Perpetual Motion

Every October, I pay the fee and remember that I have this place on the interwebs that I pay to use. I certainly don’t have to; nonetheless I continue to and have it. In a sense, it’s good. It reminds me to write, something that may never pay the bills but is essential to my well-being. Learning to be a more open person and share what I’m going through with my friends has been an important point of development for me in the past few years, but I still manage to work out some of what’s on my mind best when I sit down, in front of a keyboard or with a notebook. It has always been and always will be a necessary action for me to process things. Whether I share that with you or keep that to myself.

But sometimes life gets too full, and even writing for myself goes by the wayside. It’s never the best decision, but again, it gets back to what is necessary. I know you’d like to think I’m a single person with piles and piles of time at my disposal, but I get the same 24 hours you do. Perhaps I have different responsibilities and privileges which mean I have more of an opportunity to determine how to use that time, but that is a different discussion. The older I get, the more I try to take care of myself, the less time I feel I have to do it. Put in your eight, get in a run, bake something good, find some time to get to the shows I must get to, and figure out how I can make it all keep going. There’s a degree of prestidigitation to it all. We keep going because we must. One more mile, the next load of laundry, whatever it may be. But then we stop. And that time doesn’t just sit there. Stop running, stop cooking, stop reading, stop writing, and something will fill that space.

The challenge, then, is figuring out what to do, or put another way, what is right for you while balancing that against what you must do. After all, most of us have to figure out how the rent or mortgage gets paid, and we have to figure out how to get enough in our pockets to make sure. In that sense, how do I put writing back into that? What goes? What stays? Recently, I started playing trivia more regularly with some friends. It’s great. It’s something I’ve missed. But that means that’s one less night a week at home to make dinner easily, or make sure the laundry gets done. On the other side, it’s a good excuse to sneak in a run beforehand, not having quite enough time to get home and do anything. Or to explore SoMa a bit more and find a new favorite bar in the neighborhood (Local Brewing Co. if you’re keeping tabs).

At times it feels like perpetual motion. But that’s a mirage, too. At some point, even all this worrying will stop. At some point, time must have a stop. I don’t say that to be morbid, I say that because it’s true. In the meantime, what can I do better today than I did yesterday? How can I make more of what I do have? What do I want to do with the energy previously spent on all the obnoxious paperwork that goes along with being trans now that I’m almost done (one more trip to the SSA…)? How do I fit in volunteering to try and give a little more back? Do I want to be as serious a baker as I joke and you cajole? What do I want to do to make sure I’m getting in three or four runs a week? How am I going to fit watching hockey into my schedule now that it’s back? Will I ever read a book again (don’t answer that)? Am I going to be smart enough to realize that I want to do a lot of things, but sometimes I do just need to sit on the couch and watch mindless television? Sometimes it’s just using the space a little bit better. I was able to sell a ticket to one show and buy tickets to another all while milling around Hardly Strictly thanks to my phone. Modern life is pretty nifty sometimes.

It’s important to ask questions, to ask yourself if you are really doing what you want to do, or at least doing the things you need to do that give you time to do the things you want to. I don’t think the questions will ever stop. No more so than what needs to be done, at least. At a certain point, though, you have to set that aside. Or at least I do. I could spend your entire life trying to think of an elegant solution that I may never come up with. I am one who does better doing, no matter what it is I’m doing. It doesn’t always work out. Nor does it mean I don’t plan things (I do, occasionally excessively). It just means sometimes what looks so well planned and executed to you is just happenstance. Sometimes it fits together because I was just spinning it together as I went along. Social media makes it look neat, all well-prepared meals, good beers, great bands, and beautiful vistas. But that is curated. Life is overcooked lentils, warm shitty beer, terrible sets, and worse views just as much. Life is messy. Me? I’m just out here trying making the most of this mess.

