In May of 2012, I will be visiting a very handsome and charming doctor in Montreal. He’s the doctor selected by British Columbia’s Medical Services Plan, and many satisfied women, to perform a surgery which will change my outdoor plumbing to indoor plumbing. I can hardly wait!
This is what in my youth people called “a sex change operation.” Today it is called Gender Reassignment Surgery, a much more classy and elegant name. My youthful impression of the phrase “sex change” are of ridiculed, desperate, lost souls “trapped in the wrong body.” It was usually accompanied by snickers and rude remarks about these poor deranged people. No wonder I hid who I was, not only from the world but even from myself, for so many years.
But I do remember way back then being full of wonder about it all. How could these people be so brave? Didn’t they realize the world mocked them? And behind all that fear for these kindred spirits was envy. They had risked so much and now they could look between their legs and feel… normal. Like things were the way they should be.
Even as young as 5, I would experiment, tucking the dangling parts back between my legs and closing them, and the sight of that nice smooth Y shape would delight me. I knew, somehow, that I should look like that. I knew I should look like my girl friends. In the bath I would close my legs and hide things and then build breasts with soap bubbles. It always felt so natural, so… right.
Well, I don’t need soap bubbles anymore as hormones have built more lasting breasts, but I still cannot bear to see myself any other way than with that smooth Y.
And yet, when I considered requesting GRS, I would often quickly shake my head. It seemed too radical. Too dangerous. Too extreme. I worried I was too old. That I wasn’t a good candidate. That it would wreck a part of my body that functions okay, even if it messes with my mind. Indeed, I told myself that surgery was in fact a denial of my strong belief that gender is not determined by genitals. Science is finding out more and more about the complexities of gender identity and we are redefining some of our long held concepts. My own life showed me that genitalia type does not always equal gender.
I was angered by laws that would not allow me to change the gender marker on my birth certificate or passport without proof of surgery. I had legally changed my name, my social status, even the gender marker on my B.C. Driver’s License… but I still had to prove that I had the ‘proper’ genitals to be female. It seemed a way of forcing people to have a surgery that some may not be able to afford for health, financial or other reasons. I didn’t like feeling coerced into having surgery.
So why am I doing GRS after all? It wasn’t an easy decision. I have spent my life trying to avoid hospitals and especially doctors with sharp knives in their lab coats. The idea of surgery terrifies me. I’ve never had any surgery in my life. I came up with many reasons to talk myself out of going ahead with surgery. I realized what was driving me to build a case against GRS was fear, plain and simple. And when I removed that fear, when I asked myself, “if you knew it would be a breeze and easy, would you do it?” the answer was a resounding YES!!! I not only wanted this, I needed it. For peace of mind. For comfort of body. I like my body better than I ever have… and because of that I am actually living IN it for the first time. I feel real for the first time in my life, like I am fully here. Well… almost fully. There is this “no-go” zone between my legs. A land of “let’s just pretend we didn’t see that”. It throws me off balance all the time, shakes me out of my comfort and harmony of self. And I know it needs fixing.
I needed to make this decision on my own and I needed to understand why I would make it. I had to strip away all the peer pressure, the push by authority to “prove’ my gender, the feeling I needed to fall in line with the assumption some people make that I had to have had the surgery to transition. I had to find the real, pure, intention in me. A wise friend helped me see this. We were talking back and forth, as I agonized on whether I should go for GRS or not. And this friend wrote back one day saying, “If you do this, do it as a gift of LOVE for your self.” That’s when I knew I was going to do it. Because that is exactly what GRS is for me – an act of love, a very powerful and personal gift, for my self, for that little girl in the bath, and for that crone on the rock looking back, smiling at the brave and wise woman who took a chance on herself.