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One of the major reasons that we’re starting AARB Club is that largely, there’s a lot of resistance in our postcolonial theory class to the really hard topics — ones that make us as people in the Western academy come face-to-face with issues of privilege and violence our predecessors have historically tried to sweep under the rug. The act of denying, ignoring, or decrying liberation violence is a common reaction by (predominantly) white Western academe to de-fang liberation: because to recognize the kinds of violence in works of writers like Frantz Fanon is to recognize the history of violence visited on formerly colonized people, past and present.

I suppose it goes without saying that it’s frustrating to see that go on. On the other hand, I think it’s also something kind of fun to navigate. I’ve resolved to start calling people out on their willful ignorance of violence as a central aspect of liberation theory, and of postcolonial theory as a whole. And hopefully AARB Club will equip us a little better to address these things.

I kind of want to invite Jennifer Wenzel, our professor, to AARB Club. Mostly because I think she’d be relieved to see us dealing with these issues she’s trying to push in class, without the same level of resistance she gets there. Also, The Wretched of the Earth is a hard book and it might be nice to have her around to share her thoughts with us.

I have been enormously impressed at her ability to handle the conversations we’ve been having in class, diffusing potential explosive situations and all-around steering us, without our explicit knowledge, where she wants us to go. She is great at mediating conflict and she knows how to frame things in ways that are challenging, but don’t provoke severe reactions from people. I appreciate that she is trying to get the class to come to terms with violence — and the violence of colonialism — and it’s too bad she’s getting so much resistance.

The more I read of Fanon the more I find common threads with the way I think about gender liberation. I think that The Wretched of the Earth is going to be a great stylistic and thematic model for my book. In fact, much of what we’ve been reading lately has resonated with me in this way. Cesaire’s Discourse on Colonialism is similar, too. This makes me extra-excited about working on my book: I’ve discovered a rhetorical tradition that I fit into pretty squarely. This class was such a good choice.

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Vaguely (at least nominally) related to The Language of Equality, Part I: What Makes an Agent?

I had a great beginning of a conversation last night with Danny, who has also been thinking a lot about the English language as a metaphorical device.  I mean that in the sense that English is the linguistic currency of the world, in many ways: in business it is one of the languages one must speak; technology is Anglophone-centric (consider programming languages); and at the very least, those institutions of higher learning most deeply venerated by most of the people I’ve come into contact with around the world are in the United States or Britain.  In many ways, I feel ambivalent about the English language — it’s an agglomeration of so many different parts, and has fragmented into so many different dialects and local flavors, but it remains an instrument of domination.

Danny talked about how he finds the limits of language so infuriating in his music and poetry.  I can’t speak for him, but I definitely feel the same way — English, as we use it, is a reflection of Anglo-American values, cultural practices, and norms.  The fact that we continue to have arguments about what “postcolonialism” is and means speaks to that, I think — postcolonialism is making an attempt to describe and wrestle with the conditions of the colonized in a traditionally Eurocentric intellectual paradigm.  So, necessarily, it attempts to wrestle with the conditions of the colonized, while negotiating the difficult territory between re-appropriation (of the master’s tools) and inauthenticity (due to its location in the Western academy).

I understand many people’s frustrations with this kind of linguistic juggling.  It often ends up confusing the essence of the arguments, and has the tendency to be pedantic.  Yet it’s very important, especially when confined to a single language, and that language in some ways being emblematic of a history of conquest and oppression, to unravel these issues.  An outright refusal to acknowledge the issues is irresponsible, and a cursory glance will never do it justice.  I am frustrated with my need to examine and problematize English, but maybe what’s worse is that by neglecting to do so, I am at a total loss for words to describe myself, define myself, and defend myself.

(I mean by problematize here the act of twisting, contorting, or disfiguring that which is familiar in order to call attention to something that is integral to the marginalization of an oppressed group, groups, or member(s) of oppressed groups.  To problematize something is to create cognitive dissonance in the interest of affecting change — it is more intentional than merely fucking shit up.)

