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.
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?”
“Do you still want to have surgery today?”
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.
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.