Sex in a post-SRS life (SRS +196 days/7 months)

So I’ve gone through the first 6 calendar months now post-SRS. I’m done with month 7 by how they count (i.e. 4 weeks/month). First and foremost, I know many people have read the well known Suporn PDF and used it as their gold reference for a lot of information around SRS with Suporn. Well, a few weeks back the author provided an update with revision experiences as well as a section I wrote around the fear and anxiety I experienced. It’s a very well done document that has answers to almost any of the questions I would’ve had going into SRS and I highly recommend reading it and taking a PDF of it with you on your phone.

With that done, on to the updates! And honestly, there aren’t many around the healing itself. Things keep getting better and better overall. Dilation is once every day or two now (I’ve gone 36 hours without any major issues) and it’s a 20 minute thing now. Grab an oz or two of coconut oil that I warmed a bit with a hair drier so it’s not as hard, smear it around and in all the folds, then get a glob of KY since I still have like 75 tubes of the stuff. Which, as an aside, I wouldn’t get 6 months of it like I did (180 tubes). Get like 3 months worth and maybe like 90 tubes if you’re going to get any. It’s decent when mixed with coconut oil, but it isn’t really great for sex as it dries out quicker than I’d like. It also seems that for a day or two every week or two I get random pain/discomfort in some way. It’s nothing major or concerning, but it does happen. Last week, for example, was pain back to where the left labia joins the skin towards the anus. This is actually a similar spot to where I originally had a lot of intense pain now that I think about it. But it went away within a day or two and only happened for a few seconds.

But the main thing I have gained some experience with is sex. Granted it’s only been with two partners, but still. These are people I’ve met off dating sites and were told prior to sex that I was post-op trans. They also were told that I was still kind of lost in the sex realm and it might be a lot of learning experiences so to bear with me. None of that was an issue with either of them. So first up based on chronological events:

Sex with a guy
First and foremost, this guy seems to be a pretty good person and I’ve enjoyed going on dates with him. You certainly can go find some strange, but personally I found it better to explore with somebody you can trust a bit and can talk through things with. First, sex with guys as a woman is fucking awesome. It’s not without some issues which I’ll get into shortly but it’s way better than sex with male anatomy and imagining being a woman in the situation ever was or could’ve been. It’s amazing what it feels like, and while similar to anal it’s really different. And more intimate I feel. But, for me, it’s not without some issues.

  • Biggest thing is lack of fucking lubrication. If there is one thing I may forever be jealous/envious of cis women for it’s their ability to self-lubricate. Well, at least with many women as not all self-lubricate well. I have also only tried QC thus far since I have stupid quantities of it left and expect better quality lube to improve this. Likely resolution – get better lube likely try Sliquid or Shibari to start although need to look into this a bit more.
  • Size of your partner can be an issue. This guy is big. Like way big. He’s 8 inches or so and thicker than the large Suporn dilator (I’d imagine about the orange soul source diameter if not slightly larger). I’m well into 7 with the large dilator in depth for reference. This has caused issues more than once and basically I have to dilate immediately before sex for it to work. Even fingers won’t stretch it enough. Likely resolution – I should be able to fix this by ordering the soul source orange dilator and using that regularly though.
  • Pain due to the two aforementioned points. Specifically due to the girth of him it’s very similar to anal where I need to get a little ways in, wait, then go a little further. Once it’s past the pelvic floor though it’s a lot easier until he “bottoms out” so to speak. Likely resolution – get the soul source dilator, and get better lube
  • Positions can be tricky as well since my depth seems to change based on the position. Which is pretty normal for cis women as well. Just how body geometries work it would seem. That said, this may ease up over time with further healing. TBD.

So that’s the gist of things with the guy side of things (well… the only guy I’ve been with so I’ve got a small sample size). Now, let’s go to:

Sex with a woman
So this is a weird one, and I don’t entirely know what to make of it yet as I’ve only had sex with a woman once so far. Because of this, along with the specifics of what happened I’m not able to provide as clear bullets as above. Quick overview for context of this encounter, I met this girl on a dating site where we seemed to hit it off well. In person it was hard to figure out if she was into me or not, and after a few dates I asked and we agreed to keep it as a friendship. Cool. We continued to hang out as friends over the last few months. In Jan though she found out she had an extended work trip to Germany (Note – I’ll put up a different post about this as there is some stuff that happened that warrants a different post) and said I’m welcome to come and stay with her if I wanted to fly out. So I redeemed some miles and spent 7 nights there. We kept it platonic, although through conversations found out we were into similar things sexually (i.e. kink) and into them in ways that meshed well with the other person. So fast forward to the end of the trip where we spent the weekend in Amsterdam. The second night there we took a nap before going out for the night to the red light district and LGBT bars where we were both open to a 3 some with a girl there if we found a girl we both liked (either in red light or at the bar). We drank a lot of wine and had some cheese, dried figs, and macaroons before the nap. At the end I said, “so I’m going to put this out there… we’re in Amsterdam, I’m kind of drunk, and think it might be nice to just enjoy things here where whatever happens doesn’t mean anything for our friendship.” She was okay with it, although not enthusiastic it didn’t seem. But I do have a bad habit of reading into this stuff in a negative way.

