A Proliferation of Aprils

When I decided on my new name, part of me was happy that I had found a traditional, but unusual name.

Now I see Aprils fucking everywhere. Not kids, but adults. Walking around with my name. It’s not as bad as my old name, but still, there are scads of us out there.

Where were you bitches all hiding?!

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Hormones, Round Two

So once upon a time I got a prescription for injectable hormones. The injections hurt, but the effects they had were worth it. My skin softened. My boobs appeared. My hair began growing back. My emotions unlocked, and I realized I’d been living a pale shadow of a life.

When I moved away from San Francisco, my endocrinologist neglected to come with me. I shall never forgive her for this unforgivable lapse; there was plenty of room in my suitcase. What I did bring was a bag full of needles and a bottle of hormones. I kept up the injections, no matter how much I loathed them. Their benefits were too good to lose.

And then I lost them. My skin became rough again. My boobs stopped growing. My hair’s rallying charge turned into a desultory retreat. Worst: the haze settled over my emotions and the world once again became a pale, dry place. My performance at work started to suffer as my irritability and impatience returned.

A long and mighty struggle ensued. I did battle with the forces of OHSU, who politely but firmly declined to provide me with an endocrinologist because “we don’t have anyone who does that here.” They were willing to provide me with a list of unvetted alt-med bullshit artists they found on the Q Center’s website. I’m sure they felt quite generous.

On the recommendation of a friend (thanks, Kate!) I tried Legacy Good Samaritan. I was initially concerned about going to a hospital with such a religiously aligned name, but it turns out that they kick a simply amazing amount of ass on a daily basis over there. These people are fucking medical ninjas. Two phone calls later I had an appointment with a new endocrinologist who, upon seeing my prior medical history, simply asked me to do a couple of blood tests and then she’d prescribe whatever I wanted, pending test results. One test that same day, which happened to be injection day, before my injection. So call that the trough. The second a week later, then average those out to get a picture.

The first results show up in my mailbox with a handwritten note appended. “Estrogen levels a little high. Please come see me.”

The second results show up in my mailbox with a handwritten note appended. “Estrogen levels very high. Please come see me!”

I get to my ass back over there. (It doesn’t jiggle the way it used to. I am sad.) The doctor says that my test results for the first test, the trough, where my estrogen levels were about as low as they’d go, were a bit high. 640. Out of a scale of what, I ask.

“Well we’re shooting for 60,” she says. It gets better: the second week’s tests put me at about 1240. (I now have medical proof that I am 2000% woman!) I had so much estrogen in me that my body essentially said “fuckit, we’re done with with this shit until you quit flooding us out.” So it turns out that it’s okay that I’d stopped giving myself injections after that last one; I just couldn’t face them anymore.

We switched to pills. I’d wanted patches, but my new GP (yet another ninjadoc from Legacy Good Samaritan) has a lot of experience with transfolk and says that patches make it hard to get enough. I might have had to use two of them at a time. So now I take a pill and a half every day and it is glorious. My hair is returning again, my skin is softer again, my emotions are better again. I’m less irritable at work, and my performance is coming back up. Best: I don’t have to stab myself anymore!

I feel alive again, and I’m going to have regular appointments with my team of ninjadocs to keep this from happening again. Progress feels good. Literally feels good.

I feel lucky.

On Allies

I don’t need them. I don’t want them. If you call yourself an ally, good for you. Gold star. Please fuck off.

What I need are friends, and I have those. I’m always willing to make more. But I choose them. They do not appoint themselves. When I see people call themselves allies, I shrink away. Only recently have I been able to put my finger on why.

It’s fucking demeaning to have a stranger walk up and declare themselves your ally. Even in the best of intentions, it hurts. It presumes that I can’t find my own people to watch my back, that I need self-proclamed allies to help me. It erases my chioce to have, or not have, a relationship with you, because you have declared the shape our relationship from the outset, without negotiations, on the basis of me being queer alone.

And I fucking hate you for it.

Don’t be an ally. Be a friend. I know, I know, being a friend is harder; you have to see me as a person. Or maybe we don’t click. Maybe you can’t stand me. That’s fine. Sometimes people don’t work together. You don’t have to be a Friend to All Trannies. What you can do instead is just try not to be an asshole. Vote for our rights when they’re on the chopping block. And for fuck’s sake, don’t out us to your friends to show how open minded you are for hanging out with trans people. 

