I don’t get anxious about what other people are going to do. I get anxious about how I will respond in my own highly sensitive way to what they do. I fear that my defenses will kick in, that I will stiffen up in a way that lets me keep standing but is sure to crush the tender hope and small needs in my heart. I know the price of becoming armoured up all too well, know that I have a limited ability left to use sheer willpower to keep from being smashed to shards.
My doctor just doesn’t think that transpeople should transition. A patient of his even had a vaginoplasty with Brassard in Montreal and he still has challenges.
“She still has challenges, don’t you mean?” I asked. It didn’t seem to get though. I knew nothing would. This patient, assigned as male at birth, was “he” even after we had a round of clarifying terminology.
I have gained about 55 pounds in five years. This isn’t good.
The notion that part of this is the cost of denying my nature, playing small, being unable to participate effectively in the world and stuffing myself with comfort food isn’t really accessible to him.
I knew when I came out in the mid-1980s that some pills and surgery would not make my life magically different. Bones don’t lie and mine clearly show the effects of going through puberty as a male. I am going to be identifiable as trans with just a little bit of observation, and that means I am going to have to live inside people’s assumptions, like my doctor, who calls a transwoman patient “he.”
To make a dent in my weight and my fitness I have to eat and live consciously. I have to make deliberate choices to focus on being the best I can rather than just seeing comfort.
Asking someone to live with authority while denying who they know themselves to be, well, that’s just bullshit.
How do I go to a gym and own my body, for example, when I don’t feel safe in it, resisting being seen as a guy working out? For someone who has practiced deliberate androgyny for years, even if people didn’t see that because of their assumptions, how do I start to work a male body in the exposed premises of a gym?
How do trust that I can move beyond my own anxiety and not shatter, the way I did when I realized how insulting and dismissive he was about what I first shared with him five years ago?
The assistant who took my blood pressure and I shared stories about the failure of the Catholic health agency that recently took control of this practice. I noted how they misdiagnosed my father and left him a paraplegic, she told how she was sent home from the emergency room after an arm fracture that a surgeon said would need fast attention. She ended up going to the other hospital in town for her surgery, even if she had to pay out of pocket because her insurance is through that agency.
I know, I know, I know how easy it is for me to shatter. After leaving that doctors appointment the last thing I should do is eat more junk food but it was the first thing I wanted. What else could help me get though the experience of being erased and dismissed, of being told that the same shit I have been going through is going to continue and get worse, that there is nobody to help?
I’m not anxious about what other people will do. My doctor is just an old school, limited guy doing the best that he can. I can’t tell him what to think, can’t get him up to speed if he doesn’t want to do the work, can’t heal him on my schedule and in my way. What he said was completely understandable and expected, even if it did hurt me deeply.
I’m anxious that I will run out of the limited tools I still have to patch myself up and keep running. I know that many of the health challenges I have today are directly related to way I had to swallow my own sensitivity, tamp it down and use the force of brute willpower to keep going in the world.
I was anxious to go to the doctor and I survived. I did, though, at the cost of feeling erased and slapped in an old familiar way, the ignorance and assumptions of another just playing in a system that fails its users often, but that we just have to take as it is. We know our highly sensitive nature will be disturbed and we are anxious about the cost to stay stable, anxious about the long term damage we have to live with.
Going out into the world exposed and as vulnerable as I can is a great thing, at least until those old airbags go off inside, protecting me from collision with the stubborn prejudices and assumptions of other people. The third gotcha kicks in and I feel myself shrink away, wanting nothing more than to take a shower and hide in bed, not coming out again until there is no other choice.
So many things I “should” do or “should have” done but I resist them because I understand how much internal damage can come. The cost of resistance is high, but it is one I know how to manage after having to resist my own heart and nature for so many decades. I got to choose my damage; resistance which I felt gave me agency as it destroyed me slowly, or exposure which I felt left me out of control, promising unexpected insults and demanding more armour.
Anxiety has always been a partner to my sensitive nature. I know I resilient and durable I have to seem to take the place I was assigned in the world while also knowing how tender and fragile my heart really is. I know that there are no safe spaces for me, no zone where my deepest archetypes are shared and people get the goddamn jokes that my broken heart makes.
If doctors can’t offer healing spaces, if therapist don’t know what to do with me, then what hope do I have with civilians, let alone with bureaucrats?
My anxiety kills me slowly, while my exposure kills me fast. Either way, though, the result feels the same.