More Progress

I’ve started seeing a therapist at the trans* clinic in DC and I will have a letter supporting my decision to get a hysterectomy by August! My therapist, (who is a really awesome trans man) also recommended two more surgeons for me to get in touch with, one in DC and one in Maryland. Things are moving along faster than I ever expected and I’m really excited that this is going to be possible for me, but I’m also starting to really stress out over the financial aspect of it.

If my insurance covers my surgery at all, I will still be on the hook for up to 5,000 dollars before the insurance starts paying, and I just can’t afford that. I will also have to be out of work for 6 weeks. I can’t really afford that either. If they refuse to cover it at all then I’ll just be have medical debt for the rest of my life.

On an equally stressful note, my mother just found out that I’m doing this and is being totally unsupportive  because she believes that “what [I’m] doing is wrong” and that I might change my mind.

TLDR: I’m making more progress  than I ever thought possible and that’s exciting, but I’m still poor and my parents still don’t get it.

In Pursuit of Surgery: Part 2

At the Philly Trans Health Conference in June of 2013 I met two med students who were presenting a workshop about hysterectomies. Later I talked with them via email to see if they could recommend any nearby OB/GYNS who were trans* friendly and might be willing to give me a hysterectomy or an endometrial ablation and tubal ligation. They recommended four doctors, most of them in Washington DC and Maryland. I also talked to a friend of mine, fellow blogger Karen of trans*forming family and she recommended three more doctors. Of the seven doctors that were recommended to me only three are “in-network providers” (covered by my insurance) and none of those three are in my state. I also found on doctor in Pennsylvania who is considered an “in-network provider” by my insurance on the WPATH website using their “Find a Provider” search.

I called two of the doctors and emailed the other two. One doctors’ office told me straight up that they do not provide care to transgender patients. Another had an automated phone system with no option to ask a human some questions (their website was also very pink and had lots of flowers). I crossed them both off my list.

My emails got much better results. A doctor in Winston-Salem, NC emailed me back saying that he does provide care for transgender patients and what he would need from me in order for me to get surgery through him. The Doctor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania also emailed me back and asked me to call him. I talked to him on the phone today and he also said he was willing to see me and told me what I would need to do to get surgery.

Unfortunately, both doctors believe I am a trans man, and require a letter from a mental health professional in order for me to get surgery and that’s not the least of my problems. My insurance deductible (the amount of money I have to pay before my insurance starts paying) is $5,000 dollars, and I don’t have that kind of money. Despite all that, I am pretty excited. For the first time it seems like a hysterectomy might really be possible for me!

 

 

 

Introducing Rainbows At Play!

Rainbows at Play is a community for families of gender variant children to help them connect with one another and find playmates for their children. If you are raising a gender non-conforming child you should definitely check it out!

Raising My Rainbow

It all started years ago when we went looking for other families like our own — families raising gender bending boys who like wearing skirts and playing with dolls.

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We came up with nothing…until we found each other.  Every day we are grateful for the relationships that have developed between our families.  We’ve always been aware that we have it good and, now, we are giddy as hell to help other families connect.

This blog post marks the official launch of Rainbows At Play.  Rainbows At Play is an online community that connects families raising gender nonconforming kids so they can playdate and find fierceness in numbers.

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Here’s how to join:

  1. You must be a primary caregiver of a differently gendered child.  (If you are not raising a child, please don’t join the community.  Help us keep Rainbows At Play kiddos and families safe by only joining if you…

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Non-Binary Visibility Update

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1. Facebook changed their gender options! You can now select ‘custom’ gender and then choose from approximately 55 options and set your preferred pronoun!

2. Do y’all remember that children’s book I posted about way back when I started this blog? Well, Meet Polkadot! The book has finally been published and is now available for purchase.

3. There’s also this documentary about non-binary trans* people titled We Exist set to go into post production in March of 2014 that I’m very interested in seeing when it comes out.

 

In Pursuit of Surgery: Part 1

The publication of this post will be the official beginning of my concentrated effort to obtain either a subtotal hysterectomy (also known as a partial or supracervical hysterectomy) or an endometrial ablation and tubal ligation.

With a subtotal hysterectomy I would have my uterus removed along with my fallopian tubes, but my ovaries and cervix would be left in place. An endometrial ablation is when the lining of one’s uterus is burned away. In people with light periods there is a fairly good chance that this can completely end menstruation after only one treatment and the process can be repeated until all of the uteran lining is completely destroyed if necessary. A tubal ligation is when one’s fallopian tubes are surgically cut, blocked, or closed to prevent eggs from reaching the uterus.

