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column transforming gender
Rebecca Juro is a nationally-published freelance journalist and radio talk
show host who is the Media Correspondent for The Advocate website. Her
work has appeared in the Huffington Post, the Washington Blade, Gay City
News, the Albany Times Union, and The Advocate magazine, among others.
Rebecca lives in central New Jersey and shares her life with a somewhat
antisocial cat. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @beckyjuro
I thought I'd beaten it. I thought I'd won. I
thought I'd left that place behind long ago.
I was wrong.
I've been on injectable estrogen for about
15 months now. I started on the shots the
moment I could afford them and I've been on
them for so long now, it's become my natural
state. It's how my body feels right to me. After
all this time, I couldn't imagine what life
would be like without it.
That is, until it happened.
I'd recently begun self-injecting and was
advised to order estradiol with a cottonseed
oil base because it's thinner and easier to use.
As a newbie at this, that made sense to me and
so I ordered it that way from the mail-order
compounding pharmacy I use.
The first time I injected myself with the
cottonseed estradiol I got a half-dollar sized
painful red welt at the injection site. Still
new at this, I assumed I'd done something
wrong and injured myself with bad injection
technique. When I self-injected again two
weeks later, I was much more careful and the
same thing happened.
I called my doctor's office and was told to
stop using the cottonseed estro and instead
order a new supply of the standard castor oil
mix which I'd been using previously. This took
longer than I'd hoped. The due date for my
next shot came and went, and my emotional
stability and control began to erode.
By five days after my due date, I was a mess.
My emotions were all over the place. I was
swinging from sadness to anger to depression
and all points in between, sometimes even
hour to hour. It was also the day I went to
check on my mother and found her breathing
like a blast furnace and foaming at the mouth.
I called 911. The EMTs and the cops came,
stabilized her, and took her to the hospital.
They took good care of mom in the emergency
room, but she was still in an altered state and
no one knew what was wrong with her.
I'd have been stressed out and scared on the
best of days, but this was not the best of days
for me. It took every ounce of self-control I
possessed to hold myself together as I watched
the doctors, nurses, and technicians working
on mom. The stress was taking its toll.
Leaving my brother and sister-in-law to
watch over Mom, I went outside for a cigarette.
I felt like I was on the verge of a breakdown. I
couldn't deal with it and I just wanted the pain
to stop. All of it. Everything. I just wanted it to
go away. I wanted to go away.
I was scared. Scared for mom, and scared for
myself. Despite the hurricane of depression I
was going through at that moment, somehow
I intellectually understood that the last time I
was in this place was just before I tried to drive
a van off of a bridge in 1997. I knew I needed
help and quickly.
I called a friend, a trans woman who has
not only been through hell herself, but who
gets me. I knew I could tell her anything and
she'd let me lean on her as long as I needed to.
I was a wreck. At one point, I talked about
taking my own life. She talked me through the
I couldn't have with almost anyone else. It's
not hard for me to believe that she may have
saved my life. Left to my own devices, I'm not
entirely sure what I would have done.
It terrifies me that after 18 years of living
fulltime as a woman, losing control of my
emotions due to an estrogen low can cause me
to become borderline suicidal, particularly
because I'll be going through this again next
My gender confirmation surgery will be in
the middle of July, and I can't take any more
estrogen until afterward to protect myself
against its blood thinning side effects.
I came close to taking my own life this
week, much closer than I'm comfortable with,
and all it took was five days without estrogen.
I hadn't believed such a thing was possible
for a very long time, but I know better now.
What's more, I know I'll be facing the same
situation in a few weeks.
I'm fortunate beyond measure. If and when
it happens again, I know who to call. I have
a shoulder to cry on, someone to lean on,
someone who's been there and knows the
way out. Not everyone has that. That's why
TransLifeline exists and why it's needed.
Even suicide hotline operators need a little
help themselves sometimes.
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