So the sex. We started with kissing, and caressing, and was a much more sensual type of sex than it has ever been when male anatomy has been involved (mine or others). Neither of us went down on one another, but we fingered and kissed a lot. And it was a lot of fun. Like really fun. Unfortunately I was drunk and the stuff that happened towards the end has clouded clearly being able to recall the sexual stuff.

What happened you ask? Well… I had a breakdown. It initially got fired off because she got naturally wet, and no matter what I didn’t. This made me feel that I was never going to have what I want, which is to forget I’m trans and be no different than a cis woman is. And in many ways that’s true. But so far sexually, it isn’t as it relates to getting natural lubrication going. It put me into a dark spiral. It also didn’t help that I couldn’t tell if she was into it/me or not and just doing it to do it. I don’t even remember what all I said/did other than saying I was stupid for suggesting it and shouldn’t have, and ending up with her holding me as I’m holding back tears.

Needless to say, I need to have more sex with women… but I need to get comfortable with myself and my body. I need to accept that I may never get naturally lubricated and find partners who are okay with it and don’t make it into a “thing”, which for the record she didn’t at all make it uncomfortable or anything. Additionally, I need my clit to start feeling good with others play with it. Because right now it doesn’t. Too much pressure is very easy to have happen. I feel kinda lost in this body sexually speaking and it’s like going through loosing my virginity again (#BornAgainVirgin). We’ll see what the future holds. Who knows if sex with her will happen again, but the friendship does seem to be intact at least. I do feel really bad for her having to go through that though as I really wanted it to just be a fun and enjoyable weekend for both of us. These things happen though.

This has been a pretty long post and covered a lot, I’ve got two other posts I need to write up over the next week or so.

It’s been a bit (+154 days since SRS)

So it’s been a while… It’s been over 5 months since SRS. And will be closing on 6 months here in another week or two. Wow has that time gone quick. Each day, especially that first month or two into it, felt like it was hard to just get through the day at times. But now I’m looking back and going “okay… so I said 6 months was the point I was ‘healed’, now I’m about there… now what?” Much of the past 6 months has been just getting through each day, week, holiday, whatever. It’s been grueling and honestly kind of miserable. However after the first 3 months that really was entirely around the non-SRS stuff going on (romantic relationship stuff, roommate stuff, work, etc). And the biggest thing, is that the past 4-6 weeks have become just routine with SRS healing. I’ve gotten off, and while I can’t get there every time I can get there. Stitches are long gone. Pain is long gone, with the exception of a random momentary pain point (which could just be hair getting pulled). I can dilate in about 30 minutes if I need to, and the small usually can slip right in to where it’s only the last inch or two that take me a few minutes. From starting to depth was 15-20 minutes, now it’s 5 or less usually. So now what?

Well. Dating is quickly losing my interest. This is pretty normal for me post-breakups though and getting back out there. I go “I JUST WANT TO DATE” immediately after things end, and started down that path. Went on some dates, met some people, made some new female friends which is nice. But I still have to disclose SRS stuff for the time being. And it kind of makes dating really fucking suck. Plus the people in my area aren’t really my type of people. I dislike the sit around watching football, drinking beer all the time, eating crappy food, etc crap. Couple these together and it makes dating a chore. So I’ll continue that, but that’s more of just a “I like meeting people” thing more than “I need somebody.” Although, I really do miss having somebody to come home to and look forward to seeing after work trips.

So I think it’s about time for a change. The past 2 years have been such a massive internal change for me that I don’t associate at all with the person I used to be. I see pics and feel almost an emptiness there about that person. I love who and where I am with myself. But this area isn’t for me. And the place I live ties me to my past. It ties me to the person I was. I can’t be outdoors, or hang out with a ton of like-minded peers, or date easily, or do anything that I want to be doing here. So I think I’m nearing one of the last big parts of transition… Moving and “starting over” in many regards.

The life I had built is over. I need to rebuild a new life for myself. With people who know me only as this person, instead of having to “get used to” or “adjust” to this person. I’ve gotten to experience other cities, people, etc thanks to my job and honestly the people I’ve met post transition, who may know I’m trans or might not, interact with me in the way I want to be interacted with. I know this post is more of a post of rambling and not heavily related to SRS directly, but the thing of it is that this is very much tied to SRS.

