Vaginal Discourse

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I’ve recently been having all sorts of fun things going on with my body. It turns out it might (in part) be a thyroid thing. Some it might involve my hormones, too.

Because very few doctors know much about super queer ladyhormones, I felt the need to research the subject myself (for, what, like the twentieth time?). Here’s my conclusion:

1. Sex hormones are magical, and doctors admit that prescribing, managing, or otherwise observing their effects is pretty much alchemy.

2. Many, many other aspects of modern medicine are extraordinarily similar to managing trans* peoples’ hormones, only medical professionals will not admit that these, also, are pretty much alchemy.

The other week I was looking at my medicine drawer. Certainly, I’m quite privileged in that I’ve had not one, but two different insurance plans in the past year.

My collection of prescription bottles

I’m not posting this to play Drug Olympics (certainly not on a weekday). What gave me pause was that all these bottles represent just five prescriptions– three anti-depressants (go team!), estradiol, and a testosterone blocker.

It took me close to a year to find a doctor that would prescribe me hormones. Eventually, I decided to drive to Chicago (150 miles away) to get my script. When I moved to Upstate New York, it also took me a while to get settled in with a new doctor.

Basically, I’m paranoid (or justifiably anxious) about losing access to my medication. Maybe I won’t be able to find a doctor to write a prescription. Maybe my insurance company will decide to stop paying for my hormones. Perhaps there’ll be conscience clauses.

I subconsciously hoard pills. As soon I’m eligible to refill an order, if I can afford it, I do it (hooray for tax returns!). Over time, that can lead to quite a surplus. I hold on to old pill bottles just in case I ever need to prove to a pharmacist that back in ought-eight such-and-such doctor wrote a certain prescription. I’m not sure what sort of situation would lead me to desperately whip out a four-year-old prescription bottle. I guess it’s best to be prepared.

Every day I hear of more and more laws that chip away at bodily autonomy. The less privileged the person, the higher the likelihood of finding oneself without healthcare. I’m worried that in one of the most affluent nations on Earth, hoarding and scarcity will increasing define our experience with medicine.

[Trigger warning for transphobia and prisoner abuse]

Back in 2006, the Wisconsin Legislature passed Act 105, the “Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act”. [Good thing we had a Democratic governor at the time. Whoops!]

The act banned the state from providing trans* prisoners hormone therapy or surgery.

This happened at the exact same time I was struggling to secure medical care for myself. It was nice to know that three blocks away from my house, my bosses at The State of Wisconsin were willing to spend their time demonizing folks like me.

I thought about this a lot as I drove down the Northwest Tollway to Chicago, where the Chicago Cubs were graciously paying for my tits*, and the State of Illinois was patiently holding my semen.

After I spent a substantial amount of time, money, and emotional energy getting things squared away, I recall writing** state legislators:

Hey assholes,

I’ve given my life to eating jello salad, protecting your crops, and teaching your children, and you fuckers are having the people of Illinois subsidize my medical bills? Nice work.


PS: To hell with the Packers.

Needless to say, I had a car, and a job, and a studio apartment that was not a prison cell. So, unlike three trans* women that sued the state when the Department of Corrections took away their hormones, I had options.

A while back, a court sided with the trans* women in ruling Act 105 unconstitutional. Because the State of Wisconsin would rather spend bazillions of dollars defending its bigotry than actually shelling out a few thousand bucks a year on life and money saving drugs, the state appealed.

Today the Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the earlier ruling in favor of current and future trans* inmates. Snippets from [TW] the ruling are below. Read more…

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