Weapon of Mass Destruction II: This isn’t about money

“…But when a long Train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…”

Thomas Jefferson wrote that. It’s the fifth sentence in the Declaration of Independence. It’s my favorite sentence in one of my favorite documents. It is also the most important sentence in the entire document. It is both the Founding Father’s explanation of, and justification for, committing high treason.

In much less eloquent early 21st century English here’s what it means:

If a wrong exists in society, it is not just the right of the people to act to correct the wrong; it is their moral and ethical obligation to do so.

Based on some of the comments to my last piece, what I am going to say next may come as a surprise to some: I don’t write about money. I write about something more important. Read the rest of this entry »

Weapon of Mass Destruction: Money is Power

It seems to me that we Transgendered, as a group, are not overly prosperous.  Oh, I know that some of us are, but they seem to be the exceptions.

Recently I was thinking about the financial situations of various Transgendered friends and acquaintances of mine.

Roberta works as a night shift baker’s assistant in the bakery of a big chain supermarket. What she really wants, and keeps applying for, is a cashier’s position on the day shift.  (The position pays more.)  The manager keeps saying they don’t have any openings.  The only other position they have offered her is one stocking the shelves, also at night, when the store is closed.

She’s convinced this is because she is Trans and the manager doesn’t want the customers to see her.  I think the chances are she’s right about that.

Sasha used to have a good, solid civil servant position with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The year she transitioned was also the last year she ever worked.  Once she transitioned, her supervisors started to drastically increase her workload until she had so much work no employee could realistically be expected to complete it in a timely manner.  In the end they broke her.  She had a nervous brake down and resigned. Read the rest of this entry »

Coverage Denied: health insurance, gender and financial discrimination

About a year and a half ago I unexpectedly lost my health insurance coverage.

As you may have read in my posts about transitioning on the job, the client I was working with when I transitioned initially told me they could accept the revelation that I was a transitioning Transsexual.  Then after two months they found an excuse to cancel our contract.

Obviously, I was concerned about the sudden loss of income, but I was more concerned about having lost my health insurance.  (As part of the contract, my client covered my health insurance and in return I gave them a steep discount on my fee.)

As we all know, healthcare in this country is insanely expensive if you aren’t insured.  (It can even be expensive if you have health insurance, as anyone out there who pays for their own will tell you.)

I had, of course read of the difficulty we Transgendered have in obtaining health insurance.  I had most certainly heard the stories first-hand in various support groups I attended.

All of a sudden I was uninsurable, simply by virtue of being a transitioning Transsexual. Read the rest of this entry »

The Price of Redemption: A Gift to Self

Redemption came to me on the evening of Monday, November 7th, 2005 between the hours of 6:30 and 7:30.  It was a long time in coming, 47 years.

As I sat, waiting to meet the woman who would become my therapist, I thought about all that had happened during those years; all that had happened on the journey that had brought me to this time and place.

It was a long, dark and lonely journey.

It began on a bright, sunlit afternoon as a little girl who looked like a boy sat on her mother’s bed playing and watching her as she did the day’s ironing.  I couldn’t have been very old, perhaps three.  My mother said something to me, I can’t remember what, but I do remember my response.  I remember hesitating for an instant and then saying: “I’m not a boy.  I’m a girl.”  My mother was startled beyond words.  She stopped, put down the iron and swept me up in her arms, saying over and over: “No, no, you’re my beautiful baby boy!”

My revelation set off a firestorm in my house.  And thus I began to learn that the world wouldn’t let me be me; that it did not want to accept that such as this was possible.  I learned that I could never talk about what really goes on inside of me.  I learned I must live a lie so that those around me could feel comfortable and secure with society’s faulty assumptions about gender identity. Read the rest of this entry »

How are you going to pay for surgery?

How many transgendered persons are there in this country?  I don’t remember ever seeing any real research on that.  I keep reading and being told that there aren’t very many of us at all.  I keep reading and being told that Gender Identity Dysphoria is a rare and exotic condition.

What I do know is that in the years since my transition I have met, at most, several hundred transgendered people, and this only because I was on the Planning Committee of the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference this year.  (The attendance was approximately 1,200, but that included family, friends, health care workers and vendors.)

I would venture to guess there are, at most, one or two million of us in the general population.  (And if anyone out there has more definite data on this, please speak up.)  One to two million is a big number.  Numbers, however, are relative.  When you match that number up against the general population of the United States, it’s not that big at all.

Now, how many of us are post-operative?  On this one I have heard a number.  I have heard this number: 40,000.  At any one time there are approximately 40,000 post-operative transsexuals in the general population. Read the rest of this entry »

Gender, Hormones, and Health Insurance: “We Don’t Cover That!”

Back when I actually had health insurance I used to get these elaborate monthly account statements from my endocrinologist.  I could never figure them out.  They were page after page of debits, credits and adjustments.  I just used to go to the last page and write a check for whatever it said next to “Pay This Amount.”

