What I Wish I’d Known Before Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery
The experience of many gender-confused individuals is that medical professionals are quick to reach a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and recommend immediate cross-gender hormone therapy and irreversible reassignment surgery without investigating and treating the coexisting issues.
Having genital dysphoria gives you a pretty distorted world-view. It’s hard to stay objective about your body, your sex-life, your identity, when you feel like you have this aberration between your legs. That’s why I opted to have it surgically removed and turned into a vagina – a procedure I had carried out earlier this year.
Pre-op Therapy People who want to have a vaginoplasty must get referrals from two different therapists. The goal of preoperative therapy is to make sure patients have really thought through their decision, and to determine whether they have any mental health issues that could hamper their decision-making.
It is actually not all that special. It is easy to get swept up in the idea of surgery being this glorious re-birth – this summation of your transition and the end of the struggle – but as much as it is life-changing and mind-blowing and dysphoria-killing, you are having SRS to feel normal.
This is going to hurt. A lot. And it’s not going to stop hurting for a long, long time. A sore back from lying down all day, weak muscles from never exercising, raw and as the actual surgery site heals you go from a general ache to the more specific burn of tissue damage, the chunky irritation of swollen areas, and the sharp pangs as nerves reconnect.
You are going to crash. Being post-op is mostly pain and isolation and endless worry over depth, and the only people who can really empathize are the other patients going through their recovery with you. Having that support group around you is very important, and it is often the only way to see yourself through these depressive episodes. Everyone heals in their own way, but the support of your new friends will help normalize the process and make a world of difference to your mental health.
Complications are super common. Everything from popped stitches, blocked urethras, excessive bleeding, bruising, micro tears and even swelling so bad your labia literally detaches from the base of your vulva can and do happen.
Putting yourself through all this is incredibly challenging – and it continues to be a challenge well after you leave hospital. That’s ok, because the most important thing to know is… It is so totally worth it.
Seriously. You have a vagina! It is still sore and swollen but it is brilliant and sexy and amazing. You can wear whatever you want and not have to worry about tucking anymore. It hasn’t solved all your problems; you still have body issues and you still struggle with accepting yourself. But it has freed you from the incessant need to prove yourself as female, to constantly reinforce your femininity or feel ashamed for enjoying masculinity. You finally get to define yourself, and that’s worth suffering for.