I’m now 9 months into what my gender specialist calls my ‘Year Long Test’, or what I simply call the rest of my life. For those who may be unfamiliar, The Test is the period of time a trans person must live as the gender of their identity in order to qualify for GRS, or as 99% of the population knows it, The Surgery. Ugh, nothing like a slew of capital ‘The’s’ to seriously aggrandize everything. Anyway, I got thinking about this and have a few bits to share.
My first thought on hearing about this requirement was, “How ridiculous. If I know, I know.” My specialist begged to differ and painted it as a huge event upon which the rest of my life would be based, if I even ever got to that point. I humored him to some degree, but took exception to every instance he brought it up. “When you start your Real Life Test…” Hmm? Oh, yeah, you mean when I’ve finally managed to come out to everyone and start living the rest of my existence correctly? I didn’t say I wasn’t a difficult patient, and I suspected he had a well justified voodoo doll of me locked in his desk drawer that he used to make sure I could not find my car upon leaving. I don’t blame him; I’m just saying.
My point of view was very simplistic as I’ve said. The hard part was the long and painstaking effort of telling everyone, but once they knew, I felt weird and uncomfortable around them presenting myself as male as it didn’t exactly jibe with what I revealed. I hated that and knew in my heart of hearts that the real effect was adding to the habit they had of calling me “Mike” and referring to to me as “him”. Once I went full time, it would be pure bliss and I could not imagine ever wanting to go back for even a second.
Well, we live and learn now, don’t we? I will say that I have never considered for a moment going back, but I do see why temptation might present itself. All the big firsts were no-sleepers leading up, like the first day of work, first presenting myself to my family, my child, and old friends. Less stressful, but still on the mind were the first time to the grocery store, taking my son to a birthday party, and my favorite hardware store. Quick note on the last one. The boys at Hector’s never blinked when I came in looking for something and were as friendly and helpful as always in finding the exact right thing to repair a steel cable the dog managed to chew through. Compared to the alternative, however, no contest.
From a different point of view, things might have been different. If I didn’t have the ability to tune out the rest of the world and walk around in a state of blissful dissociation, there is the possibility that the stares would get to me. I don’t actually notice them myself, but my spouse does. If I lost my job and went on 42 interviews where I could tell I was dead in the water just walking through the door, an element of despair may have crept in. If I had no patience for the hour it took to make it out the door after discovering I only had 1 egg left when I needed 2, I may have had second thoughts.
Although I think it may be the exception rather than the rule, I can see where a yearlong test might be useful in seeing if you are ready to live and work as the gender opposite that on your original birth certificate. I consider myself lucky for having the personality I do, not to mention the elements of sheer luck that fell in my favor. Life can grind someone down, even if pursuing something so important and integral to their identity. Now for the big question.
Many aspects of the medical intervention aspect of transition are purely for the comfort of having one’s physical attributes match gender identity. If life becomes so heinous that social transition to the gender of best fit is in no way sustainable, does this change the desire to have one’s body match what is in their head? GRS is not really going to change any aspect of my non-romantic social life. No one is going to be able to see the change and the only marginal benefit is being able to wear slightly tighter pants, which let’s be honest, I probably shouldn’t do anyway. So why the assumption that failing the social Real Life Test means a person is going to be any more comfortable with what lies below the belt?
I believe the assumption is that for those of us who feel so strongly that GRS is an absolute necessity, we will do whatever it takes to grin and bear it through that year. Failure to do so must be indicative that the person is not really transsexual, or at least not sufficiently so to also have a deep personal need to make physical changes. This looks like a big whooping case of flawed logic to me. If the WPATH goal is the alleviation of suffering and the possibility of a fulfilled happy life, taking a rigid stand on this might be hugely counterproductive in certain cases. Life circumstances can rarely be boiled down to a cold Boolean logic scenario where if A, then B; if not A, then not B, where A is the Real Life Test and B is GRS. In the words of Dennis Miller, “That is my opinion; I could be wrong.” I don’t think so though.