As I write this, I’m sitting in Philadelphia Airport, waiting for my flight back to Chicago. I’m scheduling the post to go up tomorrow (for me) so hopefully I’m already back, safe and sound. Today was a long day. I had to wake up at 6:30AM, after just about six hours of sleep, so I could have breakfast with the high school friend who was hosting me and the drive the ~hour out to New Hope, PA. The breakfast was lovely, the drive was fine, and I arrived at the Papillion Center in New Hope almost exactly at 9:30AM. And then I waited for half an hour, just like I expected. Such is life when visiting doctors, I suppose.
Dr. McGinn was very pleasant and, after introductions, launched into her spiel which covered “history, care, and surgery.” And, amazingly, she really did cover almost all of the questions I’d already jotted down. Some of the major ones:
What are the logistics of the surgery?
Scheduling, as of right now, is from October onward. Most patients are admitted to the hospital she works with on a Monday, the with surgery happens that afternoon and a discharge on Thursday. You then need to stay in a local hotel or B&B (she had a few recommendations, and will be opening her own B&B this fall) for another ~10 days. During that time – and assuming there are no complications – she sees you about a week later to remove packing and check on healing, and then one final time ~3 days after that before you fly home. She then requires (strongly requests?) followup visits with her about 1-2 months later, and 6 months after surgery. In this, she differs from other surgeons; Dr. Bowers, for example, wanted a followup with someone who was familiar with the process, but didn’t require people come back to see her. As Dr. McGinn put it, she needs to know how her work looks once it has healed, so that she can improve upon it. Continue reading 'Thoughts after meeting Dr. McGinn'»
Here’s what I’d like you to do:
- Cut open my penis.
- Remove the spongey erectile tissue. Make sure to leave the nerves and blood supply intact! We’ll need those!
- Invert all that stuff up into my pelvic cavity.
- Use that tissue and blood supply to make me a brand new clit.
- Shorten my urethra – won’t be standing up to pee anymore!
- Take the extra scrotal tissue and shape me a good labia.
Perfect! Now that’s what I want to see when I look in the mirror. Continue reading 'Cut it open. Push it up.'»
Exclusions. Covered expenses of the Plan shall not include … procedures, treatments, equipment, transplants, or implants, any of which are … for, or resulting from, a gender transformation operation. – 215 Illinois Compiled Statutes 105 – Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan Act
It’s unclear whether the State of Illinois has defined – through statute or the courts – what specifically “gender transformation operation” means. But it seems pretty safe to assume that the surgery I’m currently considering would fall under its purview. Surgery in which the “spongiform erectile tissue of the penis is removed, and the skin, with its nerves and vascular system (blood supply) still attached, is used to create a vestibule area and labia minora, which then are inverted into the neovaginal cavity created in the pelvic tissue.” That seems pretty gender transformative to me.
What’s interesting about the Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan Act (or the ICHIP Act) is what other injuries, procedures, and categories of coverage are excluded. Gender transformation operations (item 14.iv on the list of exclusions) is lumped in with cosmetic surgery (item 1), anything which exceeds “reasonable or customary” cost (item 4), injury due to war (item 9) , services that are “not provided in accord with generally accepted standards of current medical practice” (item 14), contraceptives (item 19), weight loss programs (item 21), acupuncture (22). Interestingly enough, the act itself does not, as best as I could find, mention abortion or early termination of a pregnancy, but the ICHIP website stil says such services are excluded.
Continue reading 'Some exclusions may apply'»
First, an update on my firing from last October. I had filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency who makes sure employers are being all equal and such. I just got a letter from them saying that, because Neal Math and Science Academy hadn’t responded to the EEOC’s inquiry, the EEOC would be investigating the complaint themselves.
I talked to my lawyer, who said this isn’t great news – that would be if Neal decided to cooperate with the EEOC from the beginning. But it does mean that the EEOC hasn’t forgotten about my complaint, and hasn’t (yet) said it’s not under their jurrisdiction.
In other news, my dad sent me a Chicago Tribune article about Dr Schechter, a plastic surgeon in the Chicago suburbs who does gender reassignment surgery. This is very interesting to me, since the only folks I’d found doing surgery were decidedly not in the Chicago area. At the same time, the fact that I haven’t heard of this guy makes me hesitant – all the doctors I’ve been researching are well-established, with reviews online over at this site. The article also says Schecther works with the Drs Etner, who I’m not fans of.
Has anyone heard anything about him? Positive or negative?
A generic surgery
Yesterday I schlepped out to Be All Chicago for a brief consult with Dr Meltzer, a surgeon from Arizona. (Side note: I didn’t actually register for or attend Be All for a few reasons. First, while it claims to be a “Chicago” conference, it’s actually in Downers Grove. Second, it caters to a significantly older audience, which isn’t a bad thing by any means, but doesn’t make me feel a huge desire to attend.)
