My last post got a ton of traffic; it seems like I'm not the only one out there with gynecologist stories (nor, for that matter, chin hairs).
I really did intend it as a public service announcement, *not* a scare story. I hope you'll consider it even if you have a deep aversion to such things. Here are some tips to make your gyno-health-ventures more tolerable:
Before making the appointment:
While making the appointment:
A week before the appointment:
The day of the appointment:
At the appointment:
Any other tips I'm missing? Please add them in the comments!
This is a hard entry for me to write, since it's perrrrsonal, but it's important.
A lot of women hate going to the gynecologist. But when I say that I hate it, I mean, I HATE it. As in, I would rather get a cavity filled, clean my toilet, or run a mile with my old PE teacher screaming at me.
A few years ago, I finally found an OBGYN whom I love. (I'll call her "Superdoc.") Superdoc is a lesbian, was wholly unassuming when I was asking about lesbian sexual health while trying hard not to seem (or be) gay, and best of all: she has very small hands. But Superdoc is on a long medical leave, so I had to see someone else. Alas.
As soon as the new doc came into the room, I knew I'd made a mistake. (Also, she looked like an old-timey schoolmarm, so I'm going to call her "DSM" for "Dr. School Marm.") She didn't shake my hand (bad sign), and sat at her computer while I sat naked beneath my dopey little robe. Then she started asking me questions. The conversation proceeded thusly:
DSM: When you came here last, you and Superdoc talked about PCOS?
BW: Yeah. But I think I don't have it, because I got an ultrasound and they said my ovaries weren't polycystic.
DSM: That's not the only way we diagnose it. Do you remember what Superdoc said would happen if you didn't have a regular period?
BW [more subdued]: I had a CAT scan for an unrelated reason and I asked about my ovaries and they said they were OK.
DSM: [laughs consescendingly]: well, if they didn't look specifically at that, then they can't tell you. You have to do calculations.
BW: [very softly, looking away] Oh. I... I don't know, then.
DSM: Look, I'm not trying to convince you that you have PCOS. I'm trying to make a diagnosis here!
BW: [even more softly] Oh, yeah, I--I don't... um... Yeah, I mean, I'm not saying I don't have it, I just thought... Well, one thing is my hormone levels are normal. They took blood and--uh--they're in the normal range. I--uh...
DSM: That's not dispositive.
BW: Oh. [Feels small.]
DSM: It says here you had an IUD.
BW: Yeah. I did. Maybe five years ago? Six? Or four?
DSM: What was your period like then?
BW: I don't--I'm not sure. It was, um, I... I don't know. [Melts into a puddle of shame, embarrassment, and discomfort.]
DSM [incredulous; annoyed]: You don't know?
At this point, I am looking away, basically mumbling softly and incoherently, and--I kid you not--very close to tears, which DSM does not notice. I decide I'm not going through with the exam. Then I think about how folks in their 30s can get various kinds of nether-region cancer. And then I feel worse. And then DSM tells me that irregular periods put me at risk for endometrial cancer. And I think about dying.
More awkward conversation ensues. Some highlights:
When she gets up to do the exam, Kelli Dunham's refrain keeps going through my head: Get your bits checked out. I will mentally dissociate, I think. I'll pick a spot on the ceiling. I will notice absolutely everything about that spot. Bit-checking will be over before I know it.
But while conducting the breast exam (which, yes, I also loathe), DSM asks if I wax or pluck. I tell her that yes, about every other month, I get my upper lip waxed (I don't have a lot of lip hair; I just don't want any). Then, she asks if, although she can't see any facial hair, do I ever have to pluck a hair from my chin. I say sure, sometimes. She says it isn't normal for women to have hair anywhere besides their heads, and that this is probably because of PCOS (which, it is now clear, she has affirmatively decided I have).
Because my brain clicked off, I neglect to point out that countless businesses are sustained by the presence of hair on women's faces. That "lip-wax" and "chin wax" are actual menu items at many beauticians'. That this fact is excellent evidence that I am not a freak of nature for having unwanted hair.
So instead, I say nothing. I am silent. I imagine a carnival barker yelling, "Get your bits checked! Get your bits checked right here, folks!" I find a spot on the ceiling. I stare at it. She conducts the exam. It is uncomfortable, but lasts five minutes, tops. My bits check out fine. She leaves and I put my clothes on and get out as fast as I can.
Basically, it was an awful morning that reduced me nearly to tears, and I had to be consoled by my DGF (lucky for me, I was seeing her right afterward). But I did it. And now I don't have to think about it, and I've taken care of myself, which is an excellent feeling.
If I can live through that whole freakin' ordeal, you can, too (and chances are, your experience will be better than mine!). Get your bits checked out. I promise you'll live through it, and it can save your life.
This guest post was written by Jesse MacGregor-Jones, who also blogs at Butch Ramblings and is also the author of multiple books.
Butch, stone butch, soft butch, baby dyke, bull dyke, bulldagger, femme, stone femme, high femme, lipstick lesbian, genderqueer, queer, gay, FTM, MTF, transsexual, transgender, gay, homosexual, fag, faggot, womyn, boi, sporty butch, bisexual, butch daddy, twinks, bears, tops, bottoms, subs, doms… Labels, labels, and more labels. I bet you can think of more that I have not mentioned.
