Financial Aid & "Coming Out"

Good news in the financial aid department ... thus far.

Yesterday I met with Student Account Services and showed them a pile of statements from them with a slew of really confusing messages. One saying that I owe $4,654 and my account is on HOLD. Then another saying that I owe $2,000 and have the option to arrange a 5-month payment plan. And another saying that I've paid $2,600 in excess which will be refunded to me promptly.

The recipient of my confusion was also confused as she typed on her computer, then her calculator, then the computer, and the calculator again. She said, "Um, we're not seeing your McNair scholarship on here.", and then, "Oh wait, there it is." And then something about signing a 10-month plan and two loans never kicked in. About twenty minutes and no solid answers later, I told her that I'd just go have my meeting with financial aid the next morning (this morning) and relay the results to her.

Forward to this morning, where my alarm didn't go off and I woke up to my dad knocking on my door around 7:17am. My mom and dad were both getting ready to head off to the hospital for an appointment. Since my meeting wasn't until 9am, I went with them. I assumed that two hours for my mom to get her blood drawn would be plenty of time.

... or not.

Once we got to the hospital about five people were all surrounding one woman with needles trying to successfully poke her. After four unsuccessful attempts, they sent her out to take a break and drink some water. After a little bit she went back in to get poked some more and, after about ten or so minutes, one of the defeated nurses came out to take my mom to another room, not knowing how long it would take to get this other lady poked. So off my mom went with the nurse, needles, gloves, and wipes in hand.

Meanwhile, they finally got this other lady poked by the sixth attempt and the room erupted in joy and praise. But then the nurse from my mom's room emerged to bring them the bad news, "We have another tough one."

So then the gang of nurses traveled to my mom's room to take turns poking her, too.

But, apparently, they only got through three pokes before giving up, calling my mom a "Hard Stick" (which is now her official nickname) and releasing her to "Wait for the phlebotomist." - meaning, I guess there are fill-in phlebotomists trying to poke a bunch of tiny-veined early-morning-its-cold-out dehydrated victims?

After a while, I got the gist that there was no way I'd be making it to that 9am appointment, so I gave them a call and rescheduled. Anyway, long story short, the phlebotomist DID successfully poke Hard Stick - by poking her hand.

And I did make it to Financial Aid to be greeted with encouraging news! According to them, all of my financial aid has, at long last, kicked in. And so have my loans, which should be processed around noon tomorrow. Which means that Fall and Spring semesters will be paid for, I won't need to do the payment plan anymore, and I will be reimbursed for everything that I have paid thus far and the excess on my loans. Woot!

Which is AWESOME, because I was extremely anxious about how to make my monthly payment and afford textbooks for next semester. And now, assuming all goes to plan, I will be able to afford it all.

In other news, I came "out" to some fellow students and a professor during lunch today. Which, as I've mentioned in this blog before, is a strange occurrence for me seeing as I've never had to put any effort into "coming out" for my entire life essentially up until a year ago. I don't know how it came up, but when it did everyone seemed shocked and then, of course, the questions came flooding in. One asked me to clarify what transgender was, which I tried to do in a simple, easily digestible way. I very briefly ranted about V.S. Ramachandran who is famous for his ground-breaking work with phantom limb syndrome and has more recently focused on transsexuality. In his paper Phantom Penises in Transsexuals he writes,
We explain the absence/presence of phantoms here by postulating a mismatch between the brain's hardwired gender-specific body image and the external somatic gender. Further studies along these lines may provide penetrating insights into the question of how nature and nurture interact to produce our brain-based body image.
So exciting. The professor admitted that he had the mis-impression that transgender people were all "unhappy", "mentally ill", "hidden" and "ashamed", and was astonished that I'm so "together" and happy. I explained to him that it can be a very difficult thing to feel "trapped", in essence, in a body that's completely mismatched. Compounding that, there's having to face disproportionate amounts of discrimination in all areas of life, from families to employment and health care. How many have experienced complete isolation with their experience, being told that they're "wrong", sick and perverted - and, fortunately, for those of us who grew up with the Internet, many of us at least have had access to some amount of information and social networking to feel less isolated in our experiences.

And for anyone who is transgender and gender-nonconforming overall, the discrimination is just insane. There's well-documented and unconscionable levels of hate violence towards transgender people, especially young, low-income transgender women of color. For years, trans people have been murdered on an average of more than one person per month and many more have been assaulted.

I didn't rant about all of that in my response - that's a special treat here in blog land - but I mentioned a wee bit. Anyway, long story short, "coming out" is such a different experience. As Ivan E. Coyote put it in her piece to femme lesbians:

I want to thank you for coming out of the closet. Again and again, over and over, for the rest of your life. At school, at work, at your kid’s daycare, at your brother’s wedding, at the doctor’s office. Thank you for sideswiping their stereotypes.

I never get the chance to come out of the closet, because my closet was always made of glass. But you do it for me. You fight homophobia in a way that I never could. Some of them think I am queer because I am undesirable. You prove to them that being queer is your desire.

Thank you for loving me because of who I am and what I look like, not in spite of who I am and what I look like.

I love this bit. The whole glass closet shindig - that is exactly how it was for me. And now I'm off in inadvertent stealth land having to actually put forth effort in "coming out". Adjusting as necessary!


  1. Beneficial info and excellent design you got here! I want to thank you for sharing your ideas and putting the time into the stuff you publish! Great work!

  2. yay for financial aid finally working out!
    congrats on coming out to your classmates and professor; it must've taken alot of courage, and i applaud you.
    and... i FREAKING LOVE ivan coyote!!!! she was actually in santa cruz a few months ago and i got to see her perform twice (once at a private house performance and once at a coffeehouse). when she read the "femme piece" at the house there wasn't a dry eye to be found - especially among the femmes. thanks for posting some of her words!

  3. Ash: Way yay. And thanks for the congrats - but, I'm not sure if "coming out" is even the appropriate phrase for it. It's not "in" to start with, just a part of me that used to be, without choice, broadcast just by my existing. And now that it isn't, it's this strange new world of everyone assuming everyone is cisgender by default - similar to a world where everyone just assumes everyone is heterosexual by default. It's just weird, mostly, to experience the whole shindig from another angle - to just mention something about myself, then to have it met with absolute astonishment and questions galore. Which, to clarify, isn't a bad thing - just different. ;]

    And yes, Ivan Coyote rocks. That's so awesome you've seen her perform, and witnessed everyone blubbering about the femme piece. It's beautiful.

  4. found your site on today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later


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