Pre-op, post-op, does it matter?

By , January 7, 2013 2:09 pm

I was at a party on New Years Eve. The drinks were flowing, the music was thumping, and Jaxx (two X’s, not one) was hitting on me. He was cute, a burner, and we were having a good time. After dancing for a while, we collapsed on a couch (inside a blanket fort; it was that kind of party) to have a drink and catch our breath. Drinking led to leaning into each other flirtatiously, which led to making out, which led to him slowly dragging his hand up my leg. I stopped his hand (I am a lady) and said, “You know I’m trans, right?”

He paused. “No, I didn’t.”

On the one hand, I had a little bit of pride at his perception matching my presentation. On the other hand, it meant we had to have a conversation, where I was hoping we could just drunkenly make out. “Well, I am.”

I could see the wheels turning in his head. “Pre-op, or post-op?”

I wasn’t prepared for that question. Before I could think through the politics, the ramifications, I said, “Pre-op.”

“Ah.” He sat back down, and we chatted for a few more minutes, and he went away. We’d exchanged numbers earlier in the evening, but I don’t expect to hear from him; it was clear that I had given him the Wrong Answer.

I’ve been thinking, since then, about how I answered, and how I should have answered. I certainly wasn’t planning to have sex in a blanket fort on New Years Eve (although, now that I describe it that way, that sounds pretty awesome) but he had wandering hands and I didn’t want my trans status (or, more specifically, my penis-having status) to be a big shock.

But I’m going to rewind, and rewrite the conversation how – in a more reflexive state of mind – I think it should have gone:

Drinking led to leaning into each other flirtatiously, which led to making out, which led to him slowly dragging his hand up my leg. I stopped his hand (I am a lady) and said, “You know I’m trans, right?”

He paused. “No, I didn’t.”

On the one hand, I had a little bit of pride at his perception matching my presentation. On the other hand, it meant we had to have a conversation, where I was hoping we could just drunkenly make out. “Well, I am.”

I could see the wheels turning in his head. “Pre-op, or post-op?”

I smirked, “Does it matter?”

He laughed, leaned back in thought, and grinned. “No,” he said as he leaned into kiss me again, “I guess not.”

Because – at least for the foreseeable future – being trans is a big enough part of my identity as a whole (and my identity as a sexual creature) that I do want to share that with any potential partners before we go very far. At the same time, politically and personally, I don’t know that I want to be with anyone if my ‘op’ status is going to be a factor with them.

I’m not glad how things played out on New Years Eve, but I am glad it was relatively low-stress, and that Jaxx wasn’t an asshole when he realized he didn’t actually want to continue what he’d started. I also like having that response in my pocket, so to speak, so I can use it in the future should it be necessary.

6 Responses to “Pre-op, post-op, does it matter?”

  1. rachel says:

    At least for the foreseeable future – being trans is a big enough part of my identity as a whole (and my identity as a sexual creature) that I do want to share that…

    This is an issue that never goes away, and it certainly doesn’t get easier after surgery, unless you count the ability to have sex without the disclosure bit as ‘gets easier’ (it’s not).

    There are several other scenarios that could have occurred instead. Few of them are emotionally satisfying. Op status, as you call it, is a factor for most people. You may think it’s not such a big deal, but even though transsexualism is not the novelty it was when I had surgery in 1982, it’s still a pretty ‘out there’ thing for many people to get their heads around. And just as I resisted telling my otherwise-best-friend who is a psychiatrist about that aspect of my past because I didn’t want to be pathology, so there are occasions it’s nice not to have to wonder whether someone is with you because you’re trans (which does happen and is squicky, or at least it is for me). Being pathology is no more uncomfortable than being a fetish object.

    Anyway, I wish you all the best rationalizing this. One of the things that I occasionally celebrate about being with my husband is that I don’t have to go through that again. We’ve been living together for 24 years this year. The thing that sealed it for me when he worked my past out (I am not, and have never been, ‘out’) was his use of the phrase ‘it doesn’t matter.” That’s a rare, rare thing indeed. It wasn’t the thing that made me fall in lev with him but damn it’s some fin cement in the relationship.

