I finally made a resource page, of sorts

This is just an announcement that I added some stuff to my blog!  For the longest time, the additional tabs were “ask me something,” “what it’s about,” and “glossary of janitorial words and phrases.”  And that was it.

About two weeks ago, an outreach specialist who works for drugrehab.com reached out and asked if I would add their website.  She wrote,

“Studies have shown that individuals in the LGBT community are more likely to use and abuse alcohol and drugs and tend to continue abuse throughout their lives. We work to spread awareness and to be an informational resource for those impacted by alcohol and drug dependence.

I believe that our website would be a valuable addition to your resources listed on your page.  Would you please review our resource and consider adding it to your website to spread awareness”

And that got me thinking, because I don’t have anything like that on my blog!  But I decided that I could – she kind of got me going to start organizing a resource page.  I told her, “I’ll need to start from scratch because I have yet to provide a resource page at all, but I love the idea, so thanks for that push!”  And then I started working.

I had always been of the mindset that although many blogs do have links to online safe spaces, hotlines, etc., I don’t need to be one of those blogs – people can google whatever they want to google and glean information from myriad places.  I wouldn’t even know how to narrow down a page.  Some, like Micah’s on Neutrois Nonsense, for example, are so comprehensive, I don’t really have anything to add!

So, mine might be a bit random, and it’s definitely not complete, by a long shot.  I included the one for the drug rehab site first, since she was the one to get me going.  I then added two overarching sites for mental health, Micah’s blog (of course!), the blog of a professional gender therapist who is very hands-on, and then two sites that are geared toward brainstorming and creativity, when it comes to gender.

You can take a look here:  LGBTQIA-GSM Resources.  Please lemme know if you want me to add anything in particular…  (The GSM stands for “gender and sexual minorities,” because there are not enough letters in the alphabet to cover everyone!)

I’ll just end with a little more information about the drug rehab website, mostly because I was so tickled that they wrote and wanted me to “advertise” for them.  It makes me feel like, wow, cool, my blog really is reaching people.  (This is something that waxes and wanes for me, whether it’s really out there or not.)  So, the outreach specialist said,

We are a free informational resource for those  battling mental health and substance abuse issues. Our website tackles many issues currently facing society today. We have a team of doctors and writers who update our content daily.
We do have a hotline that you can call with questions about different treatment options, as we know every individual is unique and so should treatment be as well.
If you want further information, check out my new resource page!!!  LGBTQIA-GSM Resources

Real Boy: A Son’s Transition, A Mother’s Transformation

Tonight at 10PM (9PM central time), PBS is screening a documentary called Real Boy.  If you’re hanging at home tonight, check it out!!

I had the opportunity to see this film twice now:

Last fall, my neighbors and I went, as part of the annual LGBT film festival where we live.  I’d have to say that I was a little bit jaded at that time – here is yet another story about young, white, binary, trans-masculine people.  Seen that / heard that!!!

The parts about his (Ben’s) mom, and family dynamics were what held it together for me.  My neighbor was really touched by it in a different way – there was a lot about singing/songwriting/creativity, and also about recovering from substance abuse and other destructive behaviors.

Then, two weeks ago, I went with my spouse and her parents.  It was a free showing, and the two main “characters” were there in person to answer questions and play some of their music as well.  I felt really happy that we all saw it together – we then went out to eat and talked about how we related or didn’t, with the movie.  Awesome conversations.

I would say that, for me, the second time’s the charm, haha.  For one thing, closed captioning was on, so we could all listen and read the dialogue simultaneously, which was kinda necessary because some people mumble more than others.  I got a lot more out of it – the way that Ben’s navigating his new life / roles / perceptions as a very young person (I can’t imagine transitioning at that age!!!  Hormones are already on full alert and then to mix it up so drastically, must be stressful – both positive and negative stress.)  And the male bonding that was going on between the characters felt a lot more touching to me this time for some reason.  He has a mentor / protegee dynamic going on with an older musician, and then a housemate / brotherhood with a trans-guy he met through mutual friend.

