The Transitive Property: An Unconventional Tutorial: Lessons from Oxford

Sept. 20, 2010, 1:26 a.m.

Last Thursday miraculously offered me a brief two-hour window that I could use to escape NSO and drive over to Mountain View. I intended to see a gender specialist for my prescription for testosterone and to start hormone replacement therapy. I was so nervous the nurse had to check my blood pressure three times.

It’s a decision that took me a long time to make. When I was at Stanford, I was thrown into an emotional turmoil that left me exhausted at the end of sophomore year. I decided to study abroad in my junior year to clear my head and finally decide what I wanted to do. I regard Oxford as a very important period in my life and a crucial piece in my decision to take T.

When I was at Oxford, it was the first time I was Cristopher Marc right from the start. (The administrators of the BOSP program made sure to use my preferred name and pronoun from the beginning, and I’m grateful to them.) My Oxford ID was the first ID that had my real name, not my legal name. (Not even my Stanford ID has my preferred name.) I remember once I was randomly playing Jenga with some Oxford students, and one of them called me a “he”–no explanation needed. It was a moment that shocked me, since at Stanford I always had to awkwardly correct people when they referred to me with the incorrect pronoun. But here, I was Cris–just Cris. To those at Oxford, I wasn’t Cris the trans guy, I was Cris the American who spelled and pronounced things funny (it’s “color,” not “colour”). And for the first time, I got to take my pronoun for granted (and believe me, taking that sort of thing for granted does a lot for one’s emotional well-being). For once, I could forget about whether or not I passed, and I could focus more on my own manhood.

When I wasn’t spending my time wasting away in the libraries writing tutorial papers, I explored my role as a young man. I wanted to be a guy people could trust, the sort of guy someone could feel safe with. I explored the way I interacted with people, the way I talked, the way I acted. By the time I finished winter quarter (I decided to stay one quarter longer than I intended), I came to terms with myself. I discovered that being a man isn’t about looking or acting a certain way or drinking certain things. A man keeps his word and respects all around him. A man is someone who respects women. A man is someone who loves himself and does not feel the need to prove himself to other men. And a man is someone who responds to terrifying situations with unwavering courage, even when he’s scared to death inside. The people I met, the places I visited and the experiences I had at Oxford shaped my identity as a young man and were a huge factor in my decision to take this next step in my transition.

Why do I want to take T? Is it really necessary to become a man? To be truthful, no–there are some trans guys that feel like they don’t need it. For me, having a 21-year-old mind in what looks like a 15-year-old guy’s body feels a bit dissonant at times, and finally gaining the physical characteristics that make my body congruent to my mind will help me feel more comfortable in my own body. I will be able to function more easily in a social sphere–to make friends, to further my career and perhaps, to find someone to spend the rest of my life with.

I suppose compared to most guys, I reversed the whole chronological order of growing up–while the typical way of growing up is puberty and then coming to terms with one’s manhood, I had to come to terms with my role as a man long before my voice broke. And yeah, the fact that I am willing to go through puberty a second time is a bit ridiculous. (The first time was stressful enough.) But it’s something I need to do before I graduate, before I start that new chapter in my life. (And for my Serra residents, for a couple weeks, I’ll sound like a raspy awkward 13-year-old, so be prepared.)

Thursday’s doctor’s appointment went a lot easier than I thought–I answered a couple questions, signed some release forms and got my therapist to write a letter of recommendation for me. By the time I walked out of that office, the doctor had ordered the testosterone from the pharmacy, and by the time the first week of class wraps up, I’ll have had my first shot of testosterone. I’m so excited to finally look older than a young teenager.

Next week, I plan on turning in my name change forms to the county court office. Wish me luck.

If you have any questions, e-mail Cristopher Bautista at [email protected]

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