SRS is going to enable me to start somewhere and basically be “accidental stealth”. Or hell even just stealth entirely. I’ve wanted to move. I’ve wanted to leave this area. I’ve wanted to transition. And up until SRS I’d have left this area, moved somewhere new, be seen as a woman… but always have something that kept me from being entirely seen that way. So as I approach 6 months post-op I’m seeing an awesome future ahead.

And then it happened… I climaxed (SRS +4.5 months)

So there I was dilating yesterday morning before work like a good little post-op Suporn girl does at 4.5 months in, and killing time looking at porn on Reddit. As I’m prone to doing. Because politics I can only do for so long. Plus, well… porn. I enjoy pictures and text and stuff. Anyways, so I did most of the dilation with the large but had another 5-10 minutes to go when I came across this story on /r/gonewildstories that was really hot. And I started mentally picturing myself in the girls spot in the story. Now, keep in mind this isn’t abnormal for me to do and I’ve done it most of my life. However, this time as I was dilating with the large dilator I started rubbing the inner labia lips on the exterior part. And it started to feel really good. I remembered feeling that feeling ~5 months ago or so, and knew that was a feeling of, “if I keep this up… I’ll orgasm…”

So I kept it up.

Lo and behold, a few minutes of this I started to feel myself about to fall off the edge into the orgasmic valley below. Then it happened. I orgasmed for the first time with female anatomy. The first time as a woman. The first time since SRS. And holy crap was it awesome. So, now I can’t be unsure if I’ll be able to orgasm again… seeing as I just did lol.

So what did it feel like? Well, to be honest it feel similar to orgasms before SRS post-HRT. Where prior to HRT I had a very localized orgasm feeling that then also would shoot up my spine to the base of my neck, once I got on HRT for a few months it started to change into a thing where it would start in the same spot but kind of be a “glow” and radiate outwards from there that encompassed more of a “whole body” feel to it. Post-SRS, at least the first one, is similar to that. The only thing that I noticed that’s different was it lingered a lot longer. If you’ve ever been with a girl (or seen porn or anything) where they kind of shudder as they are coming down from the post-sex high it was basically like that.

I had to get ready for work pretty quickly after so I couldn’t lay there and enjoy it, however the 20+ minutes of getting ready was spent still feeling it kind of pulsing through my body. The shower that was the first thing was really good and relaxing/enjoyable. The heat from the shower steam+post-orgasm high=win. That said… if I was with a partner I’d want to lay in bed next to them after, not go do things. At least if future orgasms are like the one I had yesterday. I tried again this morning, but unfortunately couldn’t get in the mindset. That’s probably the biggest difference is that now sex is very mental. I need to be mentally turned on or nothing will happen. Before I could kind of “force” myself into the mindset. Now though, not really. Which is sad in a way, but also not because it means I have to work for them a bit more. In theory making them more enjoyable/special when they happen.

In any case, at least that happened so I now know it’s possible. Just a matter of exploring more to find out if there are other ways to have it happen. But that’ll likely come with time as well.

And then it got easy (SRS +17 weeks)

First, I’ve switched to weeks in my updates instead of days. My updates have been hit or miss more frequently and beyond that most people aren’t going to want to convert 119 days into weeks/months. So, it’s much easier to swap to weeks as that’s easier math to convert to months. So you’ll start to see that in the title pages.

Now, on to the actual post and relevant content. So two weeks ago I was in Dallas for a second time last month. It was a really good trip (well except on the work side of things as that really didn’t get everything done once again and will need yet another trip down to do that work). One of the really cool things was dilation the last day there all of a sudden was super easy. The morning it was normal. That evening I was already “loosened up” in the pelvic floor and it just slid right in to like 14 cm pretty quick. I waited to post a lot about it in case it was a fluke. But now that it’s been about 10 days or so of pretty consistent easier dilations… I’m feeling comfortable to say that basically the 4 month mark was the next milestone.

Prior to that dilating would take 45-60 minutes usually. Sometimes it’d be a little faster, but not usually. However, now I’m done usually in 30 minutes or so from start. I’ll sometimes go longer just because I can at that point and I’m watching a show or something. But I can get up at 715, shower, dilate, and shower again by 8 (assuming I don’t shave or anything in the shower). Whereas before I’d have to shower before roommates @ like 630 I can now sleep in another 30 minutes from where I used to have to get up at month 2ish. So that’s pretty cool. I’m expecting in a week or so for things to tighten back up for a few days or something before becoming easier again based on how the healing process has gone thus far.

