Friday, April 26, 2019

Transition Isn't Sad

My last post was something of a downer. And it got me thinking. I remember years ago (thinking mid-90s) I watched a documentary on Discovery Channel. It was a British made documentary that followed two or three transgender women as they went about their transition. Of course it was fascinating to watch. The whole time I was enthralled, but at the same time afraid someone might walk in and see what I was watching. Thankfully no one did. 

But something struck me about the documentary. Its tone was decidedly a mournful one. One transwoman was working as an exotic dancer to pay for her surgery and another was an older woman who was having trouble finding work in the field where she had been employed for twenty years or more. Transition was presented as sad.

And I think this is an idea that pervades our culture in a lot of ways. It's a carryover from that whole stupid idea of trans-people, especially trans-women as "freaks" at the fringes of society. In this view trans-people are to be pitied for the painful lives they endure. A lot of media focuses on homelessness, poverty, sex work, or violence against trans-people. The whole thing presents this ever present idea that transition is sad, that trans people are to be pitied.

While there are legitimate issues that trans people face, including all of the above and a heaping helping of discrimination, I don't think transition is sad. And I don't think transgender people are, on the whole, a sad group.

Transition is a wonderful thing. It's the moment when you truly accept yourself. It's an adventure. It's fun. Oh my gosh, it is so much to just be myself every single day. I get to do that! I wish I could go back in time and tell a sixteen or twenty-five year old me how great this is, how much fun their life turns out to be. Transition is so much fun. I'm just me now. There's no more hiding, no more secret to be kept. I'm out, I'm proud, I'm me. And I'm having fun.

But like anyone I will have my down times. Transition does mean dealing with stupid stuff too. But on the whole it's amazing. I'm glad I did it and it is not at all sad. Pity me not! But also speak up when you encounter transphobia.

Hope you're having fun with your transition too.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Facial Femization Surgery: The Insurance Blues

It started last Wednesday. Upon coming home from work I checked the mail and saw a letter from my insurance company. Before I even walked my dogs, I tore it open. And though I kinda knew what it was going to say, I still shook my head in annoyance and disbelief. The insurance company had denied coverage for my facial feminizaiton surgery. They had decided that this was purely cosmetic and thus not covered by my policy.

Though I knew intellectually that this sucked, I was numb. This numbness had been building for a good month or so. It had been a non stop back and forth between my surgeon, my general practitioner, mental health professionals, and my cardiologist. First I had to get three letters, then they needed to be updated. Then the insurance requested a fourth letter. Then I ended up playing a frustrating game of telephone where my surgeon and my cardiologist were talking through their receptionists, then me, then other receptionists, then practitioners and surgical coordinators. Getting any single document was a completely frustrating experience. Once I had finally gotten everything I was left utterly drained.

At home that night, I was by myself. Kath was out with coworkers and I was alone. I wanted to cry. But I couldn't. Finally I resorted to watching especially emotional video clips on YouTube. The power speech from the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Whip It trailer, and what finally got me was Jennifer Garner's speech in Love Simon, the one where she first talks to her son about his coming out.

Once the tears came I started to sob and I kept sobbing, just letting it all out.

And I took a picture. And I shared it on Instagram. Why? Because I always share my best. That's what everyone on the internet does right? That's social media. We all share our happy vacation pics, our best photos with our best makeup, us having great fun and us being fancy. Well, I didn't want to show that. I wanted to, for once, not show the polished me, but rather the real emotion. No filters.

Transition isn't always perfect. Sometimes you will break down. Sometimes you will be so overwhelmed with emotion that you feel numb and have to force yourself to break down. Sometimes you'll have to submit tons of letters with embarrassing, super personal details about your life and emotions to faceless insurance company bureaucrats only to be told that your pain is about nothing but superficial vanity.

There's something I always say, on Gender Rebels or to the listeners who write up. Transition is the time when you discover how strong you really are and how strong you always have been. And it is. I really think that is true.

At this point in my transition, I'm discovering just how utterly true that really is. Though a part of me was relieved to get denied. It meant that the frustration might end. But, I'm going to keep going. Already I've reached out to a lawyer who specializes in this sort of case. So I'm going to do a formal written appeal as well as an external appeal through the state.

My new date is in July. So, let's see. I'm drained, I'm exhausted, I'm super frustrated with the endless bureaucracy, but I'm going to keep fighting. Wish me luck.