The Cure Wrote A Song About This

The Cure Wrote A Song About This

I opened my eyes, closed them again quickly. I tried opening them again, but the bookcases spun too quickly, so I settled on the slowly moving darkness behind my lids. The Current warbled in my stereo speakers and I could just make out the faint strains of “Inmates” by The Good Life. I groped for a glass of water on my end stand, but didn’t find one. I rolled to my left and bumped into someone. Her hair smelled distinctly like jasmine. I put my right arm over her and pulled her closer. “Mmm…Chris”

She rolled over to face me and propped herself up on one elbow. “Who’s Chris?”

I forced my eyes open. She looked back at me with her narrow green eyes. The comforter came up to the top of her pert breasts, but she did nothing to hide them. Short red hair framed that face. Who’s face…I squeezed my eyes shut for a second. “Wendy…” I trailed off.

“I guess I’ll give it to you on the second try.” She smiled and pulled closer to me under the covers. I realized I was naked then; so was she. She purred and rubbed her chin against my stubble, giggling slightly. I laid there for a bit caught up in her ministrations.

“Wendy.” Her hands roamed underneath the covers. Louder, I spoke her name once more. The bile in the back of my throat built as I pushed her away. I tried to sit up, but I only made it over to my right side before I started vomiting off the edge of my bed. Last night’s Zombies and Soho Pizza spilled all over the floor while I coughed and retched. I felt Wendy recoil in the bed, but she kept her left hand on my shoulder, rubbing it periodically while I emptied my guts onto the bedroom floor. We stayed in that position for five minutes until my coughing subsided. Jiha Lee and Tim Kasher sang on the speakers while she stroked my hair.

“Do you need anything?”

I shook my head, almost started vomiting again. My mouth didn’t work for several seconds. I needed a glass of water. “What are you doing here?”

She stopped with her left hand. “What did you say?”

I spoke slowly and with a greater emphasis on each syllable. “What are you doing here?” The covers moved as she pulled them up around her body. She hit me hard with her right hand on the shoulder as she moved across the bed. The covers flew over my body down onto the floor over the vomit.

“You are such an asshole.”

“What?” I rolled over to face her, but she faced the opposite wall of my bedroom. She pulled on her panties while continuing to look into my closet. “What did I do?” She bent over to pick up her bra and slipped it on, turning back towards me as she clasped it behind her.

“I can’t believe how much of an asshole you are.” Wendy shook her head, squatted down and picked up her pink sweater. “I just can’t believe you’re such an asshole.”

The bile tried to force its way up again. I clamped my mouth shut until it worked its way back into my stomach. “I don’t even know what I did.” She laughed as she pulled the sweater down over her head.

“You don’t even know what you did? You called me, you asshole.” I watched her bend over to pick up her skirt and boots. I fumbled around on the end stand and found my cell phone. Scrolling down the list, sure enough, there was a 515 number in the outgoing list. I flipped it closed, laid it back on the table while lying down, and sighed while Wendy dressed silently. The bed shook as she sat down to put on her boots. I opened my mouth, closed it, instead watching her zip up her boots.

“I can’t believe it. You don’t even remember last night, do you?” She grabbed a pillow and threw it at me. I caught it with some effort. “You called, you said you wanted me here, and you don’t even remember!” She stood and flared her nostrils. Her hair switched back and forth while she shook her head. I clutched the pillow.

Her boots clicked on the hardwood as she walked towards the door. I watched her. In the doorway, she turned back to me. “I don’t even know why I answer when you call.”

“Jesus, just let me explain.” I shifted the pillow around my body to prop myself up. Wendy stopped once more in the doorway and swung. Her hair whipped around as she put a hand on one of my bookshelves.

“You are such a fucking asshole. Goodbye.” She picked up my Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary and threw it across the room. The red book hit the wall next to me as I pulled my knees up and covered my head with my hands. I heard the door slam, but didn’t uncover my head to look.

“Goddamnit.” I heard some voices in the kitchen, obscured by my now closed bedroom door, but instead of finding out what was going on, I just sat on my bed. Rubbing my eyes with my right hand, I picked up the remnants of my dictionary with my left. Pages scattered and fell on the floor as I lifted up and inspected the broken spine. More pages fell on my bed and the floor. The room spun once again, slowly now, and the stench of vomit filled the air. I sat up on the other side of the bed where Wendy had just been, fished around for a pair of boxers, and slipped them on. I pulled The Head On The Door off of my cd shelf and rolled back over to my stereo. I buried my head in the pillow face down and hit play.

