Saturday, January 16, 2010

Money, or lack thereof

It's expensive to be a trans woman. We've got a lot of things we need to do, and most of those things are expensive, and many of them are not covered by any kind of insurance. We need to get all the hair removed from our faces, and some opt for other places too. That means laser or electrolysis, both of which are time-consuming, painful, expensive, and not covered by insurance. Then we need to visit a psychotherapist of some sort, possibly for an extended duration; even odds as to whether it's covered by insurance. Then we need to visit an endocrinologist, which is probably not covered. Then we need to take hormones for the rest of our lives, which may or may not be covered. Then come the surgeries. Not covered, because they're considered cosmetic and elective, and "not medically necessary". Which, right, sure, whatever, you insurance guys just go on and keep believing that.

So starting right off, we know we're pretty far in the big ol' money pit which is the lot of being a transitioning trans girl. And then compound that with the fact that we're often rejected by those who might help us, simply for being who we are, and you've got a pretty bad situation brewing. Sometimes we're fired, or kicked out of the places we live, and we have absolutely no recourse.

So far, I've been fairly lucky. I'm still employed and seem likely to remain so, and I still have a place to live. I've had reasonable luck with my health insurance, which pays for a lot of my psychotherapy and my medication. But now that I'm getting to the endgame - a time which involves expensive surgeries for many of us - I'm expected to pay for some pretty big-ticket items, and my health insurance is nowhere to be found.

A few posts ago, I talked about my upcoming facial surgery. It's terribly expensive. Like new car expensive. I have been working through the logistics for getting there and back, and staying someplace while I'm there, and that's going to be expensive on its own. But then there's the actual surgical bill. I've got most of the money for it, but not all. Luckily there are organizations which will loan money to people for cosmetic surgery. I've contacted one, and they can get me about halfway through what I have left to pay. Halfway. I have a few others to contact, but all of these organizations are going to charge the same stupid interest rates as the first, and I'm going to have two (or more, perish the thought) of those ridiculous payments at one time. I like eating and having a place to live and all that, and the numbers don't lie: I'm going to have to make brutal changes to accommodate it at all.

There is the possibility of postponing the surgery, which is not an option at all. This won't wait.

As loath as I am to do it, I'm actually considering talking to my parents and seeing if they are willing to help. I will insist on paying them back, of course, but the good side of that is that they surely won't charge the usurious interest rates those other organizations do. If they won't help, I'm not going to be in good shape.

Lean times are ahead.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This is the end, my friend

My therapist brought up an interesting point during our session this evening. Since the boy-me is soon coming to an end, I may need to spend some time mourning the loss of him.

That's something I have never considered. But it does make some amount of sense: I've spent how many ever years with him around, and now he's going to be gone, forever.

Forever.

I'm not sure what to say about that. I've spent a lot of time and effort over the past couple years making this moment a reality, when boy-me would finally be gone, and girl-me could take the reins. I've tortured myself physically, emotionally, and mentally. I've dared my friends and family to accept me, and not all of them took me up on the challenge. I've put myself in a position which could bring me tremendous hardship at the hands of a cruel society. And all of that in the hope that one day, what's soon to happen would actually happen. So now that it is happening, it seems more than a little strange that I might spend much time lamenting what I have willingly given up.

I suppose it's a "could" or a "might", and not necessarily a "will". But people are weird sometimes, and I guess we'll just have to wait and see how things go.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

BIG

I'm getting down to the last of it. Just a few more big steps, and I'll be ready to call it all done. The latest big step was probably the scariest of all: I called for a surgery date for my facial feminization surgery. March 1! Seems like it's a bit away, but when I think about it again, that's only about a month and a half. That's no time at all! But then, even if it were 6 months or even a year away, the date would arrive in due course, and I would be panicking for that last bit. So, like taking off a band-aid, it's probably best to do it quickly, than to agonize over it, only to find that it's not such a big deal.