In terms of content notes, I would give this warning:  Topics that are potentially sensitive to those in recovery are brought up:  mostly grappling with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as self-injury and family issues / rejection.  Also, we follow along as Ben and his housemate move forward with getting top surgery with Dr. Garramone in Florida.

I’d say catch this movie if you can!  Although it didn’t really speak to me the first time, I came around to really like it!


1 year post-op (top surgery)

With everything else that’s been going on lately, I completely forgot that my one year anniversary was on June 1st.  I think I was aware on some level, because I’ve been super vocal with my spouse, the past few days, about where I’m at with this process.  So I’ll try to distill those diatribes into something that  makes sense!

Most importantly, within the past few weeks, I would say I have grown increasingly more comfortable with the off-beat sensations that I have going on.  Nothing is painful, per-se, but there’s still a lot of tenderness.  I am finally OK with my spouse resting her head there without warning, and in addition, I’ve realized that the more I ignore/avoid that area of my body, the more it will stagnate.  ???  (That’s just a hypothesis, but I hope there’s some truth to that – I’ve been trying to actively “manhandle” some spots, in the hopes that’ll promote more nerve growth, haha.)

I am over the disappointment of it not being picture perfect.  At first I was angry with the surgeon (Dr. Rumer).  I held onto this anger for a long time.  But, as I noted at 6 months, I had been poking and prodding around my rib-cage a lot more, and I came to the conclusion that my bone structure is asymmetrical, and she (the surgeon) had to work around those idiosyncracies, and in the end, I think she did her best.  I’m sure it would have looked more even if I had gone with DI, but peri was one of the things I was not negotiating on.  I already have scarring on my chest, from my self-injuring behavior years ago, and I really wanted no additional scarring, if possible.  And that was accomplished.  (Aside from my drain holes – those scars are still visible!!!)

My nipples, I believe, can be “tweaked,” (haha) for sure.  They look like they got shrunk and melted on – I think a different surgeon can really change the size and shape and it’ll make me much happier.  I am not going with Dr. Rumer any-further.  I was supposed to have my one year appointment either in person or over skype, on Thursday, but I cancelled it all together.  I am done, and am only now looking ahead to revisions.  The appt. wasn’t even going to be with the surgeon – just a nurse-practitioner, like I did over skype at 1 months, 3 months, 6 months, etc.  I’m done.

I am grateful that insurance reimbursed a large part of it – I really didn’t think I stood a chance with that.

And, just to wrap up, I want to reiterate how important this step was for me:  It’s not just that now I can wear tighter shirts and I don’t have to consider whether to bind or not, etc.  It has really affected my self-esteem, self-perception, and social comfort.  When I get dressed, I am excited to see how the shirt falls now – does it accentuate my pecs (which are now one of my favorite parts of my body), can I layer things in an interesting way, can I wear this as an open shirt and consider wearing a necklace as well?… etc.  Sometimes I will wear two outfits in one day, just to try out new-to-me fashions!

I told my spouse the other day that I used to just feel dumpy all the time, and she was shocked – she said I never looked dumpy.  Now it’s the opposite – I feel snazzy!


I was in the hospital (again)

Oh, hey, dang, I’ve been absent for a while.  I was in the hospital, again because I was manic (the time before that was January, 2015).  This time it was a week:  from May 15th-22nd.  I’m currently out of work until June 19th.  I’m sure once I’m feeling up to it, I’ll be writing a lot in the upcoming weeks.  For now though, I’m thinking I’ll have a handful of short, somewhat abstract updates to this blog.  The first one being:

I am a transgender person and I was hospitalized for mania and my blood was tested, and I was administered my testosterone shot, but my T-levels in my bloodstream were not monitored at any point in time during my stay.

I feel legitimately angry, like, about as angry as I am capable of getting, about this.  Because I experienced some really really bizarre symptoms while there, that I would chalk up to hormonal issues, but there’s nothing for me to measure that against.