I still need to dilate 2x/day. I dilated 1x/day Sunday and Monday morning was tighter again. I could go down to 1x/day if I have to for some reason, but it’s much better to do it twice a day still. Which isn’t too bad now that basically both dilations are done in the amount of time it used to take for a single dilation session at 2 months in. Reading in the FB group from other girls it appears that 3-5 months is about where it gets easier, usually about 4 months for most girls. Then the next big one is around the 5-7 mark where the one day dilation stuff is even easier/faster. At this point dilation still feels onerous in ways (like now I’m doing this blog to delay dilating… so far for 45 minutes), and I don’t look forward to it still. But I hate it less and less. It’s becoming more and more just a part of life. Unfortunately since I dropped to 2x/day earlier than I should’ve it means I’ll be stuck here for a long time. Or so it’ll feel like anyways. Because I’ve been at 2x/day for 7-8 weeks roughly now, and likely have another 7-8 before I’ll get to one more a day. Upside is since it’s the holiday period time is going really quickly (well that and more of my life has crumbled in the past week as roommates are moving out and now my next 2-3 year plan is out the window and has to be re-worked… but that’ll happen). The rest of this month should go quick. Then Jan might go quick as well since I’m expecting another work trip or two in Jan.

Finally, still haven’t gotten off and things usually are kinda “meh” feeling down there. Doesn’t feel good or bad just like rubbing my arm more or less. I haven’t had sex again since the first time. I did have some sexual stuff happen in Dallas, but nothing really of note and it really didn’t do anything for me. I think that one of the main reasons anymore is I need to have an emotional connection. I don’t know that I can get off on meaningless/emotionless sex anymore. We’ll see though as I’m still a ways off in healing and have a lot ahead of me on this road. I am trying to get back out there dating and stuff after the end of relationships (although part of me wishes the one ex would say she wants me in her life and to start dating again), but I’m not really forcing anything. Unfortunately at this point still I have to disclose I’m trans as things are healing and you can tell due to the scarring/swelling that still exists. But there’s potential there for the short term. Since my 3 year plan is in chaos I don’t even know if I’ll be in the same state 6 months from now so I’m not sure about relationships. Whatever. Sex will be enjoyable again one day. Until then, dilate and get back to work.

Oh, and one more thing… did volleyball last night without issues dilating after. So that’s cool. Looks like I can return to sports (I was doing my normal stupidity of diving and stuff) now. Starting a soccer and vball league in Jan which should be fun especially since it shouldn’t make dilation harder based on recent experiences with exercise+dilation soon after.

Recovering from SRS is weird… (SRS +4 months)

So, it’s been 4 months. It’s been an adventure this far, and holy crap it’s been 4 months already? Wow time flies it seems. This is going to just be a pretty short update as nothing too crazy or drastically new happening. The last externally visible stitch came out about a week ago. Sex seems to be pointless still (once again, this is very likely due to relationships ending and working through those emotions more so than anything about recovery… Sex is very much a mental thing now and mentally I’m just not there with it).

But, one thing is that the last day I was in Dallas last week all of a sudden dilation became really easy (at least the initial insertion through the pelvic floor). Quite literally it was one dilation was still hard to get through like it has been for a few weeks now, then the next one was past the floor muscles in a minute or two. And they weren’t painful. Getting to depth still took some time, but that’s to be expected. And even there I was able to get done in <45 minutes. This has remained true since I’ve been back too. Which is awesome. I also waited a few days before posting anything about it due to trying to see if it was short term or not. You never quite know what the next dilation will bring lol.

This definitely crested a mini hill and have returned to descending down my recovery mountain to the pain-free fields of bliss below.

What I could’ve done differently to avoid the fear and anxiety I had

Recently I posted about my fear and anxiety around SRS. It was a long post, and I didn’t have time to fit in things I wanted to. Specifically regarding what I could’ve done differently to avoid these feelings, or at least help minimize them. So I’m breaking it up into two posts and what I’d have done differently with the benefit of hindsight is what this post is going to be about. I can’t promise that you won’t feel scared, anxious, or afraid. I can’t promise it’ll all be sunshine, roses, puppy dogs, and unicorns either. SRS is rough. Even the best prepared will run into their own struggles and personal fights to overcome. But you can prepare yourself better than I did. And one thing I can tell you without reservation is that I wouldn’t change a damn thing. Everyday I am just intangibly happier with my body and myself, even if the day is shit I’d still prefer to have a bad day today than that exact same bad day pre-SRS or pre-transitioning. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that way post-SRS (most girls I’ve talked to or interacted with have felt this way). So… here’s what I’d have done differently with what I know today.