When all was said and done, my last surgery experience was nothing to worry about. I worried about it, because I worry about such things. And I'll worry about this one, because I do. I've met the doctor and his staff, and they were warm and I was very comfortable with them. That's probably not it, though. There's a much bigger thing on the other side of this: after it's all done, I'll be a girl all the time. That's the really huge step here. Having a surgery done is time-consuming, and costly, and there's pain, and recovery, and all that stuff. But wounds heal, and time passes, and as they say, this, too, shall pass. But this "all the time" part is the new frontier here. There will be no safety net. There will not always be a security blanket. I am taking that step out onto the proverbial windy street corner.

I would love to be able to say that I'm not worried about it, that I'll finally be able to present myself to everyone, honestly. And that's what I will be doing, presenting myself honestly. But not worried? Right then is when my what-if gland activates itself again... What if I haven't taken enough preparation with any of the myriad things that one needs to do to successfully transition? What if I don't live up to the standards that other people would use to measure me? What if I don't live up to my own standards?

I'm so tired of having fear rule my life. I'm just tired of it. If I could just magically say, ok, that's over and done with, I'm not afraid anymore, that would be awesome. But I can't do that. I don't know how to do that. I've heard a lot of people comment on my courage, and frankly, I have no idea what they're talking about. Long-time readers of this blog know full well that my courage level is somewhere in the negative values.

I commented recently to a friend on Twitter that we know what's important to us, by what we worry about. Some amount of fear or anxiety is probably healthy. And fear of the unknown is pretty natural and universal for people. But I am concerned that I'll become a recluse after this is all done, because I'm too afraid of being that honest, genuine person with everyone. That my honest, genuine self somehow doesn't measure up, or isn't good enough. Perhaps some of my recent experiences with my blood-relatives are lurking in the fore, and coloring my view of how things might go.

I need to get back into boundary-stretching mode again. Over some periods in 2009, things were happening so quickly that sometimes I could scarcely keep up. Near the end of the year, they settled down into a much more static state, while still being short of where they really needed to be. So, since big changes are mere weeks away, I need to get my anxiety with myself under some measure of control. And the best way I know to do that is to push at myself.

And I know in my head that some people won't accept me. I've already had to deal with some of those, and it was pretty bad. It was such a blow, and I'm quite sure that I don't want to have to deal with that again. But I know that I will have to deal with it at some point; there'll be somebody out there who wants to spread hate, and I'll have a nice target painted on my forehead. I'm terrible with confrontations, and yet I'll be forced, perhaps often, to have them.

I was expecting this to be a pretty short post, simply about my excitement with my upcoming surgery, and then it turned into a big heavy thing about fear, that robbed all the excitement I had. Sigh. One of these days I'll learn how not to do this to myself. Unfortunately, today is not that day.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A new page

It's the new year, and I've been thinking seriously about resolutions. Those new pages that one turns when one reaches some sort of starting-over point. And since the beginning of the year is the typical starting point, it seems like a good time to try them out, for once.

First: get back on the bike. I used to ride three or four times a week, for a dozen or twenty miles at a go, and now I haven't been on the bicycle in months. I've been using my knee as an excuse, but that's not good enough. The only way it'll get stronger, is if I actually use it. My legs have turned to jello, and there's an alarming ring of flab trying to develop around my middle. My goal is to get to 125 pounds, which shouldn't be a huge effort, if I were to actually, you know, do something about it.

With exercising, usually comes eating well. When I am getting regular exercise, my body usually craves decent food anyway, so that's sort of a sub-resolution to the cycling one.

I'd like to become a better seamstress. I would like to try to produce at least one piece of clothing each month, be it a top, or a dress, or even a quilt, or some other item. I always have fun when I work on a new project, so it makes sense that I should try to do it more often. I've had the pattern pieces and the fabric for a dress sitting on my table for at least a month now; I should finish it up, for my first piece of the year. I've also had it in my mind to try knitting, which could also be fun.

The last one I've been thinking about, is a bit more of an amorphous item. Simplification. Life is such a complex beast, and we must find some way to handle that complexity. I'm not sure what might be done, but perhaps that can be the goal of the exercise.

There are also the main ones related to my gender transition: getting comfortable in my daily life in this new gender role, and making the last of the physical changes in my public transition. Those live at such a basic level, though, that they lie outside a simple resolution.

This should prove to be an exciting and fulfilling year, and I'm looking forward to experiencing it.