Since my expertise is in matters of gender identity and expression, I want to explain this in terms of the language we use to describe and define ourselves as gendered members of American society.  To be fair, at the very least English doesn’t codify all nouns into a gendered system the way that Romance languages like French and Spanish do, but the absence of gender-neutral pronouns that are acceptable to use in reference to humans, for instance, is evidence of the limitations of the formalized English language.

(As an ironic aside, I used to consider the gender-neutral pronouns like ze and hir to be acts of pretension rather than audacity.  I am certain what changed my view of this was a better understanding of myself and the study of philosophy of language.)

It is rather controversial to demand that others use gender-neutral pronouns in reference to people.  Generally speaking, this won’t take the form of calling a person it since it is considered offensive and dehumanizing.  I would even contest using they in the singular, because of awkward formations (themself just sounds clunky) and the implication of otherness (as in, “that’s what they do).  I don’t think it’s merely that historically transgender people have not been visible in Anglophone society, it’s also that Anglophone society hasn’t made living outside the gender binary acceptable.

The use of gender-neutral pronouns problematizes English and demands that casual users take note.  They sound awkward at first, but that’s because they’re essentially invented words.  Their awkwardness comes only from their unfamiliarity.  Though the same might be said of the clunky construction themself I mentioned above, themself just gets you editorial red ink, where as ze and hir get the fun questions and raised eyebrows.  In a way, using gender-neutral pronouns is about reclaiming a language that wasn’t designed with binary-flouters in mind.  It’s about carving out a niche in a system that attempts to force invisibility on those who don’t conform.

I’d like to hear more examples of how you (or someone you know) problematizes language.  You’ll get credit when I use your stories in the future, I promise.  But I want to know more.

After last semester’s (second annual) Transgender Day of Remembrance debacle, I was hoping I could ride out the rest of my senior year without being incensed by something the Michigan Daily printed. I guess it helps that I don’t read it much anyway, and that this semester I will be on campus only seven or eight hours a week, but the first friend I ran into today at the Union showed me the first issue of The Statement for the new year. The Statement is the Daily‘s magazine insert, published every Wednesday. I have in the past at least found the contents of The Statement interesting. Today’s cover took me by surprise.

Statement Cover

The cut-off text on my hasty scan reads “HIS APPLE. HER APPLE. ? APPLE.” The byline for the article is “Why singular pronouns aren’t as simple as a rule in the grammar book.” Already I could feel redness filling my face when my friend showed me this. The implications of the symbolism here are clear. People who don’t conform to the gender binary (and quite rigidly too — note the “man” apple’s huge stache and the “woman” apple’s pouty red lips) are incomplete people: monsterous and frightening.

What makes this image even worse is the rigidity of the binary gender system the cover expresses. The “man” apple is burly and hairy. The “woman” apple is made-up with mascara and lipstick. If this is what “men” are supposed to be and what “women” are supposed to be, you’d be hard-pressed to find too many “men” and “women” on this campus.

A greater affront is, after this negative protrayal of gender non-conforming people, the article goes on to only mention transgender issues curtly, in a single sentence. That sentence paints with a broad brush a stereotypical transperson.

In a more recent movement, “hir” and “ze” (pronounced “here” and “zee”) are sometimes used to describe transgender people — a contemporary challenge that confronts the idea of epicene English like never before.

This isn’t even an accurate representation of how many transpeople feel about gender neutral pronouns. The wording is all wrong. For an article about grammar and semantics, it sure is off the mark. A better construction would point out that some transgender-identified people prefer the gender neutral pronouns. Not all do. Nor do all gender-neutral pronoun preferers choose “ze” and “hir.” A little additional research here would have probably been helpful. I think that the lack of information here also bothers me because there is an implication that people who opt into gender neutral pronouns are “just” playing a language-game. It is kind of belittling, really.

