by Lane Speidel
I am very angry with my doctors.
I am very angry with my body.
The body is cancelled.
She told me that being transexual is a science experiment, but I didn’t need her to tell me that, I already knew. Did you know that doctors are actually trained not to care? One term for it is professional distance. They are actively trained to be detached from their patients. Some quotes: “That is not a side effect of this medication,” “This is an experimental use of this drug,” “There is no research being done on the long-term effect of hormone replacement therapy on trans people,” “What the fuck?,” “Your nipples really fell apart,” “I don’t know what happened,” “If you seek another doctor’s opinion, I’ll stop treating you and your insurance will stop covering this.”
You do not care about us. Some of what you have done is silly. Some of what you have done has killed parts of me. Either way, I won’t be the same. I don’t know how to tell you what it’s like to have your body almost fit and then slowly yawn open at the seams. I don’t know how to tell you about the pain I’m in. I don’t need you.
We need cis doctors to make us—make our bodies I mean. We need cis health insurance agents to sign the forms so we can afford to get access to medication and surgeries. We need cis people to hire us so we can get access to the signatures. They sign the forms, they send the scripts, so aren’t they responsible in some way? For what happens to us? Immediately their hands go up, suddenly there’s no clinical precedent, suddenly there isn’t any data, suddenly we should have known what we were getting ourselves into. Is it my fault if my body fails my medical transition?
I place images of my open wounds up on a wall to make them beautiful. I want to make my wounded, bleeding, hairy, sick, chubby, rashy body beautiful in the way that I want it to have been beautiful already this whole time. I wanted them to have seen me as beautiful.
I know that to be beautiful is to be helped—maybe then they will help me.
I know that to be beautiful is to be safe—maybe then they will save me.
But I know that I am ugly, I know that I am disgusting, I know that I am a freak—so I wait patiently for what I can get.
The last time I saw my nipples they were red and black, purple and numb, green and spiky along the edges. They were abstract, they were grotesque, barbed, wet, oozing, disgusting, they tingled as they died. They used to be beautiful, the perfect shade of rosey pink, soft and round. What did you expect? You wanted to kill that part of yourself, didn’t you?
There’s this idea that to become trans masculine you must root out and destroy all that is pretty inside of you. My 4-year-old trans student said that he wouldn’t twirl, “That’s too beautiful for me.” The woman at the social security office told me I should stop my transition, looking at an old picture of me “You were prettier as a girl.” I disagreed, I told her that I’m prettier now.
Seeing mounds and shapes grow within the hole like seeds sprouting underground, pushing mounding dirt.
As a child I used to pray for breast cancer. The night before emergency surgery I wanted to pray. What will I ask for? What will I beg for? What will I trade with? Is it like a fairy deal, will I end up with a log instead of a baby? I don’t know, I don’t trust that kind of system.
Eight days after the second surgery; plastic dead rust color smell, old blood pilled together, rancid smell becomes familiar, wounds won’t be closed, wounds must remain fresh, open, agog, reactive, round door porous entry. Pain pain pain. What a poor metaphor. What a stupid body.
Sitting at my desk now, with two large, thick purple and red scars across my chest, I hardly remember the physical pain. I do remember the fear. Looking at my friends faces as they tried to care for me, but nobody knowing what to say or do. I had failed to give them the catharsis of getting my dream body. The shame of my body not being able to achieve this success. To be able to post those blissful glistening Instagram photos, not for myself, but for other transexuals. The shame that my body had failed everyone’s expectations. The shame of causing them that fear. Because everybody’s body is just an extension of our own. I don’t think we are intelligent enough to perceive and empathize with other people’s pain without imagining it happening to us. My able-bodied friends looked at me in horror—could that be me, too?
People staring at me on the train. Do they know how much I’m missing? A few weeks after the second surgery, sitting shaky on the trolley on my way to work even though I’m nowhere near ready, someone sits next to me on the trolley. Even though he chose to sit next to me, he is clearly very unhappy with his choice. There are some slurs, there is some pushing, it is 8 in the morning, nobody says anything and, still, my chest is an open wound.
I reward myself for living another day. I give myself permission to sit with uncrossed arms. I give myself permission to let the breeze blow through my clothing. I give myself permission to buy a sandwich with chips and lemonade. I give myself permission to eat in the park by myself. I give myself permission not to worry about any of it.
Know that your body is an impermanent state of cells sometimes traveling together. Bruising, leaking, hoping you try to build a future body out of imaginary skin, but there’s nothing there when you reach for it. The edges of you keep whisking away. Will that be a hole forever? Will thick pink, new skin be able to climb that chasm? Will you know yourself if it does? You start to develop a practice of noticing and remembering.
1. Touch each part of your body and say, “Thank You”
2. Then knock and smack each part of your body and say, “I Love You”
I am devoted to my body. I carve, I sharpen, I smack. I am devoted to my body. I fold, I writhe, I rub, I scratch. I am devoted to my body. I fall, I bruise, I fall, I scrape. I am devoted to my body. I lift, I scream, I shit, I bathe. I am devoted to my own body. What is devotion if not this? What is body, if not this?.
I’m healing something else, sometime else.
I feel my past selves infinitely looking at me, flakes of salty trauma covering their shoulders and eyes. I feel them smile, I feel it being sloughed off by the breeze, sparkling dandruff crystals turning as they pass.
Little bright things scabbing off and kicking into space.
I could name doctors that have hurt me. I could name doctors that have helped me. I could name doctors that have done both at the same time. I could let you know where they work, I could share their phone numbers. I could describe the looks of disgust at my naked body. I could tell you the number of times I saw a doctor wash his hands after touching me. There was a draft of this writing that included all that, to be honest, I’m not sure why I took it out. Maybe for the same reason I could file a malpractice suit, but I don’t. Who would side with a transexual freak who wanted their tits chopped off in the first place?
Some people have said my chest is hot, some disagree. I think trans people need to talk more about body failure. So, let’s talk.
Lane Speidel is a Philadelphia-based artist, curator, member of Vox Populi Gallery, and graduate of Tyler School of Art. They play with writing, sculpture, fiber, music, to try to place themselves in the world. These different methods patchwork in freaky, funny, and sad installations, with seams visible. They are a white Jewish transexual fag and acceleratingly disabled in many directions. Their writing practice began as love songs to friends, and now it is poetry, music, plays, and sci fi. Lane has been an artist-in-residence at Flux Factory and TPAIR. They have self-published many zines, and their writing has been in Ginger Zine, Stone Fruit, Art Blog, and Wick Gay Ways. They know that being a ts faggot is political. Our job is to upend all systems that do not make possible joy, family, community and celebration. They use their writing to look out of the keyhole of our capitalist reality, in their spare time they are also looking for the key.