Description: Janelle Monae, a badass black feminist singer, actor, and fashion icon, is dressed in a pink top and fluffy pink pants that look like labia. She’s linked arms with a bunch of other black women in similar garb but a couple of them are not wearing vagina pants. They’re all in a line with a desert in the background that is partially pink.]
It’s been now a total of two years today since I went under the knife in Montreal and came out with a vulva. In that time, I’ve had a lot of struggle and strife, pain, and growth. I’m someone a little different from who I was back then. A little more adjusted. A little wiser. And always, a little more jaded.
If I recall, a year ago, I was just wrapping up the last of the silver nitrate. While I don’t think I successfully had it done for my first tranniversary, it was cleared up not long afterwards. With a vulva free of hypergranulated tissue, I no longer had to see the gyno every few weeks.
With the end of silver nitrate, I didn’t really need pads anymore. I still had cloth pads, but I didn’t really need them anymore. So maybe buying them wasn’t the brightest choice since I only used them a few times a piece. I still have a pile of disposable pads I never used in my closet that I need to give away too.
When September of 2018 rolled around, I began my PhD program which meant more money and benefits. At last! I could afford pelvic physio. I only made $10k a year without any benefits doing front line queer work prior to this moment so I went without pelvic physio. I just accepted that my vaginal canal wouldn’t be as stretchy and I tried not to let the voice in the back of my head tell me that I was broken.
During my healing process, my vaginal canal became more and more tapered and it became impossible to dilate all the way to the end with any of my toys. Well, all but the tapered ones.
The objective of pelvic physio for me, was to try and regain some width and to get used to someone touching my genitals. Up to this point in my life, I rarely if ever allowed anyone to touch my genitals because dysphoria is real! But it takes time to re-wire the brain and learn to accept touch.
The physiotherapist was nice. She was able to answer a lot of my questions and helped me understand my vulva. I also had to get used to having fingers go into my vaginal cavity and around the labia. I sometimes thought that her work was a little like sex work. Her job was to touch my genitals. I knew logically it wasn’t sex work, but I was giving her money to literally finger me and massage my labia. But therapeutically.
I only recently finished pelvic physio. It wasn’t a magical cure. I successfully endured a full physical without trying to murder anyone and endured a speculum exam. It turns out I have a couple hairs deep inside my vaginal cavity. I was told that they wouldn’t impact my sex life and if I wanted to get rid of them anyways, I’d need to be put under in order to make it happen.
I can fit two fingers in past the ring of connective tissue that formed in my vaginal cavity. As it stands, I’m capable of getting myself off, but I’d like to have enough depth that I can stimulate the g-spot/prostate with a non-tapered toy.
I try my best not to listen to the internal voices of the post-op trans women who obsess about vaginal depth. I tell myself that cis women have the same depth I have right now before the ring of connective tissue. I try and emphasize my own pleasure. My body wasn’t designed to accept a cis man’s penis (even if the Dear Doctor designed it for that purpose). It was designed to bring me pleasure. And I’d like to explore the pleasure of g-spot play.
Speaking of pleasure, I figured out how to have a clitorial orgasm. I had it during a vaginal orgasm by angling the dildo both inside the vaginal cavity and getting the base of the dildo to rub against my clit. Stimulating both leads to a more intense orgasm. A clitoral orgasm also feels exactly like my old orgasms did. But I haven’t figured out how to get a clitoral orgasm without penetration. Even my purely manual method of getting myself off is to button mash a spot inside the vaginal canal with a couple fingers.
Do I regret getting surgery? No. I feel fully comfortable with my body. I’ve removed all possibility of procreation which I’m ecstatic about. I have no qualms about my nude body. I can look at my body in the mirror and not feel waves of hatred centering about how other humans interact with it. In an ideal world, I may not have needed surgery. But due to the images produced through trans porn, my old genitals were a major source of sexual harassment and dysphoria. The cis male gaze directed towards my genitals was unwanted and the opposite of what I desired.
But as I’ve demonstrated, my experience with a vulva hasn’t been ideal. There’s been complications. And as I’ve discussed with a lot of other post-op trans women, many of us have complications. Nothing’s perfect. I’ve had to make sacrifices to have what I have. My sex drive is different. It’s a little harder to get off and it’s not as easy to get that explosive release. I still have trouble connecting to my body and my vulva. Intellectually and emotionally, I know it’s there, but it hasn’t quite reached the stage where it’s with me spiritually.
I’d like to reiterate likely from my past entries in this series that the doctors really don’t prepare you spiritually for surgery. Regardless of how much I wanted a vulva and how my first instict waking up from surgery was to thank everyone, surgery was still a trauma. It radically changed my relationship with my body. It took seven months for me to stop calling my genitals “frankenpussy” in my head. I spent a long time confused by the discrepencies between where my brain thought parts of my genitals were and where they actually were. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into relearning my body. But there is still much I don’t know about it. I still need to process the sexual violence that has sunk into my bones. I haven’t had a good relationship with people touching my body.
What does a lover’s touch feel like? In the two years since I had surgery, I haven’t let anyone except medical professionals touch my vulva. I still dream of being touched. I want it so bad, but I want it to be special. I’ve never been touched by someone that I genuinely, completely wanted. My first sexual experiences were pretty terrible. I’d really like a better debut for my vulva…
My final words are these: recovering bottom surgery is a lot of hard work. There’s a lot of invisible labour of friends and family taking care of you. There are likely a lot of additional costs associated with the healing process. It takes a lot of time and energy to heal from. Your mind and spirit need to heal from the endeavor. But it’s well-worth it if you really want it.
And I’m autistic and trans. Let it be known that I am able to give medical consent. Fuck (preferably not) the “experts” who say autistic people can’t be trans and can’t give medical consent. I’m autistic and survived the process and screening in order to get a vulva.