Just…just don’t be a shithead. Seriously. That’s all I want. That’s all I need.

Today, In Mortifying Clusterfucks

So I’m walking to and fro on my break at work, trying to track down something to snack on. I finally beat a vending machine into submission with the awesome power of my change scrounging capabilities and I’m walking back to my desk feeling pretty cocky.

There are two wet spots on my chest. I feel them, cold slimy dots on my nipples. This isn’t too unusual these days. Some warning instinct tells me to look down, and I see them — twin wet spots on my shirt the size of quarters.

So now I’m walking back to the desk with my mini bag of chips clutched to my chest so that my wrists can cover my nipples, and I try to make like I’m carrying it like that because I want to, like that’s how the cool kids do it. I twiddle my fingers to make it convincing. One of my co-workers stops me and comments that I’m not wearing my usual all-black ensemble. Laundry day, I blurt and shuffle past. Safely at my desk I whip my sweatshirt on and run the zipper up to my throat.

Goddamnit, boobs. You have betrayed me.

Looking Forward, Looking Back

2011 was the worst year I’ve ever had. It seems cliche and self-pitying to recap the reasons why. For the past week I’ve been wrestling with how to write my year end roundup, to meet my obligation to be touching and profound at the turn of the year. Fuck it, I can’t. I’m just so tired. Tired of everything. Tired of the titantic struggles that marked my last three years: get into grad school, get a Master’s, survive being homeless, transition.

So this next year is one of modest ambitions. No big picture shit. No major life achivements. The goal of 2012 is to clean up the wreckage. I’ve finished tying off the bloody stump of my academic ambitions, and settled into a comfortably dead end job. Now I’m giong to learn how to keep my apartment clean. Learn how to cook at home five nights a week. Change my name. Get some new clothes. Little things. I don’t think I could survive another string of failures like the one I had between 2009 and 2011.

I need to be healthy, and to be healthy I need to get my life under control. I want that to be second nature. In my darker moments, I wonder if it ever can be. There are people who work here at the call center who have been doing this for ten or fifteen years. I’m scared of ending up like them. I’m terrified to think that even that might be too much to dream of.

Despite it all, I still harbor a great deal of ambition. I want to go places, and do things. I want to be someone who matters to the world. Even just a small part of it. I want to be more than a drone on the help line. But those are dreams for next year. First I have to conquer being a drone.

Thanksgiving

One of my most vivid UC Santa Cruz memories is of the dorm house’s RA knocking on my door and inviting me to the Rainbow Theater’s Thanksgiving Day Play and Discussion Group–do you enjoy your turkey with a side of GENOCIDE!?

For the next few years I couldn’t really enjoy the holiday. In the back of my mind, I had this irritation, this sense that I somehow had to justify my lack of guilt. Because let’s be honest: my ancestors stole a fucking continent, but I don’t want to spend the holiday thinking about that. But I never really felt thankful, either. I felt obligated to feel thankful. Or, no, I liked the idea of being, not thankful per say (I don’t believe in a deity to thank) but appricative. I liked the idea of taking a day out of our hyper-consumptive lives, sitting around with friends and family and appricating what we have instead of fretting about what we don’t. But however much I thought the idea was beautfiul, I never lived it. I never felt appricative of anything but the day off and the free feast. And somehow, this insistence–not entirely unjustified, if a little shrill on my RA’s part–that we temper our apprication with the understanding of the grim history behind white settler expansion gnawed at me. Frustrated me. Made me realize that I wasn’t thankful.

I don’t have that problem anymore. Neither the guilt, nor the irritation. I understand the history, I remember it. But I don’t let it prevent me from enjoying a day of being happy for what I’ve got. Because this year, I have something to be truly thankful for. This year, I have a real reason to stop whining about what I don’t have, and take a moment to count what I do. I did before, but now I know, now I can feel it.

And what I have is this:

I have a place to live, that I pay for with my own money from my own labor. I have food that I eat that doesn’t come with a side of foodstamp flavored shame. I have hormones that my doctors can’t deny me anymore. And most of all, I have friends who saved my life.

I am thankful not to be homeless. I am thankful that I can transition.

I am thankful not to be alone.