And that’s all that the article says about transgender people. I’m not going to pretend like transpeople matter an awful lot to the vast majority of the Daily’s readership, but the issue to me is not that there isn’t any discussion, but the fact there are glaring missed opportunities and where the opportunity is taken, there is misinformation. We’re talking about confronting the gender binary, here, people. I live this. Give me a little credit where credit is due.

I’m pretty tired of raging against the Michigan Daily, but they really don’t give me any choice. Some of my LGBT Commission friends say the Daily wants to talk more about these issues, but it seems to me like the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Which happens. But that doesn’t make it permissible to portray my folk as incomplete monstrosities of people.

Last year, the Michigan Daily didn’t run anything about Transgender Day of Remembrance.  Even though I incited a bit of a flame war with my letter to the editor, nothing was published again this year.  I’m not too surprised, although I will say that I didn’t send them the essay that I’d written about TDoR that I did last year.  Still..they are a newspaper and there were events held on campus.  I am incredibly incensed at the fact that, in the face of a group of people who are largely invisible, but who have made their presence felt on this campus, the newspaper did nothing.  It really speaks strongly to how goddamn invisible we really are as transgender folk.  My original article is reprinted below.

I didn’t know 16-year-old Ian Benson of Holland, MI, but one of my best friends did.  He took his own life just two weeks ago.  In some ways, I see a lot of myself in Ian.  I see every transperson in Ian.  I guess I feel like Ian is my brother, just like all transpeople are, in some way, my siblings.  Sadly, we’re brought together by discrimination and violence against us.  I was never one for claiming any kind of community with the people who fall under the “T” in “LGBT,” whose challenges to the binary gender system are as diverse as the people themselves.  Not until this year, at least, when something began to awaken in me.

I’ve been out to myself since my junior year of high school.  I, too, was 16.  By some stroke of luck, by some force of will, I’ve made it this far.  It hasn’t been easy.  Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning is so hard I can’t do it without being coaxed and cajoled by my roommate.  Now I’m almost 21, I’m out to everybody who asks.  That includes my friends, my family, my coworkers, my classmates, and my professors.  The reception has been warm.  Things are okay.  I would almost go so far as to say I’m otherwise a happy, normal guy: classes, friends, parties, work, dating, and road trips to Chicago in my beat-up car.

But I can’t live in a bubble, and going outside of the circle of friends, family and colleagues who I know are willing to support me is to go out into a world that is, if not hostile, largely ignorant.  It’s manifested as misunderstandings with profs and GSIs before you could pick a name on CTools, to being harangued in the bathrooms on campus.  I can point to events where I have felt physically threatened, but I always thought this was just par for the course.

There is no reason this should be par for the course.  Life may not be fair, but it also doesn’t have to be too difficult to keep living on account of a social identity you claim.  There’s no reason for anybody to have to think twice about doing something because they’re worried they’ll be attacked for who they are.  There is no reason living in fear and self-hate should be par for the course and make a bright, sweet 16-year-old take his own life.

The health and happiness of all people can be influenced by what we do as individuals.  I used to be quiet about the things I thought were wrong with the world, but now it’s time for me to step up.  It’s time for all of us to step up.  I’m ashamed of myself that it took the suicide of a young man who was truly valued, and not so unlike me, to get me to really step up, but enough is enough.  We have seen enough heartbreak.  We have known enough pain.

The only way that we can prevent more deaths in the larger community and the communities around ours is to come out against intolerance and ignorance.  Nowadays, fewer and fewer transpeople fall victim to direct violence, but a negative environment can be enough to make someone want to give up.  That’s sort of good, I guess – I can walk home from my friends’ houses at night without having to worry too much.  But it’s also bad.  How do you prosecute someone for hate crimes who never actually committed a crime, per se?

