Tuesday, 19 April 2016
To Vagina or not to Vagina? That is the question. Or one of the questions.
This story. She's been through a lot physically and emotionally.
The question arises - what is a woman?
Was she any less a woman for not having these things? Is she any more a woman for now having a vagina? No, of course not. But knowing that doesn't make things any easier for her. She's had a really difficult time. And nothing could ever take away from just how hard it's been for her and how hard her remaining psychological wounds can be.
However, the question is pertinent for me as someone who has been told, sometimes, that she can't be a proper woman because she has a penis not a vagina. It's pertinent for me who has been told that surgery is a "sex change" and will "make me a woman." It's pertinent for those transgender people who currently face arrest in parts of the USA for using a public toilet and for transgender people who face abuse for wanting to urinate. It's pertinent for all trans people who have ever been abused or felt under pressure for having anatomy that they've been told doesn't match their gender. For the women who have been told they're not women. For the men who have been told they're women. And for all the non-binary people for whom it can in some ways be even harder.
And that question is pertinent for me as someone still deciding whether major surgery and a vagina is something I want. It won't magically make me a woman - I'm one already. It won't affect my daily living. And the important people around me don't care one way or the other and will support whatever decision I make.
I have choices. I could have surgery to gain that vagina. There are pluses to this. And a lot of discomfort and inconvenience too! Or to have surgery that would give me all the outward appearance of "female" genitalia but no vagina. Or to not bother with surgery at all and lay claim to my own body in acceptance - a woman's body, my body, that happens to have a penis.
Logically, rationally, I can't see that surgery is needed for me. I am a woman. Accepted by myself and those around me. After surgery I would be a woman. Accepted by myself and those around me. Living pretty much exactly the same life as I'd be living without "the op." Logically, what is the point?
Emotionally, that's where the decision must be made. Because some things run a lot deeper than logic. It's a mental health and well-being decision, not just logic.
I don't yet know what decision I will come to. But it will be my decision. It won't be a comment on the decisions anyone else comes do. For all transgender people, whatever we decide, it's a decision we don't come to lightly. And while we may make different decisions, they're not the wrong ones because they have to be individual ones for our own needs and our own health.
I still have time to decide. I don't even know if I'm being referred for a "second opinion" now or after my next appointment. It's two and a half years since my first appointment at the gender dysphoria service. A long time. I've jumped through all the hoops as quickly as I've been told to. But I still need to see another psychiatrist and they would have to give me a clear diagnosis that I'm me before anyone would be allowed to refer me for any of the necessary prerequisites to surgery.
To be honest I've changed. Two and half years ago it was more important. If I wasn't careful I could be triggered by my own body any time I went to the loo or showered. I cried about it. I had a lot of baggage from my past and fell into the trap of thinking there was something wrong with my body - even that I'd been "born into the wrong body." Oh yes, that phrase. It's common. Six months ago Channel 4 television had an entire season of programmes in the "Born in the Wrong Body" season. A search engine shows in an instant just how common it is.
Born into the wrong body? The wrong body? Well that's what we're told. But it's total BS. It really is. I was not born into the wrong body. I was born into my body. It's not wrong. I'm a woman with a penis. So what? I don't need it somehow corrected in order to make it into the right body, shaped like a woman. This is my body and I don't need anyone telling me that it's the wrong one.
That's the logic. The emotion is decades of feeling like I'm wrong. Of feeling like I'm a monster. Of embracing a faith that made me feel worse. Of self hatred. Of shame, shame, and more shame. Of a society feeding me the BS for my entire life. That's what I carried three years ago when I came out to myself and accepted myself as female, and when I came out to everyone around me. And afterwards I thought my body was wrong. I thought I had to change. I thought I had to "pass as a woman." It's all BS. But I believed it and it's only natural that I believed it.
I don't believe it now. But. Keep giving me the hormones. Fill me with oestrogen. Wipe out my testosterone. Clear my face a little more of all that thick facial hair. I like the hormones. I like these breasts that are growing. I like not having an obvious beard at all times. I do, even though those things aren't about identity. So keep giving me hormones - but I reserve the right to change my mind about that too.
And maybe give me a vagina. Or maybe not. Give me a year. I'll lay it all bare to the world (figuratively) and explain my personal decision. Whatever decision I make it'll be the right one for me and for me alone.