To a T – Eugene Weekly

The internet is home to many blogs and videos of trans people documenting their transitions: tying and tucking tips, clothing tips, surgery and hormone updates — and all the things that surprised them along the way.

But the biggest surprise for me was how good testosterone did for me.

This was my second time at Planned Parenthood in Springfield to talk about taking hormones, so I had an idea of ​​what to expect. The staff gave me a finger prick to test for red blood cells, gave me a short questionnaire, went over the various changes that come with testosterone, did subcutaneous injections at home, and sent me on my way with a prescription.

The pharmacy didn’t have the right size syringes on hand, so I had to wait a day for my first injection.

The following night — after whipping up a creamy pickle soup recipe on TikTok with one of my housemates — we sat in the bathroom, watching the YouTube video explaining subcutaneous (aka sub-q) injections. ) to which Planned Parenthood referred me. I went back over a few parts, and once we felt like we got the gist of it, everything was set up so he could inject 0.25ml – the initial dose of Planned Parenthood – of testosterone in my thigh.

All in all, a pretty easy experience, even for someone who doesn’t like needles.

But I’m lucky with where I went for care, that Planned Parenthood was accessible through my insurance, and that my family is supportive enough of my being trans that there’s no conflict when insurance costs appeared.

“Accessing gender-affirming care in Eugene was a bit difficult for me because my doctors didn’t know what it was,” says Lane Duckett, a gender-nonconforming Eugene resident and student at the University of Oregon. “I feel like there’s not a lot of medical training involving non-binary or gender-nonconforming people, so it’s been hard to find doctors who understand what I’m trying to do.”

Duckett says they understand that parts of the medical transition have to fit into certain binary bureaucratic practices for gender-affirming care to occur. But they say their experience accessing gender-affirming care in Eugene largely resembled doctors “trying to put non-binary people into a binary,” a practice that directly contradicts their identity.

“I think there’s a very big lack of understanding of all gender diverse people, especially in Eugene,” they say.

Beyond a lack of support from doctors, trans people need to reach a point where they are comfortable enough with their identity to actually pursue gender-affirming care. Some people know from an early age that they want to transition in a certain way, but I didn’t get to a point where I could admit that I wanted top surgery – the colloquial term used for top surgery. masculinization of the chest – up to about five years. after admitting to myself that I am genderqueer.

And then there’s the arduous process of navigating a medical system that seems determined to throw as many obstacles in your way as possible – from confusing bureaucracy to prohibitive healthcare costs.

While former OU student Ian Miller was able to find supportive medical care in Eugene, they note a similar pressure to conform to a gender binary in medical settings. “It’s definitely been a challenge navigating between how I want to identify myself and what I need to be considered legally or medically to get the care I need,” they say.

While Miller has updated his state ID with the non-binary “X” gender marker, Duckett says the Biden administration’s decision to allow Americans to select the “X” marker on passports has left them makes think.

“With all the attacks on trans rights across the country,” Duckett says, “it makes me a target. And you kind of have to think about it.

The past few years have seen a dramatic increase in anti-trans legislation, with 18 states passing bills banning trans girls from playing sports and other states restricting gender-affirming medical care, especially for minors. States like Florida moved to ban Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care more broadly, while lawmakers in Missouri discussed expanding the ban on trans health care for young people in the State to all persons under the age of 25.

As trans historian and author Jules Gill-Peterson says in an interview with the Gender Reveal podcast, bills targeting trans children follow a pattern of “deliberate attempts to destroy hated populations or politically targeted populations by attacking their children first” – similar to the goal of the era of boarding schools for Native American children, which sought to eliminate Native cultures through genocidal separation of families and cruel, assimilationist policies.

Beginning to access gender-affirming medical care at a time when trans identity is hyper-visible and highly politicized is strange to say the least.

Although he lives in a state where trans identity is unchallenged, Miller says it’s scary to see anti-trans bills passing across the country. “It’s this constant paranoia and fear,” they say, “When will I be next? Am I somewhere that will be safe forever? Am I in a safe haven? And can I travel? Am I able to live a normal life and go where I am right now? »


Illustrated by Chelsea Lovejoy

But, says Miller, it’s worth it. Although they have only been on testosterone for nine months and are still awaiting gender affirmation surgery, they have begun to overcome some of the discomforts they have felt with their bodies. “For the very first time, I can look at myself in the mirror – and I was,” says Miller. “And I’m comfortable. And I feel good. And I’m confident. And I like my appearance.

While they still have moments of dysphoria or hyper-examining their bodies, they say testosterone has changed their perception of themselves in ways they never expected. “I hadn’t realized how much accepting my gender and finding out who I was would relax me and take away the general anxiety,” Miller says.

I had a similar experience during the six months I was on testosterone. Looking back, I’ve spent most of my life experiencing varying levels of dissociation from my body – something I didn’t realize until it went away after starting testosterone.

Somaya – a social media influencer I follow on Instagram, who goes by the name @somayamusic – has a post from 2021 Trans Day of Visibility which I think sums it up nicely. “Part of the reason it’s taken me so long to realize my gender identity is that I’ve only heard of trans people in terms of dysphoria and how difficult their lives are,” they wrote. writing. “In my case, I couldn’t specifically identify anything I felt as dysphoria because that was all I knew. […] It wasn’t until I discovered the EUPHORIA kind feeling, literally one of the most positive feelings, that I started to understand this part of myself better.

This is what my previous experiences as a trans person lacked; despite being genderqueer when I was 14, I don’t think I identified that feeling of gender euphoria until five years ago.

“For me personally, it’s fluidity, and it keeps me from being pinned to a box,” Duckett says when I ask them about their favorite part of their gender journey. “It really opened up a world of presentation and self-identification.” The other part, they say, is the community they’ve found: people sharing experiences who support each other and give each other space to express themselves.

It’s liberating to allow myself to follow that feeling, to know that the choices I make about my appearance – whether medical or just wearing certain clothes – are because I want to make them.

My little mustache that gets darker every day is there because I want it, my voice drops because I feel good, and I paint my nails because I think it’s a fun way to express myself.

Every Tuesday, before making my move, I take a second to check in with myself, to make sure I’m making the right choice. And, right now, I’m enjoying the first six months of that choice every week, changes in my body that feel less like a checklist with a Planned Parenthood doctor and more like a journey of self-discovery and self-discovery. -compassion.

About John Tuttle

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