Gender mishaps: some funny, some tragic

* PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU FIND ANY MENTION OF HUMAN GENITALIA OFFENSIVE. There you go: i’ve flagged it as ‘mature’ myself. This post may not be of much interest to non-transsexual people.*

Alan Partridge* [to his Dictaphone]: “Idea for a programme entitled ‘Yachting Mishaps’. Some funny, some tragic.”

I love this quote from I’m Alan Partridge. What’s more, i think it pretty well sums up the FTM** experience. There’s the tragedy of realising that your body has veered seriously off course in its sexual development; of becoming aware that the sexual characteristics you feel you should have naturally can only imperfectly be obtained medically, while those you wish to rid yourself of can never be fully erased. On the one hand, the problems of the current limitations on phalloplasty surgery; on the other, the too wide hips, too small hands, too short stature.

Yet there’s comedy too, even if it’s mostly unintentional. An example: the surgeon responsible for my phalloplasty forgot to tell me that i’d need to keep my newly created ‘friend’ at a 45 degree angle for some weeks following my first procedure. Not only that but it would need to be wrapped in layers of gauze and padding. The result? A member with a length and  girth that would do a stallion proud. Imagine me then as i made my way to my checkups at the surgeon’s Harley Street clinic, barely able to walk as i’d had my hysterectomy during the same operation. I am tottering along, clutching a fleece in front of my nether parts, when who should i meet but a whole battery of heavily veiled and heavily pregnant Arab ladies. Yes, indeed, there’s a fertility clinic on the ground floor. ‘Don’t drop the fleece,’ i thought to myself desperately, ‘Just don’t drop it.’ Luckily, i didn’t.

Later the same year i had the pump implanted, which – how can i put this – enables the new penis to go up and down. At the consultation i had with the surgeon’s nurse prior to the operation she showed me the mechanism that would be going into my body. In particular, she drew my attention to the blue dot in one area. “This dot”, she explained, “marks the place that you press when you need to ‘deflate’”. “Hang on a minute”, i said, “it’s going to be inside my body. How on earth will i be able to see it?” “Ah yes”, she said, “there is that. Oh and by the way, remember how you had to have the phallus*** up at a 45 degree angle after your first operation, well… ”

Yes, it was back to being a rampant stallion again while the stitches healed. This time with the full hydraulics. Then, it was time to find out if i could find the spot without the ‘handy’ blue guide. I did, but one guy, who i was in touch with at the time but have since lost contact with, told me it had taken him three days the first time. You read that right: three days.

I’ve been thinking about these experiences just recently as i’ve been invited by the clinic to take part in an open day for prospective patients. Unexpected comedy notwithstanding, i’m actually very happy with the way the surgery went for me. Some things i’ll always be sad about but as long as i can laugh…

* Alan Partridge was a spoof radio (and later TV) presenter created by the comedian Steve Coogan. I’m Alan Partridge documents Alan’s attempts to get the BBC to commission a second series of his (awful) chat show.
** Female-to-male transsexual (trans man)
*** Nurses and doctors always use the word ‘phallus’, maybe because it sounds more ‘medical’ and therefore less ‘rude’ than the usual name given to this part of the body. And it’s normally always ‘the phallus’ too, rather than ‘your phallus’. Somewhere, deep down, i think the surgeons always think it belongs to them – as its creators, not you.

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