Amid all the other craziness this week, I had my annual physical. Actually, if you want to get technical, it was my biennial physical, since I haven’t seen my doctor in more than two years. Which is why she called to pressure me into making an appointment in the first place. Anyway, going to doctors is something I avoid like the proverbial plague. Mommy-dearest was, is, and ever will be a raging hypochondriac and as I’ve said before, anything even remotely reminiscent of her sends me blazing in the opposite direction. probably more importantly, there is the fact that a physical requires a doctor to actually look at your body, and well, I’ve spent most of my life pretending I didn’t have one. At least not the same one that the doctors felt sure they were seeing. And that’s gotten so much more complicated in the last few years. Needless to say, I was unhappily anticipating the appointment.
What the hell was I going to say to this woman in a position of relative power, who I see once a year or so? I argued with myself. On the one hand, I didn’t have to say anything. On the other hand, she is my doctor. On the first hand, what difference does my identification as transgender have to do with her? On the other hand, she is my doctor and she knows and cares for and about lots of intimate things having to do with me. Even if I chose to say nothing, wouldn’t she notice my chest? How would I explain that one? And round and round the hamster wheel my thoughts and fears went. I realized I was just terrified that she would think I was a nutcase and pink slip me. And honestly, it wasn’t the prospect of a psych hospital that bothered me. The upsetting piece was the potential negative judgment.
How can I expect others to respond positively to something I present so awkwardly and ashamedly? And haven’t I learned from experience that simply speaking the truth allows for so much openness?! Don’t I read my own blog?!
So I went into the doctor’s office and took my seat. I breathed deeply and calmly as I waited. I considered asking to speak with my doctor before removing my clothes. I always find that procedural order difficult. Here you are in your skivvies trying to maintain some shred of dignity talking to the doctor (a position for which societal esteem is considerable). Ridiculous. And in the time I took considering it, I’d already been given a johnny and instructions to remove my clothes and gown up with the opening in the back. I’d lost my chance to request it and before I knew it the doctor was knocking at the door.
After exchanging the routine pleasantries, I asked the doctor if she was the physician to any transgender people. When she said no, I responded, “well now you are.” There was no hesitation as she simply, almost blandly said, “oh, ok.” What followed was a lovely conversation about how I was dealing with my relatively newfound understanding of myself. She was just the right amount of appreciation and approval with just a hint of curiosity. More proof that honesty and just being real are all that anybody needs. The rest of the appointment was quite ordinary. And I think I’ll go back in a year.