surgery and aftermath

It’s a mob scene at the local pizza place, one of the places I can go to write at eleven at night.  The busser calls me ‘buddy’ and I feel his hand on the small of my back as he moves me into a different line, “You don’t need to wait behind these people.”

People give me these crossed signals between male and female – and I never realized how controlling it is to touch a woman on the small of her back and move her, directly where my center of gravity is located, at my disturbingly handle-like middle.

 

It was relatable when people would do this, to misgender me but subconsciously treat me like a woman.  It mirrored my internal state, the constant dissonance of being a woman with a penis.

I would try to compensate with makeup and soft pastel clothing.  Failing this, I would try to assert my identity in spite of my anatomy.  Failing this, I would try not to think about my anatomy at all, which made my inner life fantastically complex.  I didn’t realize how complex it had become.

 

surgery

In the whirlwind leading up to genital reconstructive surgery there was little time to think, but I knew what I wanted.  I knew that if they botched the surgery, it would be better than having a penis, which provided a stoic optimism.  In retrospect there was little chance my surgeon would irreversibly botch the surgery.

I remember lying there speaking to her assistant.

 

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m nervous.”

 

“Do you still want to have surgery today?”

“Yes.”

 

I signed the final handful of forms, which detailed everything that could go wrong.  I complimented them on their projected complication percentages.

They clipped the forms into their many binders and filled out their paperwork.

I laughed reflexively at their inside jokes.

 

I asked the anesthesiologists to warn me before they did anything.  I must have asked them this like three times.

“You have such beautiful big brown eyes.”

This is the last thing I remember.

 

That night and the following night I begged the nurses for more morphine so I could sleep.  I was caught off guard by the sheer pain involved with this surgery, which made me feel naive.

My roommate came to visit and brought me a stuffed animal.  I can hardly remember what we talked about but I will never forget that he visited me.

Some of the nurses and staff looked at me like I was unusual, even though there were three other trans people on the floor of that hospital.  Was it my voice?  That I had days of growth on my unpainted face?  Was it because I slept with a stuffed animal?  Everyone was really nice though.

 

I lay in my mother’s lap on the taxi ride home.

 

aftermath

I try to lay down as much as possible, as my doctor said to do.  I’m alone for the most part and I have time to think.  What has this cost me?  I take stock of my life and what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished; I may have traded everything else to become whole.  A tidal wave of rejection, my colleagues, my best friends, my father, they are absent from this story, and absence now speaks louder than anything.

I need people.  I’ve never seen so much of my own blood, and I need support.  I’ve irrevocably changed who I am, overnight, and I need someone to tell me who I’ve become, because I don’t know.

 

But I made the right decision, because it’s the sort of thing where ya just know.

And there’s nothing heavier than the difficult thing with which I’ve had no choice.

 

an uncanny girl

Writing letters to my health insurer, preparing to sue my old landlords, writing cover letters, hustling.  I think I’m probably an adult now.  I look in the mirror, “Brave girl.  Very brave girl.”  And there’s not much else I can do.

I walk everywhere.  People whistle at me, stare, look away, but no one gives me any actual problems.  Maybe it’s because I’m tall.  Maybe it’s my 1000 yard stare.  Maybe it’s because I only own work clothes, no short skirts, no heels.  All-in-all I’d rather be left alone.

Except when I’m alone.  But I still don’t want to be touched, by anyone.  It’s worrying.  Maybe there’s nothing I can do.  My blind hope is that surgery will clear this up.  And the surgery clock is ticking, which doesn’t help my peace of mind, particularly since I’ll need a job to go through with it.  I never rest.

 

When I decided to transition I spent 64 hours in my mom’s studio apartment, alone.  I remember this as the 64 hour war.  It was a freefall of confusion and blind fear.  I wrote a lot.  Toward the end of it, I remembered that I never wanted to be male, never wanted a male sexuality.  That when I was a child, this was the last thing I ever wanted, although I didn’t understand at the time.

But I understand now, and I decided to transition.  I knew I would be sacrificing my sexuality, that my body and my life would make no sense for a long time, and I would need to be okay with that.  I thought this sacrifice would make the journey easier, less confusing, and it has.  My transition is characterized by an outward steadiness and uncanny efficiency.  Cisgendered people look askance, “Your transition has gone so smoothly.”  Powerful people protest, “Your transition can’t be perfect.”  And I don’t know what to say.

