Variously known as sex reassignment surgery, gender confirmation surgery and (to my mind) erroneously as gender reassignment surgery, the surgery to transform one’s genitalia from male to female or vice versus is often the holy grail sought by the transsexual transitioner. There are many gatekeepers to pass to reach that place:
- If nothing else, it is costly and many of us have no insurance coverage for the procedure. This is slowly changing as society stops viewing us as people making lifestyle choices and perverts and what we are, which is people who need to be congruent to our gender in order to be happy.
- Insurers usually require a therapist’s letter (sometimes from an MD or Ph.D) stating that the patient is a good candidate as well as a doctor’s letter from an appropriate doctor who’s followed your progress such as an endocrinologist. Such letters require that you fulfill the WPATH standards of having been on hormones for at least one year and full time for at least one year.
- Surgeons typically want a second therapist’s letter
- Finding a surgeon can be a tricky endeavor since there are really no guides, just word of mouth about results. Those without insurance coverage can be tempted to save money by having the surgery done in Thailand, often with good results but also halfway around the world from home.
Then, you really have to think pretty hard unless you’re fairly dense. Why am I doing this? What are my feelings if I come out of this and can never have sexual relations again? how about being anorgasmic or insensate? These are all fairly rare these days but they do happen.
I’m just a couple of days shy of the two week mark before my surgery. I have a lot of anticipation and some anxiety about dealing with recovery. My employer (thank goodness) both covers the surgery as well as paid FMLA so I’m well supported financially and I have many friends who will come visit me in my comfortable “prison”, i.e. my apartment, and share coffee and something to eat and chat.
Here are my reasons for doing this.
- Feeling congruent – not feeling like a fraud talking with other woman, body image and reducing/eliminating dysmorphia, self image as a woman.
- Safety – not fearing what might happen if a stall door would open in a lady’s room, possible consequences over being treated at the scene of an accident, or (god help me) what a rapist might do discovering male genitals.
- Access – having the option of using changing rooms and showers, being able to attend women’s only events without feeling like an intruder.
- Appearance – losing the fear of something “showing”, being able to dress in any clothing I want, being able to wear a swimsuit
- Intimacy – having the option of dating and having a relationship
In this I take an accepted risk. I’ve wanted this for about fifty years, but it has been abstract. I conceivably wake up in recovery and find myself shocked. This seems pretty unlikely since I have no fear of the surgery and know exactly what they’re about to do.
The cutest thing someone said was wishing me well and that when I’m home I should have fun with my “christmas present”. The person has always struck me as somewhat prim and proper, so it was a surprising thing to hear from her. What a dear.