Neo-Vagina Monologue 4
Why I am going to have SRS
I am going to have my SRS--Sex Reassignment Surgery--early next year. It seems to me that I ought to be able to articulate clearly the reasons why I want this procedure. It is not that I need to justify it to myself or to anyone else. It's not that there should necessarily be a rational argument showing that it is a logical thing to do. The reason could be as simple as, "I feel like it." But whatever it is, I ought to be able to set it down clearly in pen and ink. I ought to know exactly why I am doing what I am doing. (Didn't Socrates say, "The unexamined cock is not worth cleaving"?)
Please understand that I am discussing only my own choices, based on my own needs and my own personal aesthetic. I do not mean to imply that these are the only correct choices, or that they would be the best choices for any other person. Be yourself, don't be me!
Update, 2/2007: I had my penile inverstion on February 17, 2003. I'm adding some
notes to this essay to update you about how it turned out. The overall conclusion
is that it turned out great, with a few disappointments and no regrets.
Let me state up front that I do not hate my penis. The little guy has been a decent companion all my life. I even named him: Dr. Jeckyl. Sometimes he gets nasty and turns into Mr. Hyde. Funny thing, mostly he's been Mr. "Hide" lately!
When I first began to seriously consider that I might be transsexual, almost two years ago now, I was appalled at the idea of having SRS--same as most people! But even then, it occurred to me that if I did decide to live the rest of my life as woman, I would probably do that too. One of my personality traits is not doing things by half-measures, and I thought if I was going to live as a woman, I would want to do it as thoroughly as possible. This turns out to NOT exactly be my reasoning at this point, but it was the first opening of my mind to the possibility.
Since I transitioned to living full time as a woman on New Years Day 2002, Dr. J has been falling further and further out of favor with me. I still don't hate him, but he's more of a nuisance to me than anything. I've decided to put the hit on 'im! But it's not that big of a deal for me. Transitioning--living full time as a woman--that was the big deal. Without that, I would die. (Literally: via booze; but that's another story.) If it were to turn out that I could not have SRS, because of some medical condition for instance, I would be disappointed, but it would not be the end of my world. I would not die. I would still live a happy, fulfilled life as a woman. I don't need SRS to "complete" myself as a woman. It's icing on the cake. I think. I hope I never find out for sure!
If it's no big deal, as I brazenly claim, why bother? Why take on the risk, expense, and pain of a major surgery? Okay, perhaps it's no big deal, but it's not trivial either. I'll get to my motivations shortly. But these are legitimate issues, so let's take a quick look at them.
Risk SRS is a mature surgical procedure, with a very high success rate. It is not nearly as complex as open heart surgery or brain surgery (although it is equally life-saving.) Realistically, the risk is pretty low.
Expense It's not that much, really. About like buying a car. (There is quite a range of prices available in both cases.) I've bought several cars already; I can afford one SRS!
Pain Before I started transitioning, I thought I was a wimp about pain. After laser hair removal, high heels and corsets, guys dancing on my toes, and a few other interesting things along the way, I know I can tolerate pain to achieve my goals. Besides, lots of other girls have made it through okay, and so can I.
Update, 2/2007: The pain was pretty bad, as you can read about here. However, I got through it okay, as I knew I would. I know some other girls who also remember a lot of pain, and I've heard from a lot of girls who say they had little or no pain. I wonder if they are just forgetting about how much they were hurting.
I can bear the risk, the expense, and the pain to achieve my goal. But why is it my goal?
While I do not believe that having SRS will make me a "real woman" in any profound philosophical or biological sense (I already am a real woman!), having a penis does make me an abnormal woman in a very obvious physical way. I mean absolutely no disrespect to my sisters who have penises, but here it is: I do not want to be a chick with a dick. I know I will never NOT be transgendered. I will never be completely "normal" (as if anyone is.) But I believe SRS will make me more normal, and, more importantly, help me feel more normal. This is mostly about how I feel to myself, how I feel when I look in the mirror, how I feel when I go potty, how I feel (physically and emotionally) when I cross my legs. To a lesser extent it is also about how other people react to me, and how I have to ("choose to"?) explain myself to others, and how that makes me feel. But mostly it's just for my private self.
