Saturday, June 22, 2019

That Question (Short Story)

I looked straight at him, I had guessed this question would come and I thought I was prepared. I had a well rehearsed answer, an
answer I had told myself so many times and occasionally told others I knew it by heart. It
was an answer I believed.
In retrospect I should have seen the danger signs.

I’m a performer, a comedian my art is painted in words and people sometimes come up to me after a show and assume I’ll be as open off stage as I seem on stage.

There’s a number of predictable questions and I have answers for them.

The easiest is when they ask about the terminology. Cis is just short for cisgender, someone who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth. Trans for transgender, someone who accepts they were assigned the wrong gender at birth.

My inner, well rehearsed answer to “What’s it like being transgender?” is “What’s it like being transgender? What’s it like having a body that’s not right? What’s it like having bits that you wish with every ounce of your soul weren’t there? What’s it like feeling the emotional pain having to use those bits to achieve sexual release?” but I never say that to anyone, instead I give a pat answer.

"I don't know, what's it like being cisgender?"

I never tell my birth name because I can’t see why they would need it and if they don’t know it they can’t ‘accidentally’ use it.

Having strangers ask if I still have a penis really annoys me, it usually comes from creepy guys and drunk women. “The only people who need to know that are my wife, myself and my doctors” and that’s the only answer any of them are going to ever get.

I had a 25 year old "straight" guy come onto me the other day. For fuck’s sake, I'm 61, old enough to be his grandparent. At least I know I'm a GILF girlfriends, that’s Granny I’d like to ....

He wouldn't take no for an answer and started to beg.

Bugger that. If I want to hear a man desperate enough to beg I'll date someone my own age.

I’ve met his type before, we call them “tranny chasers”, men who fetishise transgender women. He wanted to experience being fucked up the arse but can’t bring himself to openly admitting he’s bi so wants a woman with a cock to satisfy his fantasy. Not an attraction for me & not for any of the transgender women I’ve ever discussed it with. Why can’t they just find themselves cisgender girlfriends who are willing to use a strap-on on them? Cisgender men are the worst. No, that's not fair. Some cisgender men are the worst. Tranny chasers are really bad but the ones who can't be avoided seldom show it in front of others so they're not the worst either.

Men wonder why we so seldom relax in their presence yet strangely enough I did relax in the counselor's presence even when he asked about my penis.

In my case, there’s a story. There’s always a story. It’s more of an anecdote about why I was crap at being gay with cis guys, but I can separate the punch line as an explanation. “The moment I’m in a bed there’s already one penis too many, why on earth would I want a second one there?”

One thing I was always careful about with my counselor at the sexual health clinic was to make myself appear either bi or borderline heterosexual by minimising my feelings about attraction to women. I’d heard from others that they had encountered difficulties getting further treatment when they had discussed having a lesbian orientation.

I never knew for sure but I always assumed he was gay, a cisgender gay male.

His professional ethics meant he couldn’t give any personal information and I never asked him any personal questions. In any case these precious sessions were to discuss my issues not him, but once he had asked some questions about sexuality and I described a fantasy guy as being like a Tom of Finland drawing but with just a gap between the hips and the mid thigh, a place I couldn’t or wouldn’t allow myself to see.

He stopped me and asked me who Tom of Finland was. I thought everyone knew who Tom, one of Finland’s most renowned personalities, was. Sure he died in 1991 but I thought he is still extremely influential in the gay art scene for his pencil drawings of hypermasculine men. Perhaps I misread the counselor. In any case he never gave any indication of anything that wasn’t completely professional.

I started counselling not sure how far I should take this transition stuff. For two years I had felt social transition was probably sufficient but during exploring things in counselling sessions I came to understand that I would never be entirely happy without some medical assistance. Now came the most important session, a diagnostic one. There were comforting words, but I fully understood that it would determine how much additional support I would get from the clinic and how soon.

After a few preliminary questions covering by now well trodden ground he looked at me and said “Tell me about your penis”. I looked straight at him, I’d been expecting this question & started with my internal story. A story that informed my belief that I had mild gender dysphoria, a knowledge that my body didn’t match how I believe it should be. I talked about wishing the penis wasn’t there, about being unhappy about needing to use it for sexual release and a few related things. Suddenly I heard this stream of apparently minor points coming out of my mouth I heard my voice talking about not being comfortable with showering, with having to hold it when I peed, with the necessity to tuck when dressing, I can’t even remember half the river of minor points that came flowing out of my mouth alongside the ones I do remember.

When I finished I looked at him, for the first time he looked genuinely surprised.

After a brief silence he said he was diagnosing me as having severe gender dysphoria and referring me to a specialist.

It took me a while to understand it but in that moment I had won.

Unusually for me, this story is not licensed under my normal license. Details follow.

Text Copyright (C) 2019 Julia Ingleby Clement who has also asserted the moral right to be identified as the author of this story.

Most images are from Pixelbay’s collection of public domain and cc0 images and have been manipulated by Julia Clement.

This story may be freely copied under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-ND 4.0). The required attribution is a link to this page on Julia’s website

I chose this license because this story is true and very personal to me.

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