March 2007

Visited Dr. Clinton, who said my blood looked great. He had not had a chance to study the hormone regimens I had brought him, but asked if I was ready to start hormones. I said yes. He said, “Let’s start with Spironolactone, as that’s something I know really well. And after 2 weeks, we’ll do some blood work to see if it’s blocking testosterone and not raising potassium. If that test is ok, then we’ll either increase the dose from 50 to 100 and/or start some form of estrogen.”

The next 7 days involved going to New York City for an academic conference, and I had a pretty good sense about the spiro beginning to work during this time. I’d really like to get my T tested, but I can tell that I don’t get spontaneous erections. I really can’t tell if my arm/leg hair is growing slower.

The conference was quite depressing to me — it seemed as if there were all these people who would be disappointed if I transitioned to female and that there was absolutely no way of doing this without hurting my family.

Went to the spa and had my arms and legs waxed — they look great and feel great, but Mary Jo was worried. She said something like “it’s one thing to dress up and go places, but it’s another thing to change your body. I’m worried about what the kids will think.”

I talked with Chuck about this, and I absolutely hate causing her pain. I really don’t know what to do except to go slowly. Chuck agrees.

After some therapy, it became very clear that I needed to begin pursuing hormone treatment, and that meant steeling myself to visit my family doctor and telling him all about myself. The visit to Dr. Clinton was something that required me to really work up towards, practicing in the car, running through my speech, telling an imaginary doctor that if he couldn’t do it, then that was ok, and I’d find another doctor. Finally, after doing this for weeks, I got up the nerve and called his office to make an appointment for a medium- to long-visit, saying I had lost weight and had some other issues. No problem, they said. Whew.

You probably know the feeling: you really don’t want to do something or go somewhere, but no matter how slowly you walk or drive to the dreaded meeting, you’re suddenly there at the principal’s office or wherever you dread going. I kept working on my speech to Dr. Clinton, thinking of whether I should actually tell him or not, when all of a sudden, the day for my office visit came, and I drove automatically and slowly over to his office. I arrived early so I could maybe work through my anxiety before actually going into his office and looking like a train wreck. Having 30 minutes to spare, I walked over to a nearby strip mall and shopped for very important things to take my mind off my mission — I bought some hangers at a place called Linens and Things but while I shopped, I heard myself practicing my speech and worrying about whether it was the right thing to do.

Time passes, as it always does, and my appointment time arrived. I walked over, checked in, and they ushered me in. I laid back on the bed, thinking I had lots of time because I usually have to wait 10-15 minutes. But not today. A stealth attack, suddenly there was my doctor popping his cheery head in the examination room. We talked about flying, about his upcoming trip to Mexico, then we talked about my weight. I said my wife was worried and that I wanted to make sure I wasn’t damaging myself.

OK, he said. Your weight seems to be right in the middle of the body mass index (BMI), but we’ll do some blood work just in case.

There was a pause. I didn’t move. He didn’t move. It was like the ending of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. He finally flinched: “is there something else?”

I paused, briefly considering saying “no” and retreating to the safety of my car, but I took a deep breath and it all came out. I said I was transgendered, probably transsexual, and I was at my wit’s end. I probably babbled, but I tried to stick with my general script, even though I couldn’t remember half of it. After what felt like an awfully a long time without a word from him (but plenty of sympathetic nods), I cut to the chase and said I wanted to know if a) he would supervise my work, since he is my physician, and b) he would prescribe my hormones himself. Ready for rejection, I waited. However, without hesitation, he said yes on both counts.

He said he didn’t know much about transsexualism except what he learned in medical school, but he was willing to learn. “I do know it’s a very difficult road and I must say you’re probably not going to be very pretty.”

“That’s ok,” I said, “I’ll take healthy and happy.”

I had brought several articles on hormone therapy and we looked over some of the highlights I had made for him — he went drug by drug saying “I have experience with this one” or “I don’t know anything about this one.” At the end, he said we’d look at my blood work, and that he’d see me after spring break — if all was well, and if he had satisfied himself on what to do, then we’d proceed. He told me that if he was going to do this, it would be thorough and by they book, and I said that’s exactly what I want. I want to be happy AND healthy.