During “Close To Me”, someone knocked on my door. I mumbled into my pillow, and then rolled over so I could say it again. “Go away,” I yelled to the door.

“Not an option.” Mark opened the door with his left hand and carried a steaming mug in his right. He walked over to the bed as I pulled myself up to a sitting position. “I thought you could use this. At least that’s the impression I got from Wendy.” He chuckled and handed me the mug.

“Fuck you too,” I hid my face in my left hand and took hold of the proffered mug in my right. Mark retreated to the papasan and sat in it observing me. The coffee was strong and black and burned my tongue. Mark watched from the chair, eventually folding his legs under him and sitting Indian style. He smirked at me, occasionally nodding slightly, but said nothing while I sucked down the coffee. After I finished the coffee, I set the mug next to me on my bed. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” Mark looked at the floor by my end stand. “Your room smells like shit.”

“Vomit, actually.”

“Good, I see your sense of humor is intact.”

“Why’d you let me call Wendy?”

Mark shrugged from the wicker chair. “I tried to stop you. You almost broke my watch when you tackled me in the living room.” He pointed to a butterfly bandage on his forehead. “Luckily, it’s only a scratch, but I figured I shouldn’t take your phone after that. To your credit, you didn’t call Wendy until after we got back from the Dragon.”

I squeezed my eyes shut and rubbed my left hand along my face. “We went to the Dragon?”

“Yeah…you were in rare form. Did you and Christine have an argument?”

I shook my head. “Something like that.”

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

“Doing those shots of Jack.”

“Shit man,” Mark stood up. “That was at 8:30 last night.” I looked over at the clock. 12:41. “You don’t remember anything after that? Not the beer bong at that house part on 26th or the shots of Jag?”

“Ugh,” I moaned and looked at my bed. “My God, if Christine finds out that I slept with my ex-girlfriend, she’ll kill me.”

Mark shook his head. “Rightly so.”

“Listen, you can’t tell Chris about this, alright?”

Mark looked back at me as he walked towards the door. “Why would I?”

“Just don’t, alright.”

“Alright, alright,” he shrugged. “It’s not like I was going to anyway.”“What the hell am I going to do?”

Mark stopped once more on the other side of the doorway. “I’d clean up that vomit first, man. It smells like shit.” I picked up the phone and scrolled through the list until I got to Christine. Mark popped his head back in the room. “And I’d lay off the liquor. You know, at least until tomorrow.” I grunted and hit talk.

The Fear Again

Chris rolled off of me, onto his side of the bed, and sighed. I smiled a wan smile, not that he was bad. He was his usual skillful self. I was just tired. “Love you,” he murmured into the pillow. I ran my hand across his shoulder, but I could tell he was already asleep. He was just one of those people who can do that. God I envied that…

I looked at him for a bit. Or towards him at least, it was too dark to make out more than a silhouette. My eyes would adjust eventually, but there were probably things I should do besides watch him sleep, like sleep myself. ButI had to go the bathroom before anything. No amount of lying and bed and staring at Chris or the ceiling was going to change that. Carefully, I made my way out of bed and down the hall. Are the creaks in the hardwood louder late at night? Why does it always feel that way? I shut the door. The toilet always sounds so loud late at night too. Everything sounds loud. Is it the quiet everywhere else that causes it? I never really liked quiet. It’s why I love living in cities. There’s always a bit of a hum, the cars on Fulton, the foghorns, the drunk USF students, the overhead wire. Even at night, the city is alive. Even a relatively quiet city like San Francisco.

Back down the hall, and I still found all the creaks like always. Chris managed to pull a bit more of the comforter onto him, so I tugged on it gently as I climbed back in. Reflexively, I wanted to double-check my alarm now that I was back in bed, but it didn’t matter. Chris’s would go off first. It was still weird to have him here all the time now that he finally let the lease go on his place at 43rd and Moraga. He was here most nights before that anyway, but it was nice to occasionally roll out of bed on the weekends and go to walk to Outerlands or Trouble. Or the beach. It was a cool location. But I was closer to just about everything else, and my place was much cheaper. Our place, I corrected myself. I liked how that sounded. Even if I was still getting used to it.

