Illustration by Alexander Pines, CC ’16
Continuing to honor our Athena-like relationship with our mother mag, The Blue and White, we’re rolling out a preview from the upcoming fall issue, hopefully available in wonderful blue print on campus next week. On the cover this issue, former Bwog features editor and B&W senior editor Alexander Pines, CC ’16, wrote a sequel to his piece about identity and transness from last year.
“Do you have blood in your semen?”
This question, the last in a long line posed by my doctor at Columbia Health Services, was what made me realize why no one believed me about my UTI symptoms; everyone from the lady at the reception desk to the two dubious nurses to the doctor assumed that I had a penis. I don’t. Awkward.
“I’m trans,” I said.
So this is what passing really means, I thought. “I still have a vagina,” I said.
“Oh! Then you could definitely have a UTI! You just looked, well, like someone…” he said, trailing off and muttering about getting a urine sample.
Who ought to pee standing up? I finished for him, wishing at that moment that I could, in fact, pee standing up. It would’ve made taking that urine sample a lot easier.
Most of the time, I pass as a cisgender (non-trans) man and my transness is something I am not forced to think about. Moments like this remind me that for most people, trans identities—and, by extension, experiences—don’t exist. In this case, by the time I received treatment for the UTI, it had already progressed into a full-blown kidney infection.
Passing, in the trans sense of the word, is being constantly read as the gender I identify with—in clothing stores, restaurants, airports, bathrooms (always vital in bathrooms), and so on. Most don’t see the needles, the pools of blood that form on my thigh when I mess up a shot, the oily residue I later wash off my hands in the bathroom, the vial of amber liquid, hormones, I keep next to my birth certificate and the social security card on my desk.
Before I came out as trans, I used to jokingly call myself a “hundred footer”—you could clock my queerness from across a room. Short hair, Ani Difranco tee shirt, the works. In other words, I was used to being visible. Once my gender presentation became more intentionally male, this visibility became an anxiety that twisted in my stomach throughout my day—cashiers, security guards, and professors all fumbled for pronouns and stared. Now, I look like any other white guy on line at Starbucks.
His continued genderfeels.