Update after surgery

The surgery appears to have gone well though it was a little more extensive than originally planned. While they were in there they discovered a hole in my urethra which explains why I was dribbling after I peed. They stitched it up so now I have a catheter and a pee bag tied to my leg for the next week.

The pain hasn’t been as bad as the first surgery but it’s enough that I have to stay on top of pain meds. I haven’t been sleeping well because I keep waking up when they wear off. And it’s painful to sleep on my side right now because that puts pressure on the stitches.

I’m pretty out of it because of the meds so as I’m mostly zoning out and watching bad TV. Hopefully soon I’ll start improving.

Revision surgery day!

Today is my revision surgery on my vulva! The surgeon is going to be modifying my clitoris area to make it easier to access my remaining nerve bundle, removing some scar tissue at the opening of my vulva, and removing excess skin that grew around my urethra that causes me to dribble after I pee. I’m simultaneously glad to get these annoyances dealt with and scared that something is going to go wrong with the surgery or recovery to further damage my ability to orgasm. Fingers crossed everything goes and heals smoothly!

Full orgasm!

I did it! 1 year and 7 weeks after bottom surgery I finally had a full orgasm! I’m not sure what the magic formula was this time but I was trying out a new toy my partner got and a new topical cream that includes Viagra.

It definitely feels very different than my old parts did. It comes on slowly and has a more sustained high point and headiness to it. And I forgot just how wonderful all the happy hormones are that come with it.

I’m excited to have more of them and find out what works. And maybe someday I can get there on my own.

Why is gender affirming care so expensive?

I’ve written quite a bit about the costs that I have incurred along my journey of trying to inhabit a trans body. But even as I look forward to the upcoming revision surgery on my vulva, it is a harsh awakening to realize that I am going to have to spend yet another $6,000+ for housing simply because Seattle has no transgender vaginoplasty surgeons and most insurance refuses to pay for out of state surgery costs.

So how much have I paid out of pocket so far for gender affirming care?

  • $5,000+ for electrolysis and laser hair removal on my face and body (not considered “essential” by insurance)
  • $9,500 in travel costs for consults, surgical recovery housing, and post-op appointments
  • $6,000+ for housing for revision surgery recovery

All told, I can account for over $20,000 in costs that insurance refused to cover.

I am one of the lucky ones. I am privileged enough to have a good job with decent health insurance so my co-pays are minor and I can afford to save up for these procedures. And I have a large network of friends who have generously donated over $5,000 towards those costs.

But can we talk about why these costs exist in the first place? Why is it considered ok for transfeminine people to have to pay for face and body hair removal to deal with dysphoria? In a world that demands that we “pass” as women to use public facilities such as restrooms, that is incredibly classist and discriminatory. And why does insurance not have to pay for the costs of getting an out of town surgery when there are no local surgeons available? My insurance now pays for cancer patients to get out of town specialty care but despite my advocacy for the past several years, continues to deny trans people that same right.

Luckily, starting in 2022, insurers in Washington State are now going to be required to pay for all doctor-prescribed gender affirming treatments and will no longer be allowed to label them as “cosmetic”. This is thanks to the tireless work of many many advocates and organizations who fought for years against insurance denials. And I hear through the trans rumor grapevine that Seattle may FINALLY be getting a surgeon soon who can perform vaginoplasties locally. But while that helps people here in Seattle, that doesn’t change the fact that far too many trans people around the US aren’t given equal healthcare access. We need laws in place federally to mandate coverage of gender-affirming care.

So next time you think of asking someone if they have had “the surgery” or make any kinds of assumptions about what trans people should look like, think about how expensive it is to look like I do. How inaccessible it is to the vast majority of trans people in this country to achieve what Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, and Elliot Page have done. And if you have resources, I encourage you to donate generously to your local trans fundraisers and places like the Jim Collins Foundation to help more trans people get the care we so desperately need.

Mini Orgasms

Finally a year after my bottom surgery I’m starting to have mini orgasms! I had the first one about a week before my surgery anniversary but I wasn’t sure what it was and I just had three more last night.

They feel like small crests of pleasure but nothing compared to what I was used to before surgery where there is a Big Bang and I’m done. I do come away from sex feeling happy and satisfied though instead of the disappointment and frustration of the last 9 months.

