Routine Physical, or Utter Nightmare?

I had a physical today at the doctor’s office, with everything that being admittedly female and over the age of 18 entails. It was a disaster. Oh, everything went fine on the surface–the doctor was nice, and I seem to be healthy. I was determined to not appear squeamish or embarrassed–I’m too responsible, too sensible, too adult make a fuss over the doctor having to poke around down there. I held myself together beautifully (did I mention that I was into acting in high school?) . . . until the door closed, and I was alone.

Then, the emotions overtook me, and I was standing in the middle of the room–still in that stupid, open-backed gown–trying not to panic, trying (failing) not to cry, trying to convince myself that I shouldn’t be so upset. It was the responsible thing to do; I need to take care of my body and ensure that I’m healthy. I know that my body is female, and thus, there are just some things that need to be done. Making sure that I don’t have cancer is the smart thing to do. So why did it feel so damn awful?

Physically, it was fine. A little pain–whatever, nothing that I can’t handle. Emotionally, mentally–I was completely unprepared for how distressing it would be. I had to stop twice on the way home to cry and panic and get something out of my system. I’m still not entirely certain what it was that set me off so badly.

I’m not a woman. Plain and simple. I’m really, really not. I don’t want to be one. And I really don’t want people to call me one. Going to the doctor’s . . . maybe it’s my fault, since I didn’t come out to them . . . but it’s really uncomfortable being assumed a woman because I am, unfortunately, female. It started with the stupid form and the “women-only” questions that I needed to answer, continued with the doctor’s attitude of “it’s just something we girls have to deal with,” and went downhill from there.

It’s just so humiliating. Every time my body remind me that, hi, it’s female, and no, I can’t just ignore it, it feels like a betrayal. And if even my body’s against me, what do I have?

I used to be okay with identifying as female. I made a pretty clear distinction between gender and sex: I took issue with my gender, not my body. But lately, I’ve been experiencing more and more dysphoria with my body, not just with the social trappings, mental theorizing, and identity dilemmas of gender. Somehow, it’s become more than just clothes and words that are causing me anxiety.

When did this happen? When did parts of my body stop being mine and start being the other? When did my body become an obstacle? Why am I stuck in this body? Why can’t my body fit me?

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1 Comment

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One response to “Routine Physical, or Utter Nightmare?

  1. Our bodies can be quite the source of discomfort at times. I’m sorry you had to experience that. I had my own experience I’ll share if for no other reason than to let you know you’re not alone. 🙂

    “When your androgyny leaves your head and your wardrobe and becomes something to do with your body, it’s a moment of significance.”

    This was a comment made to me online when I posted about having to get a mammogram. I remember it because as much as we try and separate the two – our bodies and our gender are linked and not always as we like them to be.

    I had a physical done a couple of years back. All in all it was uneventful: good BP, EKG, etc… I needed to lose some weight, but I already knew that. The NP who did my physical wanted some routine blood work – again, nothing special. She then said to me, “Based on your age and breast size, I want you to have a mammogram and breast sonogram…”

    … “Um, Ok – I guess that makes sense.” I said

    And it did. Age, geographic local – and yes, my ‘girls’ – put me in the correct demographic… More or less.

    Usually, I’m good with straddling the gender line – but this felt different. It felt weird. I’m sure someone out there would have had pink glasses on right then … But not me.

    On a day to day basis, the ‘queerness’ of my body doesn’t really come into play. I see my queerness as being largely social: how I present and how I am perceived. Yes, having breasts can make it easier to play with gender cues, but there is never an open recognition of my body as a ‘queer’.

    And I suppose it is exactly that which I found uncomfortable. There was no discussion of gender identity, self-definition – nothing about challenging assumptions or making a social / political statement. It was me sitting there topless and the NP acknowledging (all very matter of fact) the queerness of my body. I became very self conscious of it – to the point of feeling embarrassed. I didn’t want to be ‘queer’ then – but I was. And it was in a way which I could not hide.

    It was, indeed – a moment of significance.

    Be well and be strong.

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