Telling My Stories

A life lived outside

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The Last Time I Wore Camo’s

Posted by catkisser on January 12, 2010

Life is full of weird little ironies, one of them was the circle of “guys” I hung out with, mostly dating back to my college days, was a mixture of Yuppies and those from rural backgrounds.  In college, I actually taught most of them how to shoot and later, how to track and hunt.  True confessions time, one of the ways I coped with my “issues” was to hide behind a beard much of my adult life.  This was actually quite liberating in an unexpected way, you see it allowed me to be reasonably true to myself, a woman, while bearing that unmistakable male marker that deflected attention to the fact.  Ask any female to male transsexual about that because the very first thing they typically do is grow a beard when the testosterone lets them for that very reason.

The summer of 93 I shaved it off….and a funny thing happened as a result, to everyone who knew me, I was still male but those I met for the first time, I either confused the hell out of them or they simply saw me as a butch woman.  And it scared the hell out of me because here was my big, dark, forbidden secret and people were seeing it without trying!  The next couple of years I got a crash course in how people gender other people and the ability of most to absolutely not see things happening right in front of them they didn’t want to see.  I would go with one of my male friends to do something either gender neutral or downright macho and I would immediately be taken by all we met as the wife…..and the male friend absolutely would not acknowledge it was happening at all.  Trips to the flea markets and farm auctions with Terry this happened but most surprising to me was hunting, fishing and canoing with my friend Tom.  Tom’s wife, Nancy had inherited a cabin at Lakeside, Ohio.  Lakeside was a gated Methodist resort area on Lake Erie and Nancy’s family mostly just rented it out during the summer but every spring and fall Tom and I would go up to open and the close the cabin for the season and make an extended weekend of it so as to get in some fishing.  Without a beard, and especially when we brought his young son, Andrew, with us…..I was the wife…to everyone…and Tom never once allowed himself to see this even when older couples would come up to us fishing on the dock and ask him “who catches more fish, you or your wife?” and point to me.  Or when some other kid Andrew was playing with would say something like “ask your mom if you can join us for dinner.”

But it was the last time I went deer hunting with Tom that it got really really strange.  I was a master cabinetmaker with my own business and it was very hard to take time off if someone had a job in process.  But deer hunting was one excuse everyone in Ohio understood.  Opening day was pretty much considered a holiday and high schools even were frequently shut down for it.  For me not to go hunting on opening day of deer season with Tom was literally unthinkable.  So that year, even though I’d gotten a puncture wound on my hand that was getting infected and not responding to my home remedies, I went.  Even though I was running a fever of over a hundred.  I really didn’t want to go so I made sure I picked a spot for Tom where he’d be assured of getting a deer right away and sure enough, around 11 am he did and after helping him dress it out, I was free to go home and did.

My business had been slowing down all that year and the only health insurance I had covered emergency room visits only.  I was three counties away from home and was driving past a county hospital so I stopped in to have my hand lanced and get a prescription for anti-biotics or so I thought.  Ok, let me paint a mental picture for you.  I was driving a pickup truck with an easy rider rifle rack with a shotgun and black powder rifle.  I was in hunting camos from head to toe with the hunter orange vest.  Heavy camo hunting boots.  This was literally the most butch you could go without pissing in public.  I was told they had to admit me for treatment and was given no choice in the matter even though I kept telling them, I’d drive to the hospital near my home and get admitted and that I absolutely wasn’t covered by insurance and would not be able to pay for this.

I was there for three days, put in a private room which made no sense to me at the time and in retrospect absolutely no one on staff checked out any part of me other than my hand.  Working several years later as a nursing assistance, and ironically sometimes in that same hospital I can tell you this was not standard treatment.

Cut to several years later when I had just transitioned.  The hospital sued me for the fees, no surprise.  Tom, who was an attorney, represented me but refused to see me in person after I’d come out to him.  One day he called pretty upset and said he had just received the admittance form from that visit and couldn’t talk about it so he was emailing it to me.  These forms are a checklist of the exams done by the admitting physician.  It all looked pretty standard until you got to urinary/genitals exam.  Handwritten in (instead of checked) was “exam deferred, normal female”.  At least that last time, Tom saw it.


One Response to “The Last Time I Wore Camo’s”

  1. Wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it with the world… just the kind of thing I would love to publish in OII Australia’s “Our Stories” pages.

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