What Surgery Means for Trans Folk, Part 1

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

We Don't Need It to be Trans, but for Some of Us, It's Euphoria

Celebrating surgery with the National Beer of Wisconsin.

When I started my trans journey, surgery (which happened for me summer of 2018) was only an option. And, in fact, that's what surgery remains for many, if not most, trans folk. Some women have penises, some men have vaginas, and genderfluid/non-binary folks feel at home in their bodies as is.

I'm not more trans for having had surgery nor is anyone the less for not getting it.

I'm not more trans for having had surgery nor is anyone the less for not getting it. Moreover, disparities in healthcare provision and access put it out of the monetary and social reach of many trans persons.


Surgery Is NOT Being Trans

Let's be clear—surgery is not one with being trans. It's an outer sign of an all-along inner reality. Surgery is no more invasively unnatural than are the ravages of puberty when testosterone or estrogen flood your body to turn you into something you never wanted to be. At least surgery has a wake-up from the nightmare; puberty is slow-torture into an endlessly torturous adulthood.


Surgery Is Not "Mutilation"

Surgery is not "mutilation" but actually a working with the wonders of the human physiognomy to align our bodily selves with our mental and emotional selves, which in persons not burdened with gender dysphoria, is always such a happy continuum that they think it the template of reality.

Now it was time for me to be me.

Surgery—A "Growing-Into"

Surgery required a "growing into" time because I didn't know what it would mean for me. I was, at best, ambivalent about my male genitalia that had helped sire three now-adult children. But, honestly, those genitals were almost ruptured every time I crossed my legs and the source of the testosterone that helped make me so unhappy. As I showered the night before my vulvoplasty, I honestly felt no nostalgia, regret, or fear. They just were, and had been for so long. Now it was time for me to be me.

I had to go out of myself for this bodily/mental/spiritual event. Recovering in a different place gave me a hibernaculum from which I could emerge and return to my stomping grounds, treading them as fully the person I've always known myself to be.

Surgery Pilgrimage

In July 2018, Pam and I pilgrimaged to Madison, Wisconsin, where we stayed through my procedure and month-long recovery. Though not the case for others, traveling to surgery was instrumental to my process. I had to go out of myself for this bodily/mental/spiritual event. Recovering in a different place gave me a hibernaculum from which I could emerge and return to my stomping grounds, treading them as fully the person I've always known myself to be.


Pam's role in this pilgrimage was heroic and essential. She took care of me, looked out for me, stood by me, gifting me, as she always does, with her lifelong love. I'll forever remember tiny things and moments from Wisconsin—the Air BnB we stayed at; Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, which I read through my recovery; the butterfly release at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens; the beer, the cheese, and the friendly folks in Madison. Pam is always there, giving these moments meaning, giving me a life that I am now so much more capable of returning to her than I had been before I came out.


Coming Home to Surgery

We all come home to the humdrum. I had to sit on a donut pillow on the return flight and wear pads for the spotting. But I came back different. Home was the same. But I'm not.

Every day I'm not who I was yesterday. I am so grateful to have my bodily self be one with all of my self.

Every day it's that way. Every day I'm not who I was yesterday. I am so grateful to have my bodily self be one with all of my self. Yes, I was always that, like any of us human beings. Yet, for me, I needed bodily affirmation of what had so long been at odds with the rest of the way I perceived reality.


Kudos to those who can and do feel at home with themselves in the presentation of their bodies. From birth, I hadn't been allowed that. I'm there, now. More on that in my next post.

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