I do not know who I am and what I need for my physical and emotional health, as the four medical experts, in their 100-300 word glossaries of me, hold more sway.
These diagnoses determine the rights I have over my transgender body. These experts, whose combined knowledge about transgender being and healthcare does not equal half of my own, are eligible to play The Game, which I only have access to as a spectator, and then as the ball.
Two of these experts with fancy letters behind their name, after fumbling around Google, typed up the letters I dictated, signalling their sheepish thanks. Their framed degrees signifying expert knowledge of areas that leave them flailing in the territory unknown that my body inhabits.
All this blindly, gropingly required by a hospital and a medical industry parading Do No Harm and Your Rights As A Patient posters. This is not the protest-worthy aspect of this Game. Not even the fact that I need to be called she in all files, communications, wards and operating theatres, “so that you don’t confuse people and get mistaken for someone else on the operating table”. Not even having to play the part of a stereotypical trans man (i.e. heterocis man) phases me. Because these are The Rules of the Game. I know this.
The worst part of sitting in a chair with my furry body, deep voice and “Sir”ness with 70 women in various stages of scanning for and treatment of breast cancer in a pink clinic with pink posters and a pink TV that is never switched on, is that even after playing by The Rules, they declare today whether they will or will not (“We don’t really do this here”) operate on a body that they have clinically sanitised for their consumption.
And even should I receive their magnanimous nod (“You know, ma’am, most doctors in this country will refuse to even consider this procedure”) – in a clinic where 60% of the women sitting around me have had the said procedure – I need to reward their goodheartedness and return their favour with the monetary equivalent of a month’s salary, because The Medical Aid Game has its own Rules, and the medically necessary procedure is reclassified, in my alien body’s honour, as cosmetic, and thus payable by this body.
My body, our bodies, are tired of The Game. We will no longer allow ourselves to be seated on the bench and the stands. Until then, we will play The Game. We will continue to take our unreserved seats in the stands.