HRT: That undiscover’d country

Today I have an appointment at the Sexual Health Clinic at the University of Minnesota. It’s my fourth appointment in the initial phase of medical transition. Which means, at the conclusion, I’ll receive my prescription(s) for hormone replacement therapy.

HRT. Such a swift little initialism that carries so much power. What lives in those letters? Hope, excitement, relief, uncertainty, fear, anxiety. It’s all in there, a sea of troubles  swimming beneath that H and R and T.

Wondrous strange! it is to talk to a doctor about starting hormones. For she cannot communicate a single solid statement about the relationship between HRT and Leigh. She can say only what can occur, what might, often, sometimes, may, likely will occur; the individual, unquantifiable nature of person-ness make prediction impossible. And so, given that no one knows what HRT means for me, I have been framing transition in those terms. Transition is the great unknown, confronted wholly inside my mind.

And so, bounded in a nutshell, queen of my own infinite space, I embrace the HRT mystery. I love a good mystery.

Thankfully, a man I’ve loved so deeply for so many years has already given an uncanny accurate soliloquy on the intricate unknowns of gender transition. To be (a woman), or not to be, that is the question, friends. Womanhood, that undiscover’d country!

Hamlet, as you know, uses that term–undiscover’d country–to refer to death, ‘from whose bourn no traveler returns.’ He’s contemplating suicide.

I’m not. HRT is not death, nor is it occasion for grief. Quite the opposite. But still, HRT is in my mind at least, the death of something. Starting HRT is crossing the bourn, and what’s on the other side is a mystery as great as the old life-after-death conundrum. The question puzzles my will and has for a long, long time. Sitting here, in the windy cold morning of late May, I realize this is the final day that I will wonder without answers: what’s on the other side? Tomorrow, and forever after, the mystery will begin to unfold.

Hamlet, that intellectual overthinking brooder, can’t fathom the finality. In death, what dreams may come, he says, must give us pause. He sees the unknown lands of death as simply too perilous a proposition to embark upon such a journey.

But what if the boundary is not one of death, but of new life? What dreams may come? I can’t wait to find out.

See you on the other side.

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