Why I Chose to Transition

First of all, I never thought I would have the guts to go through with a full transition over to living 100% as male.  It all seemed like a nice dream but not something I had the courage to undertake.  I was more likely to sky dive and that ain’t ever going to happen.  So what, exactly, was it that tipped the scale and made me decide to go for it?  I’m not sure it was one thing.  How much better and more alive I felt on T certainly played a big part.  A goal of living more authentically and truthfully also played a huge role.  But, honestly, I think it was a lot of little things that added up very gradually that eventually led me to living as male.

I’ve been counseling a friend who is questioning how to proceed in his transition and I’ve been telling him he needs to make a plan and get honest about what he wants to accomplish.  Yeah, that’s bullshit.  I mean, it’s a great idea, but most of the time even the best plans don’t work out and our reasons for doing things shift mid stream.  I kind of had a plan.  At the beginning, all I knew was I wanted to try a low dose of T and see if it made me feel better.  And boy did it.  I was at one of the lowest points of my life when I started taking it and practically overnight my outlook changed 180 degrees into the positive.  This, to me, was evidence that I was on the right track and should keep going.  Other than T, my wish list included getting a hysterectomy, changing my name, and having top surgery, in that order.  It was important to me to get the hysterectomy done while I still had a female name and gender presentation.  But I never honestly thought anyone would ever see me as male or treat me as such.  It just seemed like a big fantasy.  A foolish pipe dream.

Well let me tell you, I upped my low dose of T to a full dose about six months before I had top surgery and by the time my surgery was over I was firmly entrenched on the male side of the spectrum as far as how people perceived my gender.  It happened really suddenly and completely took me by surprise.  It was disconcerting, but inside I was elated.  Could this really be happening to me?  Are these people just humoring me and playing along with me?  Just a few months prior I had worn a binder and my most masculine outfit to go out to dinner and the waiter referred to us as ladies and called me ma’am.  I left feeling demoralized and defeated.  Obviously, I was failing at this whole transition thing.  I felt like giving up.  Instead, I scheduled my top surgery for the next possible date.  While I was away have my surgery I let my facial hair grow out some.  That seemed to do the trick along with not having boobs anymore.  Flat chest and facial hair = Male.  Now I rarely get called ma’am and they usually correct themselves after they look at me better.  Quite the opposite of what used to happen.

I can’t say that I actually had a plan or made any conscious decision to transition with the goal of living as male.  I stumbled blindly through this whole process and really had no idea where I’d end up or even where I wanted to end up.  I was actually hoping that I could be happy staying in the female zone with a more neutral exterior.  Nope.  When I was in that middle zone I was so uncomfortable I could barely stand to go out in public.  Every day was a challenge just to leave the house.  I couldn’t stand not knowing how people would perceive me and I had no answers for them either.  I dreaded the question, “Are you a man or a woman?”  I had no idea.  I was as confused as they were.  So, even though I applaud folks who relish the confusion of gender neutral and non-binary identities, I need to pick a side for my own sanity.  I need to fit into a clear category that I’m comfortable with.  While neither female nor male fits perfectly, male is the closest.  I’m very comfortable in the male role whereas the female role felt completely wrong to me in every way.

Another thing that made a big impact on my decision to go for it was that I was on the precipice of losing everything I cared about.  My life was about to implode and I really felt like I didn’t have anything to lose by going for it.  I figured that if I didn’t start to transition I was dead anyway and if I did start then at least I had a chance of surviving.  I can clearly see now, looking back with 20/20 vision, that my old self was dying.  Literally, dying.  I wasn’t physically ill, but I had no desire to go on the way I was.  My spirit was dying and I didn’t really care about much at all.  I had ruined my relationship and my business and, while it looked from the outside like I had a great life, everything was about to crumble.  So, when you’re practically dead anyway, what do you have to lose?  I was worried about losing my relationship but once I came to the realization that it was over anyway I knew I had nothing left to lose by going for it.  Starting T was the best thing I ever did for myself, my relationship and my life in general.  I don’t mean to make it sound like a magic bullet because it isn’t, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of my problems stemmed from my hormones being out of whack from menopause.  I should note here that my thyroid was also low and I started taking meds for that at the same time.  Together, the two hormones made a huge difference and I felt better than I had felt since before I started puberty.

