I legally changed my name in July, 2009. I still haven’t updated my birth certificate to Rebecca Rodin Kling. I had gender reassignment surgery in December, 2013. In Illinois, this gave me the ability to change the gender marker on my birth certificate. I haven’t done that, either.
I’ve been teling myself that the delays were out of laziness or simply prioritizing more pressing matters. I’m not applying for jobs or undergoing background checks, so having a birth certificate with my old name isn’t – logistically speaking – a big deal. I’m not planning to get married anytime soon, so the gender marker on my birth certificate isn’t exactly standing in the way of any life goals.
Updating my birth certificate in on my ‘to-do,’ sitting below a reminder to water my plants every week and above a note about planning a trip to visit a friend this summer. And yet, for the past five and a half years, my birth certificate – the original, reading Jared Daniel Kling (M) – has sat in a filing cabinet in my mom’s basement in Skokie.
I was in Los Angeles for much of January, performing Something Something New Vagina at a small theater in North Hollywood. I ended each performane with a post-show Q&A, as I do with all my shows. Someone asked a question about how easy it was to change my birth certificate from M to F, and whether it shows the old gender marker or not. I was forced to admit that I haven’t actually updated my birth certificate and, for the first time, I realized I’ve been delaying doing so for deeper reasons than simple laziness. There’s an aspect of updating that document that feels very final, and like it somehow cuts me off from a past I’ve been working for almost a decade, the course of my transition, to move beyond. Continue reading 'Resisting being ‘done’ transitioning'»
One of the many reasons I like having a blog is that it gives me a platform to talk about sex. I’ve attempted to define feminist porn, I’ve reviewed sex toys (albeit not for a while – stay tuned on that front), and I’ve bitched about 50 Shades of Grey. The comfort and experience discussing sex and sexuality that have stemmed from writing this blog were absolutely on my mind when I worked with Early to Bed to create a sexytime guide for trans women and our partners. (Stay tuned there, too – I’m working on revisions and updates.) But I haven’t talked about sex much since December, and The Surgery. I don’t apologize for that gap (goddess knows I needed time to process) but I am conscious of it. And, as I’ve continued healing and masturbating and hooking up, I’ve been thinking more about myself and how my new and reconfigured body works. In particular, I’ve been thinking about sexytime communication, and how things have changed since The Surgery.
Pre-op, I intuitively assumed that there’d need to be a Talk with every new sexual partner. At the very least, there was an expectation of disclosure. Without getting too into the question of whether or not trans people are obligated to disclose their transness (and I think the answer is no, we aren’t obligated) I do think it makes things simpler to disclose. There’s less of a risk of physical or emotional violence, certainly. It also just removes a potential bump in the road: even if a partner is enthusiastic about sleeping with a trans person, they almost certainly have unconscious expectations about what’s going to be between a man or a woman’s legs. Not meeting those expectations may be surprising (even if it’s not bad) and I’d rather skip that kind of surprise when getting undressed with a partner. Continue reading 'Sexytime communication, pre- and post-op'»
Note: This is the current draft of a piece I performed at Patrick’s Cabaret in Minneapolis this past weekend.
The toilet paper lobby is in cahoots with Big Vagina.
I don’t mean “big vagina” as in “vaginas that are large.” I mean Big Vagina, as in capital B-Big, capital V-Vagina. As in Big Tobacco, Big Coal, Big Pharmaceutical. As in Conglomerates. Cartels. Cabals. Other… intimidating words that start with a hard-C sound. Shady backroom dealings, where mustachioed billionaires smoke cigars and discuss the course of international events. And lemme tell you, the toilet paper lobby has Big Vagina all sewn up!
That’s an unpleasant visual… I apologize.
But I know about their secret dealings because I am a recent initiate into the world of having a vagina. I possess something of an outsider’s perspective. See, I used to have a penis. For most of my life I had one, actually. But then, on December 10, 2013, a day foretold in prophecy, I stood naked atop the highest peaks and called upon otherworldly powers to make right a cosmic injustice.
Or maybe I simply went to a surgeon in Philadelphia and had some awesome fantasies while high on morphine.
