Later this week, I’m scheduled to have surgery on my nose to remove a polyp in my sinuses, and to finally correct my severely deviated septum. I never knew how severe it was until the polyp was found and a CT was done. The Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) doctor said he was surprised I could even breathe out of my left nostril! So, I’m excited to experience quality breathing for the first time in my life!
But as this appointment grows nearer, and I get my blood work and pre-surgery tests all squared away, I found myself lying awake the last few nights, worrying, that I hadn’t disclosed that I’m transgender. Would it matter? I will be completely under sedation and what if I’m not allowed to wear my boxer’s under the gown, and they peek? What if I get a catheter during surgery? Clearly, I am a professional worrier...hey, why half-ass it, right?! But these are legitimate concerns of mine, and I made a decision early in this medical process to not divulge my trans status, because, I didn’t think it was relevant, and I’m not being seen for anything even remotely related to it. The last I checked, my nose houses boogers, not my gender identity.
But, beyond this nasal surgery, a bigger issue comes up for me, and that is my insecurities around healthcare and being trans. Everything seems to be a little more complicated and complex. Is it because I worry too much? Maybe. Personally, it has more to do with the fear of discrimination, the possibility of sub-par health care just because I’m trans, but most importantly, its pure embarrassment. Its difficult to admit, but anytime I am acutely aware of my body dysphoria, or the feeling that my physical body and my gender identity are not congruent the way I hoped for, I get embarrassed. And it would be awkward to bring up my being trans now, it seems a little late for that discussion. Talking about what is, or is not in your pants can be embarrassing for almost anyone, but for trans people in particular, many of us are not afforded the privilege of our “privates” remaining private. Just listen to the news, apparently, discussions about a trans persons genitalia is completely acceptable. News flash...it is not.
So as I’m working through my anxieties before surgery, I remembered that I had taken a video right before a doctors appointment last Fall, which really captured my feelings around my body dysphoria, and I thought I would share it. The appointment was for a pelvic exam and PAP smear, which I had managed to put off for about seven years. I am making an assumption that anyone reading this is aware of what a pelvic exam and PAP smear consist of, if not, might I suggest Google. I dodged these procedures, not because I was a risk taker and didn’t care about my health, but because, again, I was embarrassed. I took the video because I had been so distraught with anxiety and worry the month before that appointment and wanted to preserve my true emotions, in hopes of helping myself work through them, or maybe I would have the chance to help someone else.
It feels a little risky to share the footage and allow others to see my vulnerability, but it also feels wonderful to be authentic, as well as, transparent. I’ve learned that my health is far more important than feeling uncomfortable, and the only way I could die from embarrassment, is if I let it prevent me from keeping myself healthy.