By Anemona Hartocollis
June 16, 2015
|Kat Boon |
Now 18, she will start college as a woman
It was not easy. She retched for days afterward. She could hardly eat. She did not seem empowered; she seemed regressed.
“I just want to hold Emma,” she said in her darkened room at the bed-and-breakfast in New Hope, Pa., run by the doctor who performed the operation in a hospital nearby. Emma is her black and white cat, at her home outside Syracuse in central New York State, 250 miles away.
Her childlike reaction was, perhaps, not surprising. Kat, whose side-parted hair was dyed a sassy red, is just 18, and about to graduate from high school.
It is a transgender moment. President Obama was hailed just for saying the word “transgender” in his State of the Union address this year, in a list of people who should not be discriminated against. They are characters in popular television shows. Bruce Jenner’s transition from male sex symbol to a comely female named Caitlyn has elevated her back to her public profile as a gold-medal decathlete at the 1976 Summer Olympics.
A Teenager’s Pain
Kat Boone did not fit the stereotype of a girl trapped in a boy’s body.
As a child, she dressed in jeans and shirts, like all the other boys, and her best friend was a boy. She liked to play with cars and slash bad guys in the Legend of Zelda video games. She still shuns dresses, preferring skinny jeans and band T-shirts.
But as a freshman in high school in Cazenovia, N.Y., she became depressed and withdrawn. “I knew that the changes going on with puberty were not me,” Kat said. “I started to really hate my life, myself. I was uncomfortable with my body, my voice, and I just felt like I was really a girl.”
Six weeks after the operation, she was still so weak that she had to take the elevator at school instead of the stairs.
At her two-month checkup, she had gained back half the weight she had lost, but still looked frail and self-conscious. She treated herself to a new hair color — strawberry blond — for graduation.
Kat said she had “zero regrets.”
But it was clear to all of them that the operation was not a quick fix.
It is not a “yippie, jump up and down fireworks situation,” Mr. Boone said. “It’s a grand relief that something that’s been such a bother to her is finally gone.”