The only thing I can think of is work to create a community where you don’t have to worry about that.  I’m finally fully prepared to stand up for what is right.  I’m finally fully prepared to face the ramifications.  History has taught us that social justice does not come easy, or without a price.  But as we remember those who have been killed or driven to an awful choice this week, we must also remember that deaths can be prevented.  And moving forward, it’s also up to all of us to make sure Ian Benson did not die in vain.

We will not be silent.

This headline today from BBC News.  I have mixed feelings about scientific studies of gender non-conforming people.  I secretly want them to prove that our gender identities are rooted in genetics.  But I also don’t.  Here’s why.

I would love to be able to justify to insurance companies that there is a legitimate need for treatment in gender non-conforming people who choose to seek treatment.  It would make things less difficult for a large number of people who might be covered but can’t afford the actual treatments themselves.

On the other hand, I’m worried it will lead to a number of not-so-savory medical theories about “what should be done about those people.”  If it’s a genetic problem, can’t we fix it?  (I don’t need to be “fixed.”)

I think people are more inclined to be understanding of medical pathologies than the explanation “this is just the way I feel.”  While I’m not saying it’s not true that that’s the way people feel — that’s just the way I feel — large numbers of people won’t just accept that at face value.  Some responses I’ve gotten — “are you sure it isn’t just a phase?” and “what traumatic events might have led you to think this?”

On the other hand I’m worried science doesn’t want to leave room for gender non-conforming people who aren’t transsexual.  The BBC article does only discuss transsexuals, and only male-to-female transsexuals at that.  The vast majority of the reading public is not going to get that subtlety, let alone understand that just because there are transsexuals there are also many people who choose not to ascribe to one gender or another, and don’t want to change their sex.

I like the fact that these scientists are dealing with the issue non-judgmentally.  They merely want to find out what the cause is.  And that’s great.

How we benefit from science has largely to do with the scientists themselves, especially when it comes to biological matters.  It seems to me, though, that there is a broader question on the minds of people who know people like me — why exist outside of the binary?  Why insist on that?  Maybe that’s not a question Western medicine is prepared to answer at the moment, or even prepared to ask.  It’s kind of good that ground is being broken at all.  What I wonder, though, is how the medical community is going to react to this information.  Will there be studies done to refute it?  At whose cost?

I went to the doctor today for a complete physical and more testosterone-related bloodwork.  And a pap smear (shudder).  I chose to go with my usual physician — the one who’s prescribed me testosterone — because I didn’t feel like explaining my situation to a gynecologist.  That worked out fine, but the big surprise is this: I weigh 150 pounds.

I don’t look like I weigh 150 pounds.  In fact, I weigh 150 pounds and look better than I have in ages.  I was warned that I’d gain weight on testosterone, and at first I was unsure about that because in the first month I actually lost weight — almost 10 pounds of it.  In fact, it seems that it works like this: you lose fat.  You gain muscle.  So it’s a leaner 150 pounds.

Still, I never thought I’d get this heavy.  To be fair, I haven’t quite topped out at 150 — I’m only a half-pound away though.  That’s like, a good meal and I’ll be at 150.  It doesn’t concern my health care provider, so I guess it shouldn’t concern me.  Still…where is it hiding?

I started hormone replacement therapy three weeks ago.  I’m only on a half dose (2.5 grams a day) but it’s amazing that I’ve already been seeing huge changes in the way I look and feel.  I started even noticing changes as soon as two days after I started using it.  I’m continually amazed and terrified at how much about our bodies we can manipulate with only one chemical.

The first dose of testosterone was intense.  I have Androgel, which is a topical alcohol-based gel that evaporates quickly and gets absorbed into the skin.  It’s funny because it came with all this packaging about how you can “get back the T you’ve been missing!”  I got home from the pharmacy and rubbed the stuff on my upper arm.  In a few moments I felt flushed, filled with warmth, a little dizzy, euphoric.  A knot formed in the pit of my stomach.  Once the high passed, I felt what I can only describe as normal.

