Monday, August 10, 2009

It was exactly a week ago.
I was waiting in the Riverside Wing of the Charing Cross hospital at 7.30 in the morning.
Feeling nervous.
The Riverside wing is nowhere near the river and the Charing Cross hospital is nowhere near Charing Cross and I couldn't help but wonder if this was the right ploace for me to be...
And people's names were called out, and I envied them, and then at eight two more names were numbered, me and another one that turned out to belong to a woman with a bad hair do and a raggedy skirt and as soon as I saw her in my context I thought: Of course. She's a transsexual too.
It's a great sadness I find, among us transsexuals that it is somewhere considered incredibly rude to recognise ourselves as such.
The polite thing is to act as if we're biological women.
And so we stay in isolation.
My companion seemed to know her way around, and she skipped off looking happy. I was uncertain, but shown a single room.
And as soon as I saw it, for some reason I knew I'd be OK.
It was light and it was airy and I loved the way the armchair was placed by the window. I could sit there and feel safe there, somehow, and watch the world outside.
The surgeon came very quickly, and this time I liked him.
I'd found him pretty loathesome at the clinic, unwilling to listen, apparently uninterested in me as a human being.
And very easy to write me down for vaginaplasty and then for what he called the "cosmetic operation" which involves completely removing all external male genitalia and leaving you with a kind of penis as a stub, which is sensate, apparently, and capable of orgasm.
When I'd said no to vaginoplasty he'd put me down for this, utterly taking it for granted, and was half way through giving me directions as to how to take the form to admissions when I'd had to interrupt him very firmly.
No.
No I don't want that either.
I want orchidectomy.
And he looked very put out as he scribbled something else on the form, which I couldn't read, and told me very crossly that he'd have to check it with the psychiatrists.
And when I told him I had already he wouldn't believe me and wished me good day and really I couldn't wait to see the back of him.
When I phoned up to confirm, there was huge consternation in the administrator.
Ethical issues, apparently. I might have to come down and speak to a panel.
And I would have done. I had an excellent speech prepared in my head.
I would have told him, too, if he'd asked.
But he didn't. He just spoke about the possible complications, bleeding into the scrotal area, and so forth.
Just sign here.
But I made a point of turning the page back just to check what it was i was signing, because he had left me a bit paranoid.
I tried to persuade the anaesthetist to do it with a local so I could be aware and watch.
But it was a lost cause, and I was wheeled away with my lovely camp nurse, Lolito, who introduced me to an even camper theatre nurse... and chatting idly I felt a sudden pang.
Maybe I could have developed a camp gay identity and should I really be doing this? Lying here, allowing myself to get mutilated?
Well maybe. If my mum hadn't fed me so much homophobia.
But what's did is done, and they're sticking needles into my veins.
Through the window I can see the last victim being wheeled away, and the orderly mopping something up off the floor.
It's so solemn, this moment of entering the blankness...
and someone is calling my name, and the pain isn't too bad, it never is at first, and I'm being wheeled back down all the long corridors.

I've read accounts of this operation where the patients have just been under a local, chatting to the surgeon, and then have got up afterwards and embarked on one of these crazy US car journeys... no pain at all apparently.
Just a few painkillers and it's done.

Well it must obviously take a real man to live like a woman, that's all I can say, because the pain has been terrible.
And is still bad a week later.

as far as I can see, the surgeon doesn't cut the scrotum. Just makes a wee incision up the side of the pubic triangle, on the tube the wee testicles came down in puberty. And he squeezes the scrotal sac to force them up again until out they pop.
Like soft-boiled eggs.

Or so I imagine, but there's a lot of 'heroic sewing' he told me next morning as he turned up in his cycle gear to inspect his handiwork. "Not a corpuscle out of place" he said proudly.

Deep bruising on the front of the pubic area; and all over the scrotal sac.
A lot of black and blue.

Not that I saw this for a few days. I was scared to look.

Dressing was held in place by a strange garment I didn't really recognise. And when they gave me two more I could tell from the label.
Jock straps.
I have never wworn them before.
And absolutely did not expect to be so grateful for them.

Though they are not altogether the kind of underwear I was expecting...

One reason I went for this op was so i could maintain myself with less hormones. And stop having to take a male hormone blocker which, over a long time, would also cause damage.

And I'm happy as I am, I realised. I didn't need to go through the much deeper and more traumatic agony of being given a vagina.

Something else, too: something to do with the symbolism and the metaphor of undergoing emasculation.

And that is what I now need to think about...

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