In 10 days, I have my Gender Confirmation Surgery or GCS.
June 1, 2021
In 10 days, I have my Gender Confirmation Surgery or GCS. Simply put, that is the surgery where a very skilled doctor will make my anatomy reflect my true sense of self because you see, I am a transgender woman. I am excited, nervous, and a little scared because it is a major surgery with a long recovery time…but that is not really what I am most worried about. It is this:
Will I be able to finally relax and just…well, live and be happy? Well, will I?
You see, most transgender people experience something called Gender Dysphoria. It is a very serious disconnect between our bodies and our innate sense of self. It can be painful, traumatic, even deadly, and it is something that most of us experience 24/7/365. For me, it is something I have experienced every single day of my life since my earliest memories, about five decades for me.
My sense of that disconnect has expressed itself with a sensation that “something essential to me is wrong.” Again, 24/7/365. That sense of something “always being wrong” is about to be righted on June 11th…I mean, isn’t it?
Medical science is about to do everything currently possible to remediate much of this condition from which I suffer. As a human, I have somewhat naturally engrained that sense of inherent wrongness into my psyche, into my behavior, into my sense of self. And so I think it only natural to be a bit concerned that once my surgery is done and I have “arrived” at the pinnacle of every (rational) hope and dream I have ever had regarding my gender…will I be able to shed that behavior pattern and simply “live in the moment,” “finally be happy,” reframe “how I think?” I am hoping my brain will not simply insist on finding the “next thing wrong.” Because being trans has forced my brain to think that way. And if that is there, what else is lurking in my psyche that’s going need attention. Yeah, it’s actually a lot, and it tells me something:
This journey is still not over. I still have work to do. Shit…
I had my first counseling session with a gender therapist in 1991. Over the years, I have had hundreds of hours of talk therapy with a counselor of one sort or another. Being transgender is not an easy thing for most to live with, and yes, many of us seek counseling.
Before I continue, let me banish the concept put forward by some in our society that being transgender is a form of mental illness. It is not. Certainly, the untreated symptom “gender dysphoria” can cause us to experience psychological complications but being transgender is NOT a mental disorder. The American Psychological Association (APA) and its 122,000 researchers, educators, and clinicians all agree on this.
You will actually find that transgender people can be among the most self-aware humans you will ever encounter. We have to be in order to survive. Most of us, like me, have spent dozens or hundreds of hours working on our mental and emotional stability with professionals. Semi-regularly counseling is required, along with 3 letters from doctors certifying us as mentally and physically “fit” to have GCS.
I have certainly done my time with therapists, and all that time has taught me to examine myself, to seek ways to grow and expand, resolve my issues and improve my life. So here I am, facing down yet again more work on myself beyond what most transgender people often think should be the “end of the rainbow.”
So why am I writing this? First, if you are a CIS person reading this, I am writing it for you. I hope this brief look into our lives (admittedly from my own particularly dingy window) will help give you some perspective on transgender people and our lives. We are just like any other human. We fight, we strive, we love and live mostly just like you. We really are JUST there to pee, we are not sick or deviant, and we are not a danger to you or those you love. We’re just…humans trying to get to tomorrow. Please think of this article the next time you encounter a trans person, or vote. We need your love, your support, and your acceptance. Especially our society’s trans kids.
If you are transgender, then I am writing this for you in hopes that reading this may help prepare you for the possible shock, as it was to me, that GCS, or whatever surgery you are facing down is probably not going to be the “end of the rainbow.” You are still going to be trans when all the physical stuff is completed. Happiness is not just going to come automatically, and you will still likely need to work on yourself. Like me, you may find a need to “undo” patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that may no longer fit your new reality.
Finally, I am writing it for myself. To get it down on paper and explore these surprise sensations that imminent surgery has brought in me. For decades, GCS was the pinnacle, the end…but really, it is just the beginning of a new phase of life. I unfortunately did not see it until 10 days out from the most important surgery of my life, but you know, everyone has the occasional “well duh!” moment.
“Who am I now?” Damn, if that question isn’t staring me right in the face again, and I suspect, will for most of you as well when you find yourselves on the other side of surgery. Your questions and answers may be different from mine — your truth, your path, your journey. But I am realizing that this is not the end-point I always thought it would be.
Living authentically female is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced, and I know my GCS is only going to further that sense of wholeness and peace. But the woman coming out of that operating room will be different from the woman who goes in, and not just physically. I need to ditch that perpetual sense of “something is wrong” so it does not creep into my post GCS life’s anticipated happiness and wholeness. I am sure that I will encounter other things that I will need to work on as well as time and I travel together.
There is more work to do to be the complete, authentic human I am meant to be. Let’s begin. ❤