The Ladylike Penis

As published on The Montreal Gazette's website:

I’m trans, but I’m never getting sexual reassignment surgery (SRS). I wouldn’t go through with it for any amount of money. To me, the idea of having my penis cut up and sewn back together in the shape of a vagina is a bit nightmarish. I’m in complete solidarity with your average male on this one. Many transwomen consider this a positive, life-affirming reconstructive surgery. But for me? Gah!

I’m uneasy about expressing this aversion. I know how important this surgery is to many people. But for me, it has much darker connotations. Most people are never pressured into getting plastic surgeries they don’t want done to their genitals. Now, some transsexuals will take offense to my characterization of SRS as a cosmetic surgery, but that’s certainly why it was wanted for me.

When I told my first psychiatrist I wanted an orchidectomy instead of SRS, he was appalled.

“You’ll be a woman with a penis and no balls!” He blustered in outrage. “You’ll be a freak! Nobody will ever want you!”

This, coming from the man charged with my mental health. For the record, my fiance tells me she thinks I’m sexy all the time – she just did, in fact.

No doubt there are some who would question why a transwoman would want to keep her penis. In our culture a woman with a penis is often looked upon as something like a chimerical beast out of Greek mythology. I was one of those kids who thought it’d be cool to be a monster – maybe a blood-sucking fairy or something – so that’s fine by me. What worries me is the mob of hysterical villagers with torches and pitchforks. I don’t have a problem with my body, just the people who hate it.

The truth is that gender transition has little if anything to do with the naughty bits. It’s about looking, acting, walking and talking the way we like and feel most comfortable with. That people start perceiving and treating us as the opposite sex is, for me, practically incidental. The point of transgenderism is to be yourself. So why should that make me hate my own body?

It’s commonplace in our culture for women to learn to be insecure about their appearance, sometimes even to the extremities of Botox, boob jobs and fad diets. But as for myself, I prefer my body simply because it’s mine. It’s healthy, functional and, I’m told, even reasonably attractive.

Whenever I see something on Youtube where a transwoman starts talking about how SRS has fixed her, I have to turn it off. It’s just too depressing. The implication of such a statement is that, without the surgery, people like me must be broken. I put up with enough of this sentiment from the world at large that it’s pretty miserable getting it from my own community.

I’m not saying the people who get the surgeries have all been brainwashed by our transphobic culture and it’s insane beauty industry. I respect that a person’s feelings toward their own body are the only thing they need to justify themselves to. I just want to celebrate the idea of the male woman.

I want to encourage transwomen to appreciate the beauty and femininity that is unique to them. We do not need invasive surgeries to try to make our bodies look like those of women who are not trans (ie. ciswomen). We are women because we live as women and fit into society as women, period.

A woman is not a vehicle for her vagina to get around in. The qualities that make her a woman are much more personal. Women come in all shapes, sizes and colours. There are women of every age, class, culture, religion and level of ability. And, yes, I believe there are male women, too. We may not all be women in the same way, but I believe there’s real value to that diversity.

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