Thursday, June 05, 2008

THC in Philly

I'd rate my experience at the Trans Health Conference in Philly last weekend as positive overall, but not particularly life changing. I had some frustration with the organization- the Chest Surgery Show and Tell workshop, which I was coordinating, was scheduled at the same time as the workshop for Post-Transition Men...a distinct conflict of overlapping interests which was not rescheduled, despite requests from both myself and the organizer of the other workshop; we both pointed out that "post-transition men" (whom he defined as men who generally need to disclose that they are born female) make up a huge percentage of the people who have experience to share the the Surgery Show & Tell, and that it's really valuable for folks attending the workshop to get as wide a range of examples as possible, including guys who've been post surgery for a long time.

Also, there were some other organizational issues- publishing names online that were meant to be kept confidential, offering to organize housing but then not notifying folks until very last minute about arrangements.

All of these troubles, though, are clearly directly related to the fact that this is an all-volunteer committee putting this together, and they are undoubtedly all incredibly overworked and over-stressed. As a whole, the conference went very well- I hear more than 1000 people attended, which is pretty remarkable. It was totally free, and there was food available for a very nominal ($1) price. The space was good and well set up, and there were committee members running around all weekend trying to make things run smoothly. So A for effort, even if there were some hurdles.

I didn't go to the first day, which is called Provider's Day, because, well, I'm not a medical provider. However, some folks told me that it was the best day in terms of presentations offered, and that plenty of folks go who aren't actually providers. Maybe if I go again, I'll try to come early.

I went to one really good, fascinating workshop, run by a midwife named Stephanie Brill from the Bay Area. I found it very useful- she covered both sperm donation, etc, considerations on the part of transwomen and pregnancy for transmen, the latter of which I of course found the most interesting. There wasn't a lot of totally new information, like hey, you have to stop taking T and wait until your menstrual cycle returns to normal for at least three consecutive normal cycles before trying to get pregnant! But it was really great to hear someone talk about men being pregnant as though it were a perfectly normal, understandable thing, and to hear about her experience working with a number of transmale clients. A small number, of course, but it certainly puts the lie to the "OMG first pregnant man ever!!1!!" frenzy that popped up with Mr. Beattie a few months ago.

It was good, too, to hear her talk frankly but not fatalistically about the potential difficulties involved in becoming a pregnant man- needing to be willing to go through some intense hormonal changes, dealing with the big changes that pregnancy can put your body through, often a body that you've worked really hard to change on your own terms and make peace with.

Becoming pregnant is something I think seriously about. I am very much looking forward to being a parent, and I would very much like to have a part in bringing a child into the world. Adoption, etc, are definitely options on my table, and I know I've got a lot of thinking and evaluating to do, but being pregnant and giving birth was always something that seemed really cool and exciting to me about "being" female. I always had trouble envisioning myself growing up to be a woman, but I always envisioned having tiny small babies of own.

I wonder how difficult it would really be to stop taking T for the year(s) that would be necessary for such an endeavor. Right now I mostly think about my T when I realize it's time to give myself a shot again, or I blame it for an acne outbreak or a particularly grumpy moment. Seems like it'd be okay to give those things up again for a while, particularly for such a good cause. But on the other hand, I'm pretty sure there's something going on here similar to depressed folks who take medication. They're depressed, they take the medication, and then they feel better! So they stop taking the pills! But it's the pills that are making them feel better, so of course they start feeling bad again.

I say now, from my position of security and happiness with my embodiment, that sure, I could stop taking T. But how much of that is me forgetting the discomfort and difficulties of living in a "female" body?

Anyway. It was a good workshop for me to attend.

My workshop that I organized, the Chest Surgery Show & Tell, went off quite well, despite scheduling conflicts. I'd say there were probably 40+ guys who came and took their shirts off and shared their experiences, and probably around 100 people who circulated through to look and learn.

I'd wanted to set up a space that felt safe, and low pressure, and would be easiest and most efficient for the maximum number of people to get the maximum amount of relevant information. The set-up, with stations around the room, seemed to accomplish that pretty well, although I had some guys say that they wished they'd had more signs to post more information (like price) about their surgeons, or that they felt a little uncomfortable being the only representative of their surgeon when some surgeons had 15 guys standing around.

Also, I forgot that such a system requires people to overcome their shyness and approach total strangers to strike up a conversation and ask questions...and a half-naked stranger to ask sensitive questions, at that! Fortunately, there were enough extroverted people to make things go more or less smoothly, and I think there were plenty of introverts listening in/jumping in to already established conversations.

I wandered around and stressed out a bit and tried to make sure things were running smoothly. I even shared my own experience with some folks. I talked about how comfortable I was with my surgeon, and how reassured I was with his long experience doing FTM chest surgeries. I tried to talk, too, about some of the things I was unprepared for. I wasn't prepared to feel so beat up immediately post surgery. I'd forgotten that I'd be bruised and raw after I subjected my body to, basically, voluntary trauma. That was certainly a bit rattling in a moment that I'd expected to feel only triumphant.

I didn't have a way to know and believe that my initial results when I first got to see them about a week post surgery


would in less than two years settle into my own chest that I'm so comfortable with now.

I've found that patience is such a virtue when it comes to my transition!

1 comment:

Mordecai said...

Sounds like you did some really great work that you should be proud of! The discussion of pregnancy options interested me. I'm sure you've considered it, but I was wondering what you thought or felt about the possibility of having your egg carried by a surrogate mother?