All the trans news that fits! (and some that never will)
At 8:02 this morning – January 11, 2015 – something changed. I woke up in the middle of a dream. Everything was gray and hazy and dull and shadowy and quiet and I was in a boat. The dark water was undisturbed and its surface perfectly replicated everything around it and above. A girl dressed in white was drowning, descending . . . descending. I reached for her but I was too far away. Everything was rushing through me, every noise amplified. Just before she disappeared into the water, she looked at me. She was so sad and disappointed and calm.
She has been through this before. We both have, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
“It’s okay,” she said. “I’ll try again next year.”
I woke up, crying, “No, no, no . . . .“ I looked at the clock. It was 8:02 a.m. and everything inside me was silent. Dead silent.
Something changed inside me and I know exactly what it is and I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.
On Wednesday, January 7, my endocrinologist and my nephrologist agreed that the best thing for me to do right now to save my one remaining kidney is to stop taking Spironolactone. I have been taking “Spiro” for almost a year-and-a-half. It prevents the testosterone my body normally produces from latching onto the hook-like receptors on my body’s cells. It’s the stuff that keeps my body from turning into that of a male. Problem for me, having just one kidney, is that Spiro is also a diuretic and it is putting too much stress on a kidney that is far too fragile to be messed with at this point.
What changed inside me is that the “T” is beginning to latch onto cells in my body. My endocrinologist warned me that this would happen. He warned me that the hair on my body will begin to return, my skin will lose some of its softness, my breasts may draw back a little . . . . the worst part was when he said, “You’ll begin to have erections and your male libido may resurface.”
What was left unsaid was what this would mean for my brain.
In the silence that immediately followed, I wondered if my endocrinologist could see that he had just sentenced me to death.
I knew this was going to happen, and I had practiced telling him that what he was doing was committing murder. That he was killing me and that my body would soon be propped up like a puppet with an evil puppeteer’s hand shoved up inside me, forcing my mouth into a smile and dragging my body across a stage . . . my arms flailing and my eyes frantically searching the front row . . . shouldn’t there be someone who can see what is actually happening? Isn’t that how this goes? Doesn’t a hero jump up right at this part, a fist raised in anger?
“Enough is enough! No more!”
But I didn’t tell the endocrinologist that he is killing me. In that moment, I could see his sadness. He looked tired.
What is killing me is the fallout of cancer. I’m tired, too. Maybe the whole world is tired and on fire and drowning.
In March 2014, I was diagnosed with clear cell kidney cancer. A month later, my right kidney was removed and the cancer left with it. The kidney was nearly double its normal size thanks to the tumor that had filled it and was on the edge of exploding. I thought that would be the end of it, but it wasn’t. During a routine doctor appointment a few weeks ago, it was revealed that my remaining kidney has been struggling along with ever decreasing efficiency and had finally reached a tipping point – “chronic kidney failure.”
“You’ll begin to have erections and your male libido may resurface.”
Something changed inside me this morning. And I don’t like it.
The last few days have been hell. I have been listening to jazz and dancing by myself, imagining my lover looking into my eyes and smiling . . . my lover. Did I ever know him? I have been dancing and dancing and crying and crying and crying in my apartment for three days. There is no one there. Just me. No lover. There never was. This is what the war between the hormones in a transgender woman’s body can do. It can raise the ghosts of desire. This isn’t my first dance.
On Thursday, I actually searched on the Internet – “How to castrate yourself.” What I read was awful. But I read it anyway. There is nothing inside me that could ever bring me to that point.
She said, “I will try again next year . . . next year . . . .”
Please, please . . . try harder, this time!
She could only do so much for so long. Her body just gave out and she slipped below the surface like a phrase on a piano moving aside for the next phrase, perhaps a clarinet. Doesn’t matter. She did all she could.
I have been getting ready for Monday, the first day of the new semester. I fear that if my testosterone levels approach their old male levels, things will only get worse for me. It’s as though there are marks on the inside of my skin, like the marks they put on storm-surge walls on ocean beaches. Except the marks inside my skin measure the flood stage for testosterone.
At 8:02 a.m. this morning, for the first time since I don’t know when, I woke up with my penis nearly erect. I had to pee.
My “T” is climbing.
A young girl descends into the rising tide.
“No! No! No!”
I know it has to be this way. I know I have to save my kidney. It would be suicide to not do that. I know what suicide is. Most trans women do.
It is 9:45 a.m. A young girl has descended into the gray water and already I miss her. Already I am crying. Who will mourn her, if not me?
It is 9:50 a.m. and it has taken me 5 minutes to write 25 words.
I am a woman. Don’t argue with me. Don’t ask me how I got here. Don’t ask me about my journey. Just know who I am or get out of the way.
There is a war going on inside me. I feel obligated to tell you – whoever you are – that I will win.
I want a lover who will walk beside me through fire. A lover that is not afraid to drown with me in the watery surface of a perfectly replicated world, even if that world is on fire.
My students are waiting for me. I can feel it.
At 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, a full 24-hours since the young girl drowned, I will stand at the head of the class room. My name on the board. I will be smiling.
Will they be able to see the “T” rising? What if it reaches flood stage? What if I am swept under by the current of the rising tide?
In the distance, across the water, there is a storm.
What if the world burns and I catch fire?
What if my smoky jazz lover, dance partner, dream boat reaches out for me and I reach out for him and . . . what if I descend into the flames and the water?
I hope I’m ready to ascend . . . this time.