I have been coded:
Gender identity disorder: 302.85
Submitting a pre-approval claim to my insurance company, in an effort to get them to cover my upcoming surgery, requires such information. To be fit within the system, to be placed within the correct box, to make sure the proper bubbles are filled in and forms filed in triplicate.
Such efforts will undoubtedly be in vain. The list of exclusions looms in the back of my mind, with number one single exclusion ever-present: no payment for any costs resulting for or from a gender transformation operation. Never mind that my gender can’t be modified by surgery, my identity can’t be transformed by an operation.
The language itself bumps against me, gender reassignment surgery. Sex reassignment surgery. gender confirmation surgery or sex confirmation surgery or gender affirmation surgery or sex reconstruction surgery or or or or
I don’t care what it’s called. On December 9, 2013, it’s happening. $18,500, a trip to Philadelphia, and a surgical incision from the tip of my penis to the base. Like a piñata really – all the boy candy will fall out of me, tumbling to the floor where it can be picked up by blindfolded children. Leaving me empty, inverted, something to be filled.
Dilation five times a day. Lubricant. Recovery. Sensation. Hair removal and clitoris and labia and vaginal depth and all of the words that I know back and forth, up and down, in and out and in and out and in and out and on and on.
I’ve raised a little over $2,000 so far. My goal – $10,000 of the approximately $20,000 everything will cost – is still distant. but ever-approaching. Much like December 9, really.
There is a penis sitting on my kitchen table, alongside a mold, created by lasers and built by New York Lesbians and transported by a Palestinian-Jordanian-American-Gay-New-Yorker-Journalist-Videographer and – for the safety and security of us all – inspected by the TSA. They didn’t leave a note, but they did use special TSA-labeled tape where they closed the box back up. I feel safer.
My therapist mentioned a new surgical technique, from Belgium. It uses sections of the colon to construct a new vagina, as opposed to using exclusively penile and scrotal tissues. Advantages: lubrication, structural integrity, and less need for dilation. Disadvantages: the colon is not known for its pleasant smell or for lubricating upon arrousal; I don’t want my panties soaking wet when sitting in front of a delicious deep dish pizza. It’s also a double-surgery, since it requires removal of part of the colon. I’m annoyed she brought it up, annoyed she didn’t know more about it, annoyed she was so human as to have imperfect knowledge and to stumble from the pedestal upon which she has rested the last six years. Early 2007. Have I really been on hormones this long? Has this journey come so far, with so far to go?
Transitioning is a fractal – every level is just as complicated as the one before.
Because it’s one thing to say you’re going to do something, it’s another entirely to do it. Transitioning. Hormones. Hair removal. Surgery. Penis-scanning lasers. The personal is political is personal, but wearing your heart on your sleeve can be exhausting. Selling yourself and your cock and your privacy sounds all well and good in theory, but the act is creeping up on me and jumping out from behind dark corners. I want to do this (which is good, because it’s happening) but that doesn’t mean I have moments of doubt. Computer science and a six figure income compared to selling my body to strangers on the Internet, displaying myself in front of audiences for money. And sure, it’s different than prostitution and different than stripping. But why? Where am I able to draw the boundaries between myself and the world, between what’s private and what’s public, between performance and truth?