Roy Gilbert

How Transition Changed My Rigid Expectations of Masculinity

Cover Photo: An image of a person in a sweater over a gingham button-down shirt, holding their head in frustration, long blond hair between their fingers.

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Photograph by Karina Carvalho; photo illustration by Matt Ortile People | Bodies Obtaining a perfect grasp of masculinity was not my goal when I decided to transition, but I certainly did feel the pressure to try.

The lobby of the hospital smelled like a hotel and looked like a museum. We had arrived on time, with plenty of cushion room until six. The sun was still down, and every room and hall we walked through held that pleasant night-time aura, when the warm interior lights make the glowing black skyline in the windows pop. In the waiting room, I was given a clipboard with a number on it that made me shudder. It was the estimated cost of surgery, which I was hoping— but not certain that—my insurance would cover. They snapped an ID band onto my wrist, which could not fit all twenty letters of my legal name. I looked at copies of Food and Wine with my mother and my partner to pass the time.

The night before, my partner and I had been out with a few friends. It was the last night before I would be housebound for a couple of weeks (the idea of going outside with drains coming out of my body repulsed me). I rushed through dinner so that I would be good and full before ten, when I would be cut off from food and water until after surgery. My partner’s phone went off five minutes beforehand, alerting me that now was […]

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