as someone who’s had a fair amount of surgery, it’s lifesaving. but I have two … questions, that you can perhaps consider problems, with it. and i wanted to talk about those really quickly, and just … state them. I don’t know if this will help anything, but at least … it’s out there.
what are you going to get?
in my mind, transition is an acknowledgement that there is pain in the space that you were in (pretransition), and a statement - a promise - that you will do your level best to reckon with the pain as much as possible, and get to a better place. But transition can’t make you socially “normal” (though who would want that?). And transitioning can’t replace the parts of your life that make you different, societally (though this is mostly a societal complication, which hopefully will be further resolved over time).
the state of medicine these days is astonishingly advanced. for trans people especially, it is so much better than it ever has been before. even outside of transition-related care, though, the number of surgeries and drugs and remedies that we’ve developed, as humans, is staggering. And the number of people who can lead happier lives because of them is also staggering.
… of course, related to the subject of the post, one of these things is surgeries in order to replace or transform organs to make them conform to the expectations of the person who has to live with them. these are fantastic to have, even when they’re not transition-related (eg: breast implants/augmentations. beauty procedures - ways to remove scarring from the faces of burn victims. etc.)
but these surgeries are done by tons of people who all have different strategies. and … they’re not all … great, much of the time. there’s a lot of things that are done differently, or things that can be wrong from one surgeon whereas another would be fine.
it’s a bit of a guessing game. You would assume, logically, that people would be certified; that surgeries would be known, and have relatively standard results. That people would, in other words, know what they’re doing.
but so much of this is relatively new, and so many surgeons want to innovate, that … instead of a unified framework of treating the patient, we have a poupourri of things that are all done slightly differently. No body is the same. And many techniques are similar, but none are the same, either.
surgeries can leave large, visible scars from one surgeon, whereas others will have small scars and “good results”.
there generally aren’t places where you can actually find out whether a specific surgeon is good for you or not, though - you have to reach out and figure it out. You need to “do your own research”, scour the internet, talk to friends in confidence. You can also possibly look at the useful website realself.com, or other analogues.
one just hopes you pick the right thing with the information you have at the time, and in the end, you have to kind of cross your fingers and pray.
… as someone in technology who spends most of her time figuring out ways to ensure that a certain thing will happen with some certainty if you do a first thing, it is relatively distressing to me that I could not do this with my own body. I can research all I want - but in the end, I just had to make a decision and pray. And I made two decisions - one with a more universally positive outcome, and one that was a bit more … mixed.
I don’t regret either, but I … wish I could have a way to make it simpler to make the choices. I think part of this is just scale, right - it will get easier as these things happen more frequently, and are more accepted. But part of it is also just … the nature of the human body. There is no –dry-run on surgery, and there’s no rollback or reversion. You just get what you get.
but … what are you going to get?
when do you stop?
so I, personally, have had … two surgeries.
really, though, it’s probably more like 7, all told. one surgery, to give me the proper parts: another that was a set of surgeries (and multiple days, at that!), to make my face look more in the fashion that my brain expects (and that, comparatively, society expects).
these have not been beautification surgeries - in fact I personally found it extremely distasteful to think of them as such, as they were not to obtain a specific look, but to feel like I had accurately staked a claim to the being that I am, societally.
but there are infinite ways to modify these things. I have scars on my face that I can and possibly should have removed: I have a revision scheduled. I could get breast augmentation … I could get a “tummy tuck” (what a cutesy name for literally tearing open your body to make changes to the way it goes together!). There are literally hundreds of surgeries that are offered, that make you look more like what you imagine you want to look like, when you see yourself.
there are parts of me that want parts of these things, and I think at base that everyone … wants to look prettier. everyone feels like they are flawed in the eyes of Society, and wants to applea more, to those frenzied masses.
but … when do you stop? there is no objective measure of these things. you can always be one iota prettier, you can have one more piece of work done.
as someone who has a relatively addictive personality - who finds it hard to stop things when started - it’s the question I always ask myself, before starting something:
when do you stop?
I don’t really have answers to either of these questions. … well, I have answers to the first one for me, but that answer is “you’ll get enough, but not something flawless”.
but I feel they’re worth asking. and possibly, in the asking, we find things about them. and we figure out … when we can stop. and from there, we can do our best with what we have. and we can all hopefully experience the joy of living unrestrained - sometimes, joy that only these surgeries can unlock.