“The chest pains—short, sharp, and frequent—had started in the early afternoon. I had been painting my children’s faces and pulling a picnic together at the home of my wife; we’re separated. When she appeared in the kitchen, I went home, shaved, changed into a skirt and blouse, rushed on some lipstick and foundation, and drove myself to the hospital.”
I think it’s safe to say that no one likes a trip to the ED. In fact, I personally don’t like going to any health care practitioner, especially if I’m scared that something is seriously wrong.
A careful reading of the opening lines of Joy Ladin’s “Intake Interview,” this month’s Reflections essay in AJN, reveals that something out of the ordinary is happening. That’s because author Joy Ladin isn’t an ordinary woman—although that is, I’d wager, her ultimate goal. She began the long process of becoming a woman only a couple of years ago.
Ladin, a poet and professor of English at Yeshiva University in New York City, made headlines last September when she arrived on campus as a woman for the first time. She was “outed” in a sensationalistic article in the New York Post. One fellow professor, Moshe Tendler—a medical ethics professor, no less—had extremely unkind things to say about his transgender colleague. Ladin was placed on leave by the university but was reinstated after many discussions and meetings, according to the Post article.
In anyone who feels different or alien—and who doesn’t, to some degree?—there is a fear that judgment is lurking around the corner. I applaud Ladin for her courage and her heart and feel privileged to have been the editor of this moving piece, which was adapted from an upcoming memoir. It’s hard to argue that her fear—that one’s pain is a signal of something dire; that one’s differences will be found out—is not universal.