This being my inaugural blog for “Transpective” it is difficult to know where to start. How about with some basic terms? The terms GRS, SRS or GCS can be a puzzle and an alphabet soup! “Gender Reassignment Surgery”, “Sexual Reassignment Surgery” and the one I like best is “Gender Confirmation Surgery” Also, I want to recommend a book Whipping Girl by a trans-woman, Julia Serano. (Available on Amazon.com) It is, bar-none, the very best book I have read about the transgender condition and gender discrimination in our current culture. You will appreciate her clarity.
Getting down to it, I’ve been knowingly working toward GCS ever since age four or five. Being born in 1942, I have to say that the culture and my military family would in no way have understood or accepted that message from a 4-year-old boy! Some 60 years later, I’ve noticed gratefully, that the younger folks in today’s world, kindergarten through elementary school age, have hardly any issue with their classmates easily choosing and presenting as their preferred gender. And the culture is catching up bit by bit for the youngest among us. Thankfully, there are educational conferences springing up around the US for parents of non sis-gendered children. It’s we older folks, and parents who still have the deeply held inhibitions regarding gender variance. I’m happy to say that 99% of all relatives and friends (from 12 yrs to 93 yrs.) have been quite supportive and we are still in touch. Facebook friends even! Sadly, in my case, divorce was inevitable.
On the brighter side, I cannot stress the importance of long-term counseling before and during the transition period. Acting on my long-held need to transition I have come brutally face-to-face with worries about the acceptance of family and friends, and most importantly, my acceptance of myself! This “inner work” is so necessary! Before Surgery! You might find that minor cosmetic surgery rather than radical vaginoplasty is appropriate. Long-term counseling also leads to much calmer and effective transitioning on the job, of divorce should it happen and designing money-earning opportunities within the transition period.
In addition to counseling, I have found that a support group is critical throughout the transition period, and even before, when you might be just questioning! During my transition period, I have benefited from friends who have or are going through what I’ve been going through. Their sharing of intimate details of losses and gains of family and friends and issues of self-doubt is like no other experience. So we support and love each other. This keeps us all going and moving successfully toward our transition goals.
No matter how extensive my preparation, and how comfortable I already find myself in my “new” role, I have been amazed at how my focus on the impending surgery has taken over my life during these last months. My exclusive attention has been on completion of the extensive medical/physical testing, preparing for changes in medications, arranging multiple transportations to and from hospital, recovery support and shopping for post-op recuperation. This is planning of a very high order for a concentrated few months of activity! (Or, since I’ll be flat on my back for some of it, for someone else’s activity!)
This is a good place to stop. I will try to keep you posted throughout my recovery. While I cannot apply my experience to everyone, it might provide bits of information not normally available. Feel free to respond, comment etc.
Blessings to all you trans-folks out there! Kate.