*note: this is not transcribed word for word*
So in June, I found out I have an STI. It is called Molluscum Contagiosum, sort of like chicken pox but for your genital area. Typically this virus occurs in young children and almost all adults are immune to it, but for those who do get it as adults, it is considered an STI simply due to it being most commonly transmitted through skin to skin contact and for adults, that is often sex. There is a smaaaalllll chance I could have gotten it from gym benches, swimming, and so on, so it honestly may not even have come from having sex, but for all intensive purposes, it is an STI.
Nice thing is that Molluscum Contagiosum is benign and produces small, painless little brain-shaped bumps, let’s call mine mollusks. The not so nice thing is that they are highly contagious and there’s no cure. It goes away on its own within 2 months to a year or in worse cases, it can take 3-5 years depending on immune system. The virus can only be spread when bumps are present, once they are gone, one is considered immune and cured, lalala.. Now, my body image is down, and I am physically infected with a virus that may or may not go away in 2 months to 5 years. Oh and hi I’m 24 and transgender so let’s hope and pray these doctors are chill.
I’ve read stories online that have made me feel optimistic about the healing process being quick, as well as the trials and tribulations of a now-celibate 26 year old man who has had it for 7 years of his life. That’s pretty horrifying. I mean, this whole thing is somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster.
One HUGE blessing is that all the doctors I’ve seen have been extremely trans friendly. No one, not even the folks drawing my blood in the lab, has acted like my gender identity is anything out of the ordinary. And as I was standing in front of an older, Russian woman, dropping my boxers to show her 50 bumps on my crotch, she didn’t even flinch or make any note of my body being different than other men. I had asked the nurse when making the appointments if they were trans friendly – she had told me “oh don’t even worry about that. They are all incredibly friendly to the LGBT communities.” The doctor recommended me to a dermatologist, I was able to go the next day, and find that she also didn’t mind at all about my trans status. It felt like such a comfortable environment as well, and that was necessary – because the treatment she was doing, with the hopes it would help the healing process, was essentially spraying liquid nitrogen on each individual bump. Down there. Very cold. Not fun. And just a fun fact, this was about 24 hours before I was at the White House. Oh life ;)
So there is no cure to mine specifically and it is benign. I’ve also had a more successful acid treatment done on them, but the whole situation is extremely painful and my skin is not happy and a whole slew of gnarly things happened because of that. This isn’t the STD Olympics, I’m not going to say I wish I had chlamydia or anything else so that I could have one treatment and be done with it – but this is a waiting game full of anxiety, anger, and misplaced distrust. I will have to refrain from sex until it is healed. I like having sex. I actually just started dating this really truly incredible girl, like I can’t even describe her to you she is so cool, but anyway the symptoms of this appeared about a month after her and I started seeing each other. This virus can appear weeks or up to 6 months after exposure, and since she didn’t and still doesn’t have the virus after we found out I did, it’s for sure that I didn’t get it from her. But anyway, it was kind of a silly situation to begin dating and then have an STI in the picture. she was really fine with me being transgender, I mean, it was all over my OK cupid profile mkay, but then I remember after finding out about the mollusks saying to her that I understand if she wanted to leave me because of them. I mean, what a crappy situation right? She’s still around. I’ll introduce you soon.
So I feel super lucky in some cases, but there’s this part of me that is just so mad. It’s like I should put up a craigslist ad “Transgender man w/ STI seeks magical dysphoria lessening potion!” I feel like it’s two hits against me being lovable by other people. What if this sticks around for 3 years? My immune system seems fine but other people seem to kick this in two weeks so is there something wrong with me? I have finally, finally, finally found a healthy relationship with my body, more specifically a part of my body that used to give me more panic than joy, and also build a solid, positive association with sex.. goodness it’s taken years and it’s been hard and it’s been uncomfortable.. and now I’ve got these chicken pox like scars all over the place, and it hurts and burns sometimes when they’re healing, and I just feel so darn negative about it. I don’t like feeling negative about it after working so hard to feel positive about it. I know that after it passes, I still have that core positive association with my body, but it definitely will need some recovery after this storm. It bums me out. I guess it just doesn’t feel fair.
That’s all it really is. At the end of the day, even if I feel pessimistic or optimistic about it or if it’s been a whole rollercoaster of a day, there are so many things I love to do that I can still do. This is such a small part of my life, even if it feels like it affects many aspects of it. Life is still really wonderful. I don’t need to choose to feel negative about something that I can’t control – what I can control is what I learn from this and what I do to get myself back to great health. Part of that is not letting it sit inside me all bottled up – so thank you so much for letting me share this with you.