Widgets Magazine


The Transitive Property: I Don’t Think Elbows Have a Gender…

So last Monday on the way back from class, I epically fell off my bike and hurt my right elbow. A day after my accident, I went to Vaden to get some x-rays done. The doctors thought that my elbow might be fractured, but they wanted to refer me to an orthopedic doctor to make sure. I needed a referral to schedule an appointment. I called the doctor several times, asking to schedule an appointment. They kept repeating, however, that they hadn’t received my referral yet. After some poking around and nudging on my part, the Vaden referral people found my x-ray records under my birth name. I had given the wrong name to them all along. (I think I have two name records at Vaden, because this sort of thing happens all the time. Oy.)

After a lot of frustration, instead of seeing the doctor when I needed to last week, I finally managed to get an appointment for this Thursday, unfortunately under my birth name. At this point, I didn’t care—hell, they could call me Sally, as long as they did something about my stupid elbow. However, my parents thought that Thursday was too late and decided to take me to the emergency room instead. On the way there, my dad mentioned what he should call me, because under the insurance policy, my name was still listed as my birth name.

I hadn’t thought about that at all. Shit. “Uh, just call me by my old name,” I said. Already I knew that this emergency room visit was going to be interesting, to say the least.

What followed was a painfully awkward ordeal. The nurse was calling me by female pronouns and my dad was calling me by male pronouns. I received a hospital bracelet that had on it my birth name and my birth sex, which made me quite uncomfortable and made me want to rip it off the moment I had it stuck on my wrist.

“What medications do you take?” the nurse asked me.

I hesitated telling him about my T injections. I found myself telling him anyway. “Fifty milligrams of testosterone every week,” I said.

“Why do you take that?” he asked. I could hear the curiosity peak in his voice.

“What?” I asked. I heard what he said the first time, but I was just buying time to figure out how to answer.

He repeated his question. “Hormone replacement therapy,” I said curtly, in a way that told him that I wouldn’t divulge any other details about it.

As if things couldn’t get any more awkward, another nurse came up to me and had to verify my identity. She asked for a form of identification. I had left my driver’s license on my desk at Stanford. The only ID I had on me was my Stanford ID, which had my new legal name on it. Without a choice, I handed it to her.

The nurse looked confused, alternating between looking at her paperwork, then my ID and then at me. “So which one should I use?” she asked.

“Use the female name,” I muttered. “That’s what’s on the insurance records.”

She looked doubtful. “Okay,” she said. Frustrated, I began to figuratively kick myself in the ass.

At the end of the whole ordeal, the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. One doctor said it was fractured, another said it was just bruised. It’d be one thing if something productive was done, but I’m at the same place I started. And it’s frustrating as hell.

So what’s the point of this stupid story?

I don’t feel comfortable mentioning my life story to strangers, especially when that life story has nothing to do with my current medical condition. I had an injured elbow, and frankly, I was too cranky and in pain to tell them my whole life story as a transgendered person. Getting medical help for anything as a trans person always turns out to be a bit frustrating as well as a bit humiliating, especially when being treated for conditions that have nothing to do with being trans. No wonder a lot of trans people hate getting medical help, which is why their health tends to be less ideal than most people. Besides, my elbow has nothing to do with me being a transguy. Rather, it had to do with my total incapacity as a bicyclist. Trans people can fail at riding bicycles too, you know.

So now I’m just really confused. All I know is that my elbow hurts. Wah.

Cristopher needs a hug. E-mail him at cmsb@stanford.edu.