Suggestion 1 – Self reflection and time to emotionally/mentally prepare
Probably the thing that would’ve helped the most would’ve been for me to have given myself time to mentally and emotionally be ready for SRS. This is kind of a nebulous thought, so what do I mean by it? Well, I went from being uncertain if I’d ever get SRS to waking up post-SRS in just a bit under 4 months. And the simple fact of the matter is I rushed things. I did this for my own reasons, but I shouldn’t have. By compressing the time scale down to a few months, I didn’t give myself time any time to really work through emotions I was feeling around it nor to mentally prepare. It meant I had to focus on logistics of SRS (work time away, letters, travel, booking, moving money, etc etc etc) instead. Emotional prep-work would’ve consisted of, for me, meditation time basically. Be it go to a scenic place and think introspectively, run/bike, take baths, etc. That said, honestly I think for myself I needed more time to process it. If my original date in Aug 2017 had been kept, I’d have been a lot more comfortable I think as a lot of that would’ve kinda worked itself out. Also, if you’ve recently decided to get SRS (i.e. within the past 6 months), give yourself 6+ months before getting SRS even if a date opens up. Other dates will open up (watch their calendar setting up alerts as I talk about in this post), promise.

Suggestion 2 – Have a boring life
Okay, so I am all for having a busy and exciting life. But make your life as boring as possible from about 1 month pre-SRS to 3-4 months post-SRS. I had a roommate moving out, while two partners moved in (the half the poly quad that didn’t already live here), big work projects, work travel, all the logistics of SRS, poly stuff (i.e. partners dating new people, which I’m all for and would never “veto” a partner starting a new relationship… but holy crap was it bad timing for me), figuring out finances for the next 4 months (as I tapped almost everything I had to be able to afford it at that point in time) to make sure I could pay my bills, etc etc etc. I was crazy. Coupled with points from suggestion 1 around not having time this made this exponentially harder. Try to get 1-2 weeks before leaving pretty calm at work. At least as calm as you can realistically do. If you travel for work, don’t that last month (once again, only if possible). Have finances all setup and money ready to send over (i.e. don’t scramble to find the money like I had to). Find arrangements for pets if you have them as well as house/apartment checkups/sitter as you can’t let mail go over a month (plus they can let you know if anything legitimately urgent happens). Don’t have people move in or out if you’re with roommates. Basically block about 4 months (-1 month through the end of 3 months post) and put them in a change lockdown (to use an IT reference). Try your best to keep things static through these 4 months. At least to as much as you can control. If you can’t do 4 months, the 2 weeks before and 6-8 weeks after are the most critical as your hormones will be in flux plus pain and getting used to recovery regimen.

Suggestion 3 – If you have a partner (or more), talk. And talk some more.
This is going to likely be a really stressful point in your life. Even for those who are resolute in their decision and haven’t questioned it at all, recovery can be hard. Your hormones and biochemistry have to adjust to the new “normal” which takes time. You might be kind of pissy/short/bitchy with partners at times. Or really emotional/depressed. Or just in a lot of pain. And there is very little they will be able to do to “fix” the problem(s). They’ll feel potentially helpless as well as potentially similar things to caregivers syndrome. So before going, when you’re both in good places talk about each of your expectations and build a framework for hot to handle things. In my case, I should’ve asked my partners if we could’ve not dated externally through this period. I’d also have asked them what will they need from me during this period (especially if they’re with me). They may need/want time alone so how could that work? If you’re in a lot of pain (I cried from pain through most static dilations I did because I tried avoiding pain killers… which don’t do that either… you have them take them per the clinic guidelines) they will be unable to likely help, do they want to be around for that or not if it happens? Is there anything they want to do/see while there? Your hormones and biochemistry will be out of whack when you return still as you’re off hormones about 10 days, then get SRS, your body will react to the lack of any hormones (you’re allowed to start 7-14 days after usually), then you’ll start them again. I was on HRT for 19 months when I got SRS. If you’ve been on them longer it might not be that bad for you, but for me it was very reminiscent of when I started HRT. But had the added issue of pain on top of that which makes it much more intense. If your partners are there with you or help you upon your return, make sure they know how much they mean to you. Don’t neglect them or their support and make sure their needs are being cared for as well.

Suggestion 4 – Take your damn pain meds*
I’m a stubborn bitch. I thought I could get through SRS without pain meds (beyond those handed to me in the hospital as part of the group of pills they just bring in). I didn’t want to risk getting addicted, plus I am kind of a masochist. I enjoy feeling my body healing after injuries. I’ve very rarely taken any kind of OTC drug like ibuprofen. I’ve actively avoided it. When I started HRT I actually struggled for a day or two before starting with having to accept I’d need to take pills for life because I’m that against it. This was a mistake. You’re recovering from some pretty heavy body trauma. It’s a multi-hour surgery. You don’t recover from those quickly and usually they aren’t pain-free experiences through recovery. I didn’t take tramadol for a while out of the hospital. And even after I started it was rare. It wasn’t until I got home that I started taking it more. Looking back on this it was stupid. Taking a tramadol twice a day wouldn’t have made me an addicted to it, although my body might physically have become addicted to it. But this can be done responsibly through simple stuff like limiting your dose, weaning off of it, only taking it when in a lot of pain or an hour+ before dilation (if they are painful), etc. Don’t try to “tough it out” or otherwise be stubborn. Pain management is a critical part of recovery. Don’t neglect it.

