The Concept of Transgender: Making it Stick

Some of my estrogen patches have been remarkably devoid of their adhesive, sticking to my skin more like children's colorforms than as anything useful. I noted the lot numbers on the open packages and contacted Novartis, the manufacturer for my estrogen. I had to give my legal "Clark Kent" name and proceeded to describe the problem. After my explanation, she summarily told me that she would investigate this but that she would also have to escalate it to her manager because such a high dosage given to what they have on record of me being "male" would red flag it. 

She went on to read off a standard set of disclaimers and warnings required by the FDA to be read to prospective users of Estrogen.  She started off with the indications for which estrogen might be prescribed.  All of those reasons were for biological women. The precautionary warnings included all manners of womanly issue for which this might be prescribed and for all sorts of potential side effects on the female reproductive systems.

When she finished her short dissertation, I finally felt inside that I had had enough.  Between the "red flagging" of my estrogen because I was seen as male and between the list of warnings and the list of conditions for which estrogen might be indicated, none of which included a person who might be transgender, I had had enough.

I interrupted her while she was in the middle of a multi-minute non-stop ramble.

"Excuse me", I said.

She read a few more words off of her template and then paused.

"Oh, I'm sorry", she said.

I started in.  "I just want to make a quick note that your list of prescribed usages for estrogen is just a bit short sighted.  You missed one potential condition in that list".

"What was that?", she asked openly and inquisitively.

"You see", I started, "You failed to mention that the product might be used by transgender women who are transitioning.  You see, the person you are speaking with right now has been living full time as a woman for the past two years and I'm about to resolve the legalities behind my official name in a couple of months".

Without pause, she immediately replied with what appeared to be quite an honest, "CONGRATULATIONS!!"

I replied, thankfully but more subtly, with a "Thank You.  This was not a choice I made lightly and I realize all of the potential consequences which you read off to me.  At some point the FDA will likely include transgender women in that list.  But yes, I know the potential issues of using estrogen and my choice to use it did not come lightly,"

She seemed quite empathetic at this point in her remarks and questions to understand a bit more so I took the opportunity to talk with her about facts..... facts that being transgender is considered a medical condition in the DSM and that estimates of up to 0.3% of our United States population identify as transgender....a number estimated to comprise about 700,000 individuals.

I mentioned that my chosen name was Christen and she asked me if I would like to be called by that name.  I thanked her for offering and asked if she could enter that name as an alias for me.  She did.

She thanked me again, gave me a reference number to the call and told me that she was going to speak with her supervisor immediately.  My 7 to 10 day wait was interrupted not 15 minutes later with her calling me back, with a lilt of excited happiness in her voice, to tell me that I was being reimbursed for the cost of the entire lot....not a paltry sum of money either.

I am quite confident in my surmise that she wanted to get to know me more but was hesitant in her professional environment to do so.  Even still, she initiated some small chat after our business was concluded that was entirely "girl talk" and it was clear that she could have easily found comfort for an evening sharing a drink and a conversation together.

Evey exchange is an opportunity to bring about learning and to expand someone's horizon just a bit more.  Every time we do, the world becomes just a little bit smaller and a little more interconnected for each of us.


  1. That took a lot of power and self-confidence, to educate that consumer rep, like you did. Thank you, very much. And good luck, with the name change.

  2. Love your writing! I cried... I've lived your story! I'm transitioning now and my dear wife and children are along on this amazing journey with me. I would love to be able to talk with you sometime; you are truly inspirational! Blessings,

  3. Agree with Michelle, I read Of Trains, Trees and being Trans, at work and had to leave the meeting I was in, and go have a break down in a private office. You could change the you girls name, location from NH to Georgia, hiking to mountain biking climbing, and you wrote my life story, I had my wife read it and she said it looked like something I could have written. We are working through what transition will mean and be. honestly to see if the family will continue to be. She told me after reading that story that I should contact you if I could.

    Good luck I am looking forward o reading your entire blog in my boredom at work.

  4. Hi Christen,
    Michelle here again, absolutely loving your writing, it is so spot-on and charged with emotion! My wife and I remain in love and deeply committed to staying together... "one day at a time." Coming out, nobody has expressed surprise, and some have said they've always suspected. Clients at work gender me as a woman now as do people I meet for the first time. Life's so much better!
    Please don't ever stop your writing! There's a lot of girls out there that so look up to you, and your writings help us educate others! The very, very best to you, dear sister!
    Love and Peace,


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