Finding yourself is financially stupid.
Being financially independent is a long-term goal of mine. I'm sure it's on the minds of many people, but I've made a hobby of reading financial advice. Dave Ramsey has helped me turn my finances around, particularly. Yet I'm spitting in the face of my own financial advice in going through with transition: changing gender is just not a financially sound move. Being transgender carries a heavy, heavy tax.
People mean well by tolerating who we are, sure, but it's always worrisome to hear their hesitation when the topic of surgery comes up. Why is it important that transgender care be recognized? After all, we're just asking for someone to fulfill a strange need or a sexual fantasy or severing the last connection to our poor, confused selves. No matter how justified it may be, the majority of insurance companies refuse to see the utility of SRS. If we want it badly enough, we should pay for it ourselves.
Yet to be accepted by law in our proper gender, we must get the surgery - insurance or no. Without the insurance we have little in the way of rights, and without the rights we are bereft of job opportunities. And that is what begins and ends the cycle of transgender discrimination.
Take, for example, a conversation with a coworker about her time at the airport that came up over diversity training. She nonchalantly related to me a story about a transgender woman at the airport; the TSA, knowing the transgender lady's situation, asked my coworker to go into the restroom and escort her from the premises. The lady had been living full time for a long while; she was on her way to have her SRS surgery performed. But because she was pre-op she was simply not "woman" enough to go to the bathroom. My coworker meant well, and has nothing against transgender people, but it was all I could do to correct her when she kept saying "he" over and over again when referring to this lady.
I hear more than my fair share of prejudice coming from Indiana. Just a month ago, a transgender lady in Franklin was raped; when she reported the rape she was arrested for filing false charges -- after all, no man can be raped in the state of Indiana. In my hometown, I could be arrested for female impersonation thanks to antiquated laws. A high school acquaintance meeting my roommate shot her a half-cocked glare and said "Yeah, I remember school with your roommate. I hear he went a little different."
(It should be noted that I don't have links on these issues, and for that I apologize. It's hard to get more info on the grapevine.)
Society, from my anecdotal perspective, seems to accept SRS as "adequate evidence" that a transgender person is serious. Everything up to that point is considered playful or somehow less dedicated than someone who had the whole change. Up until surgery we are not gendered under the eyes of the law: too male to be female and too female to be male.
This leads to a terrible squeeze-play on transgender people:
- If I don't have SRS, I cannot be accepted by the letter of the law.
- If I am not accepted by the letter of the law, I may be the victim of job discrimination.
- If I am the victim of job discrimination, I will struggle to make money to save.
- If I can't save money, I can't have SRS.
(Hey. If I turn this into a neat graphic and sell it to the HRC, I could afford surgery! Genius!)
The point remains despite my hyperbole: affording surgery often requires surgery. I find myself dealing with a decision of honesty and ethics: can I continue to live a lie for the next two to four years so I can afford to be myself later? If I want to have the surgery sooner, will I have to tank my credit rating?
More importantly, should I have to ask myself these questions?
And while I struggle with the high cost of surgery, I watch insurance companies cover hair restoration drugs, sexual dysfunction treatments, etc. Economically, I understand the need, as lots of people want new hair or a new libido and will invest in insurance companies that provide it. How many transgender individuals does insurance have to screw over before someone gets the right idea?
So we go it alone, quietly relying on the good grace of honest businesses to allow us the privilege of earning our womanhood. How would that look on a resume? "Goal-oriented individual: will not stop until goal is completed no matter the cost." Or how about "Wants to be a woman so badly she picked up two and a half jobs?" What about "Look, if I make enough money I won't be that weirdo man in a dress anymore?" I think that would grab someone's attention in the interview.
(Oh, and to any HRC representatives reading this article: my services as a corporate flowchart artist/writer are available for a one-time, after-tax fee of $20,000. I consider it a steal!)