I was shouting A LOT.  Like, I am not a shouter.  I was SUPER vocal, the entire time I was there..

My menstrual cycle came back in a super condensed, concentrated form, for about 3 days…

Digestive issues…

Sex drive??  Zero

I called people out in their shit, in real time (generally something might occur to me later, what I should have said)…

I was actually able to keep my anxiety in check this time…

Smells and tastes were all over the place…

 

Blah!  When will it sink in, that transgender people face different challenges, and these need monitoring too!


1 month on testosterone

I’ve been injecting 50mg per week.  OK, not exactly true – after the first 2 weeks, I increased it to 80mg, because I felt like it.  Similarly, when I was on Androgel, I wasn’t great at sticking with the script.  Not sure why, but I have a guess that it’s because I wanna exert control over this area of my life.  It just doesn’t really seem like a big deal in terms of consequences, and it makes me feel better…

Even with the higher dose (Just for perspective – 50 is moderately low and is a common starting dose.  100 is also a common starting dose, so I’m not doing anything way out there), I really have very little to report, which feels like a bummer to me – I was expecting more!

(Just a note:  This post is a little confusing because I have “started T” twice now.  When I say Androgel, I’m talking about 4 years ago.  And when I say injections, that means what I’m currently doing.)

When I started Androgel (very very low dose), it was like, WHOA!  It felt like night and day, within the first couple days.  Here’s what I reported 5 months in, if you’re curious:  5 months on T without physical changes.  (This, unfortunately. is my earliest account, because I hadn’t started the blog until I was 5 months in!)

I guess I expected it to be like that, only tenfold, because my dose is now definitely not very very low.  Honestly, I don’t know how to compare the two doses, since they are administered so differently.  I tried to find info online about this, and could not find a single thing.  If anyone has something on this, such as, “____mg of inject-able T = ____mg of Androgel,” please let me know!  I’m pretty sure there’s no straightforward way to calculate this because, for example, everyone absorbs topical substances differently…

Anyway, I am experiencing these shifts, in little ways, again…  A little bit hungrier, a little bit of a higher sex-drive, a lot of “warm and fuzzy,” etc.

but this time around, I’m paying a lot more attention to physical changes (in a way where I want them, not in a way that I’m being hyper-vigilant about them not happening, like the first time around with the Androgel).  And so far, nothing!  Maybe just the slightest shift in voice.  Oh well, no big deal.  I can be patient.

I think what’s going on is, when I started Androgel, I had nothing to compare that to.  All the sensations I was experiencing were vast improvements over what I had going on, previously.  It truly was seeing the world and myself in a brand new way.  Decreased anxiety was mind-blowing because I’d never felt that – the ability to take a deep breath and really feel it?  Whoa.  Actually sensing my body as present/grounded, and not half-dissociated 24/7?  Incredible!

And it’s more like now, I’ve been free of anxiety for a long time at this point, due to a psychotropic drug that I never want to stop taking.  And the warm and fuzzy and the heightened sex drive?  I’m glad to see a return of these sensations (for sure!!!), but it’s more like, “Oh, right, I like this,” as opposed to, “Wow, I have never experienced this before and it is the best thing ever!”

That’s all I got so far!


How I became “Mixter”

This article first appeared on Transgender Universe, here:  How I Became Mixter

For the sake of clarity, I’m going to give myself a pseudonym dead-name, for this article.  Assume that before changing my name, my name was “KD Shorts.”  And my new, legal name is “Kameron.”

A little over two years ago, I was at a workshop at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, and one of the presenters was mentioning that they go by the honorific, Mx. (Mixter) in their professional settings.  I had heard of this before, but I thought it was just a theoretical pipe dream.  Here was someone who was actually using it, in their actual life!  I felt soooo jealous.  I thought to myself (with a good dose of biting envy), “Oooh, look at the progressive academic who gets to waltz around in an enlightened and indulgent bubble all day long.”  I never thought I would get there.  Furthermore, even though I’m in my thirties, it was tough to envision a world where I was grown-up enough to have an honorific of my own.

