“Identity Crisis”, a Story from the Near-Dystopia
It’s never easy to change your gender. Sure, the Department of Health Services had long ago perfected gender transition as a medical procedure, but the whole prospect of fundamentally becoming a different person was just so daunting.
Monique Jackson knew the trepidation far too well. For the last three months, she just didn’t feel comfortable in her own skin. Something was off, or wrong somehow. In fact, the more she thought about it, the more it seemed to her that maybe her entire life as a woman didn’t feel natural. When you have gender dysphoria, it really starts to strain your interpersonal relationships. The anxiety, the depression, it’s just altogether too much, and Monique had finally settled down with the sweetest Jewish girl.
It wasn’t fair to put her partner through this. It wasn’t fair to Rachel, and it wasn’t fair to herself.
So Monique summoned all of her inner strength, popped a prescription benzodiazepine, and walked herself up to the Gender Counseling Department of the local health services building. Despite the brutalist architecture of the surrounding structure, the GSD was inviting, seeming to gently beckon with its pastel hues of pinks and blues. Once through the formalities of patient registration and identification, she was finally directed to the office of Doctor Dawn Stevens.
Doctor Stevens was a blonde haired, blue-eyed, and presumably cis-gender white woman of about middle age. At least the family photos in her office seemed to suggest that she had biological children who were, curiously enough, of her same race. Monique felt her anxiety flutter skyward at the implications of this, but she reminded herself this was a trained professional with a near perfect patient satisfaction rating.
She explained her situation to Doctor Stevens; the dysphoria, the depression, the stress, the feeling of disgust at her own breasts. Stevens listened intently, only occasionally flicking her eyes back to her desktop computer monitor. Finally, after Monique concluded a surprisingly lengthy and detailed history of her current complaint, there was a moment of awkward silence.
“Well Monique,” said Stevens at last, “what is it you would like us do?”
“I uh, I think I want to transition.” replied Monique after a slight hesitation.
Doctor Stevens pursed her lips, leaned back in her chair, and folded her hands. She slowly glanced sideways at the computer monitor, and then back to Monique. “That’s going to be a problem…” she said at last.
For a moment, sheer panic flooded Monique’s mind. She felt a mixture of embarrassment, fear, and a tinge of hostility. Was Doctor Stevens expressing some latent racism? Was she being denied medical treatment because she was black?
“What’s the problem?”, she asked in a quavering voice, “Why can’t I transition?”
Doctor Stevens features momentarily softened. “Oh you can certainly transition, if that’s your intention, but according to my records, you’ve already done this twenty-seven times.”
“But how can that be possible?” stammered Monique, “I’m only twenty-three years old!”
Doctor Stevens drew in a long breath. “We’ve had this same conversation at least nine times. I explain to you how the Nagel Protocol works, how we implant new memories so your psychological self better corresponds to your new gender identity, I tell you these gender dysphoria symptoms started when you were two years old and how one year you changed your identity on five separate occasions.”
“But what gender was I originally?”
Doctor Stevens gave a sympathetic smile. “Now you know we don’t assign gender at birth anymore, it’s impossible to answer such a question.”
Monique thought for a moment, her head reeling with the implications. There had to be a solution to what she was feeling, she just couldn’t go on like this. “Well you said that there’s this ‘Nagel Protocol’, that you can change someone’s memories. Couldn’t you just make the gender dysphoria go away?”
Doctor Stevens sighed. “Gender Conversion Therapy has been illegal for almost a century. You can choose a new gender, and we can facilitate the best possible chances of you becoming comfortable in that gender, but we aren’t allowed to program your brain like that even if you wanted us to.”
“So you can change my entire body right down to the chromosomes and alter my memories but you can’t just fix why I feel this way?”
“That’s correct,” replied Doctor Stevens. “You could also choose to transition into an intersex identity with both sets of sexual characteristics. We can also just do an accelerated re-transition in which we implant your female gendered identities again, you’ve tried that a few times in the past.”
Monique looked down at the desk. The idea of being some hermaphrodite freak wasn’t appealing; no one wants to be a weirdo like that. She wanted to have a real gender identity. Apparently just re-installing gendered memories of her life as a female wasn’t doing anything to stop the gender dysphoria. Clearly, there was only one real solution.
“Doctor Stevens, I want to be a man.”