Thursday, July 26, 2012


These are some questions that people have wondered, so I thought I'd start a post to answer these and more. If you're wondering anything, feel free to ask about it below.

- "What the hell do you do all day?"

Well, mostly I lie in bed naked and stick things in my vagina.
[It's not as exciting as it should be.]

I lie in bed because it hurts to sit without my invalid ring and even then it's generally uncomfortable after awhile (fortunately the toilet isn't painful at all).

I'm naked because air drying is generally recommended, my mom doesn't care, and pants/underwear are kind of uncomfortable while I'm still swollen in general. (The swelling is supposed to subside within the first four months, so I won't know what the "finished product" looks like for quite some time).

I dilate four times a day. Take two Sitz baths (put some soap in water and soak for ~10 minutes). Douche twice. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

- "What the hell's dilation?"

Dilation is where I put plastic rods in my vagina and hold them there. One of the "unique features" of the trans vagina is that you're creating a space of nothing where something used to be. As such, the body wants to heal upon itself in the space. If you don't artificially keep it open by dilating, the vagina will close up which, you know, would be bad (in addition to kind of defeating the point of the whole 'surgery' thing).

Dilating, fortunately, isn't uncomfortable for me most of the time. It's difficult at first; the muscles get tense, so the dilators don't go all the way in easily. I have to really focus upon relaxing and maneuvering to get them as far as they'll go (about 4.25"-4.5," which is a bit below the average for the surgery but because I highly doubt I'll need to accommodate anything aside from fingers and the dilators' more fun-loving second cousins, I'm not too concerned). The maneuvering is frustrating and uncomfortable, but once they're in it's just a matter of listening to something until I need to switch to the larger rod or stop.

Overall, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour including setup, cleanup, and positioning. The frequency is what's most obnoxious: I'll get one done, eat a meal, and it's practically time for another. Fortunately, the frequency gradually decreases the further you get from surgery (schedule is here), but I will be required to dilate once a week for the rest of my life or risk it closing. So, you know, that's fun. (Penetrative vaginal intercourse can count, though. Which will make for an awesome pickup line: "Hey baby. My vagina's about to collapse and only you can save it. Wanna be my heroine for the night?")

- "Why Montreal?"

So, the penile-inversion technique means that, contrary to popular belief, the penis is not "chopped off" but instead inverted using the scrotum for much of the vagina. This can require a skin graft for some trans women whose penises are not large enough (and, regardless of initial size, after years on antiandrogens/estrogen and possibly no erections, this might be a real possibility).

Unfortunately, scrotums be hairy, yo. Most American doctors recommend.require genital electrolysis to remove the hairs. Dr. Brassard in Montreal removes them himself by cautherizing them. The American doctors advice electrolysis because it's the only way to be absolutely sure. But I've had really poor results with electrolysis and I didn't know how to find someone in Knoxville to do the genital version so Montreal seemed a lot easier. So too, the Montreal clinic has reputable aftercare and since I was going alone I thought that'd be an asset. [Thailand is the country that does the most in the world, but I didn't want to be that far from home alone and I also didn't want to be that far from the surgeon in case I needed to go back for some reason].

The cost and, honestly, the distance was pretty comparable to most of the other top places in America.

- "Can you orgasm?"

Hopefully! I mean, I wouldn't want to let your mom down now, would I? With the penile-inversion technique, the surgeon keeps the nerve endings from part of the glans in the penis intact and essentially creates a clitoris. Most women, barring complications, are able to orgasm post-op although it may take some time before full sensation returns to the area (and, of course, degrees of pre-op sensitivity differ too).

Hell, there's even some degree of lubrication for some women from the urethra, depending upon how much lubrication the penis tended to create before.
But for now, I just have to wait and see. (Not gonna lie: I'm pretty excited. Since, you know, I can't get unexcited. Since, like, it... anyway, next question)

- "How did you pay for SRS?"

So, SRS is expensive. Well, let me qualify that: SRS that in Canada or the USA with reputable doctors is expensive. After travel costs and paying for therapists to judge me insane enough to qualify for letters, I paid about $20,000. For someone who's never made over $13,000 a year, that's a substantial amount of money.

For better or worse, instead of going to a private college with a $40,000/year tuition, I went instate to the University of Tennessee which paid me to go. However, as my grandparents and mother had saved up some money to help me pay for college as I was growing up, they charitably gave me that money anyway. This, combined with spending very little money on much of anything and working pretty consistently throughout college, left me with a fair surplus once I graduated. 

So instead of going to a highly-regarded private school and leaving with a fair amount of debt, I went to UT and got a vagina. Worth the tradeoff? Meh. But it does let me say that my vagina was partially subsidized by the state of Tennessee.

If you have other questions, about the surgery or being trans or anything, please don't be afraid to ask in the comments below!


  1. Seeing as how all vaginas look different, did you get to pick yours out of like a vagina catalogue?

  2. Kaitlin: Heh, unfortunately no. Since the surgery is so radical (in terms of changing the region), it's really difficult to know what the results are/will be until months afterwards. Many trans women report getting "porn star vaginas," in the sense that they appear to be perfectly sculpted from the "classic ideal," but many others have various irregularities based upon surgeries, the surgeon, and how it heals.

    In other words, the surgeons aim for a "one size fits all," but the results are often as varied as cis vaginas.