Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Seeing red

Being a transsexual is expensive. I've been a little stressed about money lately, with student loans looming over my head and the perpetual cost of living in NYC taking such a big chunk out of my paycheck, and I realized how much extra money I've had to ease through things if being trans didn't cost so damn much.

There are medical expenses- my surgery cost around $10,000 all told, if you add up the 7550 surgery fees, 1800 flights + hotel for me and my mom and sister, probably at least 300 on food/taxis/etc while in San Fran, plus around 800 bucks in lost wages while I was out of work, including the 300 that my Union is supposed to reiumburse me for but has refused to. My other medical expenses are actually much lower than most trans folks have to deal with, since I have access to health care through Callen Lorde's youth program, which gives me intensely discounted services. My testosterone has cost me only 10 dollars per vial, and I'm only halfway through my second vial at 7 months on T. Usually it'd be around 60 or 70 bucks a vial. Each time I visit the clinic, which is every other week to get my shot, I have an optional five dollar copay, which I usually plain forget about, but which I have paid a couple of times. Then there's my once a week therapy, which ordinarily would be either out of pocket (who knows how much therapy costs these days?) or at least an insurance copay, but is free for me through C-L. (All this through my 24th birthday! Nice to get some advantage out of my youth). And then my weekly transmasculine support group has a $5 suggested donation, which I fork over when I have it easily to hand, which is about half the time.

Then there's all the cost associated with changing my identity documents. My name change process cost me...let's see, about 60 bucks for the initial petition. Then I was fortunate enough to get free support from the ACLU, so I didn't have to pay for my legal assistance, but that's just through good contacts in the community and the grace of the ACLU. Then it was $73 to get published in the village voice, and another $20 for the certified copies of the final order, once it went through. Then there was the $30 I sent to my surgeon for a notarized letter proving I'd had surgery (you'd think he'd include that cost with the nearly five grand surgery fee, but you'd be wrong) so I could bring that around to various institutions and prove myself. The new driver's license cost me $45. Most of the other places (social security, bank, etc) didn't cost anything but time, but time is costly, and I sure spent plenty of it in waiting rooms and on hold.

Hmm. I feel like there's more in there, but I can't think of it just now. I guess I'm saving money by no longer having to buy sports bras and tampons, but I'm turning right around and spending it on shaving cream and razor blades. It's enough to make a guy wince- what is it, well over 10 grand spent on my transition? I feel absurdly privileged that I've managed to pull all that off over the last year, and also profoundly sad that it costs so much to set things right between my body and my life. Also twinges of nostalgia- think what else I could have purchased. Finally travel outside of the US or Canada- probably could've made several trips. Or I could've paid off 1/3 of my student loans. Taken a date out to dinner every night for a year. Made a downpayment on a house, for god's sake. Oh well. I'm not going to say it's not worth it, because it absolutely, totally, one hundred percent was. The cost just makes me a little sad.

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