16 June 2009

The Future, As Justine

Three more weeks until my surgery. Exactly three weeks from today...

Pretty much everything I need to do in preparation for the surgery is done: I've had the necessary medical checkups and sent the results to Dr. Bowers. I've sent all of my payments, bought my plane tickets and made arrangements for my transportation from the airport and my first night in Trinidad, CO.

And I have just received the prescription for my new dosage of hormones, which I will begin to take next week. And it is the same dose I will take after my surgery.

For the past six years, I've been taking 200 mg. of Spironolactone and 5 mg. of Premarin every day. The Spironolactone is an anti-androgen, meant to counter my testosterone production. I won't need it after my surgery. As for the Premarin, I'll be taking only .625 mg of that every day starting next week. My current dosage requires me to take two 125mg pills twice a day; my new dosage calls for the equivalent of half of one of those pills, once a day.

Before I started taking my current dosage, I spent three months on about half of it. That is standard procedure so that the doctor can see how well (or whether) your body tolerates the hormones and anti-androgen. Because I'm tough--because I'm a woman!;-)--my body took to them; my mind practically screamed, "I want more!"

Lemme tellya, I wasn't craving them for the taste. I call Premarin the "pee pill" because it comes from pregnant mare urine (hence the name) and, well, tastes like it--a sugar-coated version, anyway.

Now, if this sounds like drug addiction, let me explain. I'm not really craving the substances themselves, or even the good feeling they give me. (Decades worth of depression and anger disappeared practically overnight once I stared to take them.) Rather, I wanted them so much for the same reason I want the surgery: They are building blocks for the rest of my life, as I want to live it.

When I started on the road to my transition, I was thinking about the rest of my life for the first time. In fact, it was really the first time I envisioned having a "rest of my life." Until then, I never really expected to have much of a future, and if I did, I figured it would suck no matter what I did. So I didn't do much to prepare for it. Sure, I went to school and got degrees. But I attended college and, later, graduate school for a lack of anything better to do; it was almost by accident that I found myself doing the sort of work I do now.

I had some vague ideas as to what I might do with my education; I had some equally vague notion that I wanted to be a writer. But no future I could discuss with anyone seemed in any way plausible to me, and it would never, ever be mine. How could it be, if I were forced to be some person I never wanted to be?

But the day I met with Jay, the intake counselor at Center Care, and bared my soul--that of a woman--to her, I could, for the first time, imagine myself having a future of my own, much less caring about the quality of it. I felt that for the first time in my entire life I was completely honest with somebody about something.

That is not to say that my future was, at that moment, certain or secure. I had no way of predicting what the next day, much less the next few years, would bring. But at least I finally had reason to work toward, with and on it: at least it would be mine, not someone else's expectation of it.

I would not be married, or alone, because I was trying to fit into someone's or some culture's expectation that I should be a husband and father or that I should lead a solitary life until I became a "family man." I would not try to fit myself into careers for which I was unsuited or had no interest.

In other words, I had my own life, as my own person--whatever those things might mean--to look forward to. That alone is reason to do what I've been doing.

That alone is reason enough to spend all the time and money I've spent on counseling and therapy, on prescriptions and the surgery. That alone makes what I have sacrificed--the relationships and the security, all of the certainties--seem less and less consequential as time passes.

And that alone has been--happily for me--reason to continue what I've begun, and not to return to what I've left behind: Forty years of fear and shame, of hiding and lying, of mendacity and despair, of fear and anger, of alienation and isolation. And more than anything else, pain and grief. And to whatever I might've gained, however tenuously and temporarily, through those years.

All of that, all of the work and accomplishment of the past few years, have brought me to this: three weeks from my surgery.

We never really know what getting what we've always wanted will bring us. But, three weeks from new, I'll start to learn. And now I have reason go to that future, to learn those lessons: They will belong to me, to Justine.

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