i am asked to be gentle – and whilst i am not known for pulling punches, i do get why. One of the worst things i have encountered in the last couple of weeks is the trans eeyore tendency: uber-pessimism to my sprightly pollyannaish ways.
So, asking about how srs may work out, i have been given (by some) not so much a factual pros and cons, but a listing of everything that could go wrong… I don’t like that. Its not helpful: its actually quite scary. And i will try not to add to the overall scaremongering.
Let’s start with the fairy tale version.
She… was a middle-aged housewife and journalist. He… was a suave and elegantly grey-haired consultant. She had never been touched “that way” before… (now read on…)
Jane lay back on the bed. A halo of chesnut brown hair spilled out on to the pillow. “I need this”, she said, gazing trustingly up into his sparkling eyes.
“Its a full five inches”, he muttered, brusquely.
“I don’t care”, she whispered. “Do it now”.
Jane felt his hand roughly part her legs. Her lashes fluttered. Relax, she told herself: relax. Was there honey still for tea? The lad who brought the menus would surely know.
Had Lady Gaga peaked? Was Nick Clegg growing just a little too portly?
Did this mean she was no longer a virgin…?
Now, if icky stuff bothers you, look away.
Sunday morning, a couple of nurses removed my “pack”: that is, the tight padding and t-shaped bandage that wraps your waist and…the wadding that fills u up inside. Very yuk feeling as that came out, a bit like your insides being unravelled.
I then began a voyage of discovery, which, i was warned, would be both horrific and difficult. Basically, i have a vagina – if i can find it behind the massive left-side swelling (technically, a haematoma, which represents internal blood loss during and post operation) which looks like a cross between over-cooked turkey and a bad case of elephantiasis. The suture lines (stitching) would make Dr Frankenstein weep. And the whole is pretty much numb, which adds to the general sense of disconnectedness.
This is not unusual. Its par for the course for major surgery and only scary if you haven’t encountered such during your life. I expected it, so mostly don’t need the soothing noises from nurse and surgeon about how it will get better. I know it will. I am actually quite content with the result so far.
Real difficulty sets in with my very first dilation. Yep. I shall now be dilating three times a day for the next umpteen months…and regularly thereafter for the rest of my life.
This is both to keep my new vagina open and to allow me the possibility of some penetrative sex life, should i ever decide i’d like one.
The first time ever, the surgeon approached the bed with a well-lubed… dilator (apparently i am not allowed to call it a dildo and will get my wrists soundly slapped should i dare do so).
Few preliminaries – certainly no flowers! – and then it was in with the thing and i was meant to lie back and think of england for ten minutes or so.
Ow! Like real ow! It hurt. But it shouldn’t hurt quite that bad. Tears.
Then more tears later in the day as i dilate for myself. I am tight. Too tight. It hurts: won’t go in. Various reasons volunteered, including the geometry of my new bits and the fact i haven’t been to the loo for a week. Valiant efforts are made to help me “go” – but my bowels soak up two suppositories, a laxative and a small enema and spit them back: we shall not be moved!
my very fitness may even play a part: one of the joys of zumba is the way it strengthens your core muscles. Sadly, it is now those, including my pelvic floor, that seem to be fighting back. Swine!
Pass the parcel – and learn about yourself
I end the day frustrated, just a tad cross at myself. But never forget: my sedcond name is Polyanna.
There is progress, too. New learnings – and those i mull over as darkness falls.
Some trans women are eager to sell the magic of the unwrapping moment.
Yes. I loved it – felt briefly elated. But as quickly realised that, just as you learn, slowly, that the op isn’t what its about, so that moment is not it, either. I have a cunt! But i don’t own it yet. Its numb…doesn’t feel part of me, causes me pain…and there is pain to come.
So i’ve taken another joyous step – but just one more step.
In the evening, i chat with a close friend. We’ve been swapping intimacies for some time. Today, however, seems to unpeel a further layer of intimacy. My sad news about dilation is countered with a scurrilous observation about the girth of her ex-partner (just ever so slightly too big!).
Would she have shared that before? Possibly. Would i have understood it – really understood it?. No. This latest step brings me a step closer to full inclusion: more, i realise yet agaihn, this entire journey has never been about “becoming” a woman, but about understanding how it is to be one.
Having a vagina (you know i’ll be blogging about that soon!) absolutely does not make me female. But it builds on the empathy that already exists: puts me ever more firmly on THAT side of the gender binary (and yes, i’ll write about that too).
Meanwhile, the unwrapping, the dilation, the pain and what follows…this is not, for me, like christmas day when one unwraps presents and shouts for joy and all is swiftly done.
No. Its pass the parcel. Just as i found with transition already, that you keep learning, so i discovered yesterday. One more layer off the elusive mystery inside. Gone is the gross shapeless mass and i am beginning to have a better idea of what is at the core.
But so many more layers to take off. So many more discoveries to make. Yesterday was a milestone day. It wasn’t THE day. Those are still to come…when the swelling subsides, when feeling returns, when (eeek!) for the first time i touch and feel the return of erotic sensation. So much to come. So much.
I shall love every moment of it.