That alone, wanting to be more "normal", is sufficient reason for me to undergo SRS. I really do want that. But there's more, some of it also quite important to me.
Update, 2/2007: I do feel more "normal." This has been a big payoff for me. (Note: Some girls feel plenty normal without surgery, and some girls, perhaps, don't mind feeling NOT normal. Hooray for them. Those approaches are great if they work for you. They're just not me.)
When I transitioned, I was certain that I was doing the right thing, that it would allow me to achieve a happy and fulfilled life. I went through a lot of deep thinking about a lot of different aspects of it all, but mostly it came down to the obvious: I was depressed and miserable and socially non-functional as a male, but cheerful and optimistic and socially functional as a female. So I'm better off being a female! Very quickly after I began living as a woman full time, it became clear that what was happening in my heart was something deeper. At some fundamental level, this is what I was meant to be. Am I the same as a GG (genetic girl) in my brain? In my heart? This I cannot say for certain. But I am sure that I am a woman in my soul, and that is how I shall live.
I found that the more womanly I became, the happier I became. (..and healthier, and more productive, etc. etc. These things all flow together.) When I transitioned at work. When I grew my hair out and could stop wearing wigs. When I sent the boy-clothes to Goodwill. When using the women's restroom became second nature. When I bond as a woman with other women. When my poise became polished and natural enough that I could regularly pass as a woman. I have a simple, circular definition of what it means to be a woman: Being a woman is the sum total of the experience of living as a woman. I have rapidly been gaining that womanly experience.
The more female life experience I gain, the happier I become. The more womanly characteristics I embody, the happier I become. Thus, SRS seems obvious. Womanly, female experience generally involves vaginas not penises, so I will be happier after SRS. To be more womanly, and thus happier: this is my second reason for planning to have SRS.
Update, 2/2007: Again, this was a big payoff for me.
Let's talk about femininity. Femininity/masculinity is distinct from gender, isn't it? We know that men can be quite femmie, and that women can be non-femmie. Why do some women choose to present themselves in a very effeminate manner, while others do not? Why do some transsexual women? I've thought about this one a lot, and I've come up with nothing to explain it. Oh well. But it so happens that I am a very effeminate woman. I always dress nicely and a bit sexy--not extreme enough to be out of place at work, for example, but enough that people take notice. I act a little silly and flirty. I wiggle when I walk. I never leave the house without makeup. I only own one pair of flats (out of 60+ pairs of shoes). I like being femmie. I like the effect it has on other people. But mostly I like the effect it has on me. I won't go as far a to say it turns me on, but I do get a thrill out of it. Every single day.
What is more masculine than a penis? (A beer? Ha ha. Well there's lots of directions we could go with this..) SRS will certainly increase the femininity in that particular area of my body. Not many people will ever see this; it is mostly just for me. I cringe a little every time I go potty and then have to fix my tuck--yuck. It's not a life-or-death issue, but it is important to me. Dammit, I want to be feminine down there!
Update, 2/2007: And another big payoff for me. I had these big three reasons exactly right.
So those are my big motivations for SRS: to be more "normal", to increase my total life experience as a woman, and to increase my femininity. There are other legal and practical considerations that weigh in at a lesser degree of importance.
On the legal side, there is the issue of proving I am a woman. Say, for example, that I got hassled for using a woman's room. Or if I got arrested, to determine which lock-up they would put me in. In fact, it could be a safety issue. There could come a time when some violence-prone jerk decides to check if I fit his definition of a real woman (remember? Crocodile Dundee even showed us how), and I could be in trouble if I have the wrong equipment down there. These are real issues, to be sure. But for me, it's like the "Wear clean underwear in case you get hit by a truck" argument. Realistically, the risk of one of these things happening is probably smaller than the risks of the surgery itself, so they don't make for a compelling argument.
Another legal issue is getting the ID on my passport changed to female, and my New Jersey birth certificate. But really, these things are not important enough to me to influence my decision.
