. The doctor was very sympathetic, said I'd obviously thought this
through a lot and she thought it was really interesting. I didn't tell
Larry as much as I told her, because I'd just gone through it all with the
doctor, right? so why go through it all again? It was in my file! I could
tell Larry had some problems with what I told him, but all he said was
that he wasn't sure everyone else would undersand and I might have some
problems later on. I told him if that happened, I could just explain it to
I left feeling like he was going to screw me over, and I was right.
When I returned last Tuesday, Dr. Martinez told me that the group of
doctors there had met and - I can't even bring myself to write this -
they'd decided I wasn't a good candidate for hormones. The messages I got
were that they didn't have the resources to help people who weren't in
desperate need of it, and that they didn't think I was trans enough for
any kind of gender help. Apparently Dr. Martinez felt that way after our
first visit, and rather than ask me more questions, she'd gone to Larry
and he'd promptly concurred. It was like anything I told them would get
boiled down to either "clearly transsexual" or "clearly confused," and
since I'm not a textbook case, no amount of explaining on my part would
I wanted to find the first woman I talked to, but I didn't remember
her name. I want to see what they said about me. I don't know what I'm
going to do next.
Fast-forward a year and a half......
In about the middle of the hour-and-a-half long film, they
the Tom Waddell Clinic and interview the head of it. And the head of the
clinic talks about how it was founded, how the transgender portion of it
(which is really only one day a week) was founded, how they focus on
regular medical care and don't provide surgery. And he looks the camera
straight in the eye and says that their ONLY REQUIREMENT for hormones is
that you be able to give *informed consent.*
It's Pride season. It's time for the International 'Lesbian And Gay'
Festival. This year, they showed a film called Gendernauts, which is
totally, like, this listserv except in film form. All these lil
genderqueers and their lives. (there's a fabulous bit where annie
sprinkle holds up her laminated guide to marin county birds and goes "this
is how many genders there are!!")
and everyone in the row turns to look at ME. :) and i'm
"liar! liar! grr!" i swear i came within an inch of standing up in the
packed theatre and just yelling "LIAR!!" at the screen. however. i didn't.
i restrained myself.
and then they go on to talk to all the other doctors who
there! And they all say random party-line sorts of things - you know, "oh,
we treat lots of transsexuals, oh, transsexuals are treated here, oh, we
try to focus on giving them decent care, we think it's a good environment,
etc." And I'm sitting back going "heh, i wonder if they'll talk to MY
doctor. ha, i bet she'd just parrot the party line too."
and then they DO.
her face appears on the screen, some fifty feet by fifty
however big those movie screens are. terrifyingly large, let me tell you.
And she looks into the camera and begins describinghow not everyone should
get hormones. and she says, "Some people come to me and they say 'oh, i'm
*bigendered* and i want to be more androgynous,' or 'oh, i'm a lesbian and
i want to be more dykey!' and i'm like, 'well, that's very nice, that's
okay *socially*, but....'"
and my jaw just DROPS. i was just staring at the screen frozen
for the rest of that segment. and the film went on for another forty-five
minutes about completely unrelated stuff. but afterwards, when we went out
for the Q&A session, i was shaking so hard my teeth were chattering.
i even stayed for the Q&A just so I could ask her when the
was made and find out if dr. martinez really WAS talking about me.
and the filmmaker (Monika Treut) told me that part was filmed last spring,
around April or May. about four months after I went through there. so.
that was MY weekend (grin)
i probably shouldn't have been driving home, either, cause i was
shaking even harder when I raised my hand to ask the question. I was
probably in shock or something.
oh, and what was particularly interesting was that after Monika
answered me, the intersexed member of the cast grabbed the microphone to
say that ze hadhad the same reaction when ze watched the film, because
apparently ze was going through the exact same sort of runaround at the
Clinic at about that time. and then the filmmaker remarked that she'd seen
Dr. Martinez earlier - she'd been there, watching the film, right with us.
*twitch* Ms. Treut even thought that she'd come for the discussion
segment,and called out to see if she was still around, but if she was, she
didn't come forward. unsurprisingly.