I stared at the ceiling, but I wasn’t a back sleeper. I rolled onto my side, only to roll back over again. Why couldn’t I just turn my brain off? Why did it feel so different now? This was far from the first time Chris and I had slept together. We’d practically lived together the last two years. But practically makes quite the difference, doesn’t it? I took a couple deep breaths. Here comes the fear again. I wanted to do was get up and drop This Is Hardcore onto the turntable. Neither Chris nor my neighbors would appreciate that. I got out of bed and pulled my robe off the doorknob before shrugging it on. I ignored the creaks this time as I walked down to the kitchen, pulled out a tumbler, dropped in two ice cubes, and poured in some Black Label. Fishing my keys off the hook by the door, I walked out of my place, glass in hand.

The street was quiet, except for a late-night jogger. I sat on the steps. It was a cool night, and the fog had rolled in heavy for the first time in a while. Now that I was outside, I could hear the horns more clearly, rolling in over the Presidio. It was a night a lot like this that I met Chris. I was sipping on a Sunshine Fix at Social Kitchen, he was there watching a Giants game. It was an odd year, so everyone was predictably down on the team. Michael Cuddyer had just homered to give the Rockies a lead when he cursed under his breath. He was wearing a Giants hat, which explained that. No one is from here, but everyone is a Giants fan.

“Oh, don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll get it back.”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah, the Rockies are terrible.”

He turned a bit more fully toward me. “Sure, but it’s just not looking like their year anyway.”

“Oh, c’mon, the Giants have won two of the last three World Series. They can’t win it every year.”

“I’ll take every other year.” I smiled at that, and I turned toward him. I can tell you that home run happened, but I can’t tell you anything else about the rest of the 9th. The next time I looked up,  when Chris got up to get to the bathroom, the post-game crew was busy dissecting everything wrong with the team and 30 minutes had passed. I slipped my phone back into my purse and thought for a second, but not too long, when the bartender asked me if I wanted another. Soon I had another Sunshine Fix and Chris was back.Turned out, he also worked in the Financial District. We kept talking, and wonder of wonders, turned out he as a true San Francisco local. I had only come here for a beer, and I found myself sipping on my third. Chris picked it up.

“So what about you? What’s your story?” he asked.

“I was offered a job that I couldn’t say no to.”

“That good? You’re saying you’re a keeper?” he smirked.

“Well, maybe not that good,” I laughed. “But how can you say no to this city?”

“That’s why I came back. No matter where I go, San Francisco will always be home. I know it’s out-of-control in a lot of ways. But it’s where I want to be.”

“How do you know that?”

“I don’t know…it just feels right, you know?” He shrugged at me, and the conversation stalled for a second. Life is made in those moments. I could have reached for my phone to check the time, or excused myself without another word, or I could have said nothing at all, but it turns out, all I had to do was listen. “Say, you want to go for a walk?”


“This is the best time to see Golden Gate Park. Nice, foggy night. C’mon, I’ll keep you company.”

“Are you sure you don’t have any ulterior motives?” I asked with mock demureness.

“I assure you there’s nothing ulterior about them,” he said as he scooted closer. I held his gaze for a second. His eyes were very green. Did I want to have that conversation right now? Not with a one-night stand. Not if I didn’t have to. Of course, that’s the kind of conversation that helps make sure I get up the next day. But again, before I had too long to think about it, he kissed me.

I didn’t like taking guys back to my place normally, at least not guys that I’d never met before. But it was closer, and we did go for that walk. It was brisk, and foggy, and we were both a bit underdressed for the fog that had rolled in, but the Music Concourse was beautiful like that, with the fountains lit and no one around for once. We ended up on the steps I was sitting on that night too, with his arms around me until I invited him inside without a word. I sipped on my scotch and laughed a bit to myself, thinking about the next morning. The night, there’s nothing bad about that, nothing to regret. And if it goes well, you wake up alone, or in your own bed after making your way home. If it doesn’t…well, it’s certainly nice waking up next to someone, but it can become awkward fast. For me it was when I reached over to turn off my alarm and someone was in the way. I’d always had that fear.

