Fin’s Story – Lise Kunkel

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Fin never called ahead. He expected his Testosterone would be magically ready at the pharmacy on the strength of his appearance. In fact, he regularly

no-showed for appointments, swaggering in on his own timetable with the presumption of immediate service. It was Fin’s way. Attitude.

Fin had an appointment yesterday and kept it.

I call him from the clinic door. He gets up from his seat in the waiting room slow and swag — not hard to imagine each lazy muscle a leisurely river current on a hot Georgia day. The dollar sign diamond-studded back pockets of his jeans balance curiously on the deep red briefs hugging his buttocks. In his hand, a box of testosterone.

Fin has a natty knot of dreaded hair tied up top his head with a bit of torn red jersey cloth. He swaggers intentionally through the clinic door ahead of me in his oversized black winter coat –-unzipped enough to reveal a taste of the thickly linked gold chain weighted around his neck like gilded soft pretzels.

Something is different today. Fin’s eyes are clear and he smiles broad & white-toothed as though he is tossing me beads at Mardi Gras. And his aura of weed, which permeates his personality and our waiting room on any given day, is absent. Fin is a scrubbed version of himself.

We move through the visit like so many — his weight, his blood pressure, our discussion about how he is tolerating the injections. He lets me fuss about his blood pressure medicine and strategies to lower his numbers knowing he’s not going to take that medicine.

His weight is the conversation trigger, twenty-five minutes in — nine pounds loss in two weeks. He reveals he has stopped smoking and stopped drinking — cleaning himself up for trial: For trial.

Though this surprises me and I wonder all in a minute what for and how did it go down? I am not here for the Page Six. I ask Fin, “When do you go to trial?”

“The Monday after next.” He volunteers that his lawyer received a plea bargain from the D.A. last Thursday for ten to fifteen years — but he turned it down. He’d rather pray and take his chances.

I listen, leaning in.

Fin volunteers that he’s copped to the D.A. about his situation and they’re gonna let the Clinic prescribe the testosterone and have the pharmacy deliver it to the jail as long as he’s here in our County — the first year maybe. The jail Nurse will give it. He says he’s not going through what he went through coming off it last June when he was picked up pretrial before bail.

I ask him, “If it does not go well and you are remanded, in which jail will you be housed?”

“The women’s,” he replies.

“How do you feel about that?” I ask.

Fin flashes a smile at the floor, “Fine, I guess. It’s probably better.”

I tear up — nodding my head.

He tells me he was up until 2 a.m. on the phone last night with his Aunt who started a prayer chain. “I’ll just keep praying, ” he said — with resignation and just a hint of sadness.

I never took Fin for a praying man. I never much thought about it.

He displayed no anger, no tensing of his body: Just flaccid acceptance.

It’s clear to me now that a lower-class Black transgender man in America doesn’t really expect much. In a way, the Clinic was Fin’s castle — and he was as King as it got when he was here.

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