Judgement?

In December of last year, I was presented with an opportunity to be part of a medical study that is looking to see how long the IUD I use can be extended out. As my life with Katie was still in a giant land of question marks, I enrolled, thinking it would be a long time before we knew how to answer the Kid Question and that I could at least make some extra side money for literally doing nothing but having an IUD and infrequently being examined by a doctor. The first appointment I had was in January, and I remember sitting in the lobby filling out all the paperwork, trying to figure out if I should put Kyle or Katie down as my emergency contact. At this point in our transition, it was still so early on that pronouns and names were not as instinctual as they are now. I still worry that if I put Katie down while her name is not legally changed, somehow, we will be denied care or access. What if there is an accident, and she can’t get to me because her ID says Kyle? I don’t know if this is a valid fear and I have done very little to research the legality of it. Still, this is one of many things I think about now that I didn’t have to before.

This past Saturday, I had a follow-up appointment for the study. I woke up early, drove down to Tacoma and was in and out of the clinic in 45 minutes. I’m proud to be part of this study, a study to help women make more empowered reproductive choices and ending with the option for an IUD that will last 8 years instead of 5 or 7. I wish I had  that when I was 20 and confident that I didn’t want kids yet. Anyway, while in the appointment with the doctor, she asked me if I’d used the pregnancy tests they had provided. I haven’t, and I mentioned that I wasn’t worried about it now with Katie transitioning, that her sperm count was decreasing.

I want to preface the rest of this post by reminding you, dear readers, that these are my observations about my experience and there are probably 28 ways I could talk about it more eloquently and from a more educated view. This topic I’m about to discuss is a heated one, one people feel very passionately about, and I think it’s important to mention that I am capable of standing up for myself and exploring my own feelings. I am not angry about what transpired after I told this doctor about Katie being transgender. I’m hoping to reflect upon what happened and inspire a conversation about what kind of reaction I will have when this happens again. What do these feelings mean?

I hadn’t told my doctor that Katie was transitioning before Saturday. It didn’t feel necessary. That said, when I mentioned it, there was an audible, awkward silence. I didn’t feel judgement or hostility. Nothing threatening. Just the palpable taste of not knowing what to say or how to process my words. I do believe this reaction from the doctor is in part due to the casualness of my delivery. She asked me if Katie needed any services, noting that their clinic just started offering them. I let her know we didn’t, that we had it covered, but thanked her for letting me know. She asked me if we were in fact still having sex. Now, this question isn’t weird – I’m in a study about the longevity of my IUD – but I’m not sure if the question was related to needing to know for the study and, if it was, why it was relevant?

I still don’t know what to make of this exchange. I do know I felt uncomfortable with her reaction. Or is it an absence of a reaction? I’m not sure what to call it.  I’m not sure if my discomfort is because this is the first time a medical professional hasn’t handled the idea of Katie with the nonchalance every other medical professional has so far. I can distract from an awkward social situation with ease, but I couldn’t with this one. I sat there on the table with a paper sheet covering my lower half, uncomfortable with why she wasn’t saying anything. I don’t even want to say the name of the clinic or the study because I really respect them, what they represent, and I really like my doctor. Still, it occurs to me that this is my life now. At any moment, I’m going to be expected to explain my wife to people who cannot understand her or are not ready to entertain that she and we are normal. There is going to be awkwardness. I’m not even sure if she made it awkward or if I did.

Part of what I often focus on in therapy is how strange it is to go from being a privileged white woman to a minority. I’m saying that knowing full well that I’m still privileged by my spouse and I being white, that if we were of any commonly-associated brown ethnicity, our stories would be very different. Would we have the insurance we have? Would we have the jobs we have? Would I have gotten the education that led to the job I have? The questions are numerous. That said, now I must ask if the reaction from my doctor was because I’m married to someone who was transgender or because of my delivery on the subject? Or because of something else? I’m not sure if the more unsettling part is that I’ll never know or that I now must ask.

 

16 thoughts on “Judgement?

  1. Amelia

    Looking at it from the outside it seems like Katie’s transition dramatically changes the study. If there’s little to no chance of pregnancy then how exactly will your participation help to determine the IUD’s efficacy?

    As a trans woman it’s easy for me to imagine why people react the way they do. People laughing, hushed talking, guys staring, etc… But ultimately it doesn’t matter. Energy spent on people that have no impact on my life is energy wasted. In all honesty though I’ve had far more positive experiences than negative ones. The few times I’ve allowed my imagination to wander to the negative, I’ve been wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Amelia! I asked her if it impacted and she said no, but that thought crossed my mind also. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with your stance on the wandering mind: it’s often wasted energy.

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  2. J B

    Thank you so much for sharing you and Katie’s journey. It is really helpful in understanding how best to support the trans folks in my extended circle and family. Additionally, as a scientist and hormonal IUD user, thank you for being part of such an important study!

    I’m sorry thing with your doctor were so awkward. My guess would be that the sex question was very relevant to the study, and she was trying to wrap her head around the scientific ramifications–to test the efficacy of an IUD, your research subjects need to be capable of getting pregnant (i.e., no known fertility issues and are having PIV sex regularly without using other protection). But that’s without knowing anything else about the study, and even if you caught her by surprise she should have given a better explanation of why she needed that information!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! This is helpful. I wish she could have explained that. I will say the study mentions nothing about my fertility or my commitment level in a relationship – I think it’s really just focused on testing hormone levels and reaction over time. But I’m not a scientist… so who knows?

