- Do you want to have “bottom” surgery?
“Bottom” surgery usually means sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and I think “want’ is a tricky word to use here. If the Vagina Fairy came through my window (no, not that one) to wave her wand and give me a pussy, I’d say “Yes!” in a heartbeat. I’d also say that I do want to have had SRS, in the same way I want to have learned a foreign language: I want the results, but don’t want to go through the pain and suffering to get there. But do I want to have surgery at some point in the future?
I’m not sure.
Any surgery is scary. SRS is particularly scary: it’s taking a currently-functioning part of my body, albeit a part I don’t love, and cutting it open to invert it. (That link is just a description with text, not images. If you want to see images, a relatively un-scary series of drawings can be found here, and links to photos can be found here. I won’t link to any potentially scary stuff without telling you. Don’t worry.) In addition to all of the normal risks of surgery – complications, infections, etc – there’s the possibility I’d never be able to orgasm again. Admittedly, SRS is getting better and better all the time, so this is a diminishing possibility, but no surgeon I’ve researched has anything close to a ‘guarantee’ you’ll be able to orgasm post-op. It’s also expensive. I have a hard time imagining spending $15,000+ on anything, let alone SRS.
For all that, I’ve been thinking more and more about surgery over the course of transitioning.
What I need to do, and what my therapist has encouraged me to do, is make some consult appointments with some surgeons and get more info. This may be easy, if I’m lucky and any surgeons are coming to Be All Chicago in June. Otherwise, it may require trips to Colorado, Arizona, Montreal, or (leaving North America) Thailand, which will obviously add costs above and beyond the surgery itself.. I just sent an email to Be All inquiring if any surgeons will be attending and providing consults or information, so hopefully I’ll hear back soon.
Because I don’t think the Vagina Fairy will be coming anytime soon – like everything else in this transition, if I want a new set of equipment between my legs, I’m going to have to do something about it.
- Do you experience discrimination?
I’m spoiled rotten by artistic, professional, and interpersonal communities that – with few exceptions here and there – don’t treat me differently since I came out to them, or started transitioning. I definitely don’t feel like I’ve experienced notable discrimination. In fact, there’s currently something of an informal affirmative action campaign going on in some parts of the LGBT community, trying to give a greater voice to trans individuals. I’m not above working that when I can, and I think it’s helped get my art some exposure it might not have otherwise received.
- Do transwomen still produce sperm?
Well, it depends what you mean by trans women. Trans women on hormones probably don’t. (I didn’t, even when I wanted to.) Trans women not on hormones are usually like any average man, so would produce sperm. But I wouldn’t rely on hormones as birth control, unless you’ve gotten your sperm count checked: If a trans woman and a cis woman are going to have vaginal intercourse and absolutely don’t want to get pregnant, I’d still recommend a condom or other form of birth control.
- Do you feel you have any physical limitations?
I’ve mentioned having some frustration over losing muscle mass from the increased estrogen and decreased testosterone levels in my blood. That’d be the biggest thing I consider a physical limitation, and only because I have the ability to compare what testosterone does for muscle mass. Beyond that, I do think having a penis can be a limitation purely in the sense of women’s clothing. I absolutely don’t think you have to have a vagina to be a woman (and I’d consider myself as proof of that!) but tight clothing for women assumes that you will. I have a tight dress or two that I can only wear with very snug underwear, and I don’t feel comfortable wearing exercise pants or bathing suit bottoms without looser shorts over ’em. I’d say those are the extents of my limitations, though.