“Dr. Gender Bender”
by John Rachel
Billy was surprised. He assumed there would be a long waiting list for a doctor with such an imposing reputation. But they slotted him in the very next day for what they called an initial screening interview.
Billy left early and got to the Upper Westside address they had given him on the phone, arriving a few minutes before his appointment time. It was 9:53 am, a sunny Tuesday morning with not a cloud in the sky. He felt okay, maybe a little nervous, as he approached the free-standing slate office building.
This must be the place. On a gold address plate to the left of the front door to the office, Billy read the ostentatious inscription . . .
Dr. Malcolm N. Bender, MD
Specializing in Gender Reassignment Surgery
By Appointment Only Please – No Solicitors
The initial interview was rocky, to put it mildly. About halfway through, Billy thought that the word ‘disconnect’ seemed to fit quite well. The good doctor skipped the social niceties and started right in on Billy.
“Mr. Green, why are you here?”
“Everyone . . . well not everyone. My girlfriend seems to think that women are my problem. So I just figured, if you can’t lick ’em then join ’em.”
“Your girlfriend won’t let you give her oral sex?”
“I don’t understand. I didn’t say that.”
“You said, if you can’t lick ’em join ’em. If you can’t lick ’em. Those are your words.”
“It’s just a figure of speech.”
“And I was just joking. You don’t seem to be in a very good mood. Are you always this morose, Mr. Green? Not that most men who come in here for gender reassignment counseling are exactly chipper. Most are nervous as hell. And they have issues.”
“Look, I decided I want to be a woman. It’s that simple. I don’t need counseling or advice or anything else. Just get me started.”
“This is not like buying a new shirt, Mr. Green. It’s a long, sometimes distressing process. And it’s just about totally irreversible. I need to establish that you’re serious, that you fully understand the ramifications and risks. I need to be certain that you’re doing this for the right reasons.Anything less would be irresponsible.”
“Yes, I’m serious. What else do you need to know? Or what do I need to know?”
“You might be beaten to death by a mob of maniacal homophobes. Your family and friends might disown you. You’ll have to squat to pee.”
Billy hesitated. Should he just leave? Cut his losses. This guy appeared to be nuts.
“I am missing something here. Are you a real doctor? Do you have a degree?”
“I have several degrees, including a Bachelors in Biological Science, a double Masters in Abnormal Psych and Human Sexuality, an MD degree, and some course work in osteopathy. Of course, I also have advanced specialized training in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Lastly, I am a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist and a Freemason.”
“I think the best way to approach this is to give you a special test I have developed. I call it the BMHGAT, which stands for the Bender Multiphasic and Holistic Gender Affectation Test. It will give me a reliable reading on your readiness for the requested procedure.” He reached across his desk and handed Billy a large pale green envelope with a string tie on the back. “Just bring this back when you have completed it. I’ll take it from there. And Mr. Green?”
“Don’t lick the envelope. Please use the tie string to seal the test questionaire.”
On the way home, Billy pondered his interview with Bender.” Without a doubt, the doctor was a strange duck. Something was not quite right with the man. On the other hand, while Googling him produced a whole range of commentary about his eccentricities and odd manners and mannerisms, no one faulted his performance as a surgeon. There were dozens of examples of his work, pictures which showed the spectacular gender transformations he had performed with his scalpel and exotic program of hormonal dousing. And though it wasn’t a sex change procedure, Bender even claimed on his own website to have liposuctioned to rock star perfection, the unnamed lead singer of a world-renowned boy band. Bender apparently was a genius and had earned the reputation as the master of gender-bending cosmetic surgery.
Billy decided he would stay the course for now, despite the gnawing doubts seeded by their initial meeting. He didn’t have anything to lose at this point, in at least seeing what the doctor might be all about. Of course, when the time came to pull out the surgical gear, it would be a different matter. Then he’d really have to decide if he had sufficient faith in Bender.
When he got home, he immediately took out the BMHGAT and was thrown for another loop. What a total fucking whacko! Billy entertained the idea of suggesting to Bender next time he saw him that he change the name of his clinic to the Twilight Zone Cosmetic Surgery.
There were only nine questions to the test. It took him less than four minutes to complete.
The Bender Multiphasic and Holistic Gender Affectation Test
© 1998 by Dr. Malcolm N. Bender (all rights reserved)
Q.Finish this: A trannie walks into a bar . . .
A. The bartender asks: Is that a tampon in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?
Q.Why do flies have wings?
A. They don’t. A fly is a baseball hit high into the air.
Q. How old and who was your youngest sex partner?
A. 13 . . . myself.
Q.What is your favorite cooked food?