*Note – This applies if you have not been addicted to drugs or alcohol in the past and otherwise are able to take opiate based pain killers (or others that are equally strong). I’ve never been addicted to drugs or alcohol. If you have been addicted to drugs/alcohol, think you’re susceptible to becoming addicted, or otherwise have concerns around pain killers ensure you talk to the clinic about them. They have worked with thousands of patients and are experts in what they do. But you need to talk to them about your situation(s) and/or concerns so they can address them properly and safely.

Suggestion 5 – Be prepared for a culture shock if you’ve never gone to Southeast Asia/China
I have grown to really love Thailand through my experience there. But I’d be lying if I said my middle class, white, midwest self wasn’t thrown off balance and into a bit of shock at first. I haven’t been a minority really before. I have always empathized and supported equality for all regardless of race, religion, gender, orientation, etc. But, empathizing and being an ally are not the same as experiencing them. It took a bit to get used to. Try to get there a few days before surgery (3-4 would be good) to get acclimated to the environment. Walk around, get a feel for the food, area, culture, cultural norms, etc. Build this in to your trip.

Suggestion 6 – Notes from day of check-in to getting wheeled down to the OR
You’ll likely have a range of emotions, adrenaline, and/or thoughts the day before SRS. If you’re anxious tell the nurses/clinic staff. Spend time with people that came with, or talk to other patients who are recovering. Try your best to relax. Watch a movie, read a book, write a journal/blog entry, post an AMA on Reddit (asktrans for example), etc etc. Try to do something you enjoy doing and find relaxing. Be prepared to get hit with a lot of stuff through this point. From their psychologist, to anesthesiologist, to told to go to bed, to constant blood pressure/vital checks (IIRC it’s every hour or two) there’s a lot. Talk to the clinic staff or nurses if you feel worried about having anxiety the morning of. If you had somebody (or people) join you, they can come with down to the OR. Take the time you need with them. You’ll be a bit rushed most likely, at least I felt I was, but take the minute or two to hug them and thank them for being there. If you’re going through it on your own try to remember you’ve spent a long time getting to this point, and if you’ve done suggestion 1 then you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and getting ready for this point in time. Rely on that. Trust yourself that you’ve done your due diligence. When you go into the OR let them know you’re scared/afraid. The head nurse was amazing and will help to comfort you. Do your best to take deep breaths and relax. If you’ve done meditation exercises before, this is a good time for them. Everybody is different, but figure out what works for you to help calm yourself down. Practice it before hand.

Suggestion 7 – Prepare for the unexpected
I had flight delays causing me to miss my connecting in Tokyo. I had relationship things that popped up. I had unexpected culture shock. I had a ton of stress not being able to find the clinic staff in the airport (because I was on edge and didn’t read instructions well enough… in a similar vein as 6… calm down and read this stuff). I didn’t know if SRS would get canceled due to the issue with flights and stuff. I wasn’t prepared for my partner to leave. I wasn’t prepared for the pain nor post-surgical recovery having never been in a surgery before (well I was when I was <5 years old but I don’t remember it really). I wasn’t prepared for having no life upon return. I quite frankly just wasn’t prepared because I didn’t know what to expect. There are going to be potential hiccups during this trip/surgery/recovery. Try to plan for them. But when they come up take a step back, a few deep breaths, and try to regain control. Feeling like you’re out of control is a bad place to be and what I felt like through a lot of this. As though I was just holding on for dear life to the tattered remains of the harness I had on my life. If I had listened to the things I’ve talked about in this post I might’ve felt more in control and less helpless. This isn’t something to be taken lightly (as I effectively did). Plan, prepare, and execute that plan. When the unexpected comes up if you haven’t thought of that exact situation don’t just react (as much as possible). If you’ve ever been part of a project based team and worked in/with project management, this is very similar. You don’t change the plan when the unexpected happens. Don’t be reactionary like me. Prepare for this. It’s not worth it to rush through it or just “wing it.”

I can’t hope to begin to cover all the potential situations or things that could come up or how to prepare yourself specifically. I can provide my perspective and ways to have made the things I ran into easier. And hopefully it can provide a helpful basis for your own journey so you go into this from a strong place than I did. It helps in the months after while you heal to not have had a tumultuous journey through SRS. There is no way to know what post-SRS is like, especially through those first 2-3 months. Some things are pretty common, or will happen, like learning how to control your bladder (it takes some getting used to). Others, like partners moving in, might not be. So the more you can plan and prepare everything within your control going into it the better you’ll be coming out of it. It’s a once in a lifetime ride, try to make it the most enjoyable ride you can.