I’d done an excellent job at avoiding it.  No Mr. or Ms. for me!  I am a janitor at an elementary school:  a place where there’s a lot of “Mr. / Mrs. / Miss / Ms. [last name]” around the kids, and then first names amongst ourselves.  Except for the custodial staff.  It’s first names all around for us, generally.  Everywhere except for our name plates on the custodial office door.  There, we are “Mr. [last name]” and “Mrs. [last name]”  I had somehow gotten away with requesting that I be simply “KD Shorts.”  It was awesome.

There was another sticking point though:  every year, at school pictures time.  We get our pics taken,  and then we get some freebies, as well as a sheet of all the staff pics – just like a student would get a sheet of their class.  And so, we had to give our names, to be recorded on the sheet.  It would vary from year to year, depending on how vocal/empowered I was feeling.  I usually told the portrait employee, “no Ms. or Mr.  Just KD Shorts.”  There were a few years though, where I was “Ms. Shorts” as the default.

These past few weeks, I’ve been riding the wave of legally changing my name, which has been especially gratifying at work, where I was still known as KD Shorts, (she/her/hers).  Everywhere else in my life, I had been going by “Kameron” for about two years, and (he/him/his) for many many years prior to that.  So, essentially, I utilized this time of change as a chance to come out at work.

I talked to the principal and assistant principal on Friday, December 23rd.  I stated that I was changing my name and my pronouns, and that I identify as neither a man nor a woman.  The impromptu meeting was less than stellar – they fixated on bathrooms and the fact that the change was going to be hard for people to remember.  They did mention that they wanted me to feel comfortable, but didn’t offer any concrete ways that that could happen.  I did not panic though – I was thinking, “do not catastrophize this.”  I remained neutral and open, but I didn’t use it as a teaching moment.  I shouldn’t have to!  I thought that things would work out fine, ultimately, and if not, I could always call in the big guns:  my local gay alliance’s speaker’s bureau, to do the educating on my behalf.

We all took a time out for winter recess.  I then came in on Tuesday, January 3rd, and the principal asked me if I’d come speak to her.  Of her own volition, she had consulted the head of HR, and she had basically done a 180.  We had a much more fruitful discussion.  She still was strong in her opinions, but she made it clear that every choice was up to me, and I could take some time to think it over.  We ended up talking about:
– How to come out, and the timeline
– How my name would appear on my name plate on the custodial office door
– Bathrooms

Coming out:  I said that I have already pretty much told the people I would naturally tell in person, the ones I see regularly or semi-regularly.  And I wasn’t going to be able to get to everyone, so if she could either make an announcement at the next staff meeting and/or send an email, that’d be great.  We agreed she would do both.  I told her I’d get back to her with the content I’d like her to say.

Name plate:  The biggie!  I said I had two ideas, but I didn’t say exactly what they were.  (I’ll say it here though!  Either  1. just “Kameron” and nothing else.  2. Mx. [last name].)  She said that her thought was that my co-workers have Mr. _____ and Mrs. _____, so it’d be great if I conformed to that and picked one or the other.  I said, “OK!  Great, there is another option that I will go with.  It’s Mx.  That’s pronounced ‘Mixter.'”  She wrote it down in her notes.  It was a done deal!

Bathrooms:  I could write an additional article about this (heck, probably more like a dissertation!), but to keep it short and sweet:  We agreed that I get to pick where I go, and I am making no big deal of it, and it does not need to be a part of any announcement.

All’s how it should be!  Just one more small way I am joining the world of adults.  That’s Mixter, to you.