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  3. J B

    Fair enough! Thanks for clarifying. They must only be looking at hormone levels, or they only would have recruited only people using Mirena as their only form of birth control. I hope your next appointment goes more smoothly, but if you continue to feel uncomfortable (about this interaction or future ones), switching to another provider in the same clinic is often an option. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paige

    Hi
    I’m writing because I’ve been having thoughts that my husband of 30 something years is trans. I don’t really know why all of a sudden I’m thinking this. It just came over me on Saturday night. And if he is it all makes sense. He wants to commit suicide every December for no apparent reason. He’s super modest. He doesn’t let people get to know him. He’s gentle understanding sensitive and he’s always told me he’s not like other men. He’s clean and hates being dirty. I’ve been saying things for 2 days to see if he will open up about it. Like you have beautiful legs. Your lips are so pretty. I want you to be happy just the way you are. If you grew your hair like a female what style would it be? (He said he couldn’t do that because of his job.) (An all male profession). We didn’t even talk about this openly. It’s just that when I think of it like that it all makes sense. Wouldn’t a typical guy hate having his features be called beautiful and pretty? He’s been asking me why am I being so kind to him lately. He didn’t even flinch when I asked the question about his hair. I want him to talk about this more openly with me so I don’t continue this charade in case I’m wrong. I’m scared to come out and ask him. I think I don’t want to be wrong because it would explain so many things. When we were younger we use to say he was more feminine than most guys and I was more masculine than most females and that’s part of why we got along so well. I’m not sure what to do. I guess I will keep subtley trying to talk about it.

    If anyone has any suggestions I will listen.

    By the way that is an adorable picture at the top.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Paige! Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your story. It sounds like you really love your husband and are concerned about their happiness and well-being. May we all be so lucky! I can’t say I have much in the way of concrete advice, but I do have a couple thoughts based on what you’ve said so far.
      1) Your husband may or may not know that this is part of who they are. Heck, he may not even be transgender. I think it’s important that you continue to be there for him and keep the doors of communication open.
      2) I think/hope he will talk to you when he’s ready. In my own story, I deeply regret that I started my conversation with my wife. As much as I think it did help her accept her truth, I wish I had given her time to be ready for it, to have the difficult conversation when she was ready. Our path is what it is and neither of us would take it back, but food for thought on allowing time to progress, giving your husband time to bring their truth to you.
      3) Have you explored Reddit and the My Partner is Trans forum? I highly recommend you do and share there what you have here. I’m not an expert and, not that the people in the forum are, but I think the diversity in advice on this might help you. The trans community is as diverse as any other. Everyone’s pathway is different and unique. As I do not have a marriage as mature as yours, I’m not sure how to advise you and I want to make sure you’re getting supported by those that have lived the experience.
      4) Therapy has been wonderful for us and if you can find someone to go to for yourself or even together, it might be worth looking into
      5) Whatever is going on with your spouse, there are resources and you are not alone. Please feel free to check out my resource page – that Katie Couric documentary is on Netflix now and is really informative as a first look into gender and it’s meaning
      6) I’m more than happy to be an ear if you need a vent to listen to. Please feel free to reach me at TisforTransblog@gmail.com

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    2. Amelia

      Hi Paige! Thanks for sharing! Being a trans woman myself and coming out in my 40’s I can relate to your husband. My whole life I’ve been trans. However, up until coming out it was something that I suppressed deeply and felt horribly ashamed by. I was only able to come to terms with it through years of constant self reflection and therapy. Which at the time was because of a quickly increasing frequency of highly dysfunctional relationships. Apparently suppressing something of this magnitude for 30 years can do some serious damage. Who would have thought? I can say, that coming out and transitioning has been an incredibly positive experience for me. I have never been happier than I am now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Paige

        That is really sweet and I’m happy for you. I’ve been watching all the utube videos of everyone saying they’re happier and that makes me happy. I’m trying to be super sensitive to my husband so he will feel comfortable sharing with me if he feels the need.

        All the best

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Marina

    Hi! My wife and I have been following you and Katie for a little while now. We’re both in our early thirties, no kids and staying together, so a lot of what you’ve shared is relatable to the two of us. You’re right in that there doesn’t seem to be much out there for couples in our situation.

    I’m 3 months into HRT and I’ve already had a few terrible doctor experiences. I’ve faced outright ignorance and unprofessional behavior that I never would have imagined from anyone in the medical field. We’re in the Southeast US, though, so I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised.

    To me, what you’re going through seems harder than anything that I’ve faced. I feel so guilty knowing that my wife has and will continue to be subjected to similar situations through no fault of her own. Though I had no say in being trans, I did get to decide to do something about it. Whenever I come up against someone who challenges who I am, I have the advantage of having already faced and bested the biggest, nastiest monster of all within me.

    My wife doesn’t have that luxury. This is a life that she never asked for.

    Your perspective on transition is unique and inspiring. I know that I couldn’t have made it this far without the unending support and love of my wife. I’m sure that Katie feels similarly. You’re helping others out there and making a world of difference. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. J

    I had the same “What name do I use as an emergency contact for my spouse?” question for my spouse (for the first time) the day after you posted this.

    It feels so so good to have someone else existing in the same boat on so many things. I just wanted to say thank you for being so public with your story, and that reading your journey has helped a lot in many different ways. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Les Addison

    I definitely got some questions about whether or not we were “having sex” after my spouse started to transition. A personal pet peeve is not using words that mean what someone means…like, there are plenty of kinds of sex that don’t lead to pregnancy, and if the question is about pregnancy, then ask if someone is having that kind of sex.

    Liked by 1 person

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