Eventually the euphoria became a lot less intense with each dose.  I still get a little dizzy from it, but I guess that’s a normal side-effect.  Two days into the therapy I got hungry.  I haven’t been fully very much or for very long in the past few weeks, and I’ve also been losing weight.  I usually don’t eat very much, but lately I’ve been going through three or even four whole meals a day.  It’s kind of cool.  Also, expensive.

About a week ago I started getting angry.  Not angry at anything, really, but just angry.  Little things have been setting me off, like people who take too long to hit the gas at traffic lights.  The guy who cut in the cafe line at Ikea was lucky he didn’t cut in front of me, because I probably would have punched him out.  I’ve been jumpy like that, and it’s kind of funny, but it’s also kind of scary.  I do a lot of swearing behind the wheel of my car, and I’m sure it doesn’t help that it’s welcome week, but still, from time to time I have to step back and realize my reactions are ridiculous.

I started growing more hair on my legs.  Ever since middle school, when my mom convinced me i had to shave my legs, I haven’t had any hair on my legs at all, much to my chagrin.  It’s been a source of frustration and confusion, but the fuzz on my shins has grown a lot longer, thicker, and darker than it’s been since like, sixth grade.  It’s coming in coarser than it did initially, too.  Pretty manly, eh?

And, as I’ve been warned many times by many people, I’ve gotten uncontrollably horny.  Uncontrollably, like I’ll be walking down the street and stop being sure what I’m doing because I’m so fixated on sex.  Horny, like I have to, uhm, take a break while helping Ariel move in because I can’t take it anymore.  It’s kind of awkward.  But also kind of neat.  I don’t know how anybody could cope with starting testosterone without a for-sure booty call lined up, because it just seems like you’d lose your mind.

The thing of it is, of course, I can’t help the fact that I want to eat everything in my path, get in fistfights with bad drivers, and have sex all day.  It’s funny to be such an exaggerated caricature of a pubescent boy, but I’m starting to understand a bit better why I thought so many of those kids in middle school were such tools.  I mean, some of them just were tools, but some of them were also just dealing poorly with the fact that they wanted to eat all day, fight with everyone and screw everything in sight.

It feels kind of good.  It’s also embarassing.  Can’t I be better than the typical male stereotype?  Sure, the biology isn’t my fault, but what I do with the biology is.  I think I’m dealing with it pretty constructively — I haven’t gotten into any real fights, for instance, and I have decided I’d do a lot more cooking this year — but sometimes it bugs me that I’m slavishly falling into this trend.  And what will happen when I go on the full dose (5 grams)?  And when will my body even itself out?  I hope the touchiness settles down a bit soon, at least.  I don’t really want to get in a bar fight.

I’ve written about this story before, but I guess the other day Thomas Beatie gave birth.  It’s really exciting to see people really living on the cutting edge of being post-gender.  I don’t think the world is ready for this kind of audacious act.  It makes me feel good that it happened, but it makes me feel awful that so many people from so many different walks of life are ragging on Beatie and transfolk in general.  It’s a frightening reminder of just how damn lucky I got.

I don’t think I’ve discussed it much on this blog, but we are currently in the process of launching a scholarship fund for gender non-conforming and allied students.  Our goal is to gather an endowment of $1 million in order to offer a full ride to one student per graduating class.  I’m spearheading the effort and we’re hoping to get it off the ground by the end of the 08-09 school year so we may offer a scholarship to an incoming freshman in the Class of 2013.

I recently received some criticism, and I’d like to address it publicly since this is an issue that is near and dear to my heart, and I believe my critics are grossly misunderstanding the issues at hand.