Edit: Oh… and one more thing… Even with every issue I ran into through this process there has not been a single moment that has gone by where I’ve thought, “you know… life would be better with a penis.” It hasn’t been easy, and I’m not where I want to be in a post-SRS life… but I wouldn’t go back to who I was or the body I had. This has unquestionably been worth it to me thus far and I have no reason to believe that’ll change one day.

 

My fear and anxiety around SRS. Why did it happen, how did I cope, and what are my thoughts now?

I’ve talked about my fear on the morning of SRS in my post of that day. I’ve mentioned it in passing elsewhere, and at length in some of my posts on /r/asktransgender. I am not one who ever experienced a crippling fear or anxiety like that before, and after talking with some people who have asked me to expand upon it I’m going to do my best to talk through it in this post. My goal is to help others feel that it’s something that can happen, and if it does that it doesn’t need to control their life or decisions during what is a crazy time in a persons life. As with most of my stuff… I hope that it helps at least one other person, if it does then I’ll have achieved my goal. Maybe it’ll even help more than just one person as unfortunately being trans comes with less of a manual than just about anything else I’ve ever done in life. Marathons, career, college, relationships, etc and just about everything has information out there that generally applies to you. Unfortunately this is so unique to every person that there isn’t an easy one size fits all approach to SRS. But by sharing our own experiences with one another and building a community we can help those in the future have a little easier time than we ourselves perhaps did. But I’ll get off my soap box now… So why was I scared, apprehensive, and anxious going into SRS?

First and foremost, keep in mind that I had an extremely accelerated timeline of events here. I started HRT Jan 2015, and until about April of 2016 I was pretty uncertain of if I wanted SRS at all. When I started transitioning I told my therapist and partners that I wanted to get FFS, BA, then maybe SRS in that order. I was not entirely sure if I’d want SRS for most of my time transitioning. So what changed? Well, to be blunt about it: sex. Specifically sex with men. I’ve identified as bi for my whole adult life. But never was open to dating men due to stigmas and social things around it. But after having gone full time and feeling comfortable as myself, I came to the point where I said I wanted to explore that and owed it to myself to do. So I started dating men around Feb of 2016. Through those dates I’d feel like a chick and it felt wonderful. Until things would turn sexual. Then I turned into a total cluster fuck internally (although still would have sex usually) because I then would feel as though I was just a really good imitation of a chick or a way for them to explore their bi side without feeling like they were “gay.” These feelings made me realize around April 2016 that would always hold true as long as I had male anatomy. So I had started looking into it pretty heavily, and fairly quickly decided on Suporn. On May 8th 2016 I sent the initial email to Sophie asking for details and getting things put together. On June 1st I was booked for August 16th 2017. On June 13th I emailed about an opening on August 16th 2016, and secured that date. In the span of about 3 months I went from unsure of SRS to a date booked 64 days out.

This started a crazy period of getting letters, money, flights, work arrangements, passport updated (it was still under old legal name at that point), and all the other logistics in place. Add in that one week I was out of town for an work conference along with other work trips, and it became even more stressful and compressed time scales. As one can expect the anxiety and stress at this point was high. Add in that I had one person moving out of my house so the half of my poly quad that didn’t live with me could move in and I felt I was barely hanging on to my sanity. By the time the week of the flight came I hadn’t had time to relax or really give to myself for 2-3 months. So I was unsure if I was rushing into this. I had family going “are you sure?” “You know you can’t undo this right?” And all of those kinds of things that didn’t help. Thank god I had my partners who helped carry me through that period. The day we left I was super on edge about it. Super anxious about my first trans-oceanic flight, getting there, what I was about to do, and still having not really spent time with my own thoughts, feelings, and emotions around it. I rushed into this, as I commonly do. However, this was one time I should not have rushed in my life. Then we had a delay in Chicago that caused us to miss our connecting in Tokyo which meant I’d miss the day after landing hospital pre-op checks. I tried calling the clinic staff but had issues getting to them (likely in large part due to me being an idiot and screwing up trying to call internationally). This added to the stress. Also, my partner that was going with had gotten a new gf (we were poly) and due to timing created some issues between us that came to a head in Tokyo the morning after we landed there. This all lead to me being extremely stressed and not really giving myself time to analyze why I wanted SRS. Or if I was rushing into it. Or if it was the right thing to do. I just closed my eyes to doubt and plowed forward for almost 3 months hoping it was the right thing to do.

