Fighting to Prove Who I Am

An anonymous story as told to Carrie Bradshaw

I’ve been my true self for about a decade now, which has been a beautiful experience, but it has certainly come with its challenges. I’ve experienced love, but also hate. Both of these have come from outside my community and from within. Sometimes, the world just doesn’t know what to do with a trans woman.

I was born and raised in southern California. For the longest time, I thought I was just your standard gay kid. At fifteen, my guidance counselor started to introduce me to the idea of being transgender. I spent about six months presenting myself as feminine before I came out to my mother. From then on, while she was very supportive, she was also overbearing. She was afraid of the outside world and what it would do to a young trans person.

My first high school asked me to leave. They said I was a distraction to the other students. This was the first time I had had to think about what my being transgender meant to those around me.

Over the next year, year and a half, I saw eight therapists. In order to begin treatments, I had to prove to the insurance company that I was in fact trans. I finally found Dr. O at a children’s hospital in Los Angeles. My insurance required a letter from her and my therapist, but it was finally enough.

I’ve since moved to Indiana, and the insurance scenario has only gotten harder. I am currently on my mother’s insurance, but because they are in California, any treatments I go through have to be in California. I recently got back from a medical trip to L.A. I found a lump in my breast, and I was concerned that it may be breast cancer. (The irony of developing breast cancer from trying to grow breasts!) I stopped taking my progesterone out of fear, but, of course, abruptly stopping a medication I had been on for so long caused debilitating side effects. I was depressed, anxious. I was going two or three days without eating. I was getting at most four hours of sleep. Luckily, the lump was a cyst, so Dr. O okayed me to continue my medication, just on a different schedule.

This recent scare has brought to light another fear that is looming on the horizon. In September, I will be twenty-six, which means I will no longer be on my mother’s insurance. So far, I’ve had no luck in finding a new provider. Many providers have reached out to me, but as soon as they hear that I am trans, they say that they don’t know how to help me. Without insurance, I will not be able to afford my medication, the medication that my body has been on for so long, that it doesn’t know how to function without it. The thought has crossed my mind to start rationing my pills for when the day comes. This comes with its own dangers.

I know that many people, inside and outside of the community, think that it is so easy for trans people these days. That we can just call a doctor and get any medication we want sent right over for free. That’s just not the reality. There is so much red tape and waiting lists and paperwork just to be my authentic self.

Insurance and medication are not the only resources my community is lacking. Since moving from California to Indiana, I have experienced the lack of another vital resource—knowledge.

I am open about my identity, but that brings a lot of controversy. People ask so many ignorant questions. Countless times, I have been at work, in a professional setting, and someone will blatantly ask me about what is between my legs. Something so personal, in front of our coworkers. You would never ask a cisgender person about their genitals, but because I’m trans, they think it’s okay. They don’t understand that when they do this, they have ripped me out of that professional standing.

While California still struggles, it is drastically ahead of Indiana. The acceptance of transgender people is still so new in Indiana. The structure was so different in California—the efficiency, the knowledge, the organizations. I was a part of several organizations back in California to help educate the public, but that’s just not really a thing here yet.

I’ve thought about being a more public figure, a voice for the trans community. I want to help people understand what it means to be trans and the experiences we go through. I want to help answer the questions I have received out of pure ignorance, and not in an intentionally harmful way, but just in a lack of knowledge kind of way. I want those people to have a safe space to ask those questions and to learn and grow. It’s so important to have a place to have that dialogue, but that’s not happening here in Indiana—it’s just people fighting against people.

There are parts of my story that would make for an excellent spokesperson. I’ve been openly trans for ten years now. I’ve experienced the hate and the love. I am able to let people say hateful things to me and let it not bother me. But I also worry that I’m not the right spokesperson. Within my community, I am considered privileged. I am “passing,” which means that unless I told you, you would never know that I am trans. I look like a woman. Because of this, some people within the trans community believe that I am not able to truly understand the hatred that we often go through.

I have spent the past decade fighting to prove who I am. I’ve had to have countless doctors sign off to the insurance companies to say that I’m trans. I’ve had to prove to my classmates that I’m a woman without being distractingly so. I’ve had to travel back and forth across the country to receive medical care. I’ve had to prove to my own community that I belong. While I do not feel the need to get the world’s approval, the world still requires it.

This story originally appeared in Facing Resource Insecurity, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Second Harvest Food Bank of East-Central Indiana.

There’s another poverty simulation coming up soon! Sign up here!

Previous Post
Soup Crawl 2024
Translate »