A month or so ago I lost a friend at the hands of a surgeon, on the operating table at the Nuffield Hospital in Brighton.
I first encountered her last year, at which point she had been full-time female for less than a year. An attractive girl a few years older than me, her strident views and combative nature didn't do her any favours among the orthodoxy of the community of trans people through which we knew each other but we both got on pretty well and I came to regard her as a friend. She was fortunate in her build and in having visited a good facial surgeon so she had confidence in her appearance and I never saw her have any issues with being spotted.
Unusually she claimed never to have suffered from gender dysphoria, presumably meaning that she didn't suffer from the crushing depression and hopelessness in being male that a lot of readers will find familiar. Her path took her through the private healthcare system rather than the NHS, so as far as I am aware she began hormones before going full-time and the diagnosis criteria were different from those we might find at an NHS GIC.
She took going off hormones pre-GRS harder than most. For the first time, she said, she understood gender dysphoria. Better late than never I suppose, but it must have been a shock to her. Because almost immediately on her return from the Nuffield following her GRS she announced that she was now going stealth, and that she no longer wished to associate with her trans friends.
And that's how I lost my friend.
Good luck to her I suppose. If she can do it. She wouldn't be the first trans woman to go stealth, though she's the first I've heard of doing it before her surgery has healed.
But I can't help feeling sad at the abrupt loss of a friend, concerned for her wellbeing and above all shocked at her path through the medical system,
Sad at the loss of a friend, because it's as if it were a bereavement. When she made her announcement it hit me hard. I retreated into my shell. It always hurts a little when a friend makes a great stride in transition that you can't, but for her to make such a stride and then dump everyone really hurt. I can tell she meant it when she said she never really experienced gender dysphoria, because had she done so she wouldn't have treated in that way those among her friends who do experience it. Hell, it wasn't as though she had to face the embarrassment of being associated with a Widow Twankey Tranny, she only once ever saw me as anything but the scruffy bloke.
Concerned for her wellbeing because I don't think she's dealt with her issues. I think she is only now discovering that there is more to this than acquiring a pretty face and other female enhancements from a surgeon. If she locks herself into the closet that going stealth can become then she will find it very difficult to find help, and as someone who still considers herself a friend I wish I could avoid that happening.
And shocked at her path through the medical system because I do not believe her doctors to have been acting in her best interests. As far as I am aware she went through the entire process in the absolute minimum time possible under the Standards of Care, and given both her obvious issues now and that she claimed all along never to have suffered from gender dysphoria I find wanting the medics who authorised her treatment without significant examination of why she took that position.
I hope her going stealth was simply due to her being in a hormonal mix-up following her surgery and I hope she'll pop up again as if nothing has happened. With luck she'll be wiser for the experience. But if she does I hope she also realises that her path was not as smooth as it might have appeared to her when taking it, and takes the time to face up to the consequences of that.
Because you know what? I'd hate to lose her once again, this time permanently.
(Edit, Dec 2011: she has surfaced, but I have mixed feelings about it which I've detailed here)