‘Happy Fifth Anniversary’
(23 Jan 21)
It’s 13.00 hours at Bangkok – that’s 1pm for you not familiar using the 24-hours clock to tell time.
Today is the 5th Anniversary of my third surgery, my appointment with the good Dr. Chettawut.
ไหว้ขอบคุณค่ะ! Wai and Kapung Khaf, Dr. Chettawut!
Wai and Kapung Khaf! Thank You to my Bestie for being with me in 2015, for these intervening years, for our day together celebrating my 5th Anniversary!
Today – 23 January – marks these three anniversaries:
– My father who raised me was born on this date. Dunno what time of the day when he was born. I was with him when he died 62 years later.
– My friend June died on this date. She was the Producer of her TV show ‘God! And Family’, I was her Director (1992 – 2000). I drove to Tucson to do my editing and then work her show. The TV station clerk told me that she was in the hospital, visiting hours would be the next morning. I went to the hospital first thing, the nurse told me that she just died that morning shortly before I arrived.
– My third surgery on this date in 2016 – Chettawut Clinic, Bangkok. It doesn’t feel as five years, but merely yesterday.
Allow me to comment about the third event. That is the focus of this essay.
– Learn about as many SRS surgeons as you can, correspond with them, find the SRS surgeon who meets your needs. Best results come from the best SRS surgeons with the most experience.
– Learn about the various SRS types and techniques.
– Learn everything that you can about comparative human reproductive anatomy.
Follow your surgeon’s instructions diligently. You will do best that way. I read social media about patients who experienced complications because they failed to do as ordered
Uh-oh! Another Sharon essay.
Lemme try to do this by including answers to some of these typical questions:
– What was my family’s reaction to me being a Transsexual child?
– How did I tell them?
– How did I present outside the family?
– Did my family take me to counselling?
– How much was I afraid to talk to counselling?
Well, to explain without re-writing my biography, here goes.
I date from decades ago – a child growing up during the 1950s and the 1960s – an out M-F Transsexual child against my family’s will.
A bit of background. Our family came from metropolitan New York City. Christine Jorgensen was from New York City, was still hot topic when I was born (1956). Perhaps she influenced my mother’s younger brother, Uncle Frank, to Transition. My parents made frequent mention of Jorgensen during my childhood, though I hardly comprehended the context when I was a child.
I recall being quite open at home about my inclination at least since age 3 (1959). I didn’t exactly announce anything to anyone, particularly that I was ‘Transsexual’ – I hardly knew that word at age 3. I expressed my sentiment to my family that I am a girl, this was no different than when my sister Kathy said the same thing about her self. Family didn’t squelch anything – I specifically remember that they called my sister and me ‘the twins’. So, as far as I knew, according to how they told me the definition of ‘twin’, I was a girl same as my sister.
Both our family and a cousin’s family (Jack, Gail, Carole, Beverly) lived little more than half a mile from each other, we’d go to each other’s homes during the course of any given week. First thing that I frequently did was make a beeline to the bathroom that those teen cousin girls used and put on their make-up. I’d come out, they’d praise me,
– ‘Oh, Nickie, what a cute little girl!’
Then we girls went into their bedroom and played 45rpm records while they were watching me ‘dance like a girl’.
I socialised with girls beyond my family – Debbie, Patty, Merry, the twin girls who lived across the street from the Flemings, Phyllis. My elementary school best friends were girls – MaryLou, Dawn, Debbie, Janine.
I attended Public School for both Kindergarten and 1st Grade. No one at school objected when I used the girl’s restroom. I did get in trouble being inside the girls restroom. Once. A teacher caught my girl friend and me throwing wads of wet toilet paper at the wall and ceiling to see what stuck. First Graders can be easily amused.
I played with Barbie dolls with my sister and other girl friends (Debbie, Phyllis) when I was a ‘boy’. My father got angry with me ‘playing with dolls’.
Not comprehending the entire issue, I saved money and bought a Ken – certainly, Dear Ol’ Dad would be pleased seeing me playing with Ken with the other girls playing with Barbie and Midge. Ken didn’t have anything ‘down there’; I did not comprehend the significance of this feature at that age.
I still got the consequences of his anger. Ken was still a ‘doll’. My father bought a bag of plastic green Army figures for me.