My critics have claimed that the scholarship doesn’t improve the campus climate, but in fact might cause an uptick in discrimination on campus as other students might see the scholarship as “unfair.”  They claim that doing something like petitioning the administration to increase the number of unisex bathrooms on campus, for example, would be a better project.  First of all, not every gender variant individual chooses to use unisex bathrooms, and an increase will only serve a certain segment of the population.  The focus on bathroom use is a very narrow view idea of what the campus community can do to make gender variant students feel welcome.  Second of all, I believe that, first and foremost, this project’s goal is to show incoming freshmen that there is a supportive community here at U-M.  In spite of any acts of discrimination or outright bigotry that gender non-conforming students might face in Ann Arbor, we want to send the clear message that there is a community, however small, that is dedicated in a big way and will stand up for them if they need us.  Not everybody coming to this campus is going to be as ready to ignore or constructively deal with taunts and threats, but it’s certainly more likely that they’ll be willing to put up a brave face if they know not only that support is at their back but others have come before and have succeeded with flying colors.

As an aside, much of this desire came from my own experience arriving in Ann Arbor as a transgender freshman.  I didn’t feel as though there was a community at all here.  I was unsure who to reach out to.  I didn’t know if I’d be in danger living in a female dorm floor in South Quad.  I wasn’t clear on how to deal with all the people on campus who would question me, criticize me, and even threaten me.  Were there even other students like me?  I wasn’t sure.  There are other efforts underway like R.A. training through the CommonGround program that are new or improved since I was a freshman.  However, these are administration-sponsored programs.  Our scholarship is intended to be a meaningful show of support that is student-directed — evidence for incoming students that there’s a supportive group of people on this campus not just on staff, but also part of the student body.

Other criticism that has been leveled at the project is that by choosing a gender non-conforming student we are being “discriminatory.”  There are two reasons that this is a false, if not fallacious, argument.  First, the scholarship is aimed at both gender non-conforming students and their allies who are already serving the LGBT community through activism, community service, outreach, or just generally being a good human being.  I’m unclear about how this scholarship is discriminatory if it is based upon shared values.  I’ve also been told about scholarships for very short people.  Discriminatory?  Depends on how you look at it, I suppose.

Second, this argument smacks to me of the same kinds of arguments used against affirmative action.  Some people would say it’s discriminatory to give an extra leg up to anybody, but the reality of the situation is, transgender students suffer from tangible and real disadvantages compared to the rest of the student body.  How can we expect to offer students a “level playing field” if the playing field was never level from the beginning?  Is it fair to ignore the discrimination that our peers face merely for the sake of “equality?”  And is that really equality?  That this might be some kind of equality to me seems dubious at best.

There’s another affirmative action parallel in here.  Opponents of affirmative action say that people who are looking for reasons to be prejudiced against students of color will use it as a reason to do so; so, goes the criticism, will recipients of this scholarship be singled out and targeted.  As much as this may be the case, I don’t think that the young people who are eligible to receive the scholarship will be very “low-profile” in terms of their gender presentation.  I’m not saying they’ll be ostentatious, because many of us aren’t.  But I don’t seem very “out there” as far as my gender presentation goes, but I’m still singled out.  Even in places I consider “safe.”  I’m comfortable being an out transman, and that carries with it risks.  The reality of the situation that these critics fail to grasp is that we are already singled out in a very real, very immediate, and very constant way.  There is no “stealth” mode for many of us, especially at this age, especially living in dormitories segregated by sex.  Those inclined to apply for the scholarship will be identifying themselves in other ways.

I want to emphasize that this scholarship is designed to serve a severely underserved community, one which is often simply ignored by mainstream society.  At worst, we are singled out by acts of physical or emotional violence.  Even on U-M’s so-called liberal campus, I have been the target of taunts, threats, and discrimination.  This is a reality.  I don’t pretend that this problem will be eradicated or even improved by offering this money.  But as I stated previously, I hope that the scholarship will be a gesture from a segment of the student body that does care deeply, sincerely and honestly about diversity in Ann Arbor.

