Category Archives: Rant

Surgery Diary 3 – The Journey Back to Body Autonomy

autonomy

[Source: https://uswlawethicsandpolitics.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/is-there-such-a-thing-as-patient-autonomy/

Description: a white humanoid figurine in joyously raising their arms as chains fall away from their body]

Day 5 of post-op, the vaginal mold aka the crusty bandages were removed. They were sewn on and saturated in a ton of fluids I’d rather not think about. There were only four stitches holding it in place and so it pinched a little each time a stitch was cut. Then the pieces were picked off and tossed into the garbage like pieces of grisly eggshell. Afterwards, I had to shower, wash, and look at my crotch. This terrified me.

Touching my crotch for the first time almost sent me into a panic. There’s still a catheter still in my bladder and a condom filled with cotton (called a stent) sewn into the vaginal cavity. And there’s a tuft of gauze where the clitoris is probably to protect it from infection. It doesn’t feel like me, it feels like one of Frankenstein’s experiments and I have to touch the prickly, squishy, swollen flesh. After showering, I had to apply polysporin to the twin scars, the only thing I could find cute about my genitals. It took a bunch of people calming me down to be able to accept my genitals in their current state.

As the day went by, I reveled in the increased freedom I had, but I also learned that the leak in my catheter is now free to just dribble all down my thighs when I have to pee. My catheter also kept on making this gurgling sound all the time and the sensation was getting to me. And the stitches holding the stent in were pulling more often especially whenever I had to find ways to use the bathroom.

This day was characterized by how done I was with the things inside me. I needed the catheter and the stent removed yesterday. I wanted to be free of all that nonsense and start dilating already.

Day 6 was an emotional roller coaster. I was reminded that I have a lot of body trauma that hasn’t been dealt with. The stent was being removed which was very exciting for me. And I’d learn how to dilate and douche as well. The body trauma reared its head while the stent was being removed. Up to this point, I’ve had a lot of difficulty letting anyone touch my genitals. Even with my explicit consent, I couldn’t let my doctor touch it for examination purposes. This was only marginally easier. I had to be reminded a number of times to spread my legs out so the stitches could be removed. Then the stent was removed and there was some gauze was present that needed to be removed. That sounds moderately easy, but it wasn’t for me. I kept on squirming away, talking too much, howling, and generally being difficult.

I was reminded that I’m a survivor.

The first and second dilations weren’t too bad. I was hesitant to engage in penetration (because that’s what dilation really is…) but I did it. I tried to think of it as erotic, but it just felt strange. But it was the third dilation that something different happened. I started crying.

I was reminded that I’m a survivor.

I mourned myself, the one who was coerced into sex at the hands of an older trans woman. I mourned the death of my innocence. I mourned my shitty family growing up. I mourned my failure to succeed life as a gay boy. I mourned the years I never got to explore my sexuality. I mourned the agony that my inner romantic has endured being untouched by the warmth of romantic love.

While and after dilating, I cycled through crying, vacant stares, and trying to call for my spiritual guides but only echoing into the void. I’m pretty sure this was meant to be a trial of sorts to help me grow as a person. I was forced to grieve for the things I talk about, but not feel in my bones. But at the heart of all this was the reminder that I am loved and cared for. That a lot of people have sent me well-wishes and sincerely hope for my recovery. And I got the distinct impression that a certain spirit was embracing me when I came to this realization.

Day 7 was pretty freeing and things looked up. I talked with people about how I felt and went through the day before. We came up with a small plan to ask the nurses to let a second person in to help hold my hand and ground me while the catheter is being removed. And thankfully, the nurses listened to my request. I mentioned that I was a survivor and they were okay with it.

The catheter had one stitch that needed to be removed. Then the balloon in my bladder needed to be collapsed before the catheter could be removed. I was glad that they brought in a second staff person to help me through the procedure. I was able to endure it with minimal squirming. Once the catheter was removed, I was completely free of all the tubes!

Learning to pee with my new genitals was interesting. t was a little difficult to feel where my urethra was due to swellin. It still feels like I’m about to drip pee and that my urethra and/or clitoris (I can’t even tell the difference between them yet…) feels like it’s submerged in water. I’ve learned that my urethra is still inflamed and also needs to heal.