My parents never took me to counselling. They were in too much denial about anything. That was the 1960s, so I doubt that there was much of child psychology for the Trans child.
My Paediatrician was the Sex Education teacher at my Catholic elementary school – a weekly class that he taught to a joint gathering for 7th Grade and 8th Grade. He never talked about Transsexualism or Inter-sex as a class topic, I have little memory of him during medical appointments. I’m certain that my parents likely said something to him.
I learned sometime during perhaps this past couple years or so that Puberty Blockers were indeed available at least as far back as the 1960s. Apparently, though, they were relatively more expensive then than nowadays and not made as available as they currently are.
Likely, too, there was little interest dealing with people as you and me – Trans children – when we read so much about movements today to deny health care to all Trans children.
During my teens, after we returned from Greece, my father kept pushing me to ‘talk to a priest’; I refused, expecting that they would be no support. I did after I finished my Transition, that Catholic pastor fully supported me while my father objected to that unexpected event.
My father moved us to Greece for my 10th Grade and 11th Grade to separate me from the ‘harmful influences’ of my mother. Odd. I refused to visitation with my mother because of an argument and beating by her second husband Alan (February 1967). I would have nearly nothing to do with my mother during the intervening years until my father commanded me to resume visitation in December 1970. I used my mother, manipulated her for my occasional benefit when I wanted to skip school.
Here’s one issue that strikes hard about Pinewood, my school at Greece. I took a psychology class for 11th Grade (1972 – 1973 school year). The teacher passed out to the class our weekly study plan one week in February 1973. Right there at the top of the study guide was written:
– ‘Transvestites and Transsexuals are perverts.’
NO! I am NOT a ‘pervert’ was what I wanted to get up and shout back at the teacher and to my class-mates. But I had to keep my words to myself. I cried inside knowing how that class was thinking about someone as me if I were to come out to them.
I got lucky at the end of 12th Grade. My father took a two-years contract to teach at Brasil while I stayed home to attend college at Arizona – and promptly began my adult Transition. Suffice that Dear Ol’ Dad was not amused when he came home from school break between his school years. Not that I was presenting Female yet – this was HIS home and I was still subject to HIS rules – but that I studied psychology and sociology and read as many books that I could find about Transsexual at the Public Library. We moved to New Mexico for that one school year. No matter where we lived, my father snooped through my bedroom when I was not home, found my hidden books and notes, and beat me when I arrived home.
By 1977 (age 21), I was using Sharon and corresponding with Stanford University Medical Center’s ‘Gender Dysphoria Program’.
My first time when I changed my name and sex on legal documents from Nick / male to Sharon / female came at Social Security (1978). The time came to complete that change in 1980. Not knowing otherwise, I went to the local DMV to change my driver’s licence. The DMV agent had me complete a self-declaration form to change my legal name and sex.
Two of the biggest WTF bits of gossip during my Transition:
At work, the first of my Forest Service supervisors violated my privacy of my personnel records (1979). I transferred to another Forest Service Office (1980). Gossip followed me to my next duty station. Both supervisors spread gossip – quite erroneously – that I was F-M Transsexual. I admit that I kinda got a hoot outta that one, probably because those supervisors and their cliques demonstrated how ignorant were they, how ignorant were others, about being Transsexual and about Transition. My employer required me to continue presenting Nick / male while my appearance was shifting from male to female: my face went from facial hair shadow to clear, my 36B chest became more difficult to hide, I advanced to Male Fail, strangers mis-Gendered me Female.
From my family came their quite bizarre tidbit of ignorance at that time when I was still presenting Nick to them and to work.
My father travelled cross country to visit me during Christmas vacation 1982, that was about a month after I had an exploratory surgery. He saw my in-patient goody bag – I had been using my hospital water pitcher at home. He started asking questions. I was not in the mood to let that degenerate into another discussion about my Transition, my father would have turned that into another yelling argument. Or worse.
– Would my father have beat me at my home? Where would I go to escape him?
– I did not know the extent of my exploratory surgery that it included a hysterectomy. Would he have hit me in the abdomen?
I suspected at that time that Dear Ol’ Dad snooped through my bedroom and found my box of medical records while I was at work. Skip to five years ago. I was correct. Cousin Bev told me that my father came home and reported that I had BA (well, it was whatever he would have said that we know nowadays as BA). Sheesh! They thought that I had BA while still presenting male. I guess that my chest must have been showing much more than I realised.
