I admit it, I don’t really care for testosterone. Oh, I like the secondary sex characteristics and all, though my beard twelve years into this whole exploration of identity is still sparse and a bit laughable. But I don’t care for the skittishness that comes with taking T on a regular basis, even if it is preferable to the monthly bouts of increasingly despondent depression that I had on estrogen. I can get okay with a stable mood, especially if I’m no longer paying for a Lexapro prescription, but in all honesty I’d prefer to need neither of the sex hormone alternatives. At 45 my ovaries are still cranking out a little bit of estrogren and progesterone, and I can tell when I’ve missed a T shot the same way I can tell between shades of blue on a topology map…because that’s how gradients work to show a shift from one degree to another.
It’s been an intense few months—the final gear up for Susanne’s tenure file to be delivered to the provost was drama-filled with the kind of pettiness people often ascribe to academics. Emile and Lucas adjusted to a half-day schedule at a local preschool after only knowing life with a part-time nanny in their own home (or hers). I waded full Monty into the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion at work, trying to tie down new revenue streams for my nonprofit, even as I made slow headway on two book projects for which I supposedly dedicate ten hours a week. We made the hugely intelligent decision to stay home for the holidays so that gave us something of a breather, since holiday air travel is excruciating and expensive. Then this winter an old friend, a genuine, snarky, brilliant, generous, curmudgeon with emotional walls thicker than whatever Trump wants to put between us and Mexico, killed herself. I thought I would be better at handling her death, but I’ve been more on an emotional edge than I’d like to be. And whether I stay on top of my T shots or not, I keep thinking about her and all of the emotions that an unexpected, intentional death bring up. Thanks a lot, sex hormones, for not giving me any relief.
In the meantime the requests to mentor newly transitioning or younger trans people keep coming. I always accept. First of all, it’s easy to say yes. Second, I love an excuse to get a coffee and meet a new person. Third, I found early transition full of self-doubt almost to the point of suicide, so I need to reach back to others and tell them they’re okay, they’re not alone, they’re full of beautiful things. Plus it keeps me tied to the stresses of that phase of transition when I could easily work on forgetting them. But if I want to be an effective mentor, helper, writer, activist, boss, I need to stay close to other perspectives. I try to keep myself honest and accountable, but give myself an acknowledgment that I will fail and need to improve.
I am trying not to take the three bathroom bills in process in the Washington State legislature personally. HB2589, HB2782, and SB6443 are not about me, obviously. And I have a lot of relative privilege compared to trans people in my state who are much more vulnerable, who don’t have solid partners, a nuclear-looking family, a white face, a 5-foot-9 stature, a good reputation in a small community, and on and on. But no matter my standing or the standing of some pre-teen trans kid or POC sex worker who was bullied out of high school, we all need access to public restrooms, to housing, to health care. These bills take all of that away, and worse, they take away rights already established for a decade that extend beyond just us loathsome trans people to the rest of the LGB coalition/community/whatever the hell we are. It is feasibly possible that two rich gay men could get married in Washington but be fired from their jobs the Monday after the wedding if these bills pass.
Which they won’t. The Governor will not sign any of them. They’re not even supposed to get real traction in either chamber, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be opportunity for out-of-state extremists to fund a campaign of lies and fear that alienates the most marginalized and vulnerable among us. And that’s where the real damage will be done—people living with depression may see their moods darken further, may think more about ending it all, may attempt suicide because it’s clear the world hates them that much and nobody will miss them. I have tried before and always failed to convey the totality of overwhelming emotion and the barrage of thoughts that one takes on when one finally agrees that some kind of gender transition is the only way to survive in the world. It is beyond huge. I’ve attempted metaphor, short narrative, rich prose, simple prose, I even wrote a fecking poem about it and I Do. Not. Write. Poetry.
Primary election cycles bring out the worst, most extreme ideas before the regression to the mean sets in, even if that mean is marching rightward. I’ve been waiting with sharp inhales on the news that some unacceptable talking point has cost someone, anyone, their electability. It hasn’t happened, though the current events of the day beg the populace to demand that candidates for office have a robust understanding of gun violence, the limits of religious freedom (as well as freedom from religion), ISIS, the millions of people fleeing war and pestilence, responses to climate change, banking regulation and oversight, police violence, and most recently, government accountability in the face of Flint’s systemwide water poisoning. And yet, we are served with too-short talking points that offer no insight, with a flippant refusal to describe expertise on any topic—as if the anti-intellectual approach to governing is the best approach—and with diversionary tactics that never answer the questions asked.
I’d hoped that the information age would provide information, not just noise. It seems more and more painful to sort through a hyperspace of static to find but a few salient points, and then there is a juggernaut of hype and misinformation that rushes in to shift the framework and the interpretation of those points. I am not sure how to proceed through the world, to help make sense of what looks like intentional discombobulation, to myself, to my kids, to my community. I have to even battle to wash my hands at a sink, it seems. I am only sure of the madness around me, and so I will try to make due with that.
I’m trying to be kind, Bryn, I promise. But you knew that was a tough challenge to leave us with, and that’s why it’s the last public thing you wrote.