Finally, I believe my critics have a poor understanding of what it means for many gender variant individuals to be gender variant and to live in the skins they’ve been given.  I don’t pretend that by bankrolling an education I will be buying off the psychological pain of being non-binary in a binary world.  Many students will look for professional psychological help.  Some students, during their time at U-M, will inevitably opt for hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery.  These are astronomically expensive procedures, which, when supervised by qualified professionals, improve the quality of life for transgender people by orders of magnitude.  Therapy ain’t cheap either: the people I’ve seen who have specialties in the fields of sex and gender tend to be much more expensive than their general practitioner counterparts.  The unfortunate fact of the matter, though, is that not only does not everybody benefit from health insurance, not everybody who has health insurance benefit from insurance that will cover the procedures or therapy.  I’m one of the lucky ones — if my SRS is pre-approved by my insurance company, it’s 100% covered.  I get 52 visits with a psychiatrist or psychologist per year.

The financial burden created by trying to build the life a gender variant student might dream of is immense.  Coupled with the cost of education, and the student may be faced with a seemingly insurmountable debt.  Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can buy steps toward being more comfortable in your own skin, measures toward better understanding yourself and your place in a society, and the higher education necessary to achieve.  Just as scholarship funds for other minority groups aim to empower individuals to achieve and hopefully give back to the community in the future, I hope that the recipients of the U-M Transgender Student Scholarship will feel empowered to achieve at the U and beyond.

Worrying about paying for college is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of my goals for this project.  I hope to bring together a community of caring people to direct the scholarship, for example.  I plan to involve members of staff, students, faculty and community leaders.  I want to offer an opportunity I never would have dreamed of coming to U-M.  Sure, it’s not “justice,” per se, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.  But having a contingent of empowered gender non-conforming and allied alumni?  That sounds like more than one step in the right direction.

I know I’ve been very excited about this and told a lot of folks lately, but here’s the scoop: I just got a referral to a new primary care physician who is going to oversee my hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgeries.  I’m going to see him in July — his schedule is really backed up I guess — and we’re going to talk hormones.  Before the end of the summer, I should be on testosterone.  I’m setting a goal to have chest reconstruction over the semester break so I have enough time to recuperate.  I don’t plan to be taking a heavy courseload in the winter, and hopefully that will help.

This is really awesome, but also really terrifying.  I’m surer than ever that this is what I want, so it’s not that.  It’s just that it’s big-ticket stuff, major medical procedures, and science already knows testosterone therapy is going to shave years off my life.  I can’t say that the idea of that is appealing, really, but the alternatives are less so.  What is longevity without quality of life?

It’s an interesting question, and I don’t know much about medical ethics, but in my opinion living is for enjoying.  If you’re not enjoying it, and there’s no way to make it better, why would you continue to do it?  I can see this being extrapolated — in the wrong way — to be a pro-suicide argument, and I will preface this by saying I think suicide is the easy way out.  It’s cowardly, and it’s unfortunate people seem to think it’s a necessary recourse.  I’m trying to justify my medical choices, to myself, to my family, and to my friends.

To me, hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery choice is, to me, a quality of life issue.  It’s not to say there are other reasons why I’d pursue them, spend time and money and risk my wellbeing on them, but the reasons that are easy to point to for me are: my extreme discomfort not wearing the binding I wear every day to make my chest look masculine, and the other medical dangers wearing the binding poses; having difficulty presenting myself in a public that requires either one gender or the other, but being pigeonholed into the less-preferred one; my apprehension about my more basic physical health — it’s hard to work out in these things, okay?

But the harder thing for me, and this is something I’m kind of banking on, is that for my entire life I’ve suffered from depression, left it undiagnosed and turned down psychiatric medication.  I sincerely believe that, at least as far as feeling depressed all the time is concerned, the medical procedures I’m going after are the better solution to my depression.  If I go on psychiatric medication, I’d only be going after the symptoms, not the source.

I’ve heard that the change in the body’s chemistry can be one of the most liberating feelings in the world.  Like somehow the insides everywhere else match the insides of the mind.  I won’t say I’m excited about the dangers involved, but I am excited about having a seriously improved quality of life.  Oh, and maybe I won’t get carded for using the bathroom at the 8 Ball anymore.

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