    You and I are very different people, Rebecca, and we’re in different times and places. But if ‘op’ status isn’t going to matter, it’s sometimes necessary for ‘t’ status not to matter too. I’m not saying its a good thing – it’s just, IMHO, the way things are.

    Best wishes. You never know – he may call you back. Men sometimes take a few days to process that kind of thing. Of course, you may not care whether or not he does.

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks for chiming in. I don’t mean to say that op status doesn’t matter, or that it’s unimportant. It does matter, both to me and to potential partners. I’m not so idealistic as to assume otherwise. Rather, I mean to say that if someone is going to hook up with me they need to be OK whether I have a penis or a vagina. Asking them “Does it matter?” seems like a quick (although not perfect) way to figure that out, without feeling like I need to justify or explain my own body.

      Put another way, it puts the impetus on them to explain where they’re coming from, rather than for me to talk about what’s between my legs. (At least at that early stage of the game.)

  2. Jadey says:

    Ah, “does it matter”… It’s a good question, sometimes with an answer I don’t find I like very much.

    I know it *does* matter to many people, and I want to respect that, but there’s a rebellious part of me that just doesn’t get it.

    I know it’s different for pansexuals to some extent, because I don’t have my sexual orientation (or sense of my own sexual identity) attached to an affection for a particular archetype of genital configuration, but even keeping within a purely “innie” or “outie” camp, there’s an enormous amount of variety anyway! I love to imagine what a potential partner’s bits will looks like – light hair or dark; long and floppy or small and compact; reddish, pinkish, purplish, brownish? (And, of course, the same questions clearly apply to either camp.) Half the fun of opening up a present is not being entirely certain what kind of toy is hiding inside! But if you always go in looking for something very specific, odds are on disappointment.

    I would love to live in a world where the answer to that perfectly innocent question is generally either “No” or “Not to spoil the surprise too much, but I’d love to know what I’m going to be working with to give you the most fun this fine evening.”

    /blather

    • Rebecca says:

      I know it *does* matter to many people, and I want to respect that, but there’s a rebellious part of me that just doesn’t get it.

      Absolutely. I suspect that, for many people (probably even most), op status does matter, and the answer to my question will be a confused, “Um, yes? It matters?” But, as I said to Rachel above, phrasing the response that way means they have to explain themselves to me, rather than the other way around.

      If Jaxx had said, “No, I suppose it doesn’t matter.” I probably would have told him, “Alright. While, just so you know, I’m pre-op.” Sharing that information is (obviously) important, and I sort of feel like a sexual partner should know what they’re going to find between someone’s legs. NOT because the trans person has an obligation of disclosure, but because I think safe and consensual sex – especially at the beginning of a relationship – shouldn’t involve a huge number of surprises.

      Anywho, it sounds like we’re mostly on the same page, and I really appreciate your comment. I don’t identify as pan (or even really bi) since I know I lean predominantly toward women. But I’m also not ruling men out in the way I was a few years ago, and that experience – of shifting sexuality – has made me rethink how these types of interactions work.

      • Jayinchicago says:

        I have so much to say regarding this topic and I’m thinking about writing a post about it, but in the meantime–I don’t think it necessarily
        Violates consent to have some sort of sex with someone where they don’t know the state of my genitals. If I give a guy a handjob, does that mean he needs to know what exactly I have? I don’t see that as an ongoing relationship, though I could see scenarios where if someone outed my status to him at some point it could have repercussions–though I strongly encourage cis folk to say they don’t want trans partners to people whose status they don’t know if they don’t want trans partners. But often this is treated as an impossibility.

        • Rebecca says:

          If I give a guy a handjob, does that mean he needs to know what exactly I have?

          You bring up a good point, and one that’s worth clarifying. I guess I more meant ‘consent’ as it revolves around mutual genital contact, but you’re right that life (and sex(uality)) is more complicated than that.

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