Finally changing my name legally

I started going by “Kameron,” socially, in May of last year.  I had a turning-point conversation with my spouse a couple of months before that, but I wanted to let it sink in, because once, years ago, I picked out a name I thought I wanted to go by.  But then I just didn’t do anything more with it.  So I wanted to see if that was going to happen again, or if I would actually move ahead.  My spouse started calling me the name around the house, and then, a pivotal moment was trying the name out within a group of strangers that I was only seeing on a temporary basis:  Being transgender while in a partial hospitalization program.  That helped immensely; to hear the name repeatedly and see if it would sink in.  Once that felt right, I emailed a bunch of people with this new information (and with a new phone number).  That was a big move, but I haven’t regretted it.  It’s been a super easy transition – no one, surprisingly, has messed up in front of me, once.  Plus, acquaintances and friends of friends heard word from others, so I barely had to tell or remind anyone!  So cool!  (Well, ok, except for family members, which is different).

Last Monday, I finally went downtown to get the process rolling on getting it legally changed.  I think the hold-up was:  I wasn’t ready to come out at work, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to change my last name, too, while I was at it.

I’m now feeling good about coming out at work within the near future.  Also, I decided to change my first, middle, and last name.  That’s going to take some getting used to, since I haven’t changed that anywhere yet, even socially.  Guess I gotta come up with a new signature too.

The process was not too bad:  I printed some documents out from an online site, and fortunately my spouse’s dad is a notary, so we were able to go over to her parents’ house to get that all in order and signed, the day before.  I had Monday off work, and it turned out to be a gorgeous day, so I decided to bike.  (So glad I did because I ended up having to go back and forth, and to a few places.  Parking is tough downtown, and I was able to zip around and lock up at VIP spots anywhere I was going, haha – VIP spots meaning street signs and trees.)

I first went to the information desk at the County Clerks’ office.  The lady was brusque, giving me 2 other documents that had to be filled out, asking me if I had my index #, and telling me I needed 3 copies of all these papers.  Luckily, my spouse’s dad, who works downtown, had told me I could contact him if I needed anything else.  I called him, biked over the few blocks to his office – it was cool to see where he works! – and he helped me fill out the rest, plus he made copies of everything and paper-clipped everything neatly and efficiently, with clips on both the top and the sides!)  I thanked him and rode back and got in line, where I stood for probably a half hour.  When it was my turn though, I got through quickly.  I paid the $210 fee, got my index number, and got a receipt.

They told me I then had to go to the Hall of Justice, to the Judicial Clerk’s office.  This involved more bike riding, plus a walk through a metal detector and asking around in order to find the right room.  Things went smoothly there too, although I noticed that on the receipt I got from the County Clerk’s office, they spelled “Kameron,” “Kamerson.”  Aarrgh!  I asked if this was going to be a problem, and I was assured that it was fine – the judge wasn’t going to be looking at that at all.

I then biked to a coffee shop and worked on some writing for the rest of the afternoon.  About to head home, I ran into a friend, and we chatted for a while.  Then a stranger approached us with a digital recorder, and he asked if he could ask us a question for a radio show.  I said, “probably!”  So he launched into, “OK, so the Cubs won the world series, and that hasn’t happened in 108 years.  And then Trump was actually elected president.  So, with all this going on, what’s next?”  I said, “Flying lizards,” just because it was the first thing that popped into my head, but if I had thought for even just a second, in retrospect, I would have said, “SUPERMOON!” because I’d heard that on that day, (November 14th), it was the biggest it’s been in 69 years, and it’s not going to be that big again for another 34!

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Oh well.  Next time I’ll make more sense.


Summer of t-shirts #4 / Transgender Trailblazers

This is a series in which I highlight different shirts I am now able to wear un-self-consciously, because I had top surgery earlier this summer!

This one is a brand new t-shirt – it was designed by Erin Nations, a transgender comic artist living in Portland, OR.  You can get one here:  Transgender Trailblazers Tee.  You might want to act now – they could go fast!  (Looks like he’s already out of size M light-blue shirts, for example).

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From the website:  “50% of each sale will be donated to the TransWomen of Color Collective.  TWOCC is a grass-roots funded global initiative created to offer opportunities for trans people of color, their families and their comrades to engage in healing, foster kinship, and build community. They strive to educate and empower each other through sharing skills, knowledge and resources as they build towards the liberation of all oppressed people.”

