making and unmaking
i forgot about my testosterone anniversary. i forgot my shot that week, too.
at the doctor’s, i had to take off my binder for her to palpate my stomach. she pressed on my left ovary; i squealed. she didn’t say anything. she asked me if i was taking oral testosterone and i wanted to cry. i hate explaining my body to doctors—didn’t they go to graduate school for eight years to know how the body works? didn’t they drag themselves to bed every night, only to worry for hours about upcoming papers, exams, pressing personal problems they didn’t have time to address? don’t they know the power they have to make or break a life? i sighed. she watched me put my binder back on and wondered if she watched everyone put their underwear back on. the worst part was that she was so nice, just unsure, so i couldn’t even be angry.
my mother emailed me and told me that she was worried about me attending my best friend’s wedding. too many people from work, too many fellow friend’s parents. i’m in the ceremony. i hash out with my friend what i’ll wear—maybe a pant suit, maybe go all out drag and wear a dress. i tell her to use my birth name because this day is not about me. but i feel like i’m putting my underwear on in a room full of doctors who don’t know that oral testosterone disintegrates your liver.
i respond to my mother’s email, reassuring her, wanting to tell her that it’s not worth all the trouble, that everyone knows.
this is just as hard for me as it is for you, i tell her.
i’m broke as fuck since my mother died because my health insurance died with her and i have chronic medical shit going on
i spent six hours last week in a low-income health clinic in the west end; at about eight o’clock pm last monday i saw a doctor for my bronchitis -
- the only doctor at work there that time; it was the evening shift and god knows how many folks were there waiting for care -
i marked ‘female’ on the little intake pad they gave me because i was scared about inconsistencies with my ID but the short little man from trinidad doing intake assumed i had made a cough-syrup-induced mistake and put ‘male’ on my charts instead
and i let him
and i had time enough to learn he was from trinidad because there’s so much time at this clinic; so much time, and so many people making conversation
and hours after this gender designation the one sole doctor that evening to all these folks came to see me five and a half hours after i arrived
and asked me about the tight nylon and lycra undershirt i had on
and i told her that it was to support my back from a car accident i had a couple years ago
(and i really was full-on hit by a car a couple years ago)
and she gave me a hard, hard and long look and said ok
and she prescribed me antibiotics and codine cough syrup and let me go
and i feel better now
and i don’t know how she feelsfrom transarterrified
today i got a pottery barn catalog addressed to the past tenant
so i flipped through it for decorating ideas
what thorough and absolute exploitation
i know that people buy prints of art all the time, but i just can’t get over this cycle of what something being “art” means, and how thoroughly it exploits rural women of color in this case.
some white folk art collector found that a group of women of color in a tiny town in rural alabama were producing exquisite, innovative, unique quilts unlike any form of fiber art before—>an art museum in houston picks up their work—>the women of gee’s bend start a collective where they make quilts to sell—>pottery barn rips them off, probably using unethical labor to mass produce these quilts so you can buy one for your fucking bed for $150.
the pottery barn product description:
The women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama have developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style based on traditional American and African American quilts. Crafted by one of their most prolific and celebrated artists, Rachel Carey George, the original Star Quilt was made from feedsacks and recycled clothing. We collaborated with the Gee’s Bend Foundation to replicate it closely in this wall hanging, capturing the original’s lively mix of prints and patterns and intricate eight-point stars.
- 50” square
- Made of cotton.
- Expertly hand quilted.
- Trimmed in cotton piping.
- Reverses to solid.
- Hangs from the pole pocket. Hardware sold separately.
- Machine wash.