Update, 2/2007: It's nice to have these legal issues covered, but they're still not life-and-death for me.
A practical issue is that there are certain places I just can't go and activities I can't do with a penis. Locker rooms come to mind as the prime example. But guess what? I don't play any sports. I can't remember the last time anyone saw me naked, outside of sexual or medical situations. Who am I trying to fool with this argument?
Update, 2/2007: Surprise! After my surgery, I suddenly felt inspired to join a gym and start working out. So this wound up being fairly significant for me. I believe it would be possible for me to use a wome's locker room even if I still had a penis, by being careful to keep my crotch covered at all times, but I'm glad I don't have to. I think it would be unpleasant to go through life hiding that thing living in fear of being found out.
There is an important health issue to consider. A pre-op transsexual takes high dosages of female hormones to counteract the testosterone the testicles produce. The long term health effects of this are not well understood, but are likely to be negative, especailly in light of the recent findings on Hormone Replacement Therapy for menopausal women. After SRS, the hormone dosages can be cut way down, and that is very likely a good thing. However, the same effect can be accomplished with an orchiectomy, and so the argument does not support the penectomy!
Two practical issues that do figure in my life are tucking and fucking. Tucking is not a huge deal for me. It works pretty well--I can even wear thongs and bikinis. But it is un-feminine and more or less uncomfortable from time to time. It does ruin the lines of certain outfits, and has been known to pop out at awkward moments. Actually, the worst thing about tucking is the feeling that I'm hiding something. In fact, I am hiding something, in a physical sense, that's the whole point! But I mean metaphorically. My whole transition is about expressing myself truly and openly. I don't want to hide anything. I don't want to have to tuck. (And I'm not even interested in talking about keeping the penis but NOT tucking!)
Update, 2/2007: I'm really glad I don't have to tuck any more.
And then there's sex. Does it surprise you that it's the last thing on my list? It's not that I saved the best for last. It's really the least important part of it for me. I think. Let's talk about it. Many times we like to say that gender and sex are separate issues, and in many ways that is true. However it would be hard to argue that SRS has nothing to do with sex. It will certainly change the mechanics of how I can have sex, and it will change the pool of partners who want to have sex with me. It will probably also change my sexual responses in certain mysterious and hopefully great ways, but that I just don't know about. I do think I will really enjoy sex with my own vagina, but I just don't know, so I'm not pinning great expectations on it.
Update, 2/2007: Sex has been a big disappointment. I've had sex with men, and I enjoyed it, but it
wasn't all that. I'm not orgasmic, or even able to be sexually aroused, no matter where or how you touch me.
And most men don't want to have sex anyway. So I've wound up pretty much asexual. Bummer.
When one makes an important decision, it is often a good idea to draw up a balance sheet to examine the positives and negatives. I've just discussed the positives which SRS holds promise of for me. On the negative side, I mentioned risk, expense, and pain. What else goes on the negative side of the balance sheet? There's.. uh.. not much. There just isn't anything I find particularly useful or appealing about Dr. Jeckyl. I take no pride in him as an appendage. He adds nothing positive to the self image I am striving to achieve, the image I have of my true self. He brings a certain amount of pleasure during sexual activity, but that is more than offset by the annoyance of having him at the party at all. I'm afraid the balance beam tilts very heavily to the positive side. Goodbye, Dr. Jeckyl!
So that's pretty much it then. I want SRS to become more normal, more womanly, and more feminine. What is more, as my SRS date approaches, I find that it IS a big deal to me after all. Not life-or-death, but very important nonetheless. Am I brainwashed by the stereotypical gender binary? Is it a simply weakness of my mind that I think I need SRS to achieve my femme and human potential? Maybe with therapy, hard work, and a good attitude, I can become perfectly happy with my womanly self without SRS. Perhaps so. But do you know what? I spent my whole life trying to live up to an image that wasn't right in my heart. I'm not going to do that again. I am going to get my SRS.
Update, 2/2007: I'm really glad I did!
Monologues index ..