All in all, I think this whole process has occurred over the past six years.  I’ve gone incredibly slow intentionally.  I needed the time to adjust to the changes and figure out what to do next.  I’ve had a lot of self doubt along the way and have questioned myself non stop.  Now that I’m on the other side of things though I can confidently tell you that this was the best thing that I ever did for myself.  I’m dramatically happier, less moody, less depressed, less anxious, a better person, more engaged in life and more optimistic than I’ve ever been.  My relationship has been through hell and we’ve come out the other side together somehow stronger than ever and are planning our wedding.  My business somehow survived despite my best efforts to destroy it and, while I wouldn’t say I’m rolling in dough, I actually showed a profit for the first time in a long time and things are pretty stable again.  I’m easier to get along with and I think people like me more now because I’m happier with myself.  I’m a lot less angry than I used to be.*  The only thing I’m really dissatisfied with is my gut.  The T has made all of my fat redistribute to my belly and I have a huge gut now.  I hate it!!  But, I’m working on it so it will get better.  It’s a hell of a lot easier to deal with one issue than a multitude of issues at one time.  Now that most everything else is taken care of I can focus a lot of my energy on my weight and physical health.  I’m looking forward to building up some nice muscular biceps and trimming down my waistline so I look good on my wedding day.

 

* One of the bad raps that Testosterone gets is that it can make people more aggressive and have anger issues.  This is definitely true.  I have noticed that I am quicker to anger and it boils up really fast inside me like a wild fire.  Before T, I was just dealing with a low grade constant feeling of being angry and pissed off on a daily basis.  After T, I’m pretty laid back but when I do get angry it happens fast and sudden.  Learning to control that impulse is a challenge that requires a lot of deep breaths and taking time to let it dissipate before I open my mouth to speak.  Just like a teenage boy has to learn to control his impulses, so do Trans Men when they start off on T, no matter their biological age.

 

Slow But Steady Progress

I’m six weeks post op for my hysterectomy.  I feel completely healed most of the time with the exception of an occasional twinge of discomfort if I wear my belt too tight around my waist but I’m not officially cleared to resume normal lifting for another two weeks.  This surgery was a pretty major hurdle for me to cross on my way to authentically living as myself but it is also somewhat anti-climactic to be honest.  No one, including myself, can really tell I had a hysterectomy.  It doesn’t change much for me really.  But, it is one very large step AWAY from being female bodied and THAT is important!  Middleagebutch used the following quote in a recent post that really put my transition into clearer perspective for me.

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything.  Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”— Unknown

This.  This is what the hysterectomy is about for me.  This is what chest surgery will be about for me.  This is what changing my name is about for me.  It’s what taking testosterone is about for me.  And it’s what transition is about for me.

So now I’m ready to move on to more interesting and enjoyable aspects of transitioning.  I went to the court house today to file the paperwork for my new legal name and pay my fee.  I had to give myself a little pep talk first but now that it’s done and the ball is rolling I feel good about it.  In about 4 weeks I should have my real name on my driver’s license and that’s going to feel awesome!  Why was the pep talk needed you might wonder.  The most obvious reason is that going to the court house is a little intimidating with its metal detectors and police guards and bureaucracy and all that fun stuff.  But, digging a little deeper, I know that I’ve been going through a bit of a mourning phase, again, over the loss of my old identity.