Back on track, Dr Meltzer is on my Short List of doctors I’ve researched and would now like to actually meet, or at the very least speak with. Others on the list include Dr Bowers, Dr Reed, Dr Alter, and Dr McGinn. If you’ve heard anything about any of these doctors – positive or negative – please let me know.
I liked Dr Meltzer from our first introduction. A big part of why I want to meet with doctors, perhaps the biggest part, is to see if we ‘click.’ All the doctors I’m looking at have a large enough history and enough reviews that I know they’re not simply back-alley charlatans. But a lesson from having my gallbladder our – where I had no choice of doctors, cuz it was emergency surgery – is that clicking with a doctor can make you feel safer and more comfortable.
Continue reading 'Meeting about THE SURGERY'»
There’s a story at the LA Times about a trans woman in prison who is suing the state to provide gender reassignment surgery and move her to the women’s jail (from her current housing in the mens’). Surprisingly, the article is pretty well done, as mainstream articles goes: it respects the prisoner’s pronouns and gender, and while it touches on trans folks’ assigned sexes, it doesn’t do so in a sensationalist way. For major news coverage, I was fine with it.
Not so coverage of the same story in Australia’s Herald Sun:
Lyralisa Stevens, who was born male but lives as a female, said in a suit filed in San Francisco’s 1st District Court that the removal of her male genitalia and subsequent transfer to a female prison were necessary to save him from the threat of harm, the Los Angeles Times reports. (Emphasis added)
Well, no, actually the LA Times said the suit claimed the surgery was necessary to save her from the threat of harm. But the token “her male genitalia” is the only nod the article makes to the prisoner’s gender – the rest of the article uses male pronouns, and even goes so far as to say “In supporting documents, psychotherapist Lin Fraser – referring to Stevens as “her” – said she held “grave concerns” for Stevens’ safety because the inmate “had been put alone in cells all night long with men who threatened and abused her,” the Los Angeles Times reported.” (Again, emphasis added.)
Fuck you, Herald Sun! Fraser is referring to Stevens as female because – imagine that – it’s the respectful thing to do!
But both papers avoid the larger question: should the court require state-provided SRS?
Continue reading 'Trans reporting fail, missing the point'»
While researching SRS, I’ve been compiling a list of surgeons in North America. I don’t like admitting it, but going to Thailand (the most common non-NA place I see SRS docs practicing) sort of unnerves me. I like the idea of being somewhere where I understand the culture and can communicate with the staff. Maybe that’s an unreasonable fear (based on the reviews I’m reading of Thai docs, it seems like it is an unreasonable fear) but, at least for now, I’m focusing on North America.
So what have I found? Here’s the list of doctors I’m most actively investigating:
Dr McGinn – Pennsylvania
Dr Bowers – Colorado (but moving to California some time within the next year)
Dr Brassard – Montreal
Continue reading 'Surgeons'»
Yeah, it's a little cheesey. What do you want from me?
Transitioning, for me, has primarily been an experience of moving away from things. At every stage, I’ve thought about how unhappy I was, not about how things would be better if I did XYZ.
I went into therapy because I was miserable, not because I was particularly sure I could be happy. I went on hormones because presenting and living as male fit me horribly, like an itchy and too-tight outfit, full of pins and needles. Not because I thought I’d succeed as living as a woman. I underwent hair removal because being hairy felt all wrong, not because I thought being smooth would be pleasant.
Fortunately, I was wrong about those things: When I reached whatever minor goal I’d set for myself it was better, not simply “less bad.” But my thought process was still about moving away from things – a false presentation, hiding something, masculinity – not moving toward anything.
I’ve been continuing to think about The Surgery. And I’ve realized that, for the first time in my transition, I’m interesting in moving toward something rather than away.
Continue reading 'Moving toward something?'»
This is my gallbladder, Tim.
First, apparently it’s “gallbladder” or “gall bladder,” not “gal bladder.” Good to know.
Second, a little more info on what has been going on.
The gallbladder is used as sort of a digestive backup: it stores bile produced elsewhere and, when hard-to-digest food is introduced to the digestive tract – the gallbladder will send in the reinforcements. That means it’s useful, but not critical.
Gallstones are formed out of normal bile components that somehow solidify and get stuck in obnoxious (and potentially dangerous) places.
Continue reading 'The gallbladder has gotsta go!'»
Almost a month after my recent visit, I’m back in the hospital. I came to the ER this morning with more abdominal pain, and they’ve since determined it’s a gal bladder issue. Tomorrow they’ll definitely be removing some gal stones, an possibly the gal bladder itself. I’ll them get out Wednesday or Thursday, hopefully.
If they decide not to remove the gal bladder this week (to let swelling go down) I’ll be back in 4 to 6 weeks for that.
More later (posting from my phone) but wanted to shoot out an update.