The man in black

The week before last, I booked in a GP appointment to ask to have my tubes tied.


It felt like I was being cross-examined, and like whatever I said my answer would be wrong.


“Do you have a long-term partner?” (Yes) “And what does he think about you getting this done?” (It’s none of his business/he’s supportive) “But what if you were in a different relationship, with someone who wasn’t supportive?” (Why would I be in a relationship with someone who wanted something so different out of life/Are you saying that you want a future partner to be able to reproductively coerce me?)


“What do you understand by the term tubal ligation?” (I describe the procedure, the effect on hormone levels -ie, none – the possible side effects) “Oh, but don’t you understand that it’s permanent?” (That’s the point. Literally the whole point.)


“Why don’t you want a coil anymore?” (It’s not permanent.) “But you’re not having any side effects?” (IT’S NOT PERMANENT.) “Why do you think you’ve had difficulty with coil insertions?” (Because it had to be done under a general anaesthetic and then it fell out and then it slipped upwards and IT’S NOT PERMAMENT.)


Why don’t you want children?” (I never have. It would be dangerous. I don’t want to pass on my illness.) “Oh why do you think that you’re ill?” (Have you read my notes?) “Why do you think that it would be passed on to a child?” (Do you understand the meaning of genetic?)


She wrote down all of my answers then said “Well, since you’re so young, I’m going to reccommend a very long course of counselling first, before you get the referral.”


I’m so young. SO YOUNG. I’m thirty. My grandmother was through menopause by 35. I’ve miscarried and know that I can’t carry to term due to an intersex condition, atop the EDS making it so dangerous. I’ve lived all over the world, taken a dozen career paths, worked with children, and just know they aren’t for me, but it’s assumed that a few hours of sitting in front of a happy maternal girl in a quirky dress with a sympathetic expression who says “But… Babies? Babies?! BABIES!!!!” will make me throw my life plans and physical reality up in the air and risk my life, my sanity and my ability to support myself and want to spawn. Or that a hypothetical future-partner deciding that he wants to whelp onto me is more important than my lifelong wishes.


Fucking amazing.


Anyway, first session of counselling is at 9am on the 10th of May. 9am. The poor counsellor is going to come out of that session not only not wanting children, but being pro-extinction-of-the-human-race.

7 thoughts on “The man in black

  1. Oh, good grief!

    I’ve encountered that tendency all my life: those who want children (or many of them, IME) just KNOW that your view that you are in no way ever going to want or have children is Rong…

    “You’ll change your mind when you get older…” – naaaah, late ’50s now and still feel the same as I did when I was 13…

    “It’ll be different if it’s your own…” – naaaaaah, a child isn’t a possession and I have enjoyed working with other folks’ bairns most of my life, but even more have enjoyed going home at the end of a shift.

    “But of course you really want children – everyone does!” – naaaah, did you even listen to a word I said?

    Then the ones who try out their (very) amateur “psycho-analytical” “skills” on you: Fuck off, I’m a MH nurse and have forgotten more of that shit than you’ll ever know!

    Why is it so hard for some to accept that there are some different views and needs out there? Is their grasp of their own situation so tenuous that it is threatened by something different? At times I have begun to think that is the case.

    Good luck, Percy! Here’s hoping you get a half decent counsellor, who does actually listen without any pre-existing agenda.

    • Thank you! Part of me wants to go in in-all-innocence and act as if I assume that the “counselling” is just going to be “OK, do you want a ligation, an occlusion, a salpingectomy, a partial hysto or a full hysto…?” and then be shocked (Shocked I say!) when it’s actually baybee-bribery. (I think I’d go salpingectomy, ligation, partial hysto, occlusion, full hysto, in that order of preference. I really don’t trust the clips and pipe cleaners with my freakish healing abilities)

      Part of me is ready to go in guns-blazing to ask why a basically mentally healthy and intelligent adult isn’t allowed to make a simple decision based on informed consent and instead needs to listen to breeder propoganda first. I can’t imagine being asked to have six months of counselling before getting a mole removed, or my tonsils out.

