There exists, for everyone, a sentence – a series of words – that has the power to destroy you. Another sentence exists, another series of words, that could heal you. If you’re lucky you will get the second, but you can be certain of getting the first.
Philip K. Dick, VALIS
I have been gorging myself on social media in the past month or two, mostly Tumblr and Twitter. It coincides with me quitting drinking and starting to write again; it’s almost as if I had huge reserves of unexpressed emotions and stories to tell that I was just putting to sleep every single night with gin and vodka. I’ve moved away from Tumblr, mostly because it skews toward a more teenage demographic. Despite my scatological imagination and juvenile humor, I’ll be 38 next week, and I just have more in common with people who went to college in the same decade I did.
The issue of Transgender sexuality is not new to me. When I taught in NYC, my students’ dance teacher was a trans woman, and I loved the shit out of her. My students performed the Lion King with her one year, and Thriller another. She was also a psychiatric social worker, and when I talked one of my good friend’s into voluntary admission to Bellevue, she took him under her wing and got him to a safer place.
In medical school, a queer transgender student and I became friends (he/him pronouns). When I was president of the endocrinology club, his LQBT club and mine hosted a transgender panel for the students. He was supposed to host, but got stage fright at the last moment and I went up to co-host with him. We had a solid unit on transgender health, and I’ve treated a handful of patients for different medical needs, before I started radiology.
While rejoining Twitter, I’ve ended up following a number of transgender people, mostly because I find them witty, and I can often empathize with what they express in their tweets, even if our situations are different. Although I am a cis-gendered male, married for fifteen years, with three children, I’ve been treated my entire life as if I were “other” than the expected masculine persona. I don’t think I’m effeminate, but I am expressive, open, and make an effort to empathize with people.
Also, a lot of transgender people are really goddamn sexy. No one told me this. Was I just supposed to find out on my own?
So, the JK Rowling diatribes hit, and I mostly absorbed the emotional aftershocks through people’s tweets. Although the primary sentiment was anger, it was pretty clear the underlying emotion was hurt and rejection.
Before all this happened, I was listening to the first Harry Potter book on audio. Now, for me, a late thirties white male physician, I still found the narrative of liberation to be compelling. You’re stuck growing up with a bunch of assholes who can’t stand you, and you’re suddenly ushered into a world of clever, foxy people who admire you, and you’re well regarded and cared for in a way you never were. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I’ve only found it for the briefest times, and then it was gone.
Now, if I was child who struggled with gender dysphoria, or my sexuality, I would probably put a lot of my hopes and wishes into a story like Harry Potter. “Maybe I’ll find people who are like me. Maybe I’ll be able to watch the TV I want to, wear what I want to wear, listen to my music, and people will laugh at my jokes and get happy when I come in the room.”
Harry Potter didn’t come out till I was already in high school. My equivalent was the Xavier School. I picture Charles Xavier, or Stan Lee, or Jack Kirby, taking the stage one day, and saying, “Listen, the X-men are about helping everyone and accepting people. Except Simon. Simon isn’t the kind of person we want in our school.”
The X-men were, are like a home for my heart, in a life where I have to spend more time than I like living like a vagabond. I’ve spent 9PM-9AM every day since last Saturday in a room by myself, reading chest CTs and ultrasounds, and studying less and less each night, and spending more time on Twitter. My wife and kids went out of town, and it’s just me again. And all of you, in my newsfeed.
So, to wrap up, because I desperately need to sleep: I read JK Rowling’s essay. She makes several claims that I’m pretty sure aren’t backed up by research or science. As I’m very fond of saying, I’m a goddamn scientist. I’ve been first author on medical research manuscripts. If you’re going to break a million people’s hearts, and claim that you have the facts to back it up, then you should for damn sure have 10 citations per paragraph.
I’m going to sleep, and try and write something up later today. It won’t be hard; her arguments are very mixed up. So, that said, I love all of you sexy, sexy, people, and for whatever small role I play among the hundreds of thousands of people within your social media sphere, I hope that I can bring you just an iota of warmth and caring and sunshine. And of course, mega-orgasmic erotica.