A. Marijuana brownies.
Q. Have you ever had sex with an animal?
A. Don’t know. It was late. I was drunk. Do Swarthmore girls have antlers?
Q. Are you an ‘in-ee’ or an ‘out-ee?
A. I pawned my bellybutton and gave the money to my grandmother to support her crack habit.
Q. What problem do 8-year old girls and boys have in common?
A. Their spines break when you butt-fuck them.
Q. Would you have sex with Mick Jagger?
A.If he sang Ruby Tuesday I’d give him a blow job!
Q. You are completely naked in Grand Central Station. What are you feeling?
A. I’m going to have a helluva time getting into my apartment without my keys.
He put the completed form in the green envelope, cut the string off and sealed it by licking it until his mouth was dry. Next day he dropped it off with the receptionist at Bender’s clinic.
A week went by and then the good doctor’s secretary called and set an appointment for them to go over the test results.
When he stepped into Dr. Bender’s office, the surgeon was seated behind his desk, apparently going over Billy’s test questionaire. His face looked more gaunt than last time, his skin more sallow. Though his eyebrows were furrowed, his eyes had a dead impenetrable glaze. He spoke without looking up.
“Please have a seat.”
Billy sat in one of two chairs directly in front of the doctor. Bender had some sort of optical apparatus strapped to his head and was wearing disposable latex gloves. Had he just come out of surgery? Or maybe they were shooting a sequel to Blade Runner and he was an extra.
“Does the sight of blood make you queasy, Mr. Green? It used to make me throw up.”
“On your patients?”
“No. We kept a pail next to the surgical table. The nurses swapped it out as required.”
“Nice. Thanks for sharing that with me.”
“I have your test questionaire, Mr. Green. It is right here in my hands. I am looking at your test questionaire as we speak.”
“Quite honestly, Dr. Bender, it was not what I expected. Kind of . . . unusual. Nice and short though. What exactly are you looking for?”
“Creativity. Confidence. Daring. Indifference or antipathy to convention. Flippancy. The-devil-made-me-do-it irreverance.”
He continued to study the questionaire like it was the court’s final verdict at the Nuremburg trials. Billy couldn’t read him. After an interminable minute or so, Dr. Bender suddenly became animated, almost enthusiastic.
“You passed with flying colors, Mr. Green. I see a strength of character here. Of course, there is an element of subjectivity on my end in interpreting the results. But I have developed a high-level of expertise in this, so the test is almost 100% predictive.”
“That makes sense. It is your test.”
“Exactly. So there is no one better positioned in this matter. You should know, Mr. Green, I have built in some subtle but very revealing contextual tripwires to nail down a person’s true state of mind. These would escape the eye of the most perceptive layman, but they are there. Each question is multi-layered, an epistemological lens into hidden architecture of the mind.”
“Like the bellybutton question. I really wrestled with that one.”
“And the trannie joke. That certainly set a solid tone.Great way to kick off something as important as this.”
“Well then, let’s just cut to the chase. In my professional opinion, you are ready. I think we can and should go forward with this.”
He pulled the lenses of the optical headgear down over his eyes, got out a small note pad from the center drawer of his desk, and started writing furiously.
“These prescriptions are for your hormones. Start taking them immediately. There will be clear instructions on each bottle. Next I want you to see a colleague of mine, as soon as possible. Right off. No point in dragging this out. Sooner the better. Get it done and over with, I say. Her name is Dr. Veronica Hegel. She is a specialist in aesthetic procedures. Some surgical. Some not. Simple stuff. All out-patient. She will start the process of feminizing your face. Obviously, she’ll have a lot to do in that department. You don’t exactly look like Audrey Hepburn.”
He finished writing and handed five Rx sheets to Billy.
“Mr. Green. Have you thought of a name?”
“Unless you’re going to continue to call yourself Billy, which isn’t attractive even as a man’s name, and is truly an insult to the fairer sex as a girl’s name, you might want to be thinking of a new name for yourself. Ursula. Bonnie. Something. And start having your friends call you by that. Immediately. No more Billy. It’ll help you to start thinking of yourself in terms of the female you. I can do the stuff on the outside but you have to do the work on the inside. Not my department.”
“Got it. I’ll get right to work on that.”
“Any other questions? If not, I will see you in three weeks. We’ll do some blood tests to see how the hormones are taking hold, take a look at what sort of miracles Hegel has achieved, give you time to do some shopping, grow your hair, all that girlie girlie stuff that needs to be taken care of.”
“Nicely put. You have a truly sensitive side. I like that.”
The sarcasm was not lost on Bender. Bender’s irritation was not lost on Billy. He got up to leave. At the door, he turned back around. The doctor was still glaring at him.
“By the way, Dr. Bender, I meant to ask what the ‘N’ stands for.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Green. The ‘N’?”
“Yes. The ‘N’. Your middle initial.”
Bender hesitated briefly.