      Apparently part of the process (I’ve sneaked a look at the official form) is to try to convince me that instead of getting myself sterilised, I should have my partner sterilised instead. I don’t know if I’ll get bonus maturity/responsibility points for saying that since this relationship isn’t definitely forever, it makes no sense to sterilise the other partner (Since then, in my next relationship, the cycle would presumably repeat) or if they’ll use that as leverage to say “See, you’re still not with your One True Forever Who Will Definitely Be Forever Because Unforseeable Things Never Happen and thus you can’t get sterilised because baaaaay-beeeeeez”.

      I think just solidly “Fuck off, I’ve forgotten more about this than you will ever know” is the correct answer, really.

      I worry that all of the things that are my “reasons” outside of the emotive “I just don’t want kids – I don’t mind looking after other people’s, I just don’t want ones of my own” are things they’ll try to counsel me out of. When I last brought it up with “I’ve had miscarriages and been told that I can never safely carry to term anyway” the response was that with enough medical support and basically being confined to a cell for the whole pregnancy and a year or so after, I could (with great difficulty and wrecking my own health) probably give birth to a very sick premature baby. Which, obviously, I must want because BABIES BABIES BABIES.

  2. I actually view some of this sort of “process” as an abuse of counselling (I have done extra counselling qualifications over and above my MH nursing qualification), as rather than listening to the client/punter and assisting them to reach the conclusion which is good for them (the much used term “person-centred” should be a bit of a sodding clue!), it seems to be about pushing someone to a conclusion someone else has reached for entirely other reasons which have no bearing on the individual in question (see also much occupational health “counselling”) – in this instance, as you say, babies, babies, babies.

    Choice and informed consent just seem to go out of the window in this sort of instance.

    On a more pragmatic note, it might be safer to be seen to be playing along with the “process” so you aren’t automatically dismissed as hostile, negative, uncooperative or whatever. Quietly assertive is the way to go, I think. Be seen to be a thinking, rational person who has carefully considered the whole situation, without giving any hint of what could be interpreted as kneejerk responses or inconsistencies.

    Good luck.

    • Sigh. Thank you. It’s all very difficult since everything is a kneejerk response in some circle, if you know what I mean.

      If I say I don’t want bairns because I’m ill, it’d currently be fashionable to say that I was being ableist and eugenic.

      If I say it’s because I just don’t like them, I’ll be told I’ll change my mind.

      If I say it’s because I’m not cis, and the thought of gestating makes me want to die, I’m being transphobic or misogynist or both.

      If I say it’s because my previous miscarriages made me feel like I was monstrous, even though I didn’t want bairns anyway, I’ll be told that clearly I *did* want them on some level… Etc.

      I agree with you on playing along, I think. Go with a totally open hand, let them ask anything and I’ll answer… Hmm… Do I answer honestly, which is probably pick-apart-able (Since my reasoning is personal, rather than being entirely defined by some sort of external logic, and is tautological; “I don’t want to breed because I don’t want to breed”), or do I try to make up a party-line kind of reasoning that they’ll approve of, based on what I know of the NHS’s guidelines on sterilisation?

  3. You’re right, it does get tricky.

    However, ultimately it is your choice, for your reasons.

    While it may be tempting to, as you say, make up something which follows what you know of the “party line”, from what digging I have done that “party line” isn’t that clear. Be honest, be yourself, but bear in mind the appear reasonable thing.

    If someone is determined to rip apart your views, for whatever reason then they will. However, that should not be what is happening here: I would expect someone to be taking the sort of stance that I did on initial assessment of my trans bairns, establishing what it is they think and feel, checking it is consistent, ruling out any obvious signs of their thinking being driven by a deeper MH process, making sure they understood what was involved, not judging but listening…

    • Fingers crossed then that they’re open-minded and not completely antagonistic. I’ll confess that I’m more worried than I should be (or, than I would be otherwise) since the surgery in question where the counselling is happening is just a local medical practise in one of the low-income areas of the inner city, and every time I’ve been there I’ve been treated like cattle. Classism is alive and well…

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