Despite the troubles that transgender youth still face today, they can look with hope upon Blaine Paxton Hall. Born to mentally ill, “and wholly unfit, negligent parents” and raised in the Woodstock Children’s Home in Illinois, Hall has had a life that he says, “greatly transcends my trans experience.” Now, Hall’s 26-year career as a physician assistant has endured at Duke Hospitals for more than 20 years. Also serving as an adjunct associate professor at Duke University, Hall resides in Fearrington Village, N.C., where he purchased his first home in 2010 and paid it off in about seven-and-a-half years. Naming the home “Hestia’s House” after the Greek goddess of the hearth, Hall published a literary memoir with the overarching theme of home in 2003.
How did your childhood influence the path you chose for your career?
My father had what they used to call in the old days “grand mal epilepsy.” I was the one designated to take care of him. I worked in a nursing home all through high school. From a very young age, I was exposed to some severe physical realities of life, and I was a natural at the bedside. I was acutely aware that my parents were absolutely not able to care for me; I remember being terrified most all my life with this knowledge. So, I was painfully aware that I would have to take care of myself. To be very honest, if I would have had parental support, no worry for finances and no pressure to hurry and get through school so that I could get out and support myself, I would have pursued a Ph.D in math and/or theoretical physics.
Would you say that you’re driven by a curious nature?
Yes, I have always been driven, in part (not exclusively) by a curious nature. I want to know the truth.
What was your most decisive moment in confirmation of your identity?
In 1983, I was accepted into MENSA, the high IQ society…Even though I knew I had a superior intelligence, being accepted into MENSA was very sobering. I was 30 years old at the time; and I was motivated to “get my shit together,” and pursue gender transition, which I did. Somewhere I got the gumption to realize that even though my parents and the children’s home had wasted my intelligence; I was not going to waste myself.
As you follow man’s exploration of space, do you have any suspicions about what scientists will discover about the universe?
In thinking about the universe, space exploration, travel and colonization, there are numerous unsolved mysteries and unanswered questions. Perhaps the most longstanding is the search for a “unified field theory” as Einstein called it, or more colloquially “The Theory of Everything.” This is envisioned to be an elegant equation which reconciles the seemingly incompatible forces of nature.
Are there any advocacy issues that you’re passionate about and/or involved with?
My life has demonstrated that I am passionate about education of healthcare providers. As I am a healthcare provider, just being out in the medical profession is part of what I mean by educating. If healthcare providers can just know about me and my life, they could learn a lot, and probably have some cognitive dissonance along the way. There is too much “we-they” in the healthcare profession…I am a “they” person. I was abused and neglected as a child. Additionally, I am a person who underwent gender transition 34 years ago (before the World Wide Web). Historically “they” persons with this horrific life experience could never possibly “turn out okay.”
I am a speaker, educator, writer and consultant. My mission has been focused on educating healthcare providers, because the best way that I can advocate and help trans persons, is to educate healthcare providers…as a scientist, I see transsexualism/transgenderism as simply a normal variant. And I believe that transsexualism doesn’t just demonstrated that gender identity and sexual expression occur on a broad continuum, but much more, and in the context of evolution, transsexualism demonstrates that the human species is adaptable, versatile and resilient.
If you won an all-expenses-paid vacation to your choice of destination, where would you go?
I would hands-down choose to fly to Geneva and tour the CERN laboratory. This is the international particle physics labs which found the Higgs boson. From there I would train-tour all over Switzerland and visit all the cultural areas including Italy, Germany and France.