Some days I feel like I’ve accidentally stepped up to a carnival game called Guess What I Am. The odds are stacked against me. The game ranks secondary sex characteristics over gender expression and gender presentation. It ignores my intent. It doesn’t recognize the middle ground.
When asked “What are your preferred gender pronouns (PGPs)?” I usually stammer out “they”. I hate pronouns. Most people use feminine pronouns when they talk about me. It doesn’t feel right, but I don’t stop them. Three years into writing this blog, I remain pronoun challenged.
I am not comfortable with either he or she, or Sir or Ma’am, although Ma’am is the worst. I’m OK with they, Jamie, or nothing. “Nothing” is easy with honorifics and titles. On forms, I leave the title box blank. If I have to fill in something, I use Dr. or Prof. I haven’t seen Mx. on a form yet, and I’m not sure I’d use it. “Nothing” is difficult with pronouns.
I choose to wear masculine clothing, have a masculine haircut, and carry myself in a masculine manner, but I don’t use masculine pronouns. I conflate masculine pronouns with taking testosterone. I read as masculine, but not necessarily male. I like how I look. I don’t do anything to make it easy to read me as female. When I go out I get Sir’d and Ma’am’d and a combination of the two. I cringe when people apologize after calling me Sir. Continue reading →
At 9 AM I hopped into a taxi with my friend Tracey, and we zig zagged through midtown traffic to Dr. Weiss’ office. He and I talked about the pucker in the front of my chest and the size of my nipples. I apologized for being a fussbudget. He reassured me. Lots of people want their nipples redone.
I stayed vaguely awake during surgery. I kept my eyes closed, but I could feel where he was working. Whenever I winced he gave me another shot of local anesthesia. It was over in less that an hour. He dressed my wounds with three 3×3 inch gauze pads and some tape. He told me to refrain from showering for 24 hours, to change the dressing daily, and to take it easy for a couple of days. Come back in two weeks; call if there is any discharge or anything unusual. I had a little trouble buttoning my shirt and tying my sneakers. Although I am a veteran of several surgeries, I forgot to wear slip-ons. I also left the after care instructions in his office.
I was home by noon. The pain meds wore off at 4 PM. I took a Tramadol that was left over from my last surgery, then a few hours later I took another. Continue reading →
Nipper listening to His Master’s Voice singing “Masculine Women & Feminine Men”
I’m having trouble telling the last of my casual acquaintances about my name change (almost two years into it). I’m also thinking about how to explain why I want to have top surgery. When people ask me “What’s going on?” I keep it all inside and say “Nothing much, what about you?”
Everyone who is important to me knows about the legal name change, but I keep running into people who greet me using my birth name. Sometimes I don’t correct them because I am in a rush. Sometimes I’m not in the mood to explain. It feels awkward to stop and tell the story. Almost everyone asks why I changed my name.
I was straightening up the papers on my desk when I found the manilla envelope with my elementary school class pictures. Then I recalled the picture of my brother in his Cub Scout uniform. It sat on the piano in our mother’s apartment, opposite a picture of me in a dress.
My brother’s Cub Scout handbook
Some people seem to have complete recall of their childhood, and can flip it on like a television show on reruns. Not me. I can not put together a linear narrative. It is a disorganized jumble of images and half-obscured scenes.
When I was seven I had to face up to being prohibited from joining the Cub Scouts, being barred from trying out for Little League, and being forbidden to study drumming. I was offered alternatives. I refused to become a Brownie. I refused to go to gymnastics. I refused to study dance. I took piano lessons and music theory.
The reasoning was clear to me, but I did not have the vocabulary to explain that I was butch or transgender. The Brownie uniform included a skirt. Gymnastics required wearing a leotard. Dance required wearing a tutu, tights, and ballet slippers. It would have been impossible to pretend that I was a boy in any of those outfits. I wanted to do exactly what my brother did.