What I did understand was that my doctor’s staff was playing an elaborate cat and mouse game with my insurance provider to get as much of my expenses covered as possible.  (It’s amusing: the first page of my chart lists my diagnosis as “M to F TS.”  The monthly statements always listed my diagnosis as “hormonal imbalance.”)

But there was one thing they couldn’t get my insurer to pay for: estrogen.  (And that’s the most expensive part of Hormone Replacement Therapy.) My particular regimen (before surgery) consisted of an anti-androgen (Spironolactone) and an estrogen (Estradiol Valerate Injectable). Read the rest of this entry »

Doctors, Healthcare Givers and Transsexuals: Discrimination Happens Part Two

The first time I visited my endocrinologist he took what seemed to be a gallon of blood. He ordered more kinds of blood test than I ever imagined existed. About a week later I got a call from one of his nurses. They wanted me to see my internalist. They were worried about two of the test results. My cholesterol level was slightly high and the results of the test for prostate cancer were troubling.

I called my doctor and made an appointment. I had yet to tell him what was going on in my life. (I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I only saw him once a year. He would give me the once over and write a prescription for a year’s worth of my hypertension medicine.)

Let me tell you a little about Dr. H. He had been both my personal doctor and my family’s doctor for 20 years. He knew me when I was a graduate student. He knew me when I was starting my career. He knew me when I got married. He knew me when I got divorced and moved back in with my parents. He was there with me through both of my parents’ final illnesses and subsequent deaths. Read the rest of this entry »

Doctors, Healthcare Givers and Transsexuals: Discrimination Happens Part One

Given their high degree of education, you would think that doctors, and healthcare givers in general, would be quite forward thinking and accepting of the transgendered.  I have not always found that to be the case.  In the years of my transition and since I have had two less than ideal experiences with healthcare givers.  One I would simply call curiously educational.  The second one I found genuinely troubling.

Let’s start with curiously educational.  (Next time around I’ll talk about genuinely troubling.)  When I was about three months into my therapy my therapist agreed to recommend me for Hormone Replacement Therapy.  We both did a great deal of research on endocrinologists in the Philadelphia area and selected a reproductive endocrinologist with a long record of treating transsexuals and who had an excellent reputation in the transgendered community.  I called his office and scheduled an appointment.  When the receptionist asked me the reason for the visit, she didn’t miss a beat when I said I was a transitioning transsexual.  (She asked all the right questions (M to F or F to M, what name is on the health insurance, what gender is on the health insurance, etc.)

I’ll never forget that first visit.  I was the only man in the waiting room.  I was on the way to a meeting with one of my clients, so I was wearing a suit (charcoal grey pinstripe with a red patterned power tie).  I was surrounded by women desperate to become pregnant.  They were probably all thinking: “why’s he here?  He isn’t with his wife.  He came in alone.” Read the rest of this entry »

How-to buy a dress when you look like a guy

No sweat. (Really!)

One of the important things I learned during my transition is this: a great many of the issues I perceived as “barriers” preventing me from being my “true” self only existed inside my head.  In point of fact, many of them were excuses I used for years to deny the truth of my transgenderism.

But I learned to overcome them.  I got to a point where, before I transitioned, I could routinely go into department stores presenting as male and buy women’s clothes.  Never once did anybody say anything or give me an odd look or whisper about me with a co-worker.  Quite the opposite.  They were very respectful.  Some even complimented me on my taste.  (I think it only right to mention the stores that treated me this way: Macy’s, J.C. Penny, K Mart and Wal-Mart.)

Merchandisers, or at least their marketing departments, are aware that the transgendered exist.  We are a target marketing group they can sell “stuff” to.

You also have what the politicians call the element of “maximum deniability.”  You could just be one of those few men who actually do buy clothes for their girl friend, wife or even an elderly mother who has limited mobility.  In the course of my job I once met a very wealthy woman whose husband bought all of her clothes for her.  He had the fashion sense and she didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

Financial impact of coming out on the job.

Last time, I shared with you the story of my friend’s very positive experience coming out on the job.  This time, I’m going to share with you the story of my coming out on the job.  This is the story of how not to do it.  It was an unmitigated disaster: painful, humiliating and insulting.  It left me high and dry both professionally and financially.

As you might have read in my biography, these days I’m a self-employed fundraising consultant.  This wasn’t always so.  When I transitioned I was an associate with another consulting firm.  I was managing a contract with a small non profit which was in the early stages of a sizeable multi-million campaign.  I was working with another of my firm’s consultants who lived in the area and was a close friend of the Chairman of the organization. The non profit was located 150 miles from my house.  The client provided me with an onsite apartment and I spent three to four days a week working with them.

I was at a crucial moment in my transition.  I was Ashley everywhere except at work and it was getting more difficult to “be” Craig. When I first joined the firm, I had short brown hair peppered with grey.  I now had blond hair that was getting longer and longer.  The hormones were doing their job just fine, which meant that all those power suits I wore just plain didn’t fit right any more.  And I always had to wear my suit jacket.  If I didn’t, somebody was going to notice that I was developing breasts. Read the rest of this entry »