But either way, my outie became an innie and I gained secret knowledge that Big Vagina doesn’t want you to have. Like Big Vagina’s relationship with the toilet paper lobby.
Let me tell you how peeing works when you have a penis: You stand in front of a toilet or urinal, you unzip, you aim, you shake, and you zip. You might wash your hands, but you probably won’t. Because – if done correctly – peeing from a penis does not get urine all over the fucking place. Continue reading 'Big Vagina and the conspiracies THEY don’t want you to know about'»
I default to Lamaze-style breathing when I’m nervous. That is, the type of breathing technique outlined over and over again in pregnancy books and magazines and websites and sitcoms and movies:
- Take a deep, full-bodied breath in through your nose on a three or four count
- Hold that breath on a three or four count
- Breath out through your mouth on a three or four count
My mom taught me this type of breathing when I was a ten year old. I suffered from anxiety attacks throughout my childhood, particularly when going to bed or going to sleepovers. Well, trying to go to sleepovers – I rarely made it through the night without calling my parents to come pick me up. My mom taught me this focused breathing for the same reason it’s taught to pregnant women: It physiologically relaxes the body by bringing in more oxygen, it helps provide focus, and it (hopefully!) distracts from pain or discomfort. Continue reading 'Breath in through your nose, out through your mouth'»
Sorry that this is being posted a little later than is seasonally appropriate, but I’ve been busy healing! I also tried to broadly keep the rhythm, but offer no apologies for when I failed.
On the first day of post-op my doctor gave to me:
Instructions not to move a degree
On the second day of post-op my Doctor gave to me:
Two heavy drugs
And instructions not to move a degree
On the third day of post-op my doctor gave to me
Three calls from friends
Two heavy drugs
And instructions not to move a degree Continue reading 'The 12 Days of Post-Op'»
I realize I haven’t posted anything in a while. So! Here’s a surgery timeline:
Sunday, 12/8 (V-2 Day)
Final meal before 48 hours of liquid diet. Sunday was supposed to be a travel day. Got to Midway, and the flight to Philly was canceled. We were bumped to a later flight, which was then also canceled. All of the remaining Philly flights that day were canceled, and everything to Baltimore or Jersey was sold out. Booked a flight for Baltimore at 7:45AM the next day, with the plan of driving the 2+ hours up to Philly. Had to hang out at the luggage counter for an hour or so, waiting for them to find out luggage. Stayed in a hotel near the airport so we could get to the flight early, and so I wouldn’t have to deal with the mental issue of going ‘backwards.’
Monday, 12/9 (V-1 Day)
Boy, liquid diets really suck. Got to the airport and the line through security was ridiculous. It basically reached the parking garage. To Midway’s credit, all of the lanes were open and it moved (relatively) quickly. Flight got out on time, and we got a rental car to drive from Baltimore to Philly. Note: Baltimore to Philadelphia is only 2+ hours if it’s not snowing and you know the way and you’re willing to go a bit above the speed limit. None of these things were true for us. Took closer to 4 hours. Spoke on the phone with the hospital, to confirm my 6AM check-in time. But we made it! Flowers (from my mom’s boyfriend) were waiting for us at the hotel, and I was able to have some chicken broth. Which, after only stupid fruit drinks on the road, tasted SO GOOD!
Tuesday, 12/10 (V Day)
Get to the hospital at 6AM, after getting up around 4:30AM and – ugh – giving myself an enema to make sure my insides are as clean as can be. Check in at the hospital, then sent to get blood drawn. I remember being very impressed at how quick the nurse found the vein and drew the blood; I’ve apparently had some poor blood draws in my day. Go upstairs to change into a hospital gown and leave my stuff in a locker, then to another floor for actual surgery prep.
Continue reading 'Surgery updates'»
Note: This post was written in response to a writing prompt given to me by a friend, in which she encouraged me to explain to my body why it’s about to undergo major surgery. The post itself is scheduled to publish during my upcoming gender reassignment surgery. The actual surgery, that is; when this post goes live I should (fingers crossed) be under general anesthesia, getting myself all vagified. That might be going a little overboard, but I couldn’t resist the metaphor.
Dearest, singular, unique, self. My body.