 

But I walk on eggshells, and I pray.

I curse myself in the bathroom mirror.

I don’t know what to think or feel; but please, please let this be over.

 

I woke up with the lights on, from a dreamless sleep.

I made a point of reading one of these SRS papers every night.  You kind of get used to it.  You get used to the pictures and the complications and the descriptions of dealing with complications.  You get used to the complication rate – always a solid 14 to 17 percent.  Why is it so steady?  Across surgeons?  Across groups?

Would it matter if there were no risk of complications?  Would it matter to my decision to pursue surgery?  The results are underwhelming, acceptable.  The post-op transgedered women, they are satisfied with their decision.

If I woke up with an honest-to-God vagina, I wouldn’t be satisfied.  I would be elated.  I would be many things.  And I probably wouldn’t be quiet about it.  The post-op transgedered women, they are very quiet, most of them.  Maybe it’s out of necessity.  I hope it’s out of necessity.

 

I’ve never not been able to decide something, but I can’t decide this.

I decide not to pursue surgery, but that’s unacceptable.  I decide to pursue surgery, but that’s too crazy.

This isn’t like the decision to transition, I can’t see an overwhelmingly positive outcome from either course of action.  And I can’t decide.

 

At first it was tearing me apart.  Now it’s just another thing that is out of my control, like the weather.  Something will happen eventually.

 

So I adhere to a fairly straightforward course of appointments and requirements, pulling up medical records, sending inquiries out into the medical community – assuring against all hell that sex reassignment surgery is an option that is available to me.

Because I know I’ve sacrificed to preserve this option; it’s just not something that people understand.  I don’t understand it either.

 

I find myself in the mindset of someone purchasing fire extinguishers or extra car insurance.

I might need this

 

getting to she

I don’t know myself.  I don’t know where my center of gravity is.  My sense of touch threatens to overwhelm me.

 

I would say I’m in over my head, but that would be a metaphor, and an understatement.  This is what it is; I’ve begun to think to myself in female pronouns, she, her.

I’ve considered detransitioning, because that’s a thing now.  Here is different from there, is different from here.

 

“Nah.”

I’ll always be this way.  I hope that’s enough time to get to know her better.

 

but why

Summer is nice because the neighbors are gone and I can pogo dance in my apartment.  I can’t remember the last time I was this light, or my neck this flexible.

And food has *never* tasted this good – it’s a struggle to eat nutella poundcake silently in a tomb-quiet library.

 

This is hands-down the best decision I’ve ever made.  I can say that right now.

 

But why?  Why did I do all of this?  Because I wanted a solution.  I looked at this from every angle, and I couldn’t just watch my life pour away, fall away, out of my head like strands of hair.

I figured I had a shot at transitioning and I took it.  Once I believed I could pass, it was just a matter of time.  The new bioidentical hormones looked safer, trans-psychology less biased, fashion less whack.  I’m still taking a risk on my science career, but I’ll just have to deal with that as it comes – or not.  I just believe that I’m going to be a better person, happier (more productive), and I wasn’t going to sell myself out on this.

 

not easy

Transition has a way of sneaking up on you, always.

 

I’m sitting balled up with my feet on the edge of a vanity.

Is this what I really want?

It turns out that electrolysis is permanent – I hadn’t truly considered that.  I always thought that the hormones would be sort of the epicenter of my transition, the point when I’d have to decide.  But, let’s face it, that moment has come and gone.  Still waiting on those hormones though.  I hear it’s the awesomeness.

 

This isn’t easy, never was.  Hope it will be someday, but it’s not easy right now.  It’s not easy to be between genders, somewhere between somewhere.  To be peerless and alone, seemingly forever.  To have people look at you funny.  I really hate that.

To think what I’m putting myself through – and with such enthusiasm – this has to be the right decision, right?  I’m not sure if there’s any way to tell.

 

Technically, I’d put the odds of me being wrong at 1 in 32, a virtual certainty that I am, in fact, a woman.  But there’s still a 3% chance that there’s something I just haven’t considered and I’m completely wrecking my life, for what it was worth.

 

I do want this, though.  I do.