This post includes frank discussion of sexuality and my body.
It recently occurred to me that, although I have not had genital surgery, in a lot of ways, I no longer feel like someone who has not had genital surgery. I have had surgery once as part of my transition (chest reconstruction) and plan to have surgery once more (hysterectomy, at my doctor’s recommendation). If you had asked me early in my transition, I would have said I wanted to have bottom surgery (probably metoidioplasty) as soon as possible.
What’s changed? Going into this journey, I underestimated two things: how much other transition steps would affect my relationship with my whole body, and how much surgery sucks.
Let’s take the unpleasantness of surgery first. Chest surgery was a great experience–if I had to, I would make that decision again in a heartbeat. It was also a reality check. Pain, recovery time, needing help while healing, taking medications, going under anesthesia, numbness and scarring–all these things real to me now. I have also felt the impact of the financial costs. If genital surgery procedures were comparable to chest surgery in terms of risks and costs–including healing time, dangers of any surgery, possible loss of sensation, dollar cost, etc.–I might consider it. But that’s not the case. Bottom surgery is more dangerous and much more expensive, healing times are much longer, and I would likely need multiple procedures. Considering the price-tag, healing time, and other risks of bottom surgery, it’s just not worth it to me.
It probably would be worth it to me, though, if I still experienced acute dysphoria. That brings me to the other thing I underestimated–how big a difference all the other aspects of my transition have made.
I am now able to move through the world as a man with ease. I am able to feel comfortable during sex. I still have some dysphoria, and it’s not pleasant, but I think it’s now within the range of ordinary body image insecurity that many people experience. I’d say I’ve gone from a 10 to a 2 on a 10-point gender dysphoria scale.
I also underestimated, quite literally, the changes testosterone would cause when it comes to my dick. I had extreme dysphoria around my genitals pre-T. I considered myself stone and always used a strap-on during sex. This has totally reversed–today, using any kind of prosthesis would induce dysphoria, not alleviate it. Though my genital configuration is definitely not average, I am able recognize what I have as male. I have a dick, plain and simple. I still experience dysphoria around that part of my body, but it is manageable.
I also have a partner who perceives my body as male, and I am able to engage sexually in a way that feels right to me–to have intercourse and do all the other fun stuff straight dudes tend to do. I did not know that would happen, and I did not know how much it would mean to me.
Pretty much the only thing I can’t do is pee standing up in a convenient, splash-free fashion. From my observations in public restrooms, it appears that a large proportion of men have this problem.