Post-Op Thoughts

Posted by Kate Whitefield on Monday, November 26, 2012

This is a follow up to my Transpective blog entry of July 2011. It has been a year and three months since my sexual reassignment surgery. The healing is long finished, although it took nearly a year what with some minor post surgical adjustments. My feeling of body-congruence is remarkable! Initially, at the end of my year-long RLT (Real Life Test), and before surgery, my life had achieved a level of  stablilty as I was so relieved to be living as my preferred gender identity. However it has gotten better!

clientuploads/kateandfamily2.jpgI have enjoyed the benefits of my new freedom and self-acceptance. Over this last summer of 2012, I travelled for a month in Europe with my daughter and grandson. (See the photo) We visited Paris, the Loire valley, were guests at a wedding in Bordeaux, swam in the Mediterranean and visited far too many museums and churches for my 11 year old grandson’s comfort.  I’m no longer a stranger to my body and am feeling a new clarity.

Getting to this new-found clarity was difficult. I found the heart of the difficulty in the process of moving away from a self that I was not, and away from the compelling image of what I ought to be.  This involved significant changes in appearance and relationships and here is where I was fearful that family, friends and employment would fall away. As it turns out, I didn’t lose employment because of my decision to transition. In 2009 the national recession required that a huge portion of staff at my workplace be let go, me included, so I did avoid the challenge of transitioning while in the job and savings allowed me to focus on making decisive changes.  While I was not legally required to leave home, there was no way I could have successfully transitioned in that hostile environment. My transition tragically necessitated a divorce and I lost easy contact with my youngest children.

The best medicine has been to be able to live easily as my authentic self.  Ninety percent of my family and friends are still loving and supportive and we have excellent relations. In spite of the turmoil at my former home, I found new confidence in going about daily life.  Feeling that I was finally in alignment with my authentic self, it felt natural to share that love more strongly with remaining family and friends.  I have heard this same sentiment expressed so often by my transgender sisters and brothers. This harrowing, living on the edge, transition experience often leads us to give new value to ourselves and to discover and share our own uniqueness.

Now in the last phase of 2012, the dust is settling for me.  I have maintained my connection with my transgender support group at the Pride Center of New Jersey.  I still need their support and understanding as I expand my outreach to family, new friends and experiences. Those of us in the group who are post-operative are able to offer experience and support to those who are just starting or are mid-journey.  I have a very real, personal sense of new potential and can throw away years of self-imposed limits.  I enjoy how Dr Seuss writes about this feeling:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” 
 
Dr. Seuss
, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

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