It all started the day before Mother’s Day for me.  I posted my favorite picture of my mom and me on Facebook.  I was about 15 at the time and my mom had taken me and some of my gal pals to the beach for the day.  It was a fun and happy day and a really nice memory of a time when everything was pretty simple and life was good.  I had no idea how sad it was going to make me to look at it on my Facebook page.  My happy, innocent 15 year old self with my arm nonchalantly draped over my mom’s shoulder smiled back at me with that optimistic cockiness that I had in those days and I started to tear up and fill with emotion.  What would that kid say to me today?  Would she be proud or disgusted?  Where is that cocky optimism now?  Where did it go and what made it go away?  I’ve decided that she would be pretty proud of what she accomplished and excited about the chance to shed the shields and masks that have closed her off to the world and step into the light.  The reasons I have for making these changes were present back then.  She hated her name and her breasts and her period.  She knew she identified more as a boy than a girl.  All of that was there but she didn’t have the tools or the means to do anything about any of it.  I think she’d be pretty darned ecstatic to know that I can fix all of that stuff now.  Maybe one day I’ll see that same cocky grin projecting back at me again in the mirror.

The other thing I’ve realized is that I keep using my old female self as a shield to protect my new male self and I’ve been wondering why.  Obviously, I feel much safer in the world as a woman if for no other reason than because I know how that part of the world works.  But I think it’s also a little bit of my female self feeling unsure of whether my male identity is strong enough to take over the reigns yet.  I was thinking this morning of it being similar to a pitcher in baseball who’s pitched a winning game for 7 innings and now being asked to turn over the ball to a new, fresh pitcher to finish off the game.  I often imagine that has to be a little hard to do, even though your arm is spent and it’s for the teams best interest.  So my life is like a baseball game.  It’s the top of the 7th and we’re leading.  We’ve overcome some obstacles and fought back from sure defeat a few times and I’m feeling a bit unsure of whether this new pitcher is strong enough to keep the lead and take us to victory.  But I can’t keep going so I have to trust him.  And I AM him.  She is him.  In the end we are all one, united and victorious.  I have to trust in this process and believe that it will all be as it should be once we’re done un-becoming who we never were.

Hysterectomy. The Middle Surgery.

Somebody used the term “middle surgery” for the hysterectomy and I liked it so much more than simply “hysterectomy” for our purposes as trans* people.  The word hysterectomy was coined in the late 1800’s to denote the removal of the hysteria of women caused by the malfunctioning uterus.  Nothing about that word is positive to me.  I am not and was not hysterical and there’s nothing funny about it in my mind.  So from here out I will refer to it as my middle surgery.  Will there be a bottom surgery at a later point in time?  Doubtful, but I would not rule it out completely as options continue to improve in the future.

So now that I am almost a week post surgery I want to share some of my observations and experiences with others out there who may be considering this option for themselves.  First, I want to make it clear that I don’t think my surgery was typical.  Normally the procedure should take between 2 1/2 and 3 hours to complete.  Mine took  nearly 8 hours.  Going into surgery no one knew this would be the case.  Is this because my doctor didn’t take a close enough look at me before hand or was it simply impossible to know ahead of time?  I don’t know.  What she found was a lot of heavy scarring, presumably from having my appendix removed 40+ years ago and that my uterus had adhered itself to fatty tissue in my bowel area.  It took her a long time to separate it and cut through the scar tissue.  She performed the entire surgery through 3 small holes with the assistance of laporasopic devices.  I have no idea how this works and since I have an intolerance for learning about this stuff I will never know.  If you’re interested in that, knock yourself out.  The biggest problem with the length of the surgery is that none of us were prepared for it.  I woke up in recovery at 9pm after going in at noon and was very confused.  My partner, I later learned, was left for 8 hours in the waiting area wondering if I was dead or dying.  I woke up extremely grumpy and confused, in pain and unable to speak very well due to them having a tube in my mouth (to assist in my breathing I assume while I was still sleeping).