It’s been so freeing to have my own body back, but there are changes I need to process. The biggest one is that my genitals are different from what they once were. It’s great in so many ways. I’m a lot more comfortable with my body and my sexuality feels more aligned. But it’s still major body trauma that I need to work through. While I hated my genitals intensely, I only learned to hate it because of social pressures. (People sexualizing it in ways I don’t want, people giving it meaning that I don’t agree with). I have to learn how to live with how swollen they will be for the next few months. My crotch feels like it’s swollen to the size of a large orange. And it looks more like a gash sewn together in the semblance of genitals. On top of it, I get random shocks as my nerves re-attach themselves to each other, have to deal with phantom genitals and the pain of an inflamed urethra. But at least I can sit (in some positions for some time) and have 95% of my mobility back.

While surgery hasn’t been too painful (getting the medusa tattoo was worse) it was quite the emotional journey. I feel like I’ve grown and matured in some respects since I began preparing to leave for Montreal. It’s been a long journey, but it leads to better things for me.

 

 

That Time Before Bottom Surgery? Yeah, it Sucks!

So I’m going to do the thing that a lot of trans folks do and document my process through surgery/transition. I didn’t really do much for when I started taking hormones, but I’m going to do it for my experience with surgery.

To kick this off, I’m going to talk about that time before surgery when I had to go off hormones. Yep, go off hormones. Before undergoing bottom surgery so I can get a vulva, I had to be off hormones for 3 weeks. I endured 4 weeks because my hormones ran out and I couldn’t be bothered to buy a single week’s worth of hormones.

One thing that people don’t talk about enough is how bad this time is without hormones can be. Going in, I was terrified. There have been times when I haven’t been off hormones. I think my record was a week. (Due to scheduling issues and spoons). By the time I reach about day 4 of being without hormones, I start experiencing mood swings and become lethargic. The prospect of going for a whole month without hormones was terrifying if after a week without hormones, I felt like going mad!

Obviously, I’ve survived it since I’m writing this blog post in the first place.

Continue reading That Time Before Bottom Surgery? Yeah, it Sucks!

Believing Survivors: Just because you’re trans, doesn’t mean you can’t be accountable

CW: mentions of abuse and sexual violence

Transmisogyny is a hot topic in some queer communities right now. It’s now part of the popular, socially aware, queer lexicon to be able to articulate the impact of transmisogyny on our queer and non-queer communities. But at the same time, it’s not brought up enough. Transmisogyny continues to perpetuated in huge ways by the very people who talk about it (including myself). Like other oppressions, even though transmisogyny pervades everything, it can be hard to pin down. Regardless of its visibility, the results are visible.

While we talk about the violence that transfeminine folks face, we don’t talk so much about the violence perpetuated by transfeminine folks. We can point out the obvious examples such as Caitlyn Jenner, but what about the folks in our individual communities?

Continue reading Believing Survivors: Just because you’re trans, doesn’t mean you can’t be accountable

(Cishet) Men Should Read Gay Fan Fiction

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[Image taken from: https://65.media.tumblr.com/92534fe84b34615a4ea697b665250b40/tumblr_nk921y0JwB1t4elojo1_500.jpg

Description: An edited photo of Liam Payne and Zayn Malik kissing. Both of them are conspicuously clothing-free, but we are only blessed to see a little bit of their torso with most of the focus on their faces which are mashed together gloriously in a messy, stubbly kiss. Liam is wearing a snap back backwards and has a hand carding through Zayn’s hair.]

 

Dear non-culturally queer, non-trans men,

You should be reading gay fan fiction.

Now I know this may squick some of you out, but here me out. Reading gay fan fiction will help you get laid and/or get dates! I know! Unreal right? And no, this is more than just a chance for me to drool over one my favourite pairings.

Continue reading (Cishet) Men Should Read Gay Fan Fiction

Transmisogyny and Dating

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[Description: This is a Grumpy Cat meme. Grumpy Cat is a cat who looks grumpy due to their lips. The text over the picture of Grumpy Cat say, “Happy birthday – now you’re one year closer to dying”.

Retrieved from: https://www.pinterest.com/joydawo/grumpy-catxd/ ]

It’s my birthday and I’m feeling a year older and it’s bittersweet. On one hand, I’ve survived another year of life and it marks the fourth year I’ve been on hormones. It’s also one more year where my body is crying that its needs aren’t being met. And the older I get, the stronger the crying gets.

