Every once in a while, some well-meaning person in Transman’s life will assess the changes he has gone through and mentally weigh the ones he’s got ahead of him and get a concerned look on his or her face. Transman doesn’t need a crystal ball or psychic powers to figure out what’s on the person’s mind; he knows what’s coming. Said person will lean in close, look Transman in the eye, maybe even touch his arm, and say, “You do know this is permanent, don’t you?”
Sometimes, Transman is tempted to dramatically embrace the person and say, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for pointing out the obvious!”
But, he doesn’t.
Transman just nods and calmly says, “Yep.”
For folks who aren’t part of the trans community, lemme tell ya something: there are pretty rigid standards of care for folks who want to transition with physical interventions like surgery and hormones.** We can’t just walk in with a huge bag of cash and demand surgery and hormones. We can’t just change our ID cards, birth certificates, social security cards, etc., at a whim. It’s a long, involved, expensive process. If you really want to know details, you can read the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s standards of care here: http://www.wpath.org/
What these well-meaning people don’t seem to get is that Transman has never ever ever ever never ever been comfortable with his body–well, okay, he was pretty much fine with his body when he was a kid; but, when he hit puberty and suddenly sprouted boobs, Transman’s body betrayed him.
Up until then, he was seen and treated as a boy by everyone. Then, hellooooo–when did Transman wake up in Dolly Parton’s body? Crap! When the girls in sixth grade were passing around Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and wishing for their periods, Transman was down on his knees every night praying that that would not happen to him: “Are you there God? It’s me, Transman. Please, please, please, do not open the floodgates.” (He did stop short of breaking into a James Brown-inspired dance; perhaps this is where he went wrong; maybe God likes funk and soul and was only waiting for Transman to join the Soul Train line dance.)
Anyway, Transman knows good and well that the secondary sex characteristics brought on by testosterone are, for the most part, permanent. The deeper voice, the facial hair, and (even more, in his case) body hair are permanent. Even if Transman has to stop taking testosterone, those things will be forever part of him. Transman knows that if he goes bald on testosterone, he will stay bald. He’ll rock it like Patrick Stewart. What won’t stay are things like the fat redistribution on his body–the fat will move from his gut to his butt like on a woman’s frame. Not good.
Transman knows that when he has those appendages on his chest removed, they ain’t comin’ back. He’s counting on that. He wants them to be, as Lefty Frizzell once sang, “gone, gone, gone.”
What Transman doesn’t get is why people don’t seem to show the same concern when someone wants to turn into a living Barbie doll. Women who are uncomfortable with their bodies and want double-extra Ds and a big round bubble in the back don’t have to sit on a therapist’s couch for months to make sure they truly understand the changes they are about to make. Those changes are permanent and have more than a few immediate and long-term risks. The surgeries will change how the recipient is perceived by others and how she perceives herself.
How many people tried to intervene when Pamela Anderson, who already had a great body and beautiful face, decided she wanted to have her own permanent life preservers installed? No one seems to have told Joan Rivers, “Whoa! Put on the brakes, Joanie!” when she decided to become the first living figure at Madame Tussaud’s. Who was there for them?! Where were the well-meaning, big-eyed, touchy-feely folks in Pammy and Joanie’s lives? Why did no one spin Pete Burns round like a record, baby, and scream, “No, Pete! Don’t! Don’t do it!”
Oooh, Transman feels cheap and catty now. He needs to have his “bitchy bone” removed.
** Not every transperson goes through the same process. More and more medical teams are starting to practice “informed consent” with their trans patients.