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  How did I go about getting this surgery done when I didn’t have a real medical reason for it?  Fortunately, I kind of did.  I’m 53 and had not had a period in several years and suddenly started bleeding and cramping again last year so the insurance company was told that I had “post menopausal bleeding”.  This was reason enough for them.  My insurance does NOT cover any trans related surgeries.  If yours does, then you probably don’t need a medical reason for the surgery.  I don’t know much about that side of this.  My therapist put me in touch with a gynecological practice that has a history of providing services to trans men.  It’s a big practice but one doctor there was their “trans specialist”.  Unfortunately, when I called to set an appointment they told me he had retired and they now had a new doctor handling such things.  So I made an appointment to meet with her to discuss the possibility of having the middle surgery performed with a special interest in it being done laparoscopically.  I also mentioned an issue with my bladder that was troubling me.  Once I told the person on the phone I was transgender she immediately started using male pronouns with me and made a note in my file that I was transgender so my doctor and others in the office would know.  I appreciated her efforts, yet, as we all know here, pronouns are very individual and assuming male is not always a good idea.  I just went with it and didn’t say anything but, clearly, I think some education is in order.  I find that, in general, even in the psychiatry world of gender therapists, there is a lot of out of date information that needs to be updated.  The doctor was pleasant and reassuring that she could do the procedure and that there wouldn’t be a problem with insurance due to my recent bleeding issues.  She performed a biopsy that day to rule out cancer and sent me home to get an ultrasound and a mammogram.  I wasn’t prepared for the biopsy and how uncomfortable it would make me both during and for quite a while after it was done.  To her credit, I know she was as careful and respectful about it as she could be.  Nevertheless, I had a two hour drive after it was done and felt like I was having the worst period cramps of my life the entire time.  Another thing to note here is that, since I live in a very rural area, I have to get my trans care up in the city which is 1 1/2 to 2 hours drive for me each way.  All the tests came back normal and I was good to go for surgery.  I chose to use my birth/legal name and pronouns throughout this process and did not press the transgender part of this with my doctor or the hospital.  Others of you who are in different places in your journey will handle that however you feel is best for you.  I didn’t feel it was necessary to use my chosen name or new pronouns at this time.  My line of thought was that this is a one time thing and it’s the last time I’ll have to deal with my girl parts so I just wanted to get through it as quickly and stress-free as possible.  Hopefully I’ll never need to see a gynecologist again after I’m healed up.

I hadn’t had a surgery since I was a kid, and being an anxious sort of person I felt pretty nervous about it.  Genderneutral, here on wordpress, suggested I read a book called Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster by Peggy Huddleston and listen to the accompanying CD to help me relax and envision a positive outcome to the experience.  It helped calm me down tremendously and the day of surgery I was pretty mentally together and ready to get it done.  I did not ask my doctor or anesthesiologist to say the phrases that the author suggests in the book.  Maybe I should have but I wasn’t comfortable with it so I left it out.  I’m wondering if, because my surgery was difficult, there was a lot of negativity in the operating room and if that had something to do with my grumpy attitude when I woke up.  Also, especially for the first few days after coming home I have felt traumatized emotionally from the experience.  I feel like my body went to war.  I’ve used the phrase “epic battle” to describe the surgery.  I guess I won’t ever know for sure but I’m assuming that as the surgery went on and they struggled with me, even bringing in a second surgeon for “a fresh set of eyes” and a 3rd year resident to assist that there was a lot of negativity in the room.  I’m a sensitive person so for me to pick that up and carry it out with me would not surprise me in the least.  A friend suggested that I hug the anxious traumatic feelings like a small scared child and give it love.  That was a brilliant idea and has helped diffuse the feelings almost entirely, though I still feel it some every day.

