Halfway to somewhere

The Waiting Room

Illustration by Kathleen Bergen

I’m sitting in a small fluorescent-lit room about to have a conversation I’ve been rehearsing in my head for years now.

I’ve been in this waiting room before for other appointments, but this time feels so different, so personal and deeply connected to my identity.

When it’s over, it feels almost like an anti-climax. I have spent all of this time questioning my identity, building up the courage to put myself on the waitlist, spending three months mulling over what the meeting might be like and then, in half an hour, the appointment is over.

When I first started to come to terms with the fact that I was trans, accepting my own identity was overshadowed by the terrifying thought of going through the medical system. The act of sitting in a waiting room and telling a stranger about feelings I was only just starting to come to terms with myself made me question everything all over again.

Did I really want it this bad? Did I need to go through this process of waitlists and doctors’ appointments to affirm my identity?

For many trans people, brushing up against the medical system to access treatment is not necessary, and identity can be embodied in so many different ways. However, I knew I would have a more congruent sense of self if I pursued this process.

After only a few days on hormone therapy, my mental health and anxiety toward my body improved so much that all of the waiting and doctors’ appointments were worth it.

Even in the middle of this excitement, my mind sometimes wanders. I have some anxieties about how my identity is regulated through a medical institution, and I worry sometimes about how my life would change if something happened, and I no longer had access to hormone therapy.

While it’s important sometimes to question my reliance on the medical institution when healthcare and funding for hormone therapy are brought into question, there are many people who rely on the medical institution for many different reasons – and isn’t providing support for people exactly what that institution is meant to do?

There should be no shame in going to a doctor for something that could make your life better.

As social beings, we need to rely on other people and on systems we’ve built together to get by, and that’s okay. I used to feel as if going through a medical transition was such a huge deal, and in some ways it is, but people need medical treatments for all sorts of reasons, and this one is no less necessary or valid.

Not every person with a trans identity needs to go through this process, but as for me, I am very happy with my choice.

The truth is, I’ve never needed a doctor to be the one to affirm my identity. I already did that myself. I am not defined by the hormones I take, though they certainly do help.

Jase Falk is a trans woman, student and writer from Winnipeg.

Published in Volume 72, Number 20 of The Uniter (March 8, 2018)

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