Maybe the most persistent myth inside the community of transpeople assigned as male at birth is that somehow, someway, genital reconstruction surgery (GRS) — the operation so many call “sexual reassignment surgery” or SRS — is powerful magic, changing everything in a person’s life.After all, if GRS isn’t so powerful, the thinking goes, why is access to it so guarded by protocols and procedures? Isn’t it all about the penis, and when that organ is transformed into a hole, isn’t everything changed completely?
There are two groups who don’t buy into this idea that GRS is magic in and of itself.
The first group, as you would expect, are the people who decide not to have the surgery and choose to minimize the power, denying that transformation can happen at all, that people are mired in their biology and history and reach change is impossible.
The second group, as you might not expect, are mature women who have had GRS in their history and have moved on. These women don’t doubt the power of transformation past expectations and assumptions; they have done just that. They were raised as boys, even if that didn’t fit well, and are now living as women.
These women don’t question the possibility and power of transformation, letting what is inside of you come out and becoming new, beyond the gender projections laid on your birth sex. Instead, they know that GRS is just one step in the process of that transformation, and they know that however they felt around it, it’s usually not the most important step.
GRS doesn’t change you you are, nor does it change how you walk in the world. At best, GRS only offers you more power to facilitate that change. That may mean being more comfortable in locker rooms, more confident with lovers, more centered in your body, or it may only mean shutting up others around you who may believe once you have been chopped and channeled, their demands to have you go back to their old expectations won’t really work so well.
They often say that time changes things,
but actually you have to change them yourself.
It’s possible to transform, and GRS can play an important part in empowering a role transformation, but it changes very little other than the shape of your body, and maybe, just maybe, a letter on your driver’s liscence.
This is hard for many transwomen to hear. They want to believe that GRS comes with magic, the magic that changes how everyone views you, the magic that changes you. If they are committing to intense body changes, they want to believe that they get social changes with that, or if they have done those changes and still aren’t getting others to respond to them as women, they want to point out who stole that magic away from them. (Just for the record, most think it’s those damn transgenders.)
I responded negatively to an article where I thought too much was made of the genital status of one transwoman.
Personally, I find the story intrusive and misleading.
In my experience, once we are drawn into the mechanics of transsexual surgery, the details of a so called “sex change,” then the focus on the experience of being trans in the world is dismissed by panty peeping, a kind of expectation that transpeople are required to reveal what normative people have no obligation to discuss.
I’m very glad Andrea has gone out and made The Bridge happen, made a place for people to move beyond the norms. She has gotten funding and made magic. And I’m pleased that the Post-Star has chosen to publish that story.
But when the story pulls down Andrea’s panties and talks about mechanics of her body as if that is a common subject for public discussion, I find that a disservice to the dignity that transpeople should be accorded, to the dignity that all people should be accorded.
Andrea replied that she never used the term “sex change,”rather she only discussed her “op-status” when discussing why she was only bethrothed to her husband, not married. And I was so peeved I missed that there is no funding issued, only funding planned; my mistake.
The author, a self-identified butch lesbian, was disappointed in the reaction, believing that she was being sensitive and an ally. She believed that it was important to make the distinction between “biowomen” and trannies for her imagined audience of “Johnny Retiree.”
Lesbian and Gay reporters asking questions it would be rude to ask non-trannies, to act as gender police. I’m a bit sick of it.
I know why trannys who are obsessed with body changes, with the changes they wish to make, the changes they are making, the changes they dream will come with body changes, talk about it all the time. It’s part of the second adolescence, where bodies are almost obsession.
But me, I identify with grown ups, for whom bodies, well, for most of us they are detail.
Cat Kisser understands this well, writing about this in a very nice blog entry.
I said this to the list:
In my view, trans is about gender, the role we play in the world, ather than about sex, the shape of our genitals.
That’s why it’s so important to me to keep focused on gender rather han sex in talking about trans, no matter how much we feel limited by he expectations piled onto our birth sex, the assumptions written nto our bodies.
I know why gays and lesbians are so hepped up about sexual identity, a challenge of desire they face everyday.
To me, though, that’s just a subset of gender identity, who we are in the world. Most of us are not going to let many people see our genitals, no matter what, but our gender will be on display all the time.
Transvestism is about changing your clothes.
Transsexualism is about changing your body.
Transgender is about changing your mind.
Gotta be at least a decade since I first said that, and the more I live, the more I believe it. Heck, the more I live the more I believe that is the journey for all humans, moving beyond the assigned, finding a knowledge of yourself, and then learning how to create a powerful you based on that knowledge, reborn. The hero’s journey, in other words.
Genital reconstruction is not magic. In fact, for all but a few moments in our lives, the actual shape of our genitals matters not one whit, though the expectations placed on our “cultural genitals” can shape us and our expression in the world.
Most normies, well, cultural genitals are all that count, no matter what the gender police think retirees need to know.
That’s why I hate it when we feel the need to pull down our panties to try and prove something, be that proving why we are “oppressed,” proving that we are “real,” or proving to the gender police that we are who we say we are.
There is no magic in the shape of your genitals, either the ones you had at birth, or the ones you shaped as an expression of who you knew yourself to be.
The magic comes in the shape of your heart, and how your heart opens a role for you in every moment.
Yeah, maybe changing your genitals can open up space to get your heart growing, get your heart out from behind the defenses.
But in the end, it’s your heart that matters. Show that, like Andrea does, and you can find your own power too.
And since it’s your heart, well, there’s no one else to blame.