A bus pulled by and I swirled my scotch, watching it seep down the walls of the glass. It’s a funny thing, fear. How it can control your actions. How it can control who you are. How malleable it is even after you conquer one facet of it. For so long I feared being myself. I feared taking anyone home, or going home with them. And once those fears abated, it became something else again. Now again, it was something else. The fear wasn’t that I would wake up next to Chris, but that I wouldn’t. I wonder when it shifted, but like many things, it is impossible to pinpoint. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that one day, he’d walk out the door and not come back. Even as more and more of his stuff ended up at my place. Until all of it ended up here. And now…I still always feel like the end is near. Not in a real way. It’s just hard when you tell yourself for so long that you’re unloveable to turn that switch off. Even when there’s someone right up there in bed right now doing just that. Well, he’s probably sleeping, but you get the point.

My glass was empty, and it was chilly just sitting here, so I pulled out my keys. Back up the flight of steps, keys back on the hook. I locked the door behind me. I couldn’t see anything, but even with all of Chris’s stuff here, I knew where to go. I made my way back down the hall and didn’t worry about the creaks in the hardwood. I shrugged off my robe and put it back on the door handle. Chris was very warm as I climbed back into the bed and pulled some of the comforter onto me. I kissed him on the cheek and he rolled over and put an arm around me. “You’re cold.”

“Couldn’t sleep.”

“Let me help with that.” He pulled me a bit closer, and we slept.

Repeating Myself


There are a number of sadly typical recurring scenes in my life. For example, here’s one at random:

“Can I get your name?”




Or here’s another one at random:

I exit a bathroom as a woman walks by. She goes back, looks at the door, and gives me a look again.

These both happen…more than you think. Or maybe as much as you think. That probably depends on your perspective. I could pick a number of other random examples. Most of them are relatively benign, like those. Though I’ve certainly had some experiences that have been outright hostile, most of what I experience feels benevolent in intention. They just want to get my name right. They just want to make sure I find the right bathroom or they are in the right one. That probably owes itself to the ways in which I experience privilege in conjunction with the ways in which I do not. Still, I find I spend a lot of time asserting my identity, always repeating myself.

Here’s another example at random:

I am finally updating my passport. I have a legally amended birth certificate. You’d think that’d be good enough to satisfy the Passport Agency. Changing the name on a passport isn’t all that difficult. After all, cis people do that all the time, so there’s a system built for that. Changing your sex on a passport, though? Since I got a passport with my original birth certificate which had my assigned sex at birth, I require a doctor’s note. At least as far as I can tell from the scant available information online and from someone I spoke to on the phone. Perhaps, after I go in to get that updated, they will tell me I never needed that. But I can’t tell based on the information available, and I don’t want to have to spend even more time dealing with them, so I’m in the process of getting a note from my doctor. The idea behind having a doctor provide that note is that it is inherently difficult for many trans people to update their legal documentation, so there needs to be a way for trans individuals to get accurate documentation. Which is great because that’s definitely true. The problem is that requirement is wielded in such a way that even when people have updated documentation, they still need that if they held a passport that previously had the incorrect sex on it. At least as far as I can tell. Hopefully I’m the exception. That rule should be making a lot of trans folks’ lives easier. That’s the intention. They hold to an interpretation so fastidiously that it ends up making mine harder. There’s a step beyond having those sorts of rules in place. That step is understanding why they are in place and having a more dynamic system, or better yet, not being in the business of acting as arbiters of ideas like sex and gender when no one can really give a good answer as to why they are.

