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% Leah Rowe % 2018-09-29
This is a continuation of my previous article, regarding my transition. If you haven’t read the previous article, it’s here.
I have to talk first about the years leading up to my surgery, but I won’t go into a lot of depth since most of it is covered in the previous article. I will simply talk about my first efforts to get surgery.
During the latter half of 2016, mere months after I’d come out as trans, I spend a great deal of time reading about the various techniques used by surgeons, for constructing a neovagina. I learned about labiaplasty, clitoroplasty and labiaplasty. Almost all surgeons did vaginoplasty as a matter of course, but not all of them did the other two types of surgery. Some surgeons also offered labiaplasty/clitoroplasty without the construction of a vagina (just a simple urethra, but no hole, as it were); so-called nullification surgery.
I obviously wanted the full whack. However, I quickly discovered that almost all surgeons use the penile inversion technique which generally does not produce good results. Most trans people who get this type of surgery have inferior vaginal depth (usually two to three inches or less - very rarely four or five inches), dryness, loss of sensation, inability to orgasm or ejaculate and a whole host of other issues. Not everyone would experience all of these issues, but everyone would experience a few of them. Furthermore, the genitalia constructed by most surgeons did not even look real! For instance, the labia would be in the wrong place, the proportions would be all wrong, and it would basically look like alien genitalia (no offense to people who used bad surgeons, but this is how I think of most surgeons).
The real dealbreaker was this: with the penile inversion technique, it is mandatory to have genital hair removal (laser). Not only is this painful, but also expensive and not even guaranteed to remove all hairs. Hairs could grow back. If hair did grow back, or surgery is performed without hair removal at all, hair would grow inside the vagina, which would be painful and virtually impossible to treat.
For this reason, I decided at that point not to have surgery, because although I was suffering extreme genital dysphoria at the time (looking at my penis made me depressed, and sometimes erections would make me want to cry), I considered most surgeons as incompetent. I concluded that surgery would be tantamount to mutilation.
This is not to say that I didn’t want surgery: I’d wanted a vagina for as long as I could remember at that point. However, I wanted a vagina, and there’s a big difference between that and the abomination you get from most (read: almost all) surgeons.
Naturally, this upset me a lot, so I continued searching to see if I could find something better. I found 3 surgeons that offered promise: one in Thailand, one in Portugal and one in Brazil. The latter two do not need mention here. The one in Thailand, Dr. Suporn of the Suporn Plastic Surgery Clinic, caught my attention. I digged further, and liked what I found.
Suporn uses his own proprietary technique, which he does not publish. He does not use penile inversion at all. His method guarantees at least 5 inches of depth (my vagina is 7 inches!), full sensation (I can feel everything, and I can get erect! I can pleasure myself, even!), ability to orgasm (not guaranteed, but I have experimented: I can masturbate quite successfully ;) ), ejaculate (ditto), the ability to self-lubricate (the same as any cis woman, which means that you still have use lubricants, like most cis women), and so on. His vaginas look real and function properly. Not only that, but for much less money than other surgeons, he would perform all there surgeries (labiaplasty, clitoroplasty and vaginoplasty) in one! His aftercare is also excellent, better than any other surgeon.
You still need to dilate (more on this later in the article), but besides that, Suporn is the best. When I discovered this surgeon, I changed my mind and decided that sugrery was worth it afterall!
Of course, I was depressed at the time and didn’t ever dream of having the money to pay for it, so I left it for a few months. I’d sit and cry sometimes, but life went on as normal for a while.
I could have requested surgery on the British National Health Service. The UK has several surgeons that provide the surgery for free (paid by the tax payer). However, these were the usual penile inversion surgeons, which I didn’t want to use.
After a few months in limbo, I eventually decided that money wasn’t a problem. Even if it meant going bankrupt, getting into debt and losing everything, at least I’d have a vagina. These were dark times. I was in a world of debt and I had countless stresses in my life.
For a while, I became happier (only a short while); I met someone I liked, who I very quickly fell in love with. She lived in Portugal at the time, but I spoke with her regularly online, and I visited her twice. On the 2nd visit, she decided to leave Portugal (she didn’t have a good life there) and come to live with me in the UK. I was lonely, so of course I allowed her to do so. We were partners, afterall.
My partner and I were both trans. We were a lesbian couple. We both wanted vaginas, and we were both desperate. At that point, I decided fuck it and booked a surgery appointment with Dr. Suporn for the two of us.
At this point, I didn’t think either of us would get surgery, but I didn’t think I’d ever be able to afford it. However, I also had nothing to lose. I just about managed to scrape together the deposit, and so began the arduous task of finding a way to pay the rest of the money.
I basically started working extremely hard at this point. I made several major sacrifices to my quality of life, and worked endlessly. 2017 was a very stressful year. Towards September 2017, I started to panic because no matter how I budgeted, I knew I wouldn’t be able to pay for the both of us (and she didn’t have an income). I was going to pay for her surgery instead of mine, and go without surgery myself. I loved her, afterall. I was prepared to sacrifice myself for her (and even then, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pay for her).
In what I later concluded was a blessing in disguise, she broke up with me. We were never very happy in the relationship, and the whole relationship turned toxic in the last few months. On September 29th, 2017, she left. My heart was broken at this point. I was extremely depressed and lonely after that.
However, being in such difficult circumstances hardens a person. I picked myself up after that and worked even harder. I was angry, so I cancelled her surgery and had the money I paid on her deposit transferred over to me. It was my money afterall. I moved to a smaller place a few months later (didn’t need all the space, since I was single at that point), and I worked even harder than before. I was determined to get my surgery.
I also became more politically active, during that period. Not having a partner to look after (I was very much in charge. The one with the pants, as it were), meant that I had a lot more time to focus on myself.
This was still a very hard time. Months went by…
At this point in time, I still didn’t have the money to pay for my surgery. In fact, I was even worse financially than before. I was panicking at this point. Every budget I did suggested that I would not have anywhere near the money required to pull it all off.
I contemplated suicide. In pure desperation, I started a fundraiser, asking the public to give me money for my surgery. You can see that here.
I didn’t think it would work at all. I didn’t think anyone would care. However, I am quite popular (even infamous, in some circles) in the free software community that exists on the internet, and a lot of people greatly respect the work that I’ve done over the years (especially Libreboot). Time went on, and sure enough I wasn’t getting enough donations on the fundraiser. Things looked bleak.
Suddenly, towards the end of June 2018, I had a surge of donations coming in. My surgery was booked for August 1st and I had to pay all the money by July 1st. June 26th, I had the money, and went to my bank, panicking that it wouldn’t get to my surgeon on time.
I received an email from my surgeon the day before payment deadline, thanking me for the full payment. There was a slight messup in the exchange rate, so I had to take 500 baht (about 20 GBP with me) in cash to pay that when I got there, but that wasn’t a problem! My surgery was all sorted! I used the money leftover to book the flight.
The Suporn clinic themselves booked my hotel stay for me. They put all patients in a special hotel accomodation, in a hotel near to the clinic.
I was still in debt, and still on the verge of bankruptcy, so I continued working (and still do, to this day, though my finances are almost back in the green) but I did it. It was all sorted! I was happy at this point.
Tune in next week :)
I have other things to do today (today is Saturday): draw a picture of Usagi (from Sailor Moon) one of luna (the cat from sailor moon). It’s going in a birthday card, which I want to send to a friend. I haven’t done any artwork in years, but I’m very good at it :)
UPDATE: Here is Usagi:
Click here to see Usagi
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