It’s been five months since I had the surgery. It went well. I recently read that between 80–90 percent of female-identified post-operative transsexuals can achieve orgasm. I wish I had read that before. They always make it seem like there is a high chance it won’t work. Even the recovery was pretty smooth…save for that first day at home when the only mirror I could find to dilate with was a 5x magnification mirror — I cried. My vag even has a secondary clitoris in the canal. A specialty of my surgeon. While it is a little heteronormative, I am glad he has design and function on his mind. Even a few weeks after surgery, after the swelling had gone down a bit, it looked very typical. It wasn’t like some of the uncanny valley vaginas you see on surgeons’ websites; it isn’t shaven, clean, or dry. Rather it is verisimilitude; it’s wet, smelly, and covered in pubic hair. And even as much as I bristle at medical processes and their attempt to construct narratives around being transgender through surgical interventions — the last thing I heard before going under the knife was the assistant leaning over me to say I would wake a new woman — I am nevertheless fascinated by this venereal construct; it’s not the locus of my gender and sex, but it’s cool. All and all it just feels very natural — not underwhelming, but not revolutionary, just a thing that already feels like it’s always been there.
I was reflecting on how I felt about my genitals post-surgery because I was mucking about down there and wanted to know what other girls had felt, thought, and advised. I was surprised at how many semi-satirical video essays were on YouTube with titles like “Ten things I love about my vagina, and three I don’t,” Or, “Things I miss about my dick (but not really).” I tried to think about my penis, remember her. But I couldn’t. I remember her feeling, the sweaty bulge in my panties, the reason for not wanting to have sex, but not what she looked like, or her haptic qualities. I hadn’t seen her naked since, forever. I closed my eyes during that initial consultation with the SRS doctor. I had closed my eyes every time I had washed her in the shower for…forever. It wasn’t always like this, I remember what it once looked like, I can certainly remember the disdain I felt when it came to fruition. But I haven’t seen her in all her transmutations since I started HRT over four years ago. I suppose that’s what’s revolutionary about my vagina, that it appears visibly to me, and that when I am not looking at it, or thinking about it, it’s not there. It’s just neutral, a baseline feeling of my own normal. Not a reminder of discomfort, of the gender dysphoria of a testicle popping out of place in one’s panties, just that I feel okay.
A theorist once wrote — and I am too lazy to look it up, but it was in an issue of TSQ form last year — that surgery is “underwhelming.” I think that is wrong. At least for me, it is not under or overwhelming, it is just normal. I am not affirmed, but I no longer feel disaffirmation. For me, my penis was never symbolic of a “wrong body,” but rather an occasional somatic reminder that my body felt out of context with itself. It was nothing personal against penises; I’d just rather not. Surgery has meant that that particular somatic alarm is gone. I feel comfort in that absence, one less haunting visage of misassigned gender.