Like I said, waking up in recovery I was grumpy and confused.  I have no idea how normal this is.  I just know that it was my reality.  I was upset because it was so late and I didn’t understand why, I was in pain, though I thought I just had to pee really bad (no, I had a catheter so that wasn’t the problem), I couldn’t speak due to that tube thing in my mouth, my left foot felt like it was broken and my left eye felt like there was something in it and kept watering and was blurry.  Also, I was thirsty and I kept asking for Candace who I was told would be waiting for me in my room.  Finally they decided I could go up to my room and it felt like some drunk guy pushed my bed into every thing in his path to get there.  I told him at one point he was a terrible driver.  Apparently this offended him.  Sorry.  Finally I saw Candace, who was totally exhausted from the stress of waiting and I started to slowly understand why it was so late and what had happened.  I was angry that they kept her out there with no word.  I’m still angry about that.

I won’t go into the hospital stay part other than to say I was only in there one night.  I hated my first nurse and was thankful when the morning came and I got a new one, who I adored.  The room sucked and I had to share it with a pregnant lady who couldn’t stop throwing up.  It was hot and I thought the bed was horrible.  So other than that, it was awesome.  In the morning several doctors came to see me, including my own and after they took my catheter out, I ate some food and kept it down, and went pee on my own  they released me to go home.  Two hours in the car was no fun but my wonderful nurse made sure to give me a nice hit of pain meds for the drive home.

Recovery has been pretty easy in general I think.  Candace had the same surgery done with an incision a few years ago and her recovery was much much harder and longer.  Most of my pain has been handled with ibuprofen for the past few days (I’m now at day 6 post op) and before that I only took percocet.  Even in the hospital I didn’t seem to need a lot of pain meds.  Mostly I feel a lot of pressure in my gut area and have to pee fairly often.  They warned me that I would experience sharp gas pains up into my shoulder area but I haven’t had any of that.  All bodily functions seemed to have come back fairly quickly for me and I did not have any nausea from the anesthetics at all.  I still have some bleeding occasionally and have to wear a light pad (sorry!) but hopefully that will go away soon too.  At this point I don’t feel healed and ready to go back to work but I do feel stronger every day.  I think if things had gone better in the OR than I probably would be feeling much more ready to resume my normal life.  My after care instructions tell me not to do any heavy lifting or sexual activity for at least two weeks or until the doctor clears me.  I see her at exactly the two week mark for a follow up so hopefully I’ll get cleared for normal activity.  Still, I would recommend taking it easy.  This is a MAJOR surgery!  It helps us heal quicker that we WANT this surgery, compared to many women who choose this as a last resort and are not happy about it.  But, it’s still a big deal and recovery should not be rushed.  The last thing I want is to end up in the hospital or the gyno table because I did something stupid so I’m taking it easy for as long as I feel is necessary.  At this point I’m giving myself a full week to rest and then I will try to go into work for short days and do light tasks for another week.  That’s the plan anyway.