These all come back to a central point. People don’t trust trans people to accurately speak for themselves. Many people only begrudgingly accept who you are once someone official signs off on it, once you’ve done enough to satisfy them, if there’s ever enough. This can’t be who you are unless a doctor agrees. You can’t get this gender-affirming procedure covered by insurance unless a couple doctors agree. You can’t update this document unless you have that gender-affirming procedure. You couldn’t have said that was your name. Are you sure you checked the right box? Are you in the right place? Is this for your spouse? There’s a thin veneer of politeness over some of this. After all, someone could not have just heard me. I could have just checked the wrong box. But it happens to me too much to just be that. And transphobia is so ingrained in the system that many people don’t think of it as inherently transphobic much of the time. But it’s not just direct actions that are transphobic. Transphobia isn’t just something you participate in actively. Like other forms of discrimination, a lot of it is systemic. It always takes a toll. It always takes more time and energy. Every interaction leaves a scar, everything has an extra step.

There are lots of trans people out there doing lots of amazing things despite much steeper barriers than those examples. Still, it’s hard not to wonder what we could do with all that time if we didn’t have to spend so much time repeating ourselves. I wonder how many more of us would still be around if we didn’t spend so much time repeating ourselves. I want to see that world where we don’t repeat ourselves not because we’re inured, but because we don’t have to. That’s a world where you trust us, you support us, you believe us. That’s a world I want to live in, that’s a world I keep pushing for and supporting in the ways I can, that’s a world I want others to live in. If I have to keep repeating myself to try and make that happen, so be it.

The High Cost Of Living

Recently, I finally got a court order from the County of San Francisco to update my birth certificate. That was $480 plus a decent amount of time. Then I dropped that, more paperwork, a certified copy of my legal name change (another $400+ piece of paper) and another $22 in the mail, shipping it off to the Commonwealth of Virginia. By early September, I should have an updated birth certificate. Then I can get a passport and an updated California driver’s license. Never mind that my Minnesota license is already correct, California wants some different paperwork and my license expires on my next birthday. Sometimes I wonder, how much did it truly cost? 

It’s a trickier question than you might think. Let start with what I needed to update the birth certificate. I am able to update it because I have a vagina and that’s what the state I was born in requires. Seems a bit arbitrary, no? And I have that because my insurance was so kind as to cover my “sex transformation” (as they put it. No. Really) as long as I had all my paperwork in order. I paid my deductible ($2,000) plus some other incidentals since unfortunately I didn’t live 20 miles from San Mateo like I do now (probably another $2,000 or so with travel and hotels). I was out of work for a while after that, too, though thankfully FMLA came through for me on that, but that’s not a given. That vagina requires some minor maintenance, and will forever, but there’s worse fates that dilating, and that’s a fairly minor cost, all things considered, but it’s nonetheless a little time and money, so consider a few bucks every month or so for that as well. Prior to that, I paid about another $500 to make a consult happen. I didn’t need it as much as I needed peace of mind it provided. That, of course, is just my experience. Costs vary wildly, from upwards of $20-25k to others who’ve had similar experiences to me.

Now in order to get insurance to cover the procedure in the first place, I needed two letters from doctors. I had good insurance and lived in the Twin Cities where such a thing was less of a hassle but it’s still a hassle. Now to get those letters takes a while because there’s a degree of time required before they will give them to you. The gist is usually that you are “full-time” (which is a ridiculous term, but bear with me, there’s a lot of ridiculous jargon when you go through the front doors of the gatekeeping process like I did) for two years, which means you are living in your chosen (read: actual) gender for at least two years prior to surgery. Or maybe it’s only one? Either way, the gatekeeping process doesn’t exactly have a vested interest in pushing you along (you’re paying the bills after all). I always felt I was marking time. At best, that’s a few years meeting with doctors. Pretty frequently. Again, fortunate to have good insurance, but even with a decent co-pay I was probably spending a good $60-70 a month. Without it, it would have easily been double. Or not possible. Getting insurance to cover it in the first place was a whole to-do as well, though that only cost me time in the end. Ignoring that, that’s still conservatively about $3,000 over four years or so.