I just want to do the relationship thing. I want to be soppy and disgusting in public. I want to take up space and annoy cishets with public displays of affection. I want to do domestic shit like shopping or laundry as a couple/polycule. I want the physical and emotional intimacy. I want someone that I can depend on. I want someone who can mesh into my household and make it feel even more like the patchwork family we are. I want all the things that I read about in fan fiction and live vicariously through.

Is that too much to ask for? I’ve been single for over a decade without much dating experience. I see cishets married and procreating at my age. This makes me feel ancient and like I’m running out of time.

Continue reading Transmisogyny and Dating

What Undesirability Looks Like

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[Image taken from: http://access-denied.ca/img/logo-accessdenied.png

Description: a red circle with a horizontal white line cutting through it and the words, “access denied” flanking the line.]

I recently came back from a life-changing workshop with a bunch of trans women writers and I definitely learned a lot while there.

But not everything was sunshine and roses. Actually, I felt excluded, less valuable, less part of the group at times. Now reflecting on the whole experience, I realized a number of things were going on. I felt awkward being surrounded by people who I had just met and a number who already knew/were dating each other. They would split off and do their own things or hang around in their circles and I’ve always found it hard to enter conversations. My autism manifests in part as strong writing skills and obvious weaknesses in non-verbal communication. Aka, I’m good behind a computer screen, but I’m a socially awkward turtle in real life around strangers. With friends and in classrooms, I’m more an annoying chatterbox that probably talks too much.

I was also cut off from my support network because I didn’t have data in the US and didn’t have my crew to turn to. This resulted me into curling inside myself like a child in fetal position and I was just so upset that I lost the ability to speak for a bit. I can’t recall the last time I became so upset that I became non-verbal. None of this helped in making connections with the people around me. I didn’t have any friends to step in and help ease me into conversation with strangers.

I eventually got a little support from a couple people which I’m super grateful for. It definitely helped a lot. But the point of me writing is not about the people who were supportive. I’m writing this piece to draw attention to the production and creation of undesirable bodies.

Continue reading What Undesirability Looks Like

Surviving the Sarlacc

So you’re minding your own business when someone shoves you so hard that you fall down a conveniently placed pit and holyfuck, there’s a thing in the pit that vaguely looks like a vulva but with tentacles and teeth and not the fun kind! And the thing, the Sarlacc inside the pit is going to devour you as you slip precariously down the hot sand towards its hungry maw. You scramble, make some headway, but then fall down a couple feet and then there’s a tentacle wrapping around your leg pulling you closer and closer…

Sarlacc

[Taken from http://flophousepodcast.wikia.com/wiki/The_Sarlacc_Pit

Description: Luke Skywalker, the protagonist of Star Wars, is standing on a plank high above this hole in the ground. Within the hole, we see a number of tentacles and sharp teeth. The hole resembles a vulva to the author.]

That’s what it feels like most days dealing with life for me. Now mind you, I’d -love- to have genitals that have (retractable) teeth and tentacles, this is not a fun or sexy experience. I chose the Sarlacc pit as a metaphor because it’s (nerdy, an amusing mental image) a monster that is always hungry waiting to eat you. And that’s what living under settler c(r)apitalism is like. And there won’t be a Luke Skywalker to save the day. And I’d rather not have to thank some white boy for saving me. I’m not and never will be a prize to be “won”.

I’d rather be able to find a way out of the pit. Or if there’s a Luke Skywalker present, he can help pull me out, but I won’t do more than thank him for his help. If he really wants to help, once I’m free, he could teach me some of those nifty Jedi powers and can use them to take over the universe make the world a more equitable place for us all to live in.

~~~~~~~~~~

I’m fortunate enough to get to participate in the very first trans women writing retreat. They’re fundraising for many of us to attend so if you have cash, feel free to donate. As someone who’s really poor, they’re covering most of my costs so you’d be helping to pay for me.

We were asked to write a piece on why we write so that’s exactly what I’m doing.

I write for my own survival. I write because if I don’t, I’ll get swallowed whole. I’ll be digested to nourish the Beast and not have a will of my own. I’ll just be nutrients. For me, writing is a life line. It’s the only thing that makes me feel like I’m doing something. When I write, at least I can control over how I represent myself. And that’s something that can’t be easily taken away from me.

Continue reading Surviving the Sarlacc