How I Faced the Unexpected with my Surgical Transition
I wanted to give those who read this and are getting any kind of transition surgery — or even just starting their transition in general — the tools to process the feelings they’ll probably feel.
For much of my life, I’ve had to hide who I am. Whether it was from relative strangers or just relatives, Princess, Alexzsa, Nykki, whoever I was at the time had to exist in the darkness. Although there are few men in my family, they cling to any person assigned male at birth and desire to subsume them in their toxically masculine, bro culture.
Although some of it was less intense at times, my childhood included events where men in my family tried to shift me away from “female influence” and tried to get me interested in masculine or sport-y things. (Although sports aren’t masculine per se, they were certainly thought to be.) There was this need for me to be a “regular” straight, cis boy. But I could never be that.
Although I realize that straight and cis people may not be able to understand the need for it, I ended up having to nurture two completely different personalities that never fully, truly had the opportunity to reconcile. I had to nurture the “ordinary latinx boy” façade while also developing myself as the girl/woman who I am. I became an expert in secrets, even hiding that I was taking hormones from my parents, they couldn’t tell that I was growing breasts until I had already and completely came out to them (before that, I was already a B cup).
Having to learn how to hide everything I am makes it really easy for me to get the things that I need to get done, because I don’t need to worry about whether or not someone will approve of it or not. It allows me to function freely, because I could just hide it. I realize that this is deceitful, but when you’re a trans woman of color you sometimes have to move in darkness. A lot of the time, there is no letting our freak flag fly, so to speak.
It was this history of basically having to move under the cover of metaphorical darkness that helped me survive the initial trials and tribulations of the closet and even non-closeted living. It helped me become confident in myself, my choices, and my choice of chosen family (which is, for me, a mix of blood and non-blood people). That said, though, it left me under-prepared for the biggest hurdle that I’ve ever had to face.
December 22nd was a glorious, victorious day for me. After many years of dysphoria so bad that I wanted sometimes to do my own surgery, I finally had a genital surgery that I’d wanted: an orchiectomy. It was a magical day for me. I was so excited, so happy that instead of sleeping, I just stayed awake thinking. I was painfully tired by the time my surgery actually took place. It was a day where everything felt like lightning.
To my surprise, my family really wanted to be there. I was, initially, going to do what I’ve always done with my transition and do it myself, and bring my best friend with me. My family didn’t want that, because of the seriousness of going under, even if for a routine surgery like a bilateral orchiectomy. Unfortunately, though, although they did support me in terms of having a surgery, some of my family members still didn’t understand the seriousness of the surgery and its importance to me. They tried to talk me out of it as if that would be successful. I didn’t let myself be consumed by the anger that set off in me, though, as the day was — in general — a day for me to celebrate.
All of my work in secretly initiating hormone therapy and getting the paperwork side of the transition done all was accomplished without my family’s support, but this time I didn’t realize until afterwards how much I needed the support of all my family — and not just my spiritual, non-blood chosen family — to recover post-operation.
A week after my surgery and I found myself with hormonal issues that I never experienced even taking HRT. I would go from ecstatic happiness and laughter to weeping and suicidal feelings. Yet, I had nobody to talk to besides my chosen family. Unfortunately, I don’t live with them, so the physical support couldn’t happen as much as I’d liked. But I couldn’t turn to my regular family, simply because the opposition and the lack of support in terms of my surgical transition was still there. They didn’t understand the necessity of surgery for me and wouldn’t understand that I was very overwhelmed. I regret nothing about my decision and I’m happy that I made it, but I was overwhelmed with nowhere besides my chosen family to turn.
Although my medical team was great, they were very understanding of how bad my dysphoria was actually getting, nobody ever really impressed upon me how difficult the side-effects of the surgery could be. They emphasized certain side effects — like sexual function — but I don’t really care about my sexual function whatsoever. They under-emphasized the emotional aspect, both caused by the hormones and caused by the occasion itself. I realize, however, that no matter how great your team might be, they won’t always be able to prepare you perfectly. So I wanted to give those who read this and are getting any kind of transition surgery, or even just starting their transition in general, the tools to process the feelings they’ll probably feel.
Here’s what I’ve been doing since surgery, to deal with the overwhelming feelings that come to me post-op:
- Spiritual things (for me, this looks like prayer and reading scripture that’s sacred to me)
- Learning about basically anything
I’m blessed to have been able to get my blood family to support me to the extent that they have, because I almost killed myself over it years ago and it made them pay attention. Although they still don’t support me enough to fully understand the necessity of the surgeries that I want, I still have them. Many trans people aren’t supported at all by their blood family at all, and only have chosen family. I hope that, for those people, they are able to get their blood family back if they want them. I never realized how important having anyone in your (chosen) family was until this surgery. Family has always been important to me, but I realized after this surgery that they are even more important than I could ever imagine.
The Trevor Project Number: 866-488-7386.
The Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860