Perhaps the most frustrating moments of transitioning has been the two times I’ve visited the Emergency Department at our local hospital. No, this isn’t a grizzle about hospital emergency departments. Rather it’s an artifact of having an “M” on my birth certificate because I haven’t jumped through the surgery hoops to have it changed. Let’s face it, who looks at our genitals on any given day? What practical difference does genital surgery make for a transgender woman?
Before you all scream at me, and I know “top” surgery is particularly VERY important for transgender men, I would have genital surgery tomorrow if the money was available. Due to not being required in New South Wales to have surgery in order to live as a woman, I’ve chosen to put that money into other, well, things. Such surgery was important to B however, so that money was found. Different person, different priorities. That’s the crux of all this gender and sexuality stuff – being ourselves, freely and without fear.
So, back to hospital. One occasion was banging my head against an open cupboard door because our loungeroom can at times be an OH&S nightmare. Smiles. Result – mild concussion. The other occasion, my legs had simply stopped functioning. Yes, the muscles were home but the electricity had failed. Solution turned out to be bossing them around and ordering them to walk. Then actually walking and walking, and walking, until after several weeks they got the message (Thanks Bridgette). Took 12 months to get back to anywhere near where they were previously. Something called “Gillaume-Barre” syndrome.
On each visit to Emergency, the clerk at reception looked at me, looked at their computer, and then paused. And paused. And paused. I wasn’t bleeding apparently so the pause was acceptable. Fuzzy groggy head from concussion and panic about failed legs obviously allowed for a pause here at the front door of Emergency.
By this stage I was wise to these symptoms, having encountered them at border control in Thailand. The same pause. The computer, following the logic of the primal paperwork (birth certificate) said I was male. Prominent boobs and female attire said something else. Protocol said it was rude for the clerk to ask about my gender. So through fuzz and fear I had to point out I was pre-operative transgender female. That resolved the impasse and hit the play button on getting some treatment. Irony – before the MRI to check my brains were intact I was asked if there was any possibility I was pregnant. As much as I would like to be…
Look, I’m more amused than angry about this. I know my pre-op status confuses the paperwork and computers, and the actuaries working out insurance premiums. But surely a guess at “Maam” or “Miss” is possible in the protocol, given I make some effort to appear female – and my name is “Julie Ann Rhiannon” (on the same birth certificate as that “M” haha) after all.
Yes, I can laugh at this odd state of affairs, but some days, not today specifically but some days, it eats away at me. I’m not cut out for challenging fundamental laws of polite society such as being clearly male or female. Still, like my mother used too, I just carry on and do what needs doing. Smiles. And chuckle to myself at the absurdity of it all.


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