Right when the COVID-19 hype had hit Pakistan, shutting down the city I was in and effectively trapping me there, I fell ill. So I ran to the city’s top hospital and did what I thought was the responsible thing: I got tested for the virus. Fearing for the many people with whom I’d recently interacted, including one of my hosts’ seventy-year-old mother.
Thank God I was negative. But this post isn’t about how I thought I had given my delightful hosts COVID-19, or the relief I felt when I learned that I hadn’t. It’s about the questionnaire they gave me when I checked into the hospital.
The questionnaire was pretty typical. It asked all of the usual suspects. Any history of smoking, lung disease, diabetes, heart disease… other medical history?
Hmmm… Other medical history? Well, I had just had a major surgery about two and a half months ago, so I put “gut surgery”.
Forgetting to add that this surgery had changed my body from male to female.
Now, was I lying? This bothered me while I tossed and turned in my hospital bed, waiting for the results of my COVID-19 test. I knew that COVID-19 affected men and women differently, and for all I knew the treatments for men and women might be different. What I didn’t know was which camp I belonged to.
Well, my body was female. Sure, it was Y-chromosome female. But there are women with Y chromosomes, and other than being infertile (like me), I think they counted as women.
So I should get the women’ treatment, no?
I justified it some more to myself: I had estrogen in my body. My testosterone levels were lower than those of cis girls. (On account of me having no ovaries, which actually produce some “T”.) Externally, I looked like a woman, thanks to that surgery about which I’d bent the truth on the paper. I thought I counted as female.
But what if I didn’t? What if my horrible past, about which I’d told no one in this country, came back to bite me?
I suppose I was lucky that I did not, in fact, have COVID-19. Because it did NOT end up mattering. But the fear was there, briefly, and that I remember.
Was I lying?