I identify as butch. I don't identify as stone butch but I used to identify as soft butch. I have a woman in my life that I care about a great deal. She is femme. I am a femme-loving butch. I've never been attracted to other butch women. I know several butch women who are attracted to other butches and I don't see a thing wrong with it. It just isn't what works for me.
My personal path to who I am today is complicated and I daresay that most of us have had a complicated road. Life really isn't easy for anyone. Many of us continue to evolve as we grow older, which is good and normal. Someone who is a high femme now may eventually just consider herself femme later on. I've seen butch women evolve into femme and vice versa. As I said, I originally identified as soft butch. In fact, there was a time in my life when I wore dresses, makeup, and got my hair permed every 6 to 8 weeks. I used to get my nails done and I enjoyed it to some extent. Yes, I was somewhat femme. (I have destroyed the photo evidence, so don't bother to look. <grins> )
I “evolved” as I got more secure in who I was. I have come to learn that the only real difference between me and someone transgendered is the fact that I have no dysphoria with regards to my breasts and I enjoy being touched physically. I've come to terms with my body and have no desire to actually transition. Nope, I really like to be touched. I'm good with that. Therefore, I am not stone butch. My stone butch friends assure me that they also enjoy being touched, but there are more rules involved and many of them don't like their breasts touched. Some do. The point is, we all have wants, needs, desires, likes, and dislikes, and that is just normal, We all have to get used to new relationships and how to touch people in ways that are loving and unique to each relationship.
The current woman in my life is very confused by all the labels. I think she thinks they are somewhat insulting and come across as derogatory. Some can definitely be used in a derogatory fashion. I personally don't care for labels, but they seem to have become important to the way we relate to each other. She is new to all this and she's very confused. She's never dated butches and she's never lived in a way that her sexual identity has been important. The smartest thing that she has recently said to me was that she doubted I was “typical” of other butches. This makes me laugh. I realize that while many of us have things in common, there is no such thing as “typical.”
I can only speak from my own personal view and I really hope readers will chime in and tell me what they think of the labels that they most closely identify with. I'm curious to know. For example, as I continue to evolve, I'm realizing that I also am considered 'genderqueer' because I feel more masculine and I like to be called “he” or hy. I don't see myself as pretty, beautiful, womanly, or anything female-identified.
As a butch woman, I often feel completely misunderstood. Often I feel as if I am loathed by a large portion of society. Femme women who only date femme women have a tendency to scorn women like me. We are treated as 'ugly women who try to be men.' But gender is more mental than physical. I don't want to be a man. I'm just not completely comfortable as a woman. I don't think like a girl. I can't help that. I don't want to be a man either. I just want to be me. Isn't this what we all want?
Butch woman are somewhat caught in the middle. I don't 'pass' as straight, so I don't have any of that 'straight entitlement' that so many femme women enjoy. They do not get the dirty looks, the condescending attitudes, the outward hate and even the shunning within their own community the way that I do.
Being uncomfortable as a woman, I didn't get the life education that women get from dating men and living in a straight world. Straight women, and femme women, are tough with feelings. They are so in control sometimes that it is just plain scary to me. For this very reason, I don't quite fit into the male world either. I'm emotional. It is that one damn part of being a girl that I cannot control. I hate it. Almost as much as having a period once per month. That comes along once every 28 days or so and slaps me upside the head and reminds me that even if I wear a tie and suits, I'm a woman and I can't hide from that. It has taken many years, but I finally do embrace myself and love me as I am. I am neither male nor female, in my own humble opinion. I'm something of a hybrid, the best of both worlds.
You see, I've come to learn that when it boils right down to it, I'm human. All the sub-categories and groups really don't matter that much if we get down to the root of things. We are all attracted to those we are attracted to because we see something in them. That's all that matters. I just thank the stars for the one femme who likes this butch. That's all that matters to me. I think we all have the right to be who we are and love who we want to love. I also believe that we should be more tolerant of each other, as a community, if we expect the rest of the world to accept us as well. Practice less judgment and more compassion beginning today. Take the time to listen to someone else. Their story may surprise you and it may be more like your own than you imagined. In a world filled with hate, we should start practicing love, both with ourselves and with each other.
I was searching for a computer cord earlier today and came across this little device, which changes "male" plugs into "female" and vice versa. No idea why they call it a "gender changer" rather than a "sex changer." Clearly, no sociologists were consulted.
If you were gifted with a gender changer for people, would you use it? On yourself or others? How often? What exactly would it do?
Happy Valentine's Day, dear readers! As promised, here's a wee gallery of butches in their boxers (and boxer briefs), modeling some great butch underthings (some of which are men's, some of which are women's). For some of you, I'm sure this will be eye candy--for others, fashion inspiration. Many thanks to the brave readers who bared themselves for the glory of the Internet, butch-style.
Whether you're single, coupled, tripled, looking for love, or loving the bachelor life, I hope you have a terrific V-day!