It was a day just like any other. It dawned at its astronomically appointed hour. The sky was meteorologically clear. I awoke before my alarm clock (okay,perhaps I can be forgiven one deviation from the norm). I showered, dressed and had breakfast.
And so, un-momentously, began one of the most momentous days of my life.
I hopped in the car, filled up and drove into downtown Vancouver. The latter alone is somewhat noteworthy – I never go into Vancouver without a good reason.
Today, at 11:00 I had an interview with two psychiatrists from our provincial Medical Services Plan to assess my suitability for gender reassignment surgery. Their decision would determine whether or not I could proceed with the surgery. In short, this meeting was going to have a major impact on the direction my life would take. It would be, to put it bluntly, a Very Big Deal.
I was apprehensive, of course. In my heart and soul I know I am Stephanie and I know what makes me so sure I’m on the right path. But would I say something that they would misunderstand? Would I blow it by being over-prepared? Would it sound like I’d memorised a script? Would I be turned away by The Gatekeepers, like some other people I’d heard of? Would I be grilled to tears, forced to confess that my wicked stepmother had dressed me as a girl and warped my poor childhood psyche beyond any semblance of normal boyhood?
I had a mountain of documentation with me. I had letters from people I worked for and volunteered for, people I’d sung with, people whose kids I’d picked up at daycare and more. I had copies of my psychologist’s report, every piece of correspondence I could gather regarding referrals, requests, medications and more. I had a Ziploc bag an inch thick filled with this stuff.
I looked great. I wore black flats, grey dress pants and my favourite warm red turtleneck sweater. I had taken care with my makeup to look natural and not made-up, just enough to cover what still needs covering plus a hint of lipstick. I wore my favourite Mrs. Treble Clef earrings.
And everything just worked.
Well, everything but the directions. I found the building, parked and went to fourth floor reception. I was directed to the sixth floor, where I dutifully went – and could find no office that even looked remotely appropriate. I went back down to 4 and discovered I was supposed to wait on 6 in the chairs by the elevator and I would be called on at the appointed time. Strange, but whatever. It all played out.
We met in a small boardroom, just the two psychiatrists and I. The actual choice of interviewers is somewhat a matter of chance. There is a pool of about four doctors, any two of which may handle the appointments for a given day. I saw Dr. Oliver Robinow and Dr. Miriam Driscoll. Dr Robinow did most of the interview while Dr. Driscoll observed and made additional notes. It was painless but quick, professional and through. We talked about earliest inklings of transgenderness, earliest manifestations of it and how that progressed and persisted through my early years and my teens. We talked about relationships and the effect my transgenderness had on my ability to form deep and lasting relationships. We talked about marriages, children and coming out. We talked about how I finally learned the words and the concepts to talk about transgenderism – I had had no way to describe the feelings of mis-identity and unrest all my life. We talked about my realisation, my Aha Moment when I finally realised that I was indeed transgender and how my whole life finally began to make sense.
None of this was in any particular sequence, perhaps to make sure that the puzzle pieces would fit together no matter in what order they came out of the box.
After all that, Dr. Driscoll had a few routine questions, almost like a medical questionnaire – smoking, drinking and street drug habits, drug allergies – that kind of thing. She asked exactly what surgery I was requesting – making sure I could answer what was already down on my form. She asked if I understood the permanence and the consequences of the procedure and if I had sufficient resources for post-care when I got home.
They were both pretty satisfied with the interview because all they said was that they’d be preparing their letter to MSP. I had to pry out of them what it would say!
“Well, we’re recommending you for funding for surgery, of course.”
I almost had to make them say it again, to make sure.
And that was that. No big deal, really.
I hopped back in the car and started shaking quietly, I was so happy.
It was, after all, a Very Big Deal.