Basically what I’m trying to achieve one way or another is the end of my menstrual cycle and permanent infertility. I am not sure which procedure(s) would be the best course for me at this time, and I also have several concerns/barriers to access of treatment that I have to address:

1. I live in the South, so finding a doctor nearby who is willing to do this for me may be difficult.

2. I am non-binary, so finding a trans-friendly doctor nearby who actually believes I’m “trans* enough” for surgery may be difficult.

3. My health insurance is not trans inclusive and is just generally shitty.

4. I am poor, I cannot afford to pay out of pocket for these procedures or take a lot of time off of work to recover.

5. I have a low body weight. I don’t weigh much and I never have and I am concerned that this might make me unable to undergo surgery (you can’t eat for 24 hours or so before a hysterectomy), especially combined with my history of post-anesthesia nausea.

I mention all this now because these are the major things I am going to address in my posts relating to my quest for surgery. I want there to be a clear record of what my concerns and challenges were when I started and how I overcame them for anyone who might be in a similar position with similar concerns, because there’s not a whole lot of documentation on this stuff.

Work, Gender, Dysphoria And The Self-Articulation Of A Non-Binary Person

So I’m currently bussing tables in a restaurant, but next week I’m going to start hosting which means more hours, a schedule that can more easily be tailored to my liking and more money. Unfortunately it also means I have to dress up. Well, ok, not “dress up” really all that much by normal, cisgender, feminine woman standards, but I’m not a feminine cis woman.

I need this work. I really do. I’m getting by on what I make right now, but my roommate and I are looking to move out of our terrible (and by terrible I mean our landlord seems to be of the opinion that the funny pages constitute building material) apartment and in order for us to do that I will need to make more money. Unfortunately the cost of the dollars is going to be trading in my generic work uniform for clothes that make me look like a well-dressed young woman, aka the kind of clothes I never wear, ever. In the state where I live this is kind of my only option if I want to host. The gender marker on all of my legal documents is “F” and I can legally be fired for being transgender or refusing to dress like a girl on the job.

I’ve helped host a couple of times before and worse than the clothes is the attitude and behavior that is expected of me. It makes me feel like I’m developing a split personality, like I’m pulling someone else’s skin on over my own and wearing it around, trying to make people believe that I am that person. I’ve started referring to it as my “Sarah suit” (sarah is my legal first name). Wearing it is emotionally draining and just all around exhausting. It’s been a long time since the last time I tried to socialize with other people in a feminine way or conform to the social expectations of my assigned gender at all and I’d forgotten how much it took out of me, how much work it was. How it makes me feel slightly off-balance or out of sync, like the only person clapping off-beat in a room of people clapping in rhythm.

Or maybe I didn’t forget, maybe the sensation is more acute now that it exists in contrast to my nascent to find my way to an understanding of my gender without using man and woman as trail markers.

I am beginning to be able to envision my gender without having to rely on terms and ideas made out of the binary’s spare parts. Unlike earlier in my journey, when I was struggling to move away from relying on terms like “androgynous” to describe my internal sense of self, I can now, more than ever before, consistently perceive my body and self as something strange and alien, something new, something outside of and fully detached from the gender binary.

As I develop this more fully formed sense of my gender the experience of trying to pass as anything else becomes more acutely uncomfortable. Formerly, before I knew that there were more than two genders, my dysphoria was a vaguer sense of unease. Now it is becoming ever more particular and specific, I can say what exactly makes me feel dysphoric and what does not, but it also seems that those things that do make me feel dysphoric trigger a stronger reaction than they used to. I can’t really be sure if this is because I am so infrequently exposed to them that I have lost some tolerance that I used to have for them when these things were a more regular part of my life or if it is because I now I have an alternative to compare those things to; I know just how good I can have it without those things in my life.

Practical Decisions

My partner and I were talking the other day about them possibly changing their name. Their birth name, which they currently go by, is decidedly a male name there’s really no getting around it. However, they’ve never really had a problem with it and have never expressed any real interest in changing it. They’re only thinking about it now, because they realize that at some point in the future their name alone will be enough to out them if they don’t change it, and that could be problematic at the very least.

This got me thinking about something that I’ve heard several other non-binary people talk about: the steps non-binary people take as part of their transition that are motivated more by practical needs (such as safety and the ability to decide who you come out to and when) more than by personal desire or dysphoria. For my partner these are things like changing their name and legal gender, for other people its things like using the pronouns “he” or “she” instead of their preferred gender neutral ones.

These practical decisions we make to protect ourselves and make our lives easier also force us to accept binary categorizations of our genders that make us invisible as non-binary people. I’m definitely not advocating against making these compromises, (we make them for our physical safety, our job security, and other very real things we need to survive) but I do lament the fact that we live in a world where they are necessary. I also wanted to write about this because its something I’d really like to have a conversation about with other non-binary people at some point.