Another Humorous Moment in the Life of a Transsexual

I don’t know about you but I always smile to myself when people are surprised to learn that I am a transsexual. One of those moments happened this morning.

To keep my doctor (actually, she’s a nurse practitioner, but who’s quibbling?) happy, so she’ll continue to prescribe hormones for me, I needed to go to the local medical lab to have blood drawn to check my estrogen level. (I know, I know, there is no research to support the use of hormone levels to determine the optimum hormone regimen for a MTF transsexual (like me), but my insurance covers the cost of the tests and it keeps Carol, my NP, happy, so what the heck, I do them.) Also, when I saw her last month, she also did a complete physical exam. As part of that process, she also wanted to check my PSA (prostate specific antigen, a marker for prostate problems and, thus, a male only test). So, the order she wrote for my blood tests listed only 2 items: estradiol and PSA.

I knew before I went into the lab, which is mostly staffed by women, that there might be some questions about why I would need my PSA checked, especially when the only other test I needed was to check my estrogen levels, which, of course, is normally only done for females. I am fortunate that, in most situations, I am perceived as a woman, and not trans, so there was little chance that the people at the lab would figure out on their own how someone could possibly need both tests.

So, I dressed in my normal feminine way, grabbed my purse and headed to the lab. When my name was called, I handed the woman behind the desk my lab ID card and the test order. She looked at the order and kind of muttered, “Is this right?”

I said, “Yes, it is.”

She looked very confused and said something about having never seen “this” before, obviously referring to the odd combination of tests. She then picked up the phone, said, “I need to check this,” and began to dial.

At that point, I decided to relieve us both of any more confusion and said to her, “I’m a transsexual.”

Her only response was to say, “Oh,” and hang up the phone.

Hoping to be helpful, I then added, “So, I still have a prostate that needs to be checked.” I also agreed with her that the order asked for a pretty unusual set of tests. To her credit, she didn’t seem embarassed or disturbed by my revelation. Instead, she simply directed me back to the first open booth, and, since this is a small lab, came back and drew my blood with no further comment, other than to admire my bracelet.

It’s always interesting to see how people react when their assumptions about who I am are shattered by the news that I’m trans. Thankfully, in my experience, most people are simply surprised, and not disturbed, by that news, so it simply becomes one of those humorous moments in life when we get to see that things aren’t always what they seem to be. And, since I am trans, it also becomes a brief education in the fact that transsexuals exist and aren’t really any different from anyone else.

(Reposted from my personal blog.)

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9 Responses

  1. Public interaction can be the most frightening to us as we chance to step out into the great unknown that is daily living as a transsexual. Reading stories like this and seeing you in public, as I did last weekend, encourages me because of that extremely high level of self confidence and energetic spirit that is your aura. People are attracted to that, and I’m sure learning that you’re a transsexual quickly becomes secondary just because people like being around happy people.

    My own personal challenge like this happened when just prior to meeting you and Mari, a group of out of towners stopped me and asked me for detailed directions to get out of downtown Tucson to the interstate. Noticing that a couple of them began to raise an eyebrow or two as I was talking nearly rattled me, but I pushed on in being helpful and it turned out to be a positive experience for me. After all, they didn’t care if I was transsexual, they just needed directions, and they were thankful.

  2. Having met you in person and seeing the confidence and femininity you radiate, I can just imagine the scenario you’ve described so well. I know that these moments will continue to crop up in your life, and you will deal with each one with the good grace, humor and spirit of education that you show here.

    It also makes me stop and consider why public interaction is so frightening to me, without the issue of being transsexual being present. I guess there is an underlying feeling of being perceived as outside ‘the norm’ in a more unidentified sense. Hm…

  3. Wow! “That extremely high level of self confidence and energetic spirit that is [my] aura” and “the confidence and femininity [I] radiate”? Really?

    Considering the fear of being “exposed” as a transsexual that I felt prior to my transition, I am surprised and immensely pleased at the level of comfort I have in just being myself, whether people know about my past or not. It’s nice to know that other people also see that. I do truly believe that it is that confidence and comfort that has made my transition as successful and free of problems as it has been.

    Thank you both for such kind words.

  4. I forgot to add this:

    Lori, you too demonstrate the confidence and comfort with yourself that you praised me for. You show it every time you go out in public, post a video blog (speaking of which, when are you going to post the one that you, Mari and I did Saturday night?), and create something like this wonderful collaboration of trans- and cisgender people dealing with life. The fact that you may feel fear as you interact with the world, as you did with the people seeking directions out of town, doesn’t detract from that one bit. After all, courage is not the absence of fear, it is “fear that has said its prayers.”

  5. Yes Abby, you do have an aura my dear, lol! Must be from living near Sedona 😉
    Before IFGE I was proud enough I could simply walk in public without being struck by lightning, but I was not so proud I could always face a similar situation as you mentioned and quietly but proudly state I was transexual. The exposure to people with pride in themselves like you, Abby, gave me the extra bit of pride in myself to stop being stealth and talk to people about who I am.
    Perhaps it’s cruel in a way to enjoy other’s confusion or discomfort, but I can’t help love seeing the looks on people’s faces when my son and I are out in public together and he calls me Dad, lol! PRICELESS!!

  6. Does that meant I also glow in the dark? 😉

    I had a similar experience to yours, Marie, when I was visiting my daughters last November for the first time since my transition. I had just arrived in town and was sitting on the couch in my ex’s house in my skirt (I love wearing skirts!) reading the newspaper, when a friend of my youngest daughter, who is 15, came to the door. After my daughter let her friend in, she turned and introduced me saying, “This is my dad, Abby.” For just the briefest of moments, her friend looked confused, then they left for a walk. After they came back, I asked my daughter if her friend, another teenage girl, had had any questions about me. She said, “No, not really.” I was so proud of my daughter for being comfortable enough with who I am to not feel the need to hide our relationship and pleased to know that at least the latest generation doesn’t see gender variance as any big deal.

  7. It’s always fun when you get that momentary “deer in the headlights” look from someone when you disclose your “secret” to them. I periodicly have to deal with people at the pharmacy in my local V.A. hospital, and they have access to all my med prescriptions. To their credit, they’re always professional and friendly. I suppose it’s always easier to deal with the local friendly trans gal then to deal with all the grumpy old guys waiting in line, bless their hearts! I might add, I get a lot of looks from the other people waiting for appointments when I’m there, probably because I’m so in-between at this point, I don’t think they quite know what to think of me. I’m not close to full time yet, so they see the “in-between” me

  8. I too had this combination of tests at my lab and as I registered we chatted about the weather, kids, church and then she looked at what was being ordered and said “this can’t be right” I assured her and she protested “but this is man test”. I explained that I was transsexual and she just said ‘Oh’ and that was the last word she said while I was in the office. The silence was deafening. I often wonder just how long it was until she spoke again.

  9. I recently had to have an abdominal ultrasound.
    So had to explain the lack of certain structures, such as womb, ovaries, cervix, gallbladder….

    I’m Intersexed not trans (but I transitioned, so trans is close enough). And used to have at least some of the above, before surgery to “normalise” me.

    Trans women are not the only people to require PSAs and mammograms.

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