When we landed in Thailand we had issues getting to the Clinic staff, as I missed the part where they told me the area to meet and didn’t realize there was more than one. So we left customs and went to the area there and nobody from the Clinic was there. I thought it was the only one. So now I’m in Thailand with no idea what to do because I was stressed and didn’t read the instructions well enough. FYI – there are multiple meeting spots and multiple areas where people wait for arrivals with signs. If you fly in on an international flight, you’ll exit near area 9/10. The clinic waits between doors 4-5. This is just past halfway down the airport. So when you get out make a right, go a ways down until you see 4/5, and they will have the sign there. After we got to the hotel we tried to find food. And that’s when we ventured out and had some pretty hard culture shock. My gf had been out of the country as a kid, but neither of us had been to Thailand as adults. And are used to the US cities, infrastructure, etc. This kind of messed with me too as I’m looking around the streets and going “wtf… this is the best place to get SRS?!?!? WTF did I do?” I wasn’t prepared for that either. We couldn’t figure out how to order at the Red Chair right by the hotel, so we got pizza instead. This was SRS -3 (i.e. Saturday night, SRS was Tuesday). Sunday was another shock at breakfast buffet where it was not what we’re used to in the US at hotels. It was good, just we had to figure out what we were eating or what we wanted to eat. Then off to the hospital that hospital for pre-checks. After getting back it was my last night of freedom and we had met some people at breakfast who invited us to dinner. So we ate with them at the hotel.

SRS -1 we walked around together extensively in the morning/early afternoon before going to get checked into the hospital. Things really hit me when we landed of “omg I’m about to do this…” but checking into the hospital was when my anxiety shot up. Oh, and at this point I was off HRT for almost 2 weeks so my body was out of whack. The pre-checks were scary as well as it was the “yup this is happening” and seeing the hospital it’s not what I was expecting. The night before SRS is when things got really bad though. I was getting really scared. And I didn’t want to go to sleep because I just was enjoying my time with my gf and just being out of bed. I had nothing left to do but wait, so I was just trying to live in that moment. Then a nurse came in and told me to go to bed about 10 PM. This sent me into an anxiety spiral I didn’t come out of until after waking up from SRS. Through this period I was afraid I was making the wrong choice. I was afraid of waking up and regretting it because I’d only really spent 4 months feeling I wanted to do it. I was scared of surgery having never had any. I was scared of anesthesia or any of the other things that could go wrong. I was scared of what if Suporn had an off day and made a mistake. I was scared of the unknown. I was scared of the what if’s. I was anxious and feared I’d wake up and regret it. Because I didn’t know who I’d wake up as. I’d go to sleep as this person who knew herself pretty well overall. Knew her body. Knew myself. I’d wake up from surgery, which I’d never done before, as this person I thought I always wanted to be. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe I would wake up and go “oh shit what the fuck did I just do…” I had no way to know for sure. Finally after a ton of crying and cuddling/consoling with my partner, I went to sleep around midnight.

The morning of went pretty quick at first as they wake you up at like 530 to shower and shave you. Then you wait. We did a skype call with the other half of the quad in the states for about half an hour. Then they came and asked “are you ready?” Well fuck no I’m not ready. How the fuck do you get ready for something like this? That’s what I thought and felt. So I said bye to my gf and left to get on the gurney. They said she can come with. Sweet. The whole way down I was in tears. I was shaking. I was ice cold. My skin was as white as the sheets I was on. I kept telling her how scared I was and how uncertain I was. How afraid I was. We get to the pre-op area and they have me get on a different gurney. At that point they made my gf leave. I wasn’t ready for this, and we almost didn’t get to say we loved one another. One of the last things I asked her was, “am I doing the right thing?” I knew she couldn’t definitively tell me either way, but she knew what I needed and told me “yes, you’re doing the right thing.” When I got to the OR the operating table looked like it was right out of a lethal injection room table. Arms splayed out and everything. From the moment I left my room until I went under I had such uncontrollable anxiety and fear and wanted nothing more than to say, “I can’t do this” and cancel. The nurse working to put my IV in couldn’t find my vein and kept poking me. This just added to the thought of, “oh fuck… I’m going to get butchered and regret this for life…” The head nurse saw me freaking out and came over in between my right arm and chest. She just rubbed my right shoulder and interlocked my right hand with her own. IIRC my heart rate was 130ish (+/-10) when my resting is high 50’s usually. I vividly remember looking at the clock at 8:23 AM going “I’m going to cancel this… I can’t do this. I can’t take the chance I’ll regret this. I can’t keep going…” But I just willed that down. I just refused to let myself say it. About this point the head nurse started just talking with me. And that distracted me enough until Suporn and the anesthesiologist came in. They took some pics and then the anesthesiologist explained what would happen when I woke up, and a minute later said “you’re going to sleep now.” My eyelids got heavy, and I closed them. The next thing is I woke up to hearing my name and that it was over and went well. Then came the realization I had just gotten SRS and was good with that, and I didn’t regret it. Then came the excruciating pain. This is covered more in depth elsewhere so I won’t rehash it here.

Since this post is already 2200 words (i.e. long), I’m going to end it here. I’ll post another post in a day or two talking about what I could’ve done different/better to avoid almost canceling in the OR. Until then, thanks for reading!