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I was thinking about how to title this post, but something wittier just didn’t feel right. I’m going up to Pennsylvania in December and we’re going to do this and it’ll be over.

The consult:
We drove to the office on May 3rd.* It’s three and a half hours away, so that felt like going on a real trip, like this was serious business, but when we got there, it was like any other doctor visit. Forms to fill out, releases to sign. The doctor talked to me about the surgery, about the health risks and complications (and yes, just like any surgery, I could die), told me a little about recovery times and post-op care. She also told me to quit smoking or else the skin graft that forms the lining of my vagina wouldn’t take and I’d lose it. I don’t think I need to make a snarky comment about how bad that would be, so I quit smoking the very next day. That’s probably snarky enough.

I paid my deposit, got a bunch of paperwork, and now starts this long haul to December; genital electrolysis every week and what feels like endless waiting. It reminds me of sitting in a doctor’s office, in the exam room, with your clothes off, in that silly paper clothing, waiting, waiting, just waiting. Five minutes feels like forever. Is it even July yet?

So while I’m anxiously awaiting this coming December, which will hopefully contain a Christmas where I will no longer sit down in the corner of the shower and cry until long after the water has run freezing cold, that excitement is tempered by several things.

I was in the front office, writing my deposit check to secure my surgery date and something felt… off. It’s hard to put it in a single word, but it felt like something had died, like the sun was less bright, like there was somehow less to the world. For the last twenty years or more, I’ve had to deal with being trans. I prayed about it, I hurt, I cried over it. I cut over it. And while I was overjoyed at getting the surgery I’d always wanted, something else occurred to me as well– there was no miracle cure. My signature on that check attested to the fact that I no longer believed in miracles, in the healing, restorative and curative power of prayer. God wasn’t going to poke his head down, apologize for not getting back to me sooner, he’d had a lot of other things to deal with, but abracadabra, you’re a girl. A real girl.

Writing that check, I realized that part of me still hoped, still prayed (however silently, however subconsciously), that there would be a miracle. One can argue that surgery, that a skilled surgeon, is a gift from God, a miracle, but honestly, the end result of surgery isn’t a fully functional vagina, is not a miracle. I may have a vulva when the doctor is all finished, but I may never be able to have an orgasm again. My body won’t be self lubricating, I won’t be able to get pregnant. I will have to use a dilator for the rest of my life. This isn’t a gift from God, it’s a human being trying to fix something that’s wrong with another human being. I do not see divinity at work.

God, as I have recently been musing, is either trying to teach me a lesson, or work out some ineffable plan (Q: How do you get two otherwise straight women to form a lesbian relationship? A: Make one a transsexual, and have her transition after they get married. Easy. Except it’s not.), or maybe this just has nothing to do with God at all.

In that situation, God is either weak and powerless, or he’s a sadistic fiend who deserves the exact opposite of adoring worship. Considering the degree to which I’ve presented myself as a Christian in the past, it may give a reader pause to consider how much things have changed since I started writing this blog.

While other things in my life have been changing as well, the most noticeable improvement, I think, is my emotional stability. My last suicide attempt was early March and while I’ve had some hard moments since then, I have never since been without hope.

That particular incident in March that I referred to, which I have come to think of as “The Hanging”, was as predictable as it was earth shattering. The predictable part I’m sure you can guess at. The earth shattering parts, well, maybe you can guess at those, too, but they certainly caught me by surprise.

You’ve realized by now, I expect, that I’m quite bad at actually killing myself so I’m going to skip the actual details. One night, a few days after The Hanging, Christine came down into the basement while I was sitting, crying. She told me that my parents were giving me the last of the money I needed for surgery. I looked at her with tears in my eyes and called her a spiteful bitch for lying to me like that. She told me that she wasn’t lying, that she had been on the phone with my parents and that they had said they cared more about me than a few thousand dollars. I still didn’t believe her.

A few days later, I was on the phone with my Mother. Towards the end of the call, I asked her about what Christine had said. She said they didn’t care about the money and wanted me to go get surgery. She said she loved me and both she and my Dad wanted me to be happy.

I felt two things– immense relief and an overwhelming sense of worthlessness, sort of like what I’ve heard of survivor’s guilt. I was going to be able to afford surgery. That last bit of money that was going to take us years and years and years to save up was just being dropped back into my bank account. And then I remembered my friends, some of whom have been without any kind of hope for longer than I’ve been in transition, some of whom have succeeded in killing themselves. What about any of them? Why do I get to hit this goal and some of them don’t and never will? How is that right? If I do this, how am I not just helping to perpetuate a system that is inherently unfair?

One friend of mine said that she figured I had suffered enough. That thought still makes me shudder a bit, as though we all have our dues that we must pay the universe in order to be made whole just so we can live our lives like, well, like normal people. I don’t think that’s what my friend meant– in fact I’m pretty sure she meant the exact opposite, namely that no one deserves to hurt like this, but if no one, than why any of us?

When I talked to Christine about it, she said it was because my parents loved me. But why my parents and not someone else’s? Why mine and not that girl’s parents there? Why did they throw her out of their house when she was 16? Why didn’t mine?

I refuse to believe in destiny. I refuse to believe that it’s anyone’s or anything’s master plan for some people to suffer and some people to obtain salvation. If there is such a thing as salvation, and a hell of which we’re in peril in the first place, that salvation shouldn’t be something that’s awarded based on a randomized drawing. It should be for everyone.

When I think about this kind of division of happiness, that some people get what they want and others don’t, it reminds me of that parable in St. Luke’s gospel about the beggar and the rich man. I’ve been in Lazarus’ shoes already. And now I feel like the rich man. If there is a God or destiny or karma, what’s going to be expected of me now that I’ve been given the one thing in life that I want the most?

* I realize it’s now nearly the beginning of July. Two months may seem like a long time to sit on this, but well, I’m still trying to parse all of it. This is a very big deal, after all.