Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Painful Price of Vanity

I had a whitening appointment today.  It was supposed to be a really great thing.  It ruined my entire day and has really made me think about transition.  Some might suggest today’s experience was simply karmic retribution for enjoying far too many pleasant days in a row – we will discount the fact that I have been sick for the last week, as even sick, I have to admit my days have been pleasant.  I am not so sure; I suspect it was a lesson in personal vanity.

The morning started with a rush to prepare and multiple decisions about whether to dress for the day or for the dentist.  I was supposed to have my long awaited initial appointment with my HRT doctor this afternoon and was unsure whether time would permit my returning home to prepare for that.  Given that the procedure was to last about two and a half hours, I should have had plenty of time; but I know how medical offices are.  I dressed somewhere in between and crossed my fingers that I would have time to stop home and fix up a little prior to my afternoon appointment.

I arrived at the dental office a solid fifteen minutes early, ready to fill out paperwork in preparation for my appointment… or so I thought.  I immediately received a clipboard containing something resembling the constitution and was told to return the completed paperwork to the receptionist... an awful lot of prep for a teeth-whitening appointment, I thought.  Of course, I had only about half of the information I needed.  As generally seems to be the case with these kinds of adventures – the ones where I am supposed to just “show up” and everything will be ready – the chasm between the information I had and the information these people needed was wide.  When we finally established that all I was there to do was have my teeth whitened and that I did not intend to ask anyone else to pay for it, things really got going; and I sat for a solid forty five minutes while the wheels of modern dentistry turned.

When the mysterious door did open, I was escorted not to the whitening chair, but to an X-ray room.  This launched a series of poking and prodding and zapping and frothing that ate up another solid hour.  Finally, ready to perform a whitening procedure (after yet another assurance that I did, in fact, intend to pay for the session), I made my way to the chair.  I asked, of course, how much longer this will require, calculating that I had already been in the office for two of the two and a half hours this should have taken, and the chipper little assistant informed me that they would need no more than - you guessed it - two and a half hours.  Checking the time, I admonished that if it was going to be any longer than that I would miss my afternoon appointment (one that I set over four months ago), so to please be realistic.  She assured me I would be on my way, and we were off… to wait another fifteen minutes.

What followed this was easily the most uncomfortable two hours I have ever experienced.  What followed that was pain.  When the lead dental assistant finally completed the process, she unveiled a set of beautifully white teeth… which began to ache almost the moment the guards, and gauze, and glue, and mortar, and whatever the hell else was jammed in my mouth was removed.  In her glorious Indian dialect, she carefully explained what I should expect and what I needed to do for the next couple days – I understood the “okay?” and “very pretty smile.”  Looking at the clock, I realized that I had roughly 3 minutes to get out of that office and on the highway if I had any hope of making it to my HRT appointment; so with a steadily increasing pain index, and an only slight hemorrhage at the final sticker price, I tossed a well worn debit card to the chipper young assistant and was on my way.  I made it to the doctor’s office with about fifteen minutes to spare.  So what is wrong?

My smile – well, the whiteness of my teeth – is beautiful.  To achieve that style point, I spent almost five hours trudging around a massive dental factory, listening to every new dentist, dental assistant, and pit-crew member to enter my presence continually pepper me with male pronouns.  Short of wearing a dress and heels, I could not have appeared less masculine today.  I spent the entire morning feeling completely lost and unprepared; having no idea how to answer the twenty questions any of the forty times they were asked.  I shelled out several hundred dollars for a treatment that will last only if I continue to torture myself with chemicals indefinitely, which is explained in great detail AFTER the treatment is complete.  I am in so much pain, even several hours later, that at times I cannot help screaming at the spasmodic knife jabs that keep exploding in my mouth.  I literally curled up in a ball on my bedroom floor and cried myself to sleep when I finally made it home.  I woke up screaming – imagine every nerve ending in your mouth being simultaneously exposed to a burst of frigid air.  That would hurt almost as much.  But the worst part of all:

After all of the hurdles of the morning, and finally arriving at my long awaited (did I mention I scheduled the appointment over four months ago?) HRT appointment, I was informed that the appointment was incorrectly booked and that I would not get to begin that part of my journey today.  Priceless.

About the only highlight of the day was the enjoyment I got from the flummoxed expressions of the staff that had been belligerently calling me “sir” all morning, when they kindly showed me to the restrooms… and I walked unabashedly into the ladies’.  Fuck them.

So what does this have to do with transition?  Just this: after the pain I am suffering for the sake of a whiter smile, I really have to wonder if I am vain enough to endure the pain of FFS.  I certainly would not repeat the teeth-whitening experience.

Much for young Katgirl to consider, this is.
Peace and love, friends.


  1. I would presume that with FFS they will use generous amounts of both anesthetic and proper pronouns. I am sorry to hear of your experience with this particular office. Sounds like they wish to not have any more of your money. I am sure there is another office in your area that would.
    I have other issues that I need to take care of before I can consider whitening. In the meantime my facial pain consists of plucking and galvanic electrolysis. The current flows for at least a couple of minutes for each hair. What price vanity?
    Hang in there Kate!


    1. Thanks Sarah! Ah yes, the joys of electrolysis. I will be restarting that particular joyride (after a brief detour for a semi-successful experiment with lasers) in just a few short weeks on an aggressive path. The good thing about the electrolysis, for me, was that at least the pain lasted only a short time. I guess I have fairly resilient skin.

      Rest assured this particular office will never see my face again - at least not as a customer. I have a regular dentist who I love dearly, and I now regret even more that I didn't fork over the extra couple hundred dollars to remain loyal to her (stupid Groupon). I will never stray again! :)

      Best of luck on your journey!
      Take care,


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