Sometime in the next two weeks or so, I will be asked to pee into a cup. It's not really a cup, just a plastic specimen container. It is a requirement that I pass a drug test before I can begin my BSW Practicum at a local community care center.
When I make my appointment, I will smile. When I arrive for the drug test, I will smile again. And when they tell me to wipe front to back, I will smile with glee -- just another one of those things that are not quite the same as they used to be.
The last time I had to pee in a cup was shortly before my gender affirmation surgery in Bangkok, Thailand. The time before that was when I was being hired for the job I have had for the last four years. Both of those times were special too, but I think this one is going to be the best yet.
My last pre-employment drug screen was frightening, to say the least. I had applied as Stephanie, a woman, but my driver's license said that my name was Steven and that I was male, and my surgery was still a dream, to become a reality at some distant point in the future. I had no idea how the people at the drug-testing place would react to the inconsistencies between the paperwork they received from my soon-to-be employer and my driver's license. When the time came, I told them I was transgender.
There was this little conference between the drug testing people, and then one of them, a woman, handed me a cup and said, "Wipe front to back." I smiled then too, only not nearly as much as I expect to smile when the next drug-testing person says the same thing.
About 14 months ago I was asked to pee in a cup shortly before my surgery in Bangkok. I am not sure what they were testing for, but I never heard anything about the results, so I think they must have been OK. I knew that the act of peeing was about to be forever changed
A few days later they told me I could leave the clinic and go to the hotel if I could pee twice. After four days with a catheter, that is not as easy a task as one might think. Then the nurses at the clinic brought me six bottles of water and told me to start drinking. After the second or third bottle, my tummy was talking to my bladder, but my bladder was still sleeping.
I managed to get down some more water, and I peed a little (two times), and they let me go back to the hotel. I was very tired, so when I got to the hotel, I took a nap. When I woke up, I could tell that I needed to pee, but I had the idea that I should hold it awhile and begin re-expanding my bladder.
It was not a good idea. Not a good idea at all. I had my first post-surgery lesson in knowing when to pee, when to hold it, and just exactly how to hold it. Fortunately, it was a very short learning curve.
In the months that followed, when I woke up in the night and needed to pee, I was quite willing to get out of bed and go to the bathroom without discussion, taking my bladder's opinion as gospel.
For quite some time, in that state of somewhere between awake and asleep, I would stumble to the bathroom and begin to turn toward the toilet, rather than away from it. Fortunately, I would remember just in time, turn, and sit.
There is a part of me that misses being able to stand up and pee. I have a new appreciation for the value of clean facilities and having the toilet seat down. In all honesty, I haven't quite figured out exactly how all of this pee-in-a-cup-while-sitting-down stuff works. I mean, for the first 54 years of my life, it was a pretty simple process.
All that having been said, this is what I know: When I go to the drug-testing place in a week or two, I will smile. When one of the drug-testing people hands me a cup and says, "Wipe front to back," I will smile with glee. The drug-testing people will have no idea why that makes me so happy.