So now, looking back, what would I have done differently and what recommendations do I have for those of you considering pursuing this surgery?  Certainly, having a surgeon who is open to doing the procedure with or without medical reasons is a must have as well as their willingness to treat you respectfully for your unique reason for wanting to have it.  Unfortunately, many of the steps it takes to get to the OR are not at your doctor’s office and it’s up to you how open you want to be with the other health professionals you have to deal with.  I chose to not disclose my trans status at all along the way other than to my doctor and it was ok for me.  I think finding a doctor that listens to you and is thorough is important.  Like I said before, this is a major surgery so don’t rush through it.  I feel like I kind of did that and, while I think it worked out ok, I wish I had taken it more seriously at the beginning.  Just because a doctor is willing to “deal” with trans clients doesn’t mean they are your best option.  I’m honestly not sure at this point if my doctor is a superstar or a dud.  I’m told that it’s pretty amazing that she was able to do all that without cutting me open and I am thankful for that.  I’ve had no complications to speak of and I’m also thankful for that.  But, I didn’t feel like she ever addressed my bladder issues and in pre op she sort of chided me for not seeing another doctor to address that issue if it was of concern to me.  She also got on me for not having a pap smear prior to surgery.  Ummm…she never told me to do either of those things.  Isn’t that her responsibility?  I don’t know what the heck I’m supposed to do and I would’ve done anything she asked of me to get through this with the least amount of issues.  So, I’m a bit ticked about that.  The other thing that made me apprehensive about surgery with her was her escalating uncertainty about whether she could do the surgery as I desired or if she could actually remove everything I wanted removed.  I went into the OR not knowing what outcome I’d come out with and that was a huge source of anxiety for me.  Looking back, it would have been nice to have a doctor that felt confident in what they could or could not do for me.  To tell me the day of surgery that I should’ve had more tests or consults is a little too late and, in my opinion, kind of crappy.  I didn’t appreciate it.  I wanted her to come in there pumped up to do the surgery full of confidence in the outcome.  I guess sharing her insecurities about it made her human but it also left me feeling insecure.  Part of her initial concern was over the fact that I’ve never had a baby and have not had a history of vaginal sex so everything is really small and tight.  Yeah, yuck..sorry again.  I understand the concern that there just simply may not be enough room to work.  But again, I feel like she maybe could’ve done some testing to figure that out ahead of time.  Find a good doctor that you feel confident in.  That’s really important.  I’m not sure I did that.  Do the tests they require and don’t sweat them too much.  Most of them are not that bad.  It’s better that they have as much information as possible.  Take it easy on yourself and give yourself plenty of time to recuperate.  I can’t stress that enough.  It is major surgery but it’s also a very routine surgery that most doctors have had a lot of experience with.  Our bodies are all different so results and experiences will vary widely.  Go in with a good attitude and confidence in your surgical team and all will be well.

Please Don’t Make Me Adult

adultI told my therapist recently that I don’t do “adult stuff” very well.  She proceeded to point out all of the ways that I do “adult stuff” pretty well.  Yeah, ok, maybe I do adult ok most of the time but there are times, many of them, when I still feel like an inexperienced teenager and I really wish I could ask my mom to help me out.  Preparing myself and my doctors for my upcoming surgery in a few weeks is triggering a lot of my insecurities around being an adult.  I don’t like dealing with medical stuff at all.  Even going to the dentist makes me wish my mom could go with me for reassurance.  For a person who doesn’t like to deal with this stuff I spend a lot of time dealing with it.  Between my stuff, my brother’s stuff and my partner’s stuff I probably am at a doctor’s appointment at least once a week.  Today I had to have a mammogram, which I don’t usually mind getting.  They’re over quick and are relatively painless.  I know what to expect with them.  But today I had to wait around longer than usual and I was sharing a waiting room with people in wheel chairs and people on oxygen and it got me thinking about how scary life really is.  Is it any wonder that I suffer from an anxiety disorder and still want my mommy at 53 years of age?  We go in for these diagnostic exams and sometimes they turn up problems we didn’t know we had and suddenly we’re the ones on oxygen or having emergency surgery or chemotherapy.

I’m not trying to bring anyone down here.  I completely understand how talking about this stuff is unpleasant.  I would really like to not ever have to think about it let alone see it but it’s a part of life.  Sometimes life gets really scary.  For me, that’s often because I’m a wuss.  I used to faint at the sight of blood.  I still turn my head when they draw blood but I’ve toughened up quite a bit over the years.  I remember seeing a kid in elementary school who was born with only two fingers on one of his hands and it made me nauseous and light-headed to look at his hands.  See?  I’ve come a long way since elementary school!

But still, being reminded of how rough life can get in a blink of an eye makes me feel queasy and unsteady.  Reading all of the possible side effects of drugs makes me miraculously start having those side effects.  I don’t read that stuff anymore.  Commercials asking me if I have shortness of breath almost certainly will spur a sudden attack of light-headed tight breathing while I check to make sure I’m ok.  I’m always checking in on myself this way.  I scare myself too sometimes with all of this obsessive checking in.  Did my heart just skip a beat?  What’s that sudden pain in my chest about?  Oh my God, why can’t I remember what day it is?

