This post is PART 25 in a guest blogger series following author Rachael's transition from an A.M.A.B (Assigned Male at Birth) individual to that of a self-identified trans woman.
If you are just discovering Queer as me, start the story from the beginning here.
I had no idea what to say, my mouth was completely dry, as my anxiety was starting to come up with too many scenarios. I went to get up, to move, to do something, anything, I was unnerved by his abrupt decision to eat with me. But before I could even pick up my food he spoke.
I see that you’re nervous, he said in a soft voice.
I replied that in a place like this who wouldn’t be right?
He responded by pointing out that it was a very safe place, but that he understood that I would be worried and nervous. He knew because he had already been here for a few days.
He went silent after that admission. I decided that I really needed to eat, so I stayed where I was and while watching him, devoured the last bit of my meal.
After feeding my face to keep my anxiety from making do something I'd probably regret, I just sat there calming myself. Surprisingly once he could tell that I was calmer he told me that I probably wouldn’t be seeing the doctor until tomorrow at the very least, and that most of the people who worked here were just trying to give us some space to work out our issues. I laughed, and realized that we could become friends, or at least I felt that he couldn’t harm me and he seemed to know how places like this worked.
He said that this was only a short term stay facility, and if it was warranted, I would be sent into the long-term ward if necessary. But that I should try NOT, to be sent there. It was very sobering to hear the fear in his voice when he told me in no uncertain terms that it was very difficult to leave long term. He asked, then apologized for asking, why I was there. I told him that I thought that I thought I was transgender and that I couldn’t handle the dysphoria and the chance that my family or the Catholic Church would come and “fix” me again.
Once I started though, I also explained that I thought for a time that I may just be a gay man. Which surprisingly made him smile. Curious, I asked him why? He said that he too was gay and that his partner of many years had left him and took everything. He said that it was the final straw that made him spiral into a nervous breakdown. As he was telling me this, his tall body started to shake and I could tell that he was starting to tear up. By this time, we were alone in the dining area. He quickly excused himself, and after dropping his tray off, turned to me and said that he had to go rest and he would see me later.
It occurred to me after our conversation, that my required visit to the resident doctor might have more of an impact on returning to the outside world. After returning my tray, I went to my room to study that packet a bit more in depth, but was startled to find it occupied by the new roommate. I wasn't really interested in talking to anyone at that moment, so I just dropped off my packet on my night stand, and turned to leave. When he spoke up. Hey! His gruff voice rang out against the barren walls, what are you doing in this place?
I was stunned, I mean at least the last person was nice enough to be apologetic about it. Then there was this guy, bold as brass, like it was something everyone here shared. As I looked at him I could tell that he was just curious, or he could have been bored. I replied that I had been brought in due to the fact that the doctors thought I was suicidal. You? He laughed and said that he needed a room to stay for a few days. I was quite taken aback. To come here voluntary? Just so you have a place to stay? I asked. He replied that he had gotten into a fight with a few guys at a homeless shelter and his PTSD from his time in Iraq was causing the police some concern. After he said that, I wasn’t sure if I was safe to be around him. I guess my face showed alarm or at least concern because his barking laughter was his response to me backing away. Before he could say anything else I turned and walked out of the room. I could hear him scrambling off his bed to follow me.
Editor’s Note: To read Queer as me – Part 26: Nervousness and paperwork, click here. Or click here to read the previous blog post Queer as me – Part 24: Roommate, For the latest LSOP blog posts and so much more, make sure to add us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.