i got gender affirming surgery. it helped me fall in love with myself.

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One year later—falling in love with myself.

It’s been one year since surgery.

I remember that morning. Checking in and going into pre-op. My anxiety sending my blood pressure so high that they pushed my surgery time back by almost an hour while waiting to see if it would go down.

I remember sitting in the hospital bed trying to mediate, asking myself why I was so anxious. Did I really wanted to do something that was irreversible? Why was nobody stopping me from doing this?

My mantra was what my friend Abbey told me: “I keep moving towards it, I must want it.”

Some folks know that they need bottom surgery from the moment they realize they’re trans. I was not one of those. But a year after surgery, my sense of self is radically different than before.

I did not grow up in a particularly happy household. I would read to escape. The coping mechanisms to escape that childhood trauma also distanced me from my dysphoria. I would...

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I am—for my sins—a words person. But I’m not a words person because I love to read (though I do) or because I love to write (I…don't…sorta). I’m a words person because I love creating shared meanings that only make sense within a community. I love through creating a shared world of words.

With surgery recovery, two phrases have become part of my lexicon with myself:

  1. “Don’t be a left leg.” and
  2. “Body, don’t be a dick, you don’t got one anymore.”

I have others that are less self-deprecating, but I’ll keep those to myself. These just tickle my humor in just the right way.

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The second most-annoying part of bottom surgery

For the most part, my new bits are pretty well integrated into my sense of my body. It feels normal that I have an innie instead of an outie—in fact it’s hard to remember what having an outie felt like. Except when you have an itch.

I don’t mean being horny, I mean when the pruriceptors receptors in the skin start going off and releasing histamines.

One moment you’re just waking up and starting your morning meditation routine and suddenly you get an itch that you can’t find. Your brain goes “I know exactly where that is…on the old equipment…just scratch right there and you’re done.”

So you reach down and try to scratch except you have no clue where those neurons are anymore. You reach down and try to dig around to poke around and your brain goes “Come on, what’s taking so long? It’s just like when you need to scratch your arm. You know, normal shit. WHY HAVEN’T YOU FOUND IT YET IT’S...

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The long tail of recovery

Seven months since surgery!

While the initial recovery from bottom surgery usually take about three months, full recovery takes much longer—often 12 to 18 months (with full nerve healing and sensation sometimes taking even longer). And while improvements can still be seen and felt week after week, they become less dramatic and more internal. I think the things that are most apparent are that dilation went from being absolutely traumatic during the first month to tedious to annoying to boring in a bad way to now boring in a good way. My mind has space to wander, think about my day, or anything else I’d like to pay attention to.

For the most part, the pain is now entirely gone—with only the periodic pinprick here or there that is more curious than all-encompassing. As someone who generally prides myself on my exceptional memory, something that is a little disconcerning is that I have...

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Three-month reflection

I just made it through my first week back to work and wanted to spend a few moments reflecting back on the last three and a half months. So with apologies to the 18F project reflection template…

Goals for the last three months

  • Turn a penis into a pussy
  • Rest and heal, maintain my mental health.
  • Keep my blood pressure low and minimize the loss of muscle tone and flexibility.
  • integrate the new body part into my sense of self

Progress we’ve made towards our goals, and what’s contributed to that progress [in the last 3 months]

  • Made it through surgery, advocated for my needs with my medical team during recovery.
  • Made it through the first two months which had the worst pain of my life—successfully weaned myself off of pain medication.
  • Established a sustainable dilation routine.
  • Scheduled pelvic floor physical therapy
  • Created a new morning routine that includes meditation and light...

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The weirdest sensation of my (adult) life.

Content note: hey transfemmes, I talk about what it’s like to take out the vaginal packing in this post—for some, not knowing the trick helps the experience go more smoothly. I did not know going in, though I’m not sure if that made it better or worse. If you’d like to read the rest of the piece, I’ll let you know it’s coming up and break it into its own section with clear lines breaking up the section (like the one between this note and the beginning of the actual post) so you can stop reading or jump over. You know your own mind, trust it.

I was reflecting on the last three months as I woke up this morning and remembered what may be the weirdest sensation I will ever experience.

A week and a half after surgery, I went in to the surgeon’s office for my first post-op appointment. I stratospheric with all the pain meds I was on, the cab ride from Brooklyn to the clinic in Midtown felt...

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At least someone is still keeping COVID protocols.

(Note: Signal chats as well as weekly virtual brunch/dinner and visits are underway! And Minecraft will probably start soon! Fill out this form of you’d like to drop by and say hi where you’ll get to hear stories about dilation, how my left leg feels funny, and the Rancho Gordo Bean Club.)

I’ll eventually put together something about the household COVID protocols because they changed a bit from what I planned two months ago. And eventually, I’ll write about my first few days at the hospital. Or maybe I’ll write about that now, for now this is just a quick update since a few folks were curious about what the hospital’s COVID protocols were.

We got to the hospital at 5:40 in the morning. Bitsy drove me to one of Mount Sinai’s surgery centers in midtown, Sydette met us there—she would be nearby all day in case anything was needed.

The hospital required everyone to mask, they also wanted...

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The hard part was always pussying up

(Content note: this talks about genitalia, surgery, pain, dilation, and depression.)

Dilation is the pits.

That’s kinda a good thing because just a couple weeks ago, it was much worse. And that’s because surgery was never going to be the hard part of getting surgery. Dilation was always going to be the hard part.

It was the thing I dreaded the most.

It happens three times a day, you slather a hard, long, unforgiving, dildo with goop and then shove it as far up a fresh pussy—newly formed from skin and other tissue from the penis, scrotum, and other bits—as you can, and let it sit there for 20 minutes. Then you take a slightly bigger one and see if you can shove that one up there just as far for another 10 minutes.

It’s one of the most painful things I have done.

And I have to do it three times a day.

To myself.

For a year.

And pretty regularly for the rest of my life.

To psych...

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Like every other post-surgery story, tracking pee, gas, and poop have become the metrics of the first week out. The last few days kept getting less good until yesterday which was particularly bad for a few hours. It’s not great when your catheter gets blocked and you can’t pee.

I’d have to double check with Bitsy for how long it really was, but I was in an hours-long pain-med-supported meditative trance to deal with the pain.

Today is much better so far.

I am so glad Bitsy was there to meditate with me and be the rational person worried about the last time I peed while I was lost somewhere in my head.

I’m still trying to understand what sensations are coming from where. With the nerve pain, the extremely tight surgical tape holding everything in, and all my bits being majorly readjusted, I don’t know what all the weird firing signals mean or where they’re even coming from—I think I...

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Update from Bitsy

Hello all! Bitsy here.

Cordy is resting at the hospital. Surgery went really well, and she’s in good spirits. Sleep has been elusive for the last week or so, and I’m thrilled to report that she’s been resting well in recovery (with some gentle encouragement from her support squad).

Today her partner Alisha brought her some delicious fish congee courtesy of Tina and Yang, and a pair of prism glasses so she can comfortably read and use her phone. Many thanks to Gail King for the pre-surgery PT! The little bit of practice we had before the procedure seems to be helping immensely.

I am slowly making a dent in the fridge to make room for the meals that will be delivered from Chen Mommy starting Friday. Our girl likes to cook when she’s stressed! I hope to get better at peeling tea eggs. I’m excited to bring her home on Thursday afternoon. If you signed up for support squad activities...

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