My upcoming surgery has me freaking out a bit too.  What if I die?  What if it doesn’t go well and I end up brain dead or she punctures my bladder?  The doctor had to go over all of the risks yesterday with me so now I’m thinking about all of that stuff.  No, I’m obsessing about it.  I catch myself asking if it’s worth all of this anxiety.

I sure wish some nice adult would come give me a reassuring hug and tell me it’ll all be ok.  I’d really like to take a break from this “adult” stuff once in a while and let someone else do the worrying.

One Step at a Time

This was to be my year to take care of a lot of surgery and general health care things that I’ve been putting off for a long time and so far I think I’m doing a pretty good job of staying that course.  I decided to start out with the easiest stuff (none of it is easy or I would’ve done it already!) first and work up to my chest surgery as the grand finale for the year.  Unfortunately it takes a lot of time to get all the details worked out and go for all of the preliminary appointments to get to the main event so it’s taken me three months to get to my first target.  First on my list was having my “wisdom” teeth removed and despite a pretty nasty little snow storm that threatened to delay me I was able to have all four of them removed in my regular dentist’s office last Thursday morning.  It was my first time having nitrous oxide, aka “laughing gas”, and I was nervous about it but even with the nerves I felt a calm that surprised me.  These teeth have been giving me problems for many years now and my doc has been pleading with me to get them out.  When he told me they could do it in their office now and I wouldn’t have to go to a surgeon I was ready to sign up.  And I’m glad i did.  It’s a little thing but I was elated to finally get that taken care of.  The worst part for me is being drugged up on pain meds.  I do not like that feeling and I’ve done a lot of sleeping because of it.  I’m hoping that today (day 4) I can just take ibuprofen and feel somewhat normal in my head.  So far so good.

Next on my list is the hysterectomy.  That is scheduled for March 31st.  Thanks to my therapist I was able to find a trans friendly ob/gyn who works with trans guys in order to get their lady bits removed without any hassles.  I’m stoked for this surgery!  I’ve had to endure two uncomfortable and one painful procedures to get here and I still have a few pre-op tests to get through before the 31st but I think the worst is behind me now.  I can’t really describe to anyone how much this means to me.  I’ve had this irrational (maybe not so irrational?) fear of pregnancy for so long and have experienced so much pain and agony at the hands of my lady parts, and still do even at 53 years old, that the thought of removing that from my life for good is more than words can express for me.  I can feel them in there doing their thing and I hate it.  I don’t really hate them but, to me, they just never belonged inside me and should have been removed a long time ago.

Hopefully this procedure will go well and will be an out patient type of thing.  My doctor is hoping to be able to perform a laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy which means I should not need to stay overnight in the hospital and can go home later that same day.  There won’t be any outward sign to the world that I’ve had this surgery but internally I know that it will make a huge difference in how I feel about my body and my self.  I wanted to do this before I had any gender markers changed on insurance or IDs so it would go smoothly and without questions from anyone in authority.

The next big step will be chest surgery.  Believe it or not, I’m still struggling mentally with that one, which is part of why I’m saving it for last.  I know I want it done.  I know I want a male chest.  I know I’ll look and feel better without the moobs.  But there’s a psychological aspect that I just haven’t quite worked through yet around this subject and until I do I don’t feel right setting up a surgery date.  I’m close…I think.  Part of the resistance for me is that I think that removal of my breasts is my last vestige of womanhood.  Crazy, huh?  If I’m a trans guy why do I want to keep that?  Everyone will finally see me as the guy I am.  That’s my thinking anyway.  The truth is that some will and some won’t.  I know this intellectually.  Emotionally I feel like the removal of the breasts and construction of a male chest is the last piece of my female facade or mask and I will be very vulnerable, naked without them.  They help to hide my true self.  This is both good and bad, depending on how you look at it.  I’m a pretty big wuss when it comes to conflict and I hate being the center of attention so stripping my psyche naked for the whole world to see is kind of scary.  Terrifying maybe?  I wish I was braver and surer of myself.  I think that will come in time when I’m ready emotionally.  So, for now, I work on it and keep chipping away at the facade little by little.