Medications don’t come cheap either. Well, spironolactone wasn’t that expensive, $5 or so, but estradiol, even when covered, ran me $28-35 for eight patches. And you have to take more estradiol at the beginning because you still have all this damn testosterone. So it was two patches twice weekly until miracle of miracles it’s no more spiro and half as much estradiol. Now through some strange act of fortune, even my estradiol is generic (all praise $7 meds) but drug prices always bounce around and it’s not given it’ll stay that way. I’m not here to project, though. I started medically transitioning in May of 2008 at which point I was probably spending about $60-70 a month on meds; after surgery that dropped significantly, but until recently I was still spending $30-35 a month, roughly. Let’s say I’ve probably spent $3,500 or so on meds the past 7 years. Pre-tax fund because, again, I won the insurance lottery.

There are lots of other things too. I never had much facial hair, and it’s nice and dark and I have fair skin, so I only had to pay for several sessions of someone shooting my face with lasers. Is that required? No, but I am guessing you’d have a hard time finding trans women who haven’t had at least some who transitioned after puberty, provided they can afford to, because facial hair is hella triggery for pretty much anyone I’ve met, though I’m sure some people care less than others. That can range wildly in price, but I would say it’s probably another $2,000 that I spent. And if you are going to have GRS, at least the doctor I went through wanted me to get some laser on my groin area as well. Again, probably spending $3,000-4,000 on that all told by the time it’s all said and done. At least. And while you might not care that much, if you are going through the traditional gatekeeping process (its own bullshit topic for another day), your doctor might. Hopefully that is getting better, but there’s a certain amount of performative femininity required when dealing with people like that. And sure, it seems stupid, but if you weren’t getting laser, they might wonder if you really want to be yourself. Which, again, is ridiculous, but these are the kind of people you’re dealing with and they wield an outsize influence on your life.

And of course, as a trans woman, welcome to the higher incidental cost of everyone giving a fuck about how you look. And with the trans component, welcome to the additional balance of trying to be yourself in a world where many might say too much femininity is just buying into toxic standards for women and not enough is you not trying hard enough as a woman. If they think of you as a woman at all. This is ignoring, of course, that maybe you wanted to do these things for a long time, but you felt constrained by the narrow norms of being socialized male in our society. There are still higher incidental expenses for women in terms of personal care. We can want that to get better and change and still acknowledge that it exists. Plus it’s an exciting time of trying to do all these things that you may have felt you couldn’t do openly before. I certainly spend more on my personal grooming now than I did before, because I want to. No one is making me. My hair doesn’t stay this color on its own, though. This is much harder to put a price on, because much of it just stems from how much more I care about how I look now because I finally look like me and that’s worth spending money on. Still, that cost is there to a degree.

By now, hopefully you are beginning to see how paradoxically interconnected it is. It helps to have a good job and good insurance, but it can be hard to get a job when your legal documentation doesn’t match your actual identity. And it can be hard to update that legal documentation without a job. You may have to out yourself in the process of employment because of that, or in an attempt to determine whether or not you will get sufficient medical coverage, even if you have no desire to be out to your employer. And even if you have a decent job at the start of actually transitioning, who knows what might happen? Financially speaking, there’s a good chance your wages will stagnate or go down even if you are the exact same employee you were before. You might even be better now that you can bring your authentic self to work, but that’s no guarantee you won’t find yourself on the way out soon enough. And there could be whole new problems that come up and make the job untenable. Then what? How much is enough? How do we justify that to ourselves? What bargains are you going to make to be yourself after a life of already making lots of bargains to not be yourself? It sure is satisfying to say none, but that is a difficult path.

Can you put a cost on truly being yourself? No, but is there a cost? Definitely. Not just in the money that you have to spend, but in how society will treat you. Even in my life where things have worked out well, it’s hard not to wonder if my male coworkers doing the same job as me are making much more (probably), if they have a better chance to move up to whatever’s next (also probably). I am sure they feel more comfortable taking chances. I do now, but there was definitely a time when I couldn’t afford to, lest my insurance change. Which is still a privilege, of course. That I have good coverage at all puts me in a different category. But it’s still a tenuous relationship. Luckily I haven’t felt stuck at a bad job because of it. But since that isn’t a given, that was a cost I had to keep in mind. It is better than having nothing at all. And we should address that as a society. But you can see how it affects how you think of things, no? Better doesn’t mean it’s as good as it should be if we’re talking overall goals. There are more important people to reach first than me. But like most things in life, it’s not a simple linear progression. We can simultaneously be working to make this better, but we should keep in mind that circumstances are statistically much worse when factoring in race, class, education.  Hell, I experience it because I’m a woman and our systems are much better equipped to handle binary than non-binary folks. I may be trans, but I still experience a lot of privilege because of who I am in other ways. Lots of folks can’t just sit down and tick off the costs they’ve paid for stuff like this because they don’t have the money, insurance, and access or the systems aren’t set up for them in the first place and we aren’t doing enough to ensure that they enjoy those things.

