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Day 17: Pronoun Trouble

2014 October 9
by Jen DiGiacomo

Wednesday morning 3 A.M.

Not just a Simon & Garfunkel album anymore. It’s me in my hotel room and I can’t sleep.

I send a note of gratitude to my boss for her wonderful and loving support, and continue pacing the hotel room.

Why? Because in the morning I have my appointment at Beth Israel Medical Center about my self-medicated hormone use and subsequent blood test. On the positive side, my nurse practitioner is transgendered so hopefully she’ll be understanding what I’ve been going through.

I finally fall asleep, but awake hours later and the pacing continues.

My wait finally comes to an end and I arrive at Beth Israel on 14th Street. Everyone there is extremely nice and supportive, and I am directed to fill in my personal information.

I am then confronted, for the first time in my life, with a new choice. Male. Female. Transgendered.

I smile and circle Transgendered. I smile again and can’t suppress a laugh this time. “I accept!!!”

I wish I could recount more epic tales of bravery, but I panic when it comes to my insurance. Do I want my insurance company to know I’m transgendered? Do I want that on my permanent medical record? I blink and decide to pay out of pocket for now. I’ll cross that road at another time.

I am beckoned in to have my blood pressure taken. Yeah, that shouldn’t be too high, especially for one afflicted with white coat syndrome (artificially high blood pressure due to anxiety about having your blood pressure taken). But to my surprise it’s 113 over something.

Maybe I’m more at ease about all of this than I thought.

I then meet my NP (I’m new to the world of medical acronyms, but officially Family Nurse Practitioner, Board Certified. FNP-BC for short. NP for really short). Regardless, she is a delight and let’s me nervously share my story over the next half hour. She intersperses my running dialogue with head nods and comments like, yup, that’s normal.

Normal. Not a word I ever expected to hear when it came to being transgendered.

She seems satisfied with my story, progress and therapy, and innocuously asks if I want to continue my hormones. That catches me off guard as I was expecting to be reprimanded for my previous self-medicated use, and taken off all hormones until I had proceeded further down “official” channels.

I think about it and nod my assent. Yes, I would. The subtle changes so far are welcome, and I feel like I’m making progress. She gives me a release to sign about the hazards of estrogen and before long I have my prescriptions.

She then catches me off guard a second time with another question. What pronoun would I like to use? I suddenly have a vision of the Bugs Bunny cartoon with Daffy Duck, Rabbit Seasoning, where Bugs repeatedly tricks Elmer Fudd into shooting Daffy.

Daffy Duck: Let’s run through that again. 

Bugs Bunny: Okay. 

Bugs Bunny: Wouldja like to shoot me now or wait till you get home? 

Daffy Duck: Shoot him now, shoot him now. 

Bugs Bunny: You keep outta this. He doesn’t hafta shoot you now. 

Daffy Duck: Ha! That’s it! Hold it right there! Pronoun trouble. 

Daffy Duck: It’s not: “He doesn’t have to shoot *you* now.” It’s: “He doesn’t have to shoot *me* now.” Well, I say he does have to shoot me now!

I don’t think I’m ready for “pronoun troubles” just yet and request that we just use “DiG” for now. Pronouns can be sorted out on another day.

I then get my blood taken and finally depart for the front desk. As I’m about to pay, I decide, screw it. I am transgendered. I circled the damn word on the form. Damn the torpedoes, let’s submit to my insurance company and let the chips fall where they may.

Okay, I may be brave, but I still torture analogies with the best of ’em.

I leave Beth Israel feeling great. And again can’t suppress a laugh.

You, my friend, are officially transgendered.

Note: When I began transitioning in 2014, I was known by my nickname DiG, which sufficed until I learned my mom had chosen Jennifer had my birth gone differently. So for historical sake, I leave my posts and podcasts as originally conceived, but know that my name is and apparently always was Jen.
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