I was hoping for a lot more out of my first orgasm but at this point I’ll take anything I can get. Hopefully my revision surgery will make it a little easier to achieve and they continue to grow in amplitude.

1 year post surgery

I came back to San Francisco today for my 1 year post op for my vaginoplasty. There are a few things that have been annoying me so my surgeon and I decided together to do a minor revision surgery later this year. It should only take 3 weeks in town this time and 6 weeks of healing.

For the trans people reading along, the issues I’m fixing are:

  • The opening to my vagina is a little constricted by a flap of skin at the base that she is going to trim back so I can take bigger partners
  • My urethra has a little diversion that makes it hard to wipe thoroughly and often I leak a little when I stand up
  • My clit fell off during recovery but the underlying nerve bundle is still there under the skin but it moves around and makes it hard to get off. She’ll make a more distinct clitoral area and pin the nerve bundle in place so partners can pinpoint it easier.

Hopefully this goes well and helps me finally achieve orgasm. Fingers crossed!

Gender Euphoria Tipping Point

I think between my bottom surgery and facial feminization from hormones and hair removal, I’ve definitely passed a tipping point. I now experience far more gender euphoria than dysphoria. So much of my daily existence before was spent actively ignoring parts of my body and now I can actually relax into my body.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me get to this point through your emotional and financial support. Having a wonderful community around me has kept me going through the hard parts of transition.

Glow-up

When I first started my transition, I looked pretty awkward. I was deeply uncomfortable in my body and finally had language to name it what it was – dysphoria. I tried a lot of things in my early days including some ill fitting thrift store clothes. I heard later that my ex got a hold of those photos and was mocking me for them with her mom.

But the joke’s on her because she didn’t get to stay around long enough to see me become the beautiful, confident woman I am today. The last few years the combination of estrogen, surgeries, and hair removal have really worked their magic and I’ve had a serious glow-up. I finally feel like myself and I’m so much happier (especially without her transphobic energy in my life).

I have three lovely and affirming partners and more love and support than I could ever have imagined in my life. I often wish that I could go back in time and show myself what I would become when I finally shed all the shame. I would have made very different life choices if I had known my worth and not listened to my ex that I was so weird that no one else would love me.

I still have a long way to go in healing and personal growth but I know that I am on the right path and I’ve surrounded myself with good people to keep me there. Thank you all for your love and support that brought me this far.

Graduated from Pelvic Therapy

Today I “graduated” from pelvic floor physical therapy. Based on the referral of a fellow trans person, I was able to find a great place near my suburb where the provider seemed knowledgeable about trans neovaginas. She was great and helped me learn to differentiate between just activating the “quick” muscles and activating the deeper, longer holding muscles. For the past couple months I’ve been doing a lot of work to learn to activate them along with my core muscles more instinctively.

It was definitely weird at first because it involved “internal cueing” where she would hold a finger inside me to tell me if I was doing it right. There were also these fun adhesive sensors that go near your asshole that can tell you how strong you’re contracting. A very interesting experience overall but a useful one.

The original reason I went in was because I was having urinary leakage after peeing and I think we’ve determined that it was a physical problem. There is a little pocket by my urethra that tends to hold in a little urine after peeing and I basically needed to learn to wipe effectively since my labia are pretty large.

Anyway, that’s all probably TMI but hey, that’s what this blog is about!

Sexual Adventures

Content warning: Explicit discussion of Sex

This week I decided to have some adventures and sleep with a couple cisgender straight men. In retrospect, Pride Month was probably a weird time to suddenly choose that but as a friend pointed out, exploring my bisexuality is a form of Pride too since I usually only sleep with women and other trans people.

Overall, I’m glad I tried it and it was really affirming to quickly and easily find non-fetishizing straight men who found me attractive. But the sex was kinda “meh” for me. Like it was fun to try something different but it didn’t get me even close to orgasm. I was really hoping that it might kick on my G-spot but I think instead, it solidified for me that I like the kinds of sex I’ve been having better. This may be something I try again in the future every once in a blue moon but mostly to add variety rather than fulfillment.