Posts Tagged ‘ struggle ’


I wanted to write a post that was light, and humorous and full of good cheer. I was looking forward to highlighting some of the awesome things that have been happening recently. I planned to get my post in on time. I had the best of intentions and, as most things built with only intentions, they have failed miserably. Instead, I’d like to tell you about the last couple of weeks and how it’s affected me.

Two weeks ago, I headed down to see my cardiologist in Hamilton. I was born with a congenital heart defect and, although it’s repaired and I’m more or less stable, as a result I head down to a special clinic at least once a year for a bunch of tests and a chat with my specialist. The catch this year is, I had a new specialist.

After my last visit, about a year ago, I made a decision to fire the doctor I’d been with for nearly a decade. When I came out as trans to her about 3 years ago she pretty much pitched a fit. She was vehemently opposed to me taking testosterone and, in fact, badgered my endocrinologist (a man who is more than qualified to balance my transition with my cardiac status) about his choice to prescribe me hormones. At my visit last year, she had a student with her and, with me still in the room, repeatedly referred to me with female pronouns and using my legal name. All this despite having been asked to use male pronouns and to call me Wes or Wesley. I spoke to her nurse practitioner about her reprehensible behaviour and was delighted to hear that there was another doctor in the clinic I could see. As you may imagine, I fired her and signed up to see the new doc. This was my first visit with him.

What a visit it was. As part of my yearly check-up, I have to go for a bunch of test, which means interacting with all sorts of different staff members. Some of them do their level best to get the names and pronouns straight and I’m happy to cut them slack. Honestly, I can tell the difference between not caring and making an error. The former irritates me to no end, the latter is corrected with grace and a laughing smile. This year I had a new tech for my echocardiogram (a heart ultrasound). We’d never met before and so had no history to work with. I introduced myself as Wes and she left me to get undressed. She came back about 5 minutes later and promptly called me by my legal name. With a very, very sharp tone of voice, I corrected her and lay down on the table. I was hurt and angry. In that very brief moment, I realized she hadn’t even been listening to what I’d said in the first place. I truly was just another ultrasound for her to perform. This was the pattern for the remainder of the day, some folks remembered and tried, some folks didn’t even care.

Then it was time to see the doctor himself. I went to register and was informed in a very pointed way (after asking to be called Wes) that if it wasn’t on my chart, it wasn’t going to be used. Folks, if it weren’t for the fact I wanted meet the new doctor at least once, I would have walked out right there. Fortunately the nurse practitioner (this woman is a godsend, let me tell you) stepped up and ushered me in post haste. Turns out, they’d actually been waiting for me to arrive.

And the very first words out of the new doc’s mouth? “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Austin” I was pleased as punch that the doctor got it right on the very first try. As we chatted, we reviewed some of his concerns about my upcoming surgery. He was very clear in telling me that although my surgery is technically an elective procedure, he understood that it is a very necessary step for me to take and he wanted to support me as fully and safely as he could. This was the reason I decided to take his advice and postpone my surgery. The surgery I’d been waiting months for, was excited and terrified about has now been postponed for an unknown length of time.

I didn’t realize how much this meant to me until this week. This was supposed to be my last week to get things done in preparation for being out of commission for a few weeks. Instead, I’ve spent this week unreasonably irritated and downright angry. What normally would be a bunch of small things that would roll off my back have instead simply left me feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. I had to take my top off earlier this week in order to have yet another cardiac test performed, I was she’d as a result. Later that same day someone verbally attacked me, in what should have been a safe space. All because I asked someone to use ‘I’ statements to clarify who they were speaking about. Physically I’ve been in an enormous boatload of pain this week dealing with a shoulder that left me barely able to lift my right arm. Many little things piled up and I just can’t seem to cope. My urge to drown myself in alcohol (a very ineffective coping mechanism) has been strong and I’m thankful I’ve gotten good at just sitting and letting it pass.

I feel like this journey, this path I have to walk, is never-ending. I’m afraid that every time I get close to one of the goals I’ve set, something will happen to set it back yet again. Part of me wonders if I’m unconsciously orchestrating all these obstacles myself. I feel like I have no face-to-face support system who truly understands what kind of an undertaking transition really is. Mostly, I’m afraid I won’t have the strength to get there.

The post was originally published at PositiveLite

A life without hope

Yesterday i had the opportunity to share my story with a group of students at a local career college. It was a fantastic group full of good questions and honest curiosity. As part of an course on becoming an addiction counselor, the topic of addictions in the trans community came up and the teacher (who knew my history from previous presentations) asked me if there is a higher than normal rate of substance use/abuse in the trans community.

I laughed and asked the teacher if he knew something about me (which he did). I then went on to tell the class that I am recovered alcoholic/addict and that I believed that part of the reason I used substances was because I was trans.

Earlier in the presentation I had explained to the class that I had always known I was different but was utterly unable to articulate what exactly it was that made me different from everyone I knew. I could only point out and say that I wasn’t like everyone else and eventually came to the conclusion that it was just me and that i was crazy.

I talked about how I used substances to escape the pain I was feeling; a pain that never really went away. I asked them if they liked how they felt when they were hurting. Predictably none of them indicated it was a feeling they enjoyed. I pointed out that neither did I but that every single day felt like a struggle and the only way I knew how to cope with that struggle was to anesthetize myself with substances.

The rest of the presentation went well and I was thanked profusely for my time and I went on my merry way.

Then last night, as I lay in bed with my partner, I fell victim to a panic attack. Now don’t get me wrong, they aren’t fun and I wouldn’t wish them on anyone however, they are not unknown to me and by and large I just wait them out. As I was waiting it out I was talking about some of what’s going through my head and out came the phrase “ I can’t keep doing this…..this death march”

I realized this morning that I’ve traded one struggle for another. Instead of struggling to figure out what’s wrong and put a name to it, I’m now struggling for recognition and legitimacy. I’m struggling against a health care system who wants to label me crazy. They want to tell me that in order to get medical treatment for a condition I had nothing to do with, I need to be crazy.

I struggle to find the resources it takes to keep myself employed, fed and housed. I panic in interviews because I haven’t had the funds to change my name legally and so am outted every time I need to reveal the discrepancy between my legal and common names. I struggle against a society who says I’m sick and wrong for believing that biology is not destiny and that they are NOT always in agreement.

This struggle leaves me living a life without hope. It’s a pretty miserable way to live don’tcha think?

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