Hysterectomy. The Other Bottom Surgery

***Possible trigger warning.  I actually don’t know if this can be triggering for anyone or not but if you’re at all squeamish about blood or female sex organs you might want to skip this post.

In 6th grade my science teacher was tasked with the responsibility of teaching us all about our sex organs and how they worked.  I had no idea all that stuff was inside me and really hoped that somehow I had been skipped when God handed out uteruses and ovaries.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t been.  At some point soon after the class ended all the girls started asking each other if they had “started” yet.  I think this is the point in time when I finally realized I couldn’t ignore being born female anymore.  I remember the look of astonished disgust on one girl’s face when I told her no I hadn’t “started” yet.  I couldn’t understand why she cared and I still really don’t understand it, but, eventually I could honestly hold my head high and say “Yes, I am now a WOMAN like the rest of you because I bleed every month.  Now go mind your own business please.”

My female reality hit hard and regularly along with cramps, mood swings and a general feeling that I’d been taken over by hostile aliens a good portion of each month. As I got older, into my 20s and 30s the mood swings and cramps would bring me to tears and missed time at work.  It effected my relationships.  I would pick fights with girlfriends just to relieve some of the awful anger I felt inside.  I was a monster to be around.

If I’d been more educated back then about this stuff maybe I could’ve spared both myself and my mates some anguish and a lot of pain.  But I was partly in denial and partly just uneducated about any of it.  Yes, I had sex education in 6th grade but I knew nothing of ob/gyn appointments, hormones or hysterectomies.  I had been super paranoid about becoming pregnant since a young age.  I guess my mom planted that seed somehow but more than that I now believe it was dysphoria.  The thought of me ever becoming pregnant was something that I would avoid at all costs.  Of course I am pro choice because there was no way in hell I’d ever allow myself to go through pregnancy.  If I’d known I could get all that stuff removed back then I would’ve done it in a heart beat, though I doubt I could have talked anyone into doing it without a medical reason.

At this point in my life I thought I was done with all of that monthly stuff.  Being on T had stopped the light stuff I was still experiencing occasionally.  Once in a while I’d get a little twinge of cramps and my uterus would remind me it was still there or a spot of blood would show up unexpectedly.  Recently the blood and cramping has increased, though I’m still on T, and that has me freaked out.  All I really want is to forget that it’s there but it won’t let me.  So now I’m on a mission to fix this once and for all and eject the unwanted and probably unhealthy bits completely from my life.  My therapist helped me locate on ob/gyn that works with trans men and I went to see her last week.  She’s putting me through a couple screening test which are NO fun but necessary and then hopefully we can get the hysterectomy scheduled soon.

From the beginning, a hysterectomy was on my list of transition related surgeries.  I always thought I would get it done first before it was just too weird for a guy to see those doctors. I get why this topic isn’t discussed more in the trans man community because a lot of us are kind of wigged out about it and just want to ignore it and forget about it.  But I think it’s important to discuss.  It’s not that easy to just walk into a doctor’s office and say you want these parts removed without a medical issue to warrant it, especially for younger guys.  And then there’s the whole sterilization issue to consider.  Once that stuff is gone you can not bear children.  So if I was younger and still had functioning ovaries I’d consider freezing eggs.  For most of my life I confused the dysphoria  of bearing a child myself with the desire to be a parent so I would tell you I didn’t want to have kids when I really meant I didn’t want to bear my own kid.  Now that I’ve separated the two things in my mind I realize that I would like to have children and be a parent if the opportunity ever came my way.

So, for me there’s a host of reasons for wanting to remove these unwelcome bits.  I don’t want to have to think about them anymore.  I don’t want to have to keep getting that stuff checked out regularly.  I don’t want the health risks involved with them being in my body.  I don’t want to deal with the by-products of having them and most importantly I just don’t feel like they ever belonged in me in the first place.  So they need to go.