Soon, I’ll have paid the last simple, pecuniary costs of my transition. Really, I already have in that things like new IDs and passports are incidental costs we all pay going forward as we get older. I never feel like I’m done in the sense that I’m always trying to be more me, and I already largely feel I closed that initial chapter years ago. This is more of an epilogue or an afterward. One last thing to do before a checklist I laid out many years ago is done, really, truly finished. Even if I thought I could, it’s hard to put a number on it, but it’s easy to see the costs are too high.

It’s Something You Learn

It’s Something You Learn

“I’d love to see that beautiful mouth on my dick.”

You think about what you would say in those situations

will all that verve telling him to go fuck himself, though

it’s difficult in the moment to actually say those words.

But it’s something you learn to say because

tonight it might be the corner of 18th and Van Ness,

tomorrow it might be at someone sidling up as you order a Racer 5

or waiting at 16th and Mission to catch the next BART,

hell, it could even be someone swinging by your cube.

But it’s something you learning to say because

it’s important to call out that kind of behavior,

to put the onus back on back on them,

after all, it’s something you learn to say.

In The Right Place

Pull out a fresh towel,

wipe down the plate,

one, two, three times,

top left cabinet, middle shelf,

grab the next one,

until the rack is empty.


There’s still (always) a full sink,

so run the water, pour in soap.

My parents probably wonder

where this person was years ago.

I do too, but it’s not like

anyone else is here to do them.


Besides there’s simple pleasure in

taking care of what I can,

right in front of me, making sure

everything is in the right place,

ready to go the next time I bake

cookies at midnight on a whim.


The bubbles are poised,

ready to attack.

So shut off the water,

drop the dishes in,

grab a sponge and

start scrubbing again.

Most Mornings

Most mornings I lie in bed,

awake before the alarm goes off

after eight years of 9-5s.

I reach for my phone,

(who doesn’t these days?)

nothing urgent, just reminders

of what I need to do today,

only half of which I’ll get done.


Most mornings I lie in bed

for a few more moments,

trying to determine whether I need

to slow down to take care of myself

or push myself to keep doing more

even when I don’t totally feel like it

but if the former were true,

I’d rarely get out of bed.


Most mornings I lie in bed

for those last few moments

wondering when two beers became too much

but there’s no time for that.

I cannot continue to lie

in bed, so I swing my feet over, sit up,

and promise myself an early night.

Me Looking Back

Was I really living before I had a brow lady?

I wonder as I arch my eyebrows in the mirror

I mean, really? This coming from the girl

who rarely makes time for make-up

with hair that insouciantly lives up in a clip.

But even those looks are practiced, looking like you look

like you don’t care is a look too, after all.

Perhaps I’m overthinking it, caring about how I look

still feels novel even if it’s not that new, besides

it’s really more about me liking how I look.

It took me a long time to learn to like the me looking back.

The Price I Pay

The Price I Pay

480 dollars

for a piece of paper from the county of San Francisco

along with another piece of paper I paid Hennepin County

400 dollars

for just so I can pay the Commonwealth of Virginia another

22 dollars

for yet another piece of paper to finally update two more pieces of paper for

168 dollars,

altogether a fraction of what I’ve spent over the years if I really did the math.

Some might say with all this money, I’m just papering over my old self,

though I am not trying to hide anything, just the opposite really,

no one asked me what I thought all these pieces of paper should say in the first place,

so this is just one of the many prices I continue to pay.

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