all about chemistry

i’m gonna tell you a story about the most eventful summer of my life.

there’s a long post in my drafts folder about the first half of the summer, about how i went from the best derby performance of my life at brewhaha to trying out for the windy city rollers two months later. i’m not sure if i’m ready to tell that story yet.

what i can tell you is that the fire i lost this summer returned furiously when i joined windy city. i was going to take it slow – join a home team, don’t make a lot of noise, prove i belonged there. then, as i attended practice after practice, i realized that wasn’t enough, and i was gonna have to try out for a travel team. the catch, of course, is the WFTDA gender policy, which requires transgender athletes to have hormone levels on par with their cisgender peers. i’ve burnt a lot of pixels on that issue – telling a trans athlete her hormones aren’t feminine enough and it wouldn’t be fair is akin to benching an NBA player for being too tall – but now i faced it in a real way. and i thought – well, now that i’ve taken that step and joined WCR, it wouldn’t be so bad to take hormones. i scheduled an appointment at howard brown, got my bloodwork done, and watched WFTDA playoffs, bitterly jealous and determined as i’ve ever been to put in the work i need to put in to make that charter next year. i’ve never fought with that fire before, and it serves as a testament to the importance of plotting your own journey. joining WCR was my next step. i went to howard brown the same night as the WCR black and blue gala, and while i first planned to go in a hoodie and jeans, i realized that not going en femme was the worst thing i could do for my own mental health, and god dammit i was cute as hell there.

i’ve been emotional a lot the last month. sometimes my fire turns into impatience and pissiness when things are moving slower than i’d like. sometimes i’m wretched and distant, and if you’ve been the target of my bad mood, i’m sorry.

sunday morning i went to practice. my formerly ingrown toenail was bothering me. my foot cramped. i skated back to the bench to adjust my laces, tripped and jammed my pinky finger against the wall. it hurt and i iced and taped it and carried on with my day. had some real good practices with some real good learning.

i was off work the next day and my finger was still bugging me. i had some extra time before i saw my therapist, so i walked into the walgreens clinic and got a flu shot and had the doctor look at my finger. he said it looked bad, and i should get it x-rayed. after my therapist, i did just that, and hours later, i found out i had broken my pinky. i splinted it and went home.

i still skated tuesday and wednesday, without incident, though i was again pissy on wednesday from toe pain. i saw a surgeon at rush on thursday morning and i found out that my pinky was not just broken, but badly broken. part of the bone chipped off and was jammed into the rest of the bone. i would need some very difficult surgery, including pins and a metal support. i also would have limited mobility in my pinky, perhaps permanently, and may need a second surgery next year. plus, i hear finger physical therapy is pretty goddamned painful. and it’s a lot of money out of my pocket that i do not have.

i worry the hardware might keep me off skates, which is super unacceptable to me right now. but what i know is that the hormones, which i was due to start october 1, are now going to be pushed off until i recover from surgery, to reduce blood clot risk. and i don’t yet know when they’ll be safe to take.

i broke my pinky, and in the eyes of the WFTDA, that’s going to make me less of a lady. i’ll be able to catch up. i’ve got plenty of time to train, and i still have my fire. it’s hard to put off hormones, to have the goalposts moved when i’m within range. but it’s a little dehumanizing to know that one trip, one broken bone in my pinky finger means that i’m not enough for some people.

i not long ago heard someone imply that in spite of my years of practice, my body chemistry makes me a danger to poor defenseless female skaters, as if my hormone levels make me reckless. that i’m some unstoppable machine destined to wreck a dainty little women’s sport. as if to imply that derby should only be played up to a certain physical plateau and that if i execute a block on a werb that it’s a health risk and it’s only acceptable that i adjust my body chemistry and bring my strength down to be comparable to, you know, some of the best derby skaters on earth. i’m sure the WCR all stars are quivering in their boots at the thought of having to skate against my dumb ass.

when MRDA was discussing transgender policies, i suggested, pushed for, wrote, and eventually watched the passage of a non-discrimination policy. that would ensure no one in MRDA would have to undergo that pointless scrutiny. it’s one of my proudest accomplishments from this year. it is as follows:

MRDA, pursuant to its mission of promoting men’s roller derby, does not and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. MRDA does not and will not differentiate between members who identify male and those who identify as a nonbinary gender (including but not limited to genderqueer, transmasculine, transfeminine, and agender) and does not and will not set minimum standards of masculinity for its membership or interfere with the privacy of its members for the purposes of charter eligibility. These activities include, but are not limited to, membership eligibility, disbursement of resources, and eligibility for office. MRDA is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all skaters, officials, volunteers, and fans.


i’m scheduled to undergo surgery on monday morning. i don’t know if i’ll be able to do my job, let alone skate, in the weeks following. but i hate having to feel like i’m somehow less of a lady because a doctor has to cut me open. i’ve bitched about the WFTDA gender policy in abstract before, but it’s starting to hit much closer to home.

hey, WFTDA: change the fucking policy.