Ten trailblazers are illustrated.  “They were/are advocates, activist, pioneers, community leaders, and historical figures in the transgender community. Through their actions and involvement, they paved the way for many trans people, allowing us to live our lives more openly, safely, and authentically.”

Here they are, with a brief description that I cobbled together from various websites:

Sylvia Rivera (top) – She was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activist Alliance.  She attacked the HRC and Empire State Pride Agenda for not being trans-inclusive.  A lasting quote:  “Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned.” The Sylvia Rivera Law Project was founded in 2002, in her honor, and aims to ” guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence”.

Miss-Major Griffin-Gracy (2nd from top, L) – She’s the executive director of Trans Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project.  She was a leader in theOne month after top surgery / Summer of t-shirts 31 Stonewall Riots and then imprisoned for 5 years, which led to her also fighting the prison industrial complex.

Leslie Feinberg (2nd from top, R) – A self-identified trans, butch lesbian, communist.  Wrote Stone Butch Blues in 1993.  Also wrote Transgender Warriors and Trans Liberation.  She did not care what pronoun was used in reference to her, as long as it was with respect.

Alexander John Goodrum (2nd from top, center) – An African American Trans, civil rights activist and the founder and director of TGNet Arizona.  He took his own life while in a psychiatric ward in 2002; he was posthumously awarded the Godat Award for his service in the LGBTQ+ community.

Lou Sullivan (3rd from top, L) – He was possibly the first trans-man to openly identify as gay, and he was largely responsible for the understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity being separate facets.  He also founded FTM International.

Kate Bornstein (3rd from top, center) – There’s no way to condense her accomplishments here.  Just look her up!  Read her books!  Also she just posted on her twitter feed, today, about it!  – “Tickled pink to be drawn on one of these T-shirts by Erin Nations.”

Louise Lawrence (3rd from top, R) – She worked with Alfred Kinsey and later, Harry Benjamin, and she counseled other trans-people just by having them drop by.

Marcelle Cook-Daniels (bottom, L) – He worked for the IRS and was working on his masters in computer science.  He was a transmasculine African America activist and leader, presenting at many conferences and contributing to a handful of books.  He took his own life in 2000.

Reed Erickson (bottom, center) – He became very wealthy over time through his professional life – he studied to be an engineer and later successfully ran two large companies and invested in oil-rich real estate.  In 1964, he founded the Erickson Educational Foundation, which “helped to support, both through direct financial contributions and through contributions of human and material resources, almost every aspect of work being done in the 1960s and 1970s in the field of transsexualism in the US and, to a lesser degree, in other countries. The EEF funded many early research efforts, including the creation of the Harry Benjamin Foundation, the early work of the Johns Hopkins Clinic” as well as information, counseling, and a referral network.

Marsha P. Johnson (bottom, R) – A close friend of Sylvia Rivera, she was a leader in the Stonewall Riots and later a co-founder of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries and an organizer with ACT-UP.  She was also a member of Andy Warhol’s drag queen troupe, Hot Peaches.  A lasting quote, whenever she was asked what the “P” stood for:  “Pay it no mind!”

Others in this series include:

One month after top surgery / Summer of t-shirts #1

Summer of t-shirts #2 / How to fold a shirt

Summer of t-shirts #3 / Return to work


Happy pride weekend, and The People

Just like in past years, I know I’m behind on the pride-related post, but this really is when our city celebrates pride.  This year’s theme was “Let’s Make Magic.”  My partner and I took that concept and twisted and twirled it to suit us.  She has a wand that a friend made, and she has lots of fun black clothes.  She also has badass sword earrings and newish leg tattoos.  I have this zebra print cowboy hat that I’ve worn a lot for drag performances, and recently it’s acquired a white plastic flower, but I don’t know from when or where.  I also had an idea for a magic trick.  Here’s some pictured from right before we biked to get down to the parade:

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This year, we started out earlier than usual, and went to a friend’s house for a brunch party ahead of time.  Three of them were wearing black matching short-shorts in overall form, with nothing underneath, plus loads of glitter and spray paint and face makeup.  They had made incredible puppet-like creations to carry, and they planned to watch the parade and then jump in at the end.  That sounded fun!  But my spouse and I also wanted to march with her employer (a food co-op), like we had done last year.  So we split our time half and half:  after the party we went to find her group, and we did half of the parade with them.  I handed out 300 coupons for $5 off a $25 dollar purchase.  I love handing things out!

