One Year Post-Op – Was It Worth It?

 

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[Description: a drowsy looking mixed race transfemme aka me is looking at the camera with an arm above their head and the other on their chest. They’re wearing a blue gown and have a blue sheet covering them while laying on a hospital bed. This is a photo that was clearly taken right after surgery.

Taken from: my personal collection of photos]

It’s been a year since I had vaginoplasty so I’m calling it my vagiversary. There’s going to be a party tonight, but none of you will be invited to it.

It’s been quite a journey to get here. A lot of sweat, blood, tears from not just myself, but from my kyn and my network of friends.

And was it worth everything I sacrificed? Yes. Do I regret getting a vag? Hell no. Am I happy with everything? No. But such is life and such is the risk of surgery itself.

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Autistic Activist Interview: Whitney Hodgins

 

It’s that time of year, Autism Awareness Month. Where parents and service providers raise autistic voices in developing self autonomy over their own bodies and experiences and obviously not keeping autistics silent and making money for themselves/developing their own careers. So I thought I’d interview an amazing autistic activist.

Meet Whitney Hodgins, a full time university student taking a double major in anthropology and history at Brandon University.  Whitney uses she/her pronouns.

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[Image provided by Whitney Hodgins

Description: a young, white woman is smiling at the camera on a black background. Her dark hair is pulled back likely in a ponytail with some cascading onto her shoulder. She’s wearing square-ish glasses framing blue/gray eyes. She may be wearing a nude lipstick. She’s wearing a crimson dress shirt with what looks like a shiny leaf decal. A chain is visible on her neck and a low-cut shirt is visible at the V where her dress shirt buttons up.]

Note: this is a long interview. Very informative and I really enjoyed chatting with Whitney again, but autistics can get pretty chatty when we get on our specializations. Browse the questions that interest you. We cover a lot of interesting and important topics!

Continue reading Autistic Activist Interview: Whitney Hodgins

Why Unions are Important in Universities

rats

Description:  A grey cat with golden eyes has a brown rat between their pays while they’re biting through the rat’s neck. The rat is clearly dead and the cat is sitting on grey painted wood with what looks like snow in the background.

Taken from: http://asianetindia.com/natural-ways-to-kill-rats/ ]

A few weeks ago, I received an email York University with a response to my PhD application. I was terrified when I saw the notification, but was at work. I left the email unread until I arrived back home so regardless of the results, it wouldn’t impact my job. …Much. I spent the rest of my shift low key anxious and Facebook messaging my kyn (the word I chose to describe chosen family) with plans to look at the email as a household.

By the time I was in the door and greeting my kyn, my anxiety spiked. But I was surrounded by people who’d be there for me regardless of the results of the email. Hiding in one person’s shoulder, the other read the email for me and told me the results.

I got into a PhD program! This was such a huge relief for me. Finally! My life can begin! I’ll be able to fix up my body. I’ll be able to fix up my brain. I’ll be able to have nice things and not feel like a burden on my kyn as the poorest one in the house! (Regardless of how much they’d say otherwise, the reality of making approximately $800 a month is real…)

Getting into a PhD program at York has been my goal for the past few years. I live in a household of PhD candidates. We all met in the same MA program (in various stages of completing our degrees) and eventually became a household. Being marginalized in multiple ways hasn’t made it easy for me to get employment regardless of how much experience I have. But for some reason, my abilities are recognized most often in academia. It’s my best chance at doing what I want and making enough to pay the bills. And specifically at York, I would have access to things that no other university could provide.

And then I received my funding package. $22,000 a year which was higher than the (rounded up) $10,000 a year. (Keep in mind, this is still below a living wage). But then at the very bottom of the page, it mentioned that I was going to be offered either a Fellowship, TA, GA, or RA position. And my world crashed down upon my ears.
Continue reading Why Unions are Important in Universities

Post Op Months 5-8

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[Description: Fireworks on a black background. There are four bursts of colour in the image. Two reddish gold fireworks in the foreground that overlap and are located close to the center. There’s another gold firework above it and a green one to the right of the gold.

Taken from: http://www.hormonesmatter.com/female-orgasm/ ]

I started my fifth month post with silver nitrate applied to my vag which was less-than-fun. The application didn’t take long fortunately. My gynecologist took what looked like a matchstick with a silver tip and gently brushed it against my labia. And then came the burning sensation as the silver nitrate did its work.

For those who aren’t aware, silver nitrate is used to treat hypergranulated tissue – when your body heals up too much and there’s what looks like a red, shiny scab left behind. It needs to be burned off in order for your body to heal properly, hence the silver nitrate.

The whole procedure took a couple minutes and the burning sensation lasted a few minutes more. It wasn’t as bad as I feared. The pain was nowhere near as bad as getting a tattoo. Or even getting a needle. It stings, but it’s over within a few minutes. It’s akin to getting a cut disinfected.

After the silver nitrate is applied, your body has to heal. And part of that healing involves bleeding and old skin that looks like grey goo coming out of the vulva. I joked with my kin that this was the period that I’d never get. My cloth pads were finally getting used for what they were designed for. I felt sore and sensitive for a few days as my body healed. And I had to continue douching and bathing to wash out the gunk. The whole process was messy and made dilating less pleasant, but by this point, I was getting used to cleaning blood out of my sheets and the sight of weird gunk coming out of my vag.

Continue reading Post Op Months 5-8

Months 3-4 Post Op

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[Description: a human figure with breasts and long hair wearing a red long sleeve and navy blue pants, has grey skin, a wind up key in their back, and they’re flopping forward with their arms hanging down. Above them is a battery icon with only a small amount filled in all in red. This is supposed to signify “low on power”.

Taken from: https://www.liebenswert-magazin.de/burn-out-dann-hilft-eine-therapie-mit-vitaminen-499.html ]

The third month post-op was exhausting. I wasn’t informed how exhausting it was going to be. After two months at home with the occasional exertion outside, I was expected to be healed enough to start working again. And still be dilating three times a day. While I was overjoyed to be finally out of the house doing stuff and back to work, I would often come home and collapse into bed or on the couch and veg because I was so exhausted. And it was a struggle to get 3 dilations in a day.

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Dear Trans Men

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[Pic taken from: https://www.buzzfeed.com/jonmichaelpoff/profoundly-beautiful-disney-quotes-that-will-inspire-you?utm_term=.rx00o58Z1#.csabDmE9G

Description:

Dear trans men,

My relationship is complex with you. You are my coworkers. You appear in a lot of the community activities I’m a part of. You are part of my inner circle that I let see my weaknesses and guard my secrets. You are in the media I consume. You are the fan fic writers I sob over. And sometimes, you are the humans I develop crushes on. But my relationship with you is one of ambivalence.

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First Couple Months Post-Op

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[Description: A monarch butterfly emerging from a chrysalis against a blue sky background. The monarch butterfly is still furled up and half emerged from the chrysalis which seems to be attached to a branch.

Taken from: http://ewebarticle.info/xtenbinfo-butterfly-emerging-chrysalis.html ]

The biggest issue I’ve faced coming home was that my nurse practitioner, the trans healthcare specialist at my clinic, was away and I had no idea when she was going to be back. Because of this, I didn’t have the best healthcare I could have gotten. My family doctor, although aware of trans issues and was able to help in some ways, wasn’t a specialist when it comes to post op trans healthcare. It has led to my healing process taking longer than anticipated.

Continue reading First Couple Months Post-Op