I had my interview (over Zoom) with TransAccess (a project being conducted by researchers across multiple departments at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) including Family Medicine, Psychology, and Social Work) on Tuesday afternoon after work. It had been a pretty rough day at work, but Dr. Mann (Abbey) was very kind and gentle during the interview and prompted me when I needed it. I don’t have any problem talking about my life, it was more a matter of organizing it in my head. We went over the timeline of my life in large skips but it dredged up a lot of memories and feelings. Oddly, I only had to stop twice during the interview so that I could give myself a moment and not cry.
This interview was about helping them (medical community) to help us (trans people), but honestly it was kind of cathartic for me as well. Despite being trans and hiding it for the majority of my life, I have had a pretty good life. Sure, abusive father and confusing childhood, equally confusing adulthood, but looking at it as a whole, I have had it pretty damn easy comparatively. Attribute it to my ability to assume a role, pretending to be a boy, pretending to be heterosexual. Or put it all onto my being the whitest white person who ever whited, the privilegiest privilege given for no reason at all. Could be a bit of all of this, white privilege, boy privilege, acting acumen. The good times are not a tribute to my good decisions, careful planning or ability. They are directly related to the wonderful people in my life, the positive influences that keep me going. My friends and family, they lift me up and make every day in my life a blessing. They carried me here, I just learned to accept the shoulder.
I wanted Dr. Mann to understand that most trans women don’t have good jobs, accepting employers, that they don’t live in areas that are accepting, that they don’t have the privileges I unintentionally enjoy. My experience with the medical community has been frustrating and expensive, but nothing like what most trans people have to deal with. I also pointed out that WNCCHS (by the way you should donate) is a wonderful and caring clinic that is a private, non-profit and needs help, support your local health centers. In the United States we have to find a way to pay for medicines and medical care and without the awesome services provided by this clinic I (and many other people) wouldn’t be able to afford HRT for any real period of time. I didn’t know how long Dr. Mann had been dealing with the trans community or even the LGBT community, so I likely told her a lot of things she already knew or over explained things. I wanted it documented, I wanted it there in a recording, the issues we all face as trans people, some to a greater or lesser extent.
If you have the time or inclination, you should consider participating in the survey and interview. These people care and want to help, learn to accept the shoulder. You can find them at TransAccess . You get a $50 Amazon or Walmart card for participating, but more importantly you get the chance to help the medical community understand us, to help us better. Lend your voice and help us all.