Then about half-way through, we jumped out and walked back to where our rouge group of friends were watching.  Every time a dog walked by, a bunch of them would go pet him/her.  And every time there was a gap in the parade, they’d all walk into the road to fill the space until the next group caught up.  Once the last group passed by, they jumped in and started chanting, “The People, The People…” and urging other spectators to jump in and join.  A lot of people did!  The mass got larger and larger until we reached the end and people started dispersing.  It was a blast!  Usually in the parade, I’m with a small group, and it was really great to just get swept up in this energy.

Afterward, we decided not to go to the festival because of the admission cost and crowds.  We met up with some of my spouses co-workers for pizza and beer.  The following day though, we actually attended the picnic, which I haven’t done since I was a teenager, because we wanted to catch up with some friends.  It was low-key.  We saw some drag performances, which do not quite translate into a mostly sober, middle-of-the-day, middle-of-a-field environment.  Haha.

This may have been the most fun I’ve had during pride in years.  I think because we were with different people, throughout the weekend, and just because I was less stressed and anxious.  With less anxiety, there’s more potential for fun!  I love it!  (Also, we were having a lot of fun with our costumes!!!

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Here are some past posts about Pride:

Happy pride weekend, and BRAWL
Happy pride weekend

 


My insurance unexpectedly sent me partial reimbursement for top-surgery

The title says it all, but here’s the details:  Prior to surgery, I put a lot of effort into trying to figure out what I might be able to get reimbursed for.  I was on the phone with customer service for a long time one day; I scoured my insurance’s webpage; I tried to figure out codes and what they mean; my therapist called multiple times on my behalf.  I oscillated between feeling hopeful I might get partial coverage, and being convinced that there was no chance.

Ultimately it seemed like there was no chance.  I found a promising document at one point called, “Gender Reassignment Surgery Medical Policy,” followed by criteria to prove it is medically necessary.  Then I was told that that applies to some insurance policies with my insurance company, but my particular policy excludes this coverage, and that was the bottom line.

Still, people told me that it’s against the law to deny coverage, on a state by state basis, and my state should cover it.  I paid out of pocket, first for the surgeon’s fees in advance, and then for the surgical center, the day of.  After the fact, I asked my surgeon’s office to send me an itemized bill of what I’d paid for, and I submitted that to my insurance company, without much hope.  I figured it’d get denied, then I’d appeal and take it as far as I could.  Maybe I’d get some advice from my local gay alliance, etc.

About 2 weeks later, I got a piece of mail.  I didn’t open it because I didn’t care to read the bad news.  My spouse and I were leaving for vacation last Wednesday, and I figured I’d better open it before we left.  In case there was some deadline for appealing it.  I opened it up, and it was a check for $2,800.09!!!!  I yelled at my partner about it, the excitement of it, which must have been jarring because I almost never yell.  What an amazing way to start our trip!

That’s 47% of the surgeon’s fees (including 100% of the accommodations – staying at the surgeon’s guest room!)  I really could not believe it – either the person on the receiving end wasn’t paying attention at all, or they knew exactly what it was and had some strong personal beliefs of what should get to be covered!!

Now I’m just deciding if I should also get an itemized bill from the surgical center and try to get more money back…  Maybe I don’t want to push my luck…

It really paid off to just try, even though I didn’t believe anything would come of it!

Here’s a post I wrote earlier on this topic:
In February, I wrote GID: exclusion for top surgery coverage