March 5th, 2014
I’m excited to report that my energy this round didn’t spike as high or crash as low. I’m hopeful that things may be beginning to even out. Slowly.
I was able to direct some of my extra energy towards smashing things last weekend. My friends were taking down the drywall in their basement for some major renovations, and everyone seems to know that I’ll jump at any opportunity to get a good work out. As I was hammering down slats and uncovering some beautiful woodwork hidden beneath, I daydreamed about someday working on my a place that I can call my own. Living on a grad student wage in San Francisco, that might take a little magic. For now I’ll keep my eyes set on a hammock on a tropical island somewhere.
I gave a talk in my NextGeneration Sequencing seminar on something really neat called Restriction Site Associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq). It’s an exciting new sequencing technique that lets us look at tens to thousands of loci across an entire genome in one sequence run. To put that in perspective, I’ve spent the last year getting genetic data the “old” way for only 4 genes (the “old way” is pre-2008). This is drastically changing how efficiently and cost effectively we can get genetic data. When we signed up for presentation dates at the start of the semester, I counted down injection dates to find a non-shot-week to present on, so I could be sure that my testosterone levels would be manageable. I have this class a few hours after I get an injection, and on shot days my heart is racing and it’s hard for me to sit still and focus.
On the first day of this class, we did a simple exercise to get to know each other. I turned to the shy blonde haired boy next to me and we shared names, labs and something no one knew about us. The point of the ice breaker was to then go around the room and for each of us was to introduce our partner to the class. As group after group went, I started to feel my hands sweating. I had no idea if he thought I was male or female, or what pronouns he was going to use when introducing me. My options were:
A. Hope he read me as male and uses “he” to refer to me
B. Ask him to use male pronouns at the expense of outing myself unnecessarily if he did in fact read me as male
C. Wait and see if he uses female pronouns and if he does, out myself to the entire class most likely embarrassing him too
D. If he uses female pronouns, just let it go.
I went with option B, and one group before us, I slid my notebook over to him. He looked confused (maybe option A would have been a better choice), but then nodded, and a minute later, introduced me to the class.
I went to a short course on extinction at UC Berkeley and ran into a colleague I met at a conference last year. She gave the Stephen Jay Gould award address and I doodled her talk for her. We’ve kept in touch and I’ve told stories of sea slugs and corals to her husband and his mentee as we through the halls of the collections at the museum where I am a student. We’ve never spoken about it, but she has always used male pronouns when referring to me. I’ve been struggling in moments like these if and how to begin these conversations, especially with scientists. I’ve been trying to figure out how I’d like my life to intersect with my life.