Saturday, 27 October 2018

They can't take it away from me

    So then. Here I am, in a  nightie and dressing gown, on my friend's sofa with my feet propped up. Safe and warm, about 10 days after having my GRS. Almost no pain due to damn good anaesthesia, some discomfort but not much, no serious complications either during or afterwards, happy with the result. The bastards can't take it off me any more like they did before. That's all you're getting about my surgery.

    Surgery then. The big end point, the goal, the Nirvana. It's mythologised in certain trans circles, and the faster you can get it the sooner you become a Real Woman. You'll have seen it here countless times if you follow blogs like this one, the people who have everything privately funded and roar through the process like an express train before ripping everything up and running away once they've got the prize, abandoning any friends they've made along the way as inferiors, mere trannies in contrast to their self-evident grasp of femininity.

    Bitter? Yes, bitter as fsck. It's happened to me a few times, to the extend that for the last few years I've insulated myself from it, not got too close if someone shows all the signs. It's called internalised transphobia, and it's nasty.

   So then. Surgery. How was it for me? What did I get from it. And no, by that I don't mean what did I get physically from it, I meant what did it do for me.

   The answer? Surprisingly little, in a sense.

    It's neither a quasi-religious nor a transcendental experience, an angel doesn't descend from on high and bestow a Scroll Of Womanhood upon you, and you definitely don't start pooping glittery butterflies and rainbows out of the thing. It's not a rebirthday, in fact I'm exactly the same person as I was at the start of last week, except it hurts if I move the wrong way and I have to dilate three times a day. I had a procedure, not an experience, and afterwards I had a comfortable hospital stay under the incomparable care of an extremely high quality team of nurses and other staff.

   What I did get was a release from the fear that they could take it away from me. When I woke up from the anaesthetic I was immediately lucid and awake, and the first thing I did was ask if it had been done, before taking a look under the covers and bursting into tears sobbing that I've been in the system very nearly nine years and that they couldn't take it away from me.

    That's it, they can't take it away from me. They have, in the past, multiple times. A referral refused, hormones messed up, discharged from a GIC. But now, no matter what any dinosaur gender clinic medic thinks, they can't take it away from me. It took a while to dissipate, the fear hung around thrashing about like a pressure hose let go by a fireman. I had a full-blown panic attack in my first night, having dreamed that one of the rarest surgical complications had occurred and they'd given me only the cosmetic procedure. It was only with the pack coming out and my first dilation that particular tiny fear was laid to rest.

    So now I have a vagina, or to be more accurate, a neovagina. It's taken me nearly nine years in the medical system, a lot of fighting and a lot of heartache to get it. It's physically part of me, but it's slowly becoming mentally part of me over the weeks. As it heals and the swelling recedes, it becomes less a wound and more a body part. Already I like the way I look in the mirror, and there is way more to go on this journey. I can take a confidence I didn't have before, and that feels good.

    But coming back to what I said earlier, if it didn't make me a woman, what did? The answer there is immediate, getting out there and socialising as a woman, being a woman. From my first hesitant outings at the start of this decade and through a while living half-and-half to a whole bunch of years living full-time, that's what made me a woman. Workplace discrimination, speaking at hacker camps, travelling to find stuff to write about, being part of the turning of the years in a small rural community, being one of the Ladies Who Clean a parish church. And much more, being female is something in which there is always more to learn. This is the thing that so many of those speed transitioners I mentioned earlier so often get wrong, they spend their 18 months collecting medical procedures like gold stars on a coffee shop reward card and then emerge at the other end without socialisation, it hasn't magically made them a woman in anything but if they are lucky, looks. They either fall flat on their faces and begin the socialisation process a bit wiser, or they retreat into that internalised transphobia and become embittered and afraid of their own shadows in case anyone inevitably figures out their pasts. It's no way to live.

    While the past nine years have been hellishly awful at times I'm glad I have all that socialisation time. My demons on this front were laid to rest quite a while ago, and I sense some that lingered will evaporate over the next few months. It doesn't fix everything like a magic trick, but maybe it will deal with those parts of it.

    It'll be good to get back to talking about cider again. I pressed this year's batch, three days before going into hospital. It'll be fermenting now, ready for racking after Christmas when I'm back home.

    I'm looking forward to that.

12 comments:

  1. Finally! They certainly put you through the wringer showing just how broken our system still is.

    A fine summation of what is truly important with transition. What few if any shall ever see certainly made me feel complete it was social acceptance and integration which has made it all worthwhile.

    It has been a couple of years since I was that far south but hope to be down in the spring so that we can drink some of that cider in a toast to the end of clinics...

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    1. *really* good to hear from you!

      Not quite an end to clinics. Still fixing the baggage the last few years have bestowed on me. But hey, at least they can't take this away from me.

      Look forward to seeing you next year maybe.

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  2. So happy for you Jenny! May all of your surprises in aftercare be happy ones.

    The knowledge that they can't take it away was like a rebirth for me. So many worries echoed for a while then disappeared finally. More than a year later, I give little thought to that part of my past, and that is how it always should have been.

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    1. Thanks :) I think it'll take a while, for me.

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  3. It occurred to me, after reading your last paragraph, that making cider is a bit like the process of transitioning through to womanhood. You can press for the juice, but it's the fermentation that makes it happen. :-)

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    1. Now that's a good one, I hadn't thought of that.

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    2. I've been fermenting for a long, long time...not pressed, though. :-)

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    3. I know something of this, sadly.

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  4. This is weird. I left a comment this morning and am seeing the reply comments on my email but never saw my comment posted. Basically, it said congratulations Jenny!

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  5. What a long, strange trip it's been... Glad you finally got the last detail sorted. A lot of hard-won wisdom in your conclusions. Very happy for you, Jenny.

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    1. Long time no see, good to hear from you. I don't know about last detail though, this is just the start. :)

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