Today is the first day of the rest of my life. That’s true literally every day, but today it feels especially true. Today, I called Legacy Community Health Clinic on Montrose in downtown Houston and made an appointment to see a doctor who can prescribe me Testosterone.
I’ve agonized for years over what it would mean to hormonally transition. What example would I be setting? Would I irrevocably alter the fabric of my life? For the better? For worse?
I have two kids, ages 12 and 14, both assigned female at birth. They both identify as genderfluid or gender non-conforming at the moment, and they both believe gender is a spectrum. They move along that spectrum as it suits them, but neither has expressed any body horror, any sense of being transsexual.
Over the years I’ve been living my truth, out and generally proud, I’ve come to realize that I’m not genderqueer. I’m not somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I’m transsexual. I want hormones. I want surgery.
Strike that. I need them. The life I’m living right now? This is not my best me. This is not who I was meant to be. My phantom cock aches and itches. I know it’s meant to be there, and I have to make do with a nub. My one, lonely chin hair curls under my chin like a lover’s come-hither finger, enticing and promising someday there’ll be more.
There are challenges specific to being mid-spectrum that I don’t face. I’m not overlooked or ignored. People recognize my dysphoria as being something “significantly wrong” with me, eliciting either disgust or sympathy. It’s a certain bizarre stripe of privilege, and I have it because I belong to that percentage of trans* spectrum people who desperately need to change their body to ever feel right in their skin. Social transition isn’t enough. When I’m all alone, as male as can be in my own little cave, I can’t shake the sense this body is a terrible nightmare suit I’ve been strapped into and can’t get out of.
One of the questions that’s posed to trans* patients seeking hormone therapy is, “What do you hope to get out of hormonal therapy?” They stress repeatedly that going on cross-gender hormone treatments will not lead to instant acceptance as the target gender. They remind the patients emphatically of the risks. The costs, both financial and psychological, to one’s self and family. Those who perhaps were all right with thinking of one as a “weirdo” and humoring “a phase” sometime react poorly to the permanence and clarity of purpose hormonal changes represent.
But what’s really in a bottle of T isn’t a deeper voice, a beer gut, or a beard. It’s hope. And I need that like nothing else. Hope that I won’t always feel this alien to my own eyes. Hope that I’ll someday be able to take for granted the “sir” on the phone and the “gentleman” from the waiter. Hope that instead of hearing my name echoed back in confusion when I introduce myself as Will, I’ll just hear, “Nice to meet you, Will.”
I linger in a hopeful limbo for now, waiting for my appointment with Dr. Vanek. I’m told she specializes in transgender primary care, that she prescribes hormones to a lot of patients, and that it’s based on informed consent instead of the grotesquely patronizing and patriarchal WPATH standards of care. My best friend, Clancy Nacht, is poised to drive down to Houston and accompany me, to help me navigate the process and articulate my fears and needs, and I’m almost pitifully grateful for that. So many trans* people don’t have the support system I do. And that’s why I’m blogging about each step as I go.
Several years ago, when I first began understanding the nature of my truth, I really hoped I’d be genderqueer. That I could ask my close friends to call me “he” and wear male clothes and be good with that. That I was a gender outlaw went without question, but I took a while to pin down what my needs actually were. To articulate them to myself. To admit them.
It was an old geocities blog that helped me realize the extent of my needs, my true identity, and it’s long since disappeared. But when I was questioning, I needed to read a diary of transition and seeking, to clarify myself against that standard. I owe it to those who don’t have a Clancy, who aren’t perhaps as articulate as me, to leave a record of my struggles and progress. For everyone who’s trying to navigate this winding path from who they were told they must be to who they truly are, I wish you the best of luck and the warmest of love, and I pledge to put my truth out there. We’re never as alone as we feel.
[You can read more about my thoughts on WPATH and the technical aspects of the journey’s beginning here.]