When was my ‘First’ time presenting Female in public?
I read how many of you, as a child, were so afraid of getting caught that you rarely tried to dress in girl’s attire, no matter how proper it felt.
For me, my first time would have been when I was probably age 3 (1959) – I have a specific memory of it that would have been when my older sister Kathy was at morning session Kindergarten. I occasionally wore my sister’s clothes when playing with neighbour children where we lived til I was in 2nd Grade; there was Patty, Merry, the twin girls across from the Flemings. I remember one specific day when these neighbourhood friends teased me when I was wearing my sister’s clothes when I went out to play. I couldn’t understand why they treated me different than the other girls.
One humourous dividing line event about wearing Kathy’s clothes was my Catholic First Communion during 2nd Grade. I had no boy’s white shirt to wear, so my grandmother (who lived with us) brought out one of my sister’s white blouses. My father howled in protest, but he could do nothing about it.
I wore Kathy’s ‘granny’ dresses when they were the style during the mid-1960s if my memory holds.
Early during Kathy’s 9th Grade (my 7th Grade), she moved to live with her mother. She left much of her clothes behind because she did weekend visitation to where our father and I lived. Kathy didn’t have any mini-skirts, so I hemmed one of her skirts high to experiment with one – as I recall, it was blue plaid. She never confronted me about re-hemming that skirt.
I did occasionally walk around the neighbourhood wearing my sister’s clothes while walking our dog, first Mincemeat then Slim. Dunno if the neighbours thought that the girl walking the dog was my sister or was me. Expect that they said something to my father if they thought that was me.
Family attitude gradually began changing as I got older at about the same time my mother’s younger brother continued his M-F Transition. Both his Transition and my ‘Feminine Protesting’ (as Transsexual children were described back then) led to the break-up of my family. I was no longer their ‘cute little girl’ wearing my sister’s clothes and putting on teen cousins’ make-up.
Please comprehend the context. Family had recently murdered my Uncle Frank during his Transition (1970). Eventually, by my later elementary school age, my father began regularly beating me because I was wearing my sister’s clothes. The worst was about this time of the year (January 1971) when I was in 9th Grade. I feared for my life that Thursday night when my father beat me and dislocated my right shoulder in a ‘police’ hold.
That assault led to my father moving us to Greece during my 10th Grade and 11th Grade. We had a tenuous peace – he allowed me to grow my hair long if I would control my Protesting, but refused to allow me to bring any girl’s clothes to Greece to wear at home. My father warned me:
– ‘What do you think Customs will do to you if they see girl’s clothes inside your luggage!’.
At Greece, I made the effort to absorb the experiences living overseas.
Maybe my ‘first’ presenting in public during adult Transition is a better answer. But how much? I gradually added womenswear to my wardrobe throughout the course of my Transition during the 1970s – undies, jeans, sox and shoes, shirts; I was frequently fully-attired in female clothing, though still presenting male. Work was the exception – still presenting male, for example, the only article of menswear that I wore was my men’s business shirt.
‘First’ time as an adult presenting Female? I felt nervous. Dressing fully in distinctly female attire was far more serious during the 1970s. Police could arrest me. My employer could fire me. My church could ex-communicate me. My family and friends could shun me. What if someone who knew only Nick recognised me presenting Sharon and spread gossip?
Well, I already changed my legal ID and my driver’s licence to Sharon by 1980, so, oddly, presenting Nick / male was what was wrong.
Those ‘first’ times publicly presenting Sharon / Female are more of a blur of the mundane. I could go grocery shopping after work wearing my work attire and the store clerks would address me as ‘Miss’ as I hit Male Fail. Changing into definitively female attire during evening hours after work, I could be doing common errands (going to the Post Office to buy postage stamps, filling the gasoline tank) without drawing attention.
One event, though not quite a ‘first’, that proved successful in my mind was as I was experiencing full-blown Male Fail, as I approached the necessity to advance to presenting Female full-time. It was Christmas 1984; I attended a pageant at Temple Square, Salt Lake City. I arrived at the Security post; I met the same Security Officer as I did innumerable occasions during our political protests of the past years. The Guard and I spoke maybe a minute. Dunno if he recognised me, if he thought that maybe I really am a woman whom he met at those protests, not a man. Nature called, but I could not hold it for hours til arrived home; not one other woman inside the restroom made any insults about me.