Know that what’s coming is going to be hard. For that, I am deeply and eternally sorry. There will be discomfort, there will be pain, there will be an unreasonable amount of piss and shit, there will be stitches and sutures and drugs and aches and pains and moans and tears. There will be moments when you wish I hadn’t done this to you, when I will wish I hadn’t done this to you, when family and friend are annoying and no position feels comfortable and food sounds disgusting and Netflix has been watched in its entirety and the world is stupid and dumb and should just go away and oh my god how can I possibly need to dilate again. If it could be different, if I could be different, if you could be different, know that I wouldn’t do this to you. I wouldn’t do this unless I was so fundamentally sure it was right.
I am fundamentally sure this is right.
Continue reading 'A Letter to My Body'»
I recently wrote a post, I’m Scared, in which I talked about my fears relating to my upcoming gender reassignment surgery. (Shameless donation plug: Please donate!) The post was really important for me to write, and has helped me internalize and work through some of the fears that I have. (Some of them remain scary, and will continue to be scary until I’m through them and they’re OK.) But I also wanted to take time to focus on what I’m excited about, what I’m looking forward to, and what is going to be awesome about having surgery.
I’m excited about having a body that will ‘fit.’ A body I can bathe in the shower without having extra dangly bits. A body that will be hugged by form-fitting clothing, without unseemly bulging. I’m excited about shopping for that clothing, trying on dresses and skirts and pants (and the dreaded yoga pants!) and feeling like they were designed for my body, and vice versa.
I’m excited about exploring my new body. I’m dreading dilation, yes, but I’m also excited by it. About having this new part – constructed from the old – that offers new opportunities for pleasure and simply for comfort. I’m excited about getting to know my new anatomy, its rounded parts and squishy bits and how it fits with the rest of me. Continue reading 'I’m Excited!'»
DISCLAIMER: I am not interested in people telling me “it’s going to be OK.” I know it’s going to be OK. Likewise, I am perfectly capable of talking myself down from any and all of the below-listed fears. And I realize that – while none of them are stupid – they’re all perfectly normal and will pass as I go through them and come out the other side . But this specific post is about my expressing and processing my fears, not being told “it’s going to be OK.” So please resist the urge. The only exceptions to that request are:
- You are providing a link to someone else’s experiences around actually having surgery
- You yourself have had a vaginoplasty (or comparable, major, trans-related surgery) and are willing to talk about it
Put another way, this post is not about you trying to make me feel better. I appreciate the sentiment, but now isn’t the time.
That’s out of the way. On to the post itself.
Last week, I attended (and did a reading at) the launch of Spider Teeth, a zine by ellie june navidson. ellie and I aren’t super close, but we’re friends and I’m a big fan of her as a person, an artist, and an activist. The zine is about her experiences around having surgery in Thailand during the spring of 2013, with pieces written in present-tense around the lead-up, surgery itself, recovery, and in the months since. It talks about the politics, emotions, physical experiences, and more. The other night, ellie read some selections from the zine, but I didn’t have a chance to sit down and give it the attention it deserved until a few days ago.
It’s awesome. Beautiful, well-written, and perhaps the best piece of writing I’ve ever seen about “the surgery.” (This post isn’t a review of the zine, but I’ll give one anyway: Go buy it. Find a way to track down ellie, give her money, and get a copy.) It also brought up a lot of my fears, many of which I’ve been giving lip service to (“Of course I’m scared!”) but hadn’t really sat down and inhabited.
Continue reading 'I’m scared'»
See, it’s in my schedule! I promise!
I’m just over two months until V-Day, and at $5,262 on my surgery fundraiser. That is amazing, and I am overwhelmed by the generosity. So many friends, family members, and strangers have come forward to help me out. (And get silly gifts in return, most of which still need to be shipped. I promise I’m sending them out next week!
But I think we can do better.
An incredibly generous family donor has come forward to say that the next $2,369 in donations will be matched, dollar-for-dollar. For those keeping track, that means that – if I can get another $2,369 in donations from y’all – I’ll hit my $10,000 fundraising goal.
Some say it’s impossible. Some say it can’t be done. But to them I say NAY!
So, if you haven’t donated yet, now is the time! And thanks.