Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'm Not Particular as to Size, Only One Doesn't Like Changing So Often, You Know

Jessica says I’m a lazy tranny and I suppose that may be true. I believe I have a pathological dread of bureaucracy (I actually just typed “bureaucrazy” – should’ve kept it.).

I’ve been on those wacky hormone-y injection thingums for well over a year now and I’ve yet to get my name legally changed. Or rather, I finally went to the courthouse today – this on the heels of repeated interactions like these - nurse, upon being handed my medical ID card: “Who is Samantha in relation to you?”

Now that’s a fantastic question, isn’t it? Who, indeed? I’m sure I don’t know, at all, or very little. It’s all very Lewis Carroll if you ask me, or maybe more Bataille, if your flavor of trans leans less to zany British comedy and more to French decapitation subculture. There’s certainly something here for everyone. Having mostly lived a life morally scripted by Genet, I’d happily subscribe to something a little more light-heartedly surreal. Benny Hill even. Mr. Bean. (and there’s something distinctly trans about Rowan Atkinson, isn’t there? Or is it just my longing for his brotherhood, me a Black Adder aficionado from too far back.)

Anyway, I was waxing philosophic.

Early on, during my requisite twelve sessions with a mental health professional, my therapist questioned my lack of enthusiasm to traipse over to Hillsborough for the name-change forms. “It’s the first thing most guys do” she said, tonally arching her eyebrows at me, “it’s the easiest change you can make…most guys are eager to do it.”

Not me, I said. She seemed to think this was indicative of a reluctance, a lack of commitment, a digging in of my boa-trimmed Candies. I was quick to assure her I hadn’t actually owned a pair of Candies since high-school, and they were anathema then. No, no, I merely have good ol’ fashioned American dread of anything paperwork. I’m terrified, having begun this process, that I’m now on an inexorable road to lengthy lines, forms that may as well have been written in Klingon and which are always described as “self-explanatory,” mirthless clerks, scowling management, and the assumption that only a stupid person couldn’t figure this out, wouldn’t have done A B and C already. I just threw up in my mouth a little writing about it.

As clever as I am, I drop a good 50 IQ points when I’m in a line and have a form to fill. I just do. I cannot decipher their dream text; I do not understand the language as it is being spoken to me; I am absolutely confounded by the linear. Case in point: at age five I weep in terror as our teacher makes a newspaper hat and asks us to follow along. I know at the outset it is beyond my capacity, this folding and refolding, beyond my ken to make such straight and wonderously crisp lines; something inside me cracks and releases the deepest brine. Already at this tender age I have subterranean caverns of sorrow and shame, acquired by observing and participating in the sexual depravities only a child can – but nothing feels quite as penetrating as this blinding stupidity.

It blocks me from completing the most innocent of things sometimes, but I’m much better at it now. Nonetheless, there hasn’t been any urgency around the name change. Everyone’s always called me “Sam.” I hadn’t been reading as male until very recently, so, well, so what? Why should I? But now the credit cards and IDs are galling. Jessica reports that whenever I call her cell, “Samantha” comes on screen, and she’s forced to say, in her best Tony Danza, “Samant’a! Samant’a!” This hardly seems fair, to ask of a friend, to have to repeatedly do a Brooklyn accent on your lady-name in your honor.

And so I manned up and drove to Hillsborough.

Before I left, Miz Marva, the seventy-something year old lady next door waylaid me. “Sam, Sam, come over here Sam,” she called with a senior’s urgency. Miz Marva and her sister think I’m a man, and flirt with me accordingly. “Sam, my sister has some eggs for you…Kara, come on here, Sam’s outside!”

Miz Kara, who is not someone I would ever want to mess with – as Miz Marva says, she works with the retarded, and she can handle it – coyly hands me a basket of enormous, nearly Jurassic-proportioned eggs. “Sam,” Miz Marva makes it have two gentle syllables, “you got two black ladies giving you gifts. I bet that’s your dream, isn’t it!”

Well pretty darn close. If they can fill out forms.

Equally abashed, I thank them for the eggs and for all their hospitality. It was unnerving at first, to be so baldly flirted with, particularly by strangers, simply because I’m a “man,” but I’m settling in to it.

I suppose there’s some hesitation, some cling, to my old me. I had chosen “Samuel” but in the end, stuck with “Sam.” The more formal felt biblical, rabbinical even, and implied a vigorous commitment to doctrine that belied my essential laziness. So I stayed with Sam.

She’s fading, the girl who never was. More and more I remember, recall feeling uncomfortable, adopting postures that didn’t fit me, discarding some that did, because they weren’t congruent. I was never actually a girl, as it turns out, and may never actually be a man, either. As it turns out. As long as I don’t have to pay taxes on it, do an assessment of it, or complete it in triplicate, I think I’m gonna be okay. But let me put you on hold; Kafka’s calling.


  1. i worship you, bro. this is pitch perfect.

  2. This was awesome. I think we've discussed this before (maybe?). This name thingy. It's interesting that the very reasons you chose to stick with Sam, seem to be the reasons I'm headed towards Samuel. Well, the biblical/rabbinical, and my grandfather (who i was supposed to be named after, had I been born with boy instead of girl parts, and who was a rabbinic scholar).... Maybe it's just a feeble attempt to get my dad not to completely freak out, eventually, if I ever get the gusto to tell him.

    Anyways, thanks for the amazing writing. My polisci teacher insists this is why Americans don't vote. Fear of forms.

  3. What a great post. I've read several of your posts now and I'm really impressed with your ability to protray transitioning seriously, yet with light-heartedness.
    I have a transitioning man in my life. I'm going to send him a link to your blog.
    Thanks for your great work.