Writing What I Know
Things have been pretty tense at Casa De Amber y Bunny lately. Not due to personal conflict between my wife and I, no, we’re equally stressed and slightly terrified due to Amber having another gender confirming operation. She’s afraid it will be an utter failure, afraid of the pain, and afraid of not waking up from the anesthesia. I’m afraid for her. But selfishly, I’m also afraid for me. I don’t think I function without her. I mean, I could go through life and sustain myself, but I would become what I was before her. Until I met her, even as friends, I was almost dead inside. I had a failed marriage to a insecure man-child who couldn’t be happy unless he was validated by as many women as would allow him to stick his penis inside them. The only pregnancy I’ve ever had miscarried a year before my divorce, six days after my 27th birthday. I had thousands in debt. After years of expensive dentistry, my poor teeth were falling out due to a decade of bulimia. I was, for lack of better words, a fucking mess.
We were friends for a year, while I engaged in a regrettable relationship with a sweet person that I should have never asked out. Not because they had some failing, I was the failure. I dated them out of loneliness, I wasn’t fair to them. When I finally broke it off, she was there. She also came out publicly as a trans woman at the same time. It was not the best time for either of us to start a relationship, with so much collective mental baggage. But we still felt something our troubled minds couldn’t deny. And it was wonderful. We had problems starting out, but every couple does, misguided expectations and unforeseeable roadblocks and whatnot. But we stayed together, we worked through our shit, we moved in with each other, and fell in love. She saw me. The real me, the person everyone else either was too busy to see or just didn’t try to see. We laughed, we cried, and I was always glad to come home to her.
A year and some change into our relationship, Amber started to break under the stress and depression of being publicly out. The stares, the unkind words, the crushing weight of having to be ‘on’ and portray what society thinks a woman should be and look like. The job she had at the time didn’t pay her enough to save for any gender confirming procedures she needed and the transphobia she was subjected to on a daily basis was slowly killing her. I finally told her she should quit, I made enough to sustain us both for a while and I wanted her to have a break so she could rest. She wrote fiction, she started a podcast and website (Transition Transmission) to help others in the trans community, and she took the time to apply to jobs she might actually like working at. The writing was successful and the podcast/website really took off. But she couldn’t find any work, she got lots of interviews but no callbacks once they found out she was trans. Amber started the spiral back into depression, thinking she’d never be able to be her authentic self while being able to support herself. Not to mention, we were no closer to being able to afford any gender confirming procedures. The strain was starting to build on her, and us.
While looking for potential employers for Amber to apply for, I came across a list of companies that cover transgender health costs. I was shocked and elated to find my own employer among the list. Amber was already on my health insurance as we are domestic partners, we called and confirmed that gender confirming procedures are part of that coverage. So we began a year of consults, arguments with the insurance company about the coverage (even if your insurance has transgender healthcare coverage, the insurance company employees have little to no direct knowledge of it), and saving for travel as the insurance company only has one in-network doctor in all of the USA 500 miles away from where we live. She had her first procedure in August 2015…it was supposed to be two, a tracheal shave and brow contouring. As luck would have it, Amber has large sinus cavities that made a simple brow contour impossible. Another six months would pass by before we could afford to travel for the more complicated and expensive brow reduction to be performed.
I would travel a thousand miles and spend every last penny to make Amber happy. I don’t like the fact that she feels the only way people will accept her and hire her is if she surgically alters her face to conform to cisgender society’s idea of feminine beauty. I think she is wildly gorgeous and love her for who she is. I hate it she feels she must have surgery to be happy. But I will never stop her from doing what she needs, so here I sit at the hospital cafeteria, eating some shitty hashbrowns while staring at the surgery room pager they gave me like a time bomb. Last weekend, Amber was so scared of what bad things could happen during and after surgery, we both had an emotional breakdown. Amber hates that her transition has impacted my life so much. She wants me to be happy as much as I want it for her. She begs me to write, because she thinks it will lead to great things for me. Amber is certain I could be successful at it, and turn a hobby into a career I love. I have no confidence in my writing ability or its degree of success. However, she believes in me, and even amid all the turmoil and depression she deals with, Amber encourages me. The old adage is to write what you know. I know I love my wife, and I will walk through hell to make whatever she needs or wants to happen. I wouldn’t feel like this unless I knew Amber felt the same. So I sit, wait, and try to not to think of negative outcomes to this procedure. I only hope for her happiness.