Shannon T.L. Kearns
Shannon T.L. Kearns
Cartoon bandaids and a lost boyhood
Shannon T.L. Kearns > Cartoon bandaids and a lost boyhood
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Shay

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It’s silly. I know it’s silly and still I do it. I’m in Target, getting some stuff that I need. I go to the bandaid section and I stand a stare looking carefully at all of the cartoon options. I know that I could just get the regular bandaids, or something with just a bit of color, but I want the cartoons.

I look for characters that I like, that will make me happy, that remind me of my childhood. My favorites are always Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles followed by Transformers. Peanuts are also an option. On this particular day none of those are in stock and I feel a bit sad. However, the Jurassic Park ones are pretty cool; each bandaid is a different dinosaur and there are some in the box that are funky shapes. They go into my basket and I move on.

What’s the big deal about the bandaids? Well, every single week I give myself a shot of testosterone in my upper thigh. I’ve been doing it for about ten years now and will continue to do it for as long as I live (barring new advancements that offer another way which seems unlikely given how unpopular regular health care for transgender people is I can’t imagine that there are any folks clamoring to figure out advancements in our care).

Giving myself the shots used to be exciting. Some of the charm has worn off but the ritual is still the same. The swabbing and the filling and the injecting. And each week I am thankful for this little ritual that allows me to live as my authentic self.

In many ways I was a lucky kid. My family allowed me a lot of leeway when it came to how I dressed and what toys I played with. I was allowed to have action figures and Cabbage Patch Dolls (and I loved both with fervor). I was allowed to wear shirts with the Ninja Turtles on them (though only if the shirts were cheap. We didn’t spend a lot of money on anything branded.) But even though I was allowed to play with these things and wear those shirts, I still wasn’t allowed to be a boy.
At the end of the shot process each week, I slap on a cartoon bandaid and go about my day. These silly little bandaids are a way of reclaiming the boyhood I never had. They are a way to acknowledge the ignored little boy that lives inside of me. They are a way to say, “I see you, and I honor you.”

These bandaids are about connecting the past to the future. About taking time to care for myself. About indulging in a sense of childlike wonder and play.

I wonder what box I’ll get next?

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