The Privilege to Stop
The first shot of testosterone felt miraculous.
It shot through my thigh like fireworks in my veins, colors bouncing off the walls and spiraling into my body in a sparkling blaze. All I could see was blue; the white walls turned periwinkle, furniture was stained with navy and byzantine, and my plastic chair turned into a throne of lapis lazuli. I swore I could feel my skin switch hues; my tears were turning into ink.
The nurses smiled as I gathered myself and put the band aid over my injection site. This was the best day of my life, soon to turn into the best weeks and months and years, all leading up to the point where I finally felt as male as I was.
Then, after a month of injections, I stopped.
For a lot of trans people, including my friends, stopping your hormones after a month sounds ridiculous. At least, I think it sounds like that. I spend a lot of my time asking myself why I would throw away something I thought I wanted so badly, something that gave me such a visceral reaction with that first shot.
However, I soon came to realize that the question I should've been asking was why and how I could start and stop as easily as I wanted. What made me different?
The answer: my parent's health insurance.
The months leading up to my first injection date, I was fearful about how I was going to pay for testosterone. I was just starting college, which for a lot of people is synonymous with "dead broke". It certainly fit the description of my trans peers, who were saving up pennies and dimes to be able to get a consultation alone.
The thing is, however, that I'm far from poor. I had rich parents, rich enough that they could pay for my secondary education. Actually, the fact that I had a secondary education to begin with should've been a big indicator of that point as well. Still, being somewhat naive, I figured I would be one of the masses waiting for the cash to pay my way into manhood.
Of course, I wasn't. I only found out when I realized I didn't have a bill from my first HRT appointment. The Blue Cross Blue Shield card in my wallet, the one that my parents gave to me before I left for schooling, the one I always had to mention to doctors, was my saving grace. Everything was directed to my parents' accounts; I had to do nothing except show up to my scheduled injections. It was that easy.
Returning full circle, I realized soon that if I stopped testosterone, I could always start back up again. And again, and again, and again. I didn't have to worry about anything involving money like my other trans peers had to. While they were busy making sure they could refill their prescriptions, I'd always have an option, or rather a privilege, to start and stop.
If my parents were wealthy, I could be healthy. And THAT is far more ridiculous than my quitting hormones.
Now, this isn't going to turn into a piece about rich guilt or anything like that. I don't feel any guilt for receiving the gifts I've gotten. However, I want others with a similar socioeconomic situation to acknowledge that the privilege you get from having money overrules many of the problems associated with transness.
Take Caitlyn Jenner, for example: when she decided she wanted to transition, she had the resources available so that she could. And she did. She got every surgical procedure in the book in order to achieve the authentic self she always wanted, all of which she could afford. Caitlyn Jenner and those with similar means have access to all of the best health care to “pass” in public. Being the target of a transphobic hate crime is far less of a concern.
Meanwhile, there are other trans people who have to live with bodies they don't want, speak with voices they don't want to hear, and face people they don't want to deal with - they struggle with this dysphoria and discrimination every day because they lack the financial power to transition as those with wealth do.
This is why transgender health care is important. This is why I, along with many others, advocate for the ability to get the treatments we need. This is why we fight.
Every trans person should have the privilege to get that first shot; the one that sends sparks through their body and gives their stomach butterflies, regardless of how much is in their bank account. I want every trans person to have the right for that first consultation. Every trans person should have the right to be healthy, happy, and to become their truest selves.
For trans people, money shouldn't have to buy happiness.
John Ramsey is a non binary English student at University of Iowa. Xe enjoys music, writing, and loving the heck out of xyr rat daughters.
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