One day, after work (maybe Spring 1985), I wore a nice dress outfit and went to the University of Utah Medical Center where I had my first surgery (1982). No one made any odd glances at me.
What about obtaining legal ID?
States are different. Dunno why.
I also don’t know why governments went backwards, other than to antagonise our Trans / Inter-sex Community.
I made my legal ID changes at DMV requiring only my self-declaration on an application form to request my replacement Driver’s Licence as Sharon / female. No Court Order, no medical letters, no posting legal notice in the newspaper for a month, no excessive costs or fees. Nothing. NBoth the DMV agent and I were kinda nervous doing this; I wonder if I was his first Trans customer.
It’s unlikely in current political circumstances, but it certainly would be nice for Congress to simplify this effort uniformly nationwide, rather than this current crazed hodge-podge of laws and requirements.
How did I get to Dr. Chettawut? That’s another question leading to today’s anniversary.
I’d been through two prior bottom surgeries (1982, 1983) – top grade for what I got from them.
My first surgery was an exploratory surgery (November 1982). The doctor diagnosed me Inter-sex; later medical confirmation is that I am Female XXY. My Gynecologist determined from a thorough pelvic exam that that 1982 surgery included a hysterectomy; she entered that documentation into my medical record (2018).
My second surgery (May 1983) was a follow-up surgery – something that I eventually came to realise was mostly a urethroplasty. That was apparently the limit of my health insurance for me as a federal government employee working in Utah.
That second operation left other matters undone – fused labia remained fused. I figured, okay, no problem, I’ll deal with that later. After all, my medical documentation records me anatomically and biologically Female, certainly any good and decent reconstructive surgeon would accept me for corrective surgery. I knew from my Transition experiences during the 1970s about Gatekeeping, but had minimal experience with it denying opportunity to me. Little did I know how Gatekeeping could be oppressive against my efforts to attain my sense of ‘normal’, but I would learn soon enough.
I resigned from the federal government, moved to Tucson (1985). I met a counsellor at the University of Arizona who told me that their Medical Center had a surgeon who could finish me, but that didn’t happen.
I learned about Dr. Biber during the next few years. I corresponded with him, but he wanted Letters. That counsellor would not write a Letter, nor refer me to a counsellor who would. But why should I need Letters! I’m already Female, I need corrective surgery.
I tried again in 1993 with another counsellor, that failed for the same issues.
I tried another time throughout the 1990s, again, the counsellor strung me along for several months, then refused to write Letters and refused to refer me to counsellors who would help me.
I fell into a bad depression (2013 – 2015). I met with my Endocrinologist (March 2015), we talked, she encouraged me to do Internet searches for SRS surgeons; I started writing to them. I found web-sites and social media by other Trans people; I started writing to them.
My best correspondence was with Dr. Chettawut by May 2015; my local medical provider sent a copy of my medical records to Dr. Chettawut for his review. Dr. Chettawut scheduled me for surgery in August. I had to delay that while I renewed my Passport. My third surgery was 23 Jan 2016. Much sooner than other surgeons who told me that I had to wait a couple years for a consultation and then still another couple more years to wait IF that surgeon accepted me. Sheesh! I’d have been twiddling my thumbs all these years waiting with no guarantee of anything from them.
So it is for 23 Jan 2016, the Chettawut Clinic driver brought me to my surgery at the Clinic about 1.30pm, Dr. Chettawut did his final pre-op examination, then left me to my thoughts at the Recovery Room where I would return post-op. The Good Dr. Chettawut prepared his surgery room for me. Dr. Chettawut summoned me. I looked at the clock – it was time to go at 3pm; I looked at that clock as Dr. Chettawut roused me from the anaesthesia – 9pm and all’s well.
Dr. Chettawut spoke with me, assured me that all went well, as I returned to consciousness. He withdrew the air tube from my throat and gave a breathing device to me to use to demonstrate that I could inhale on my own. I was proficient from the first try. That settled, he instructed me to use that device every few minutes to strengthen my lungs.
The Chettawut Clinic nurse brought my first post-op meal: tofu soup, warm soy milk, warm chocolate milk. Yummy! That would be my diet while in-patient – light soup (tofu soup, chicken soup), warm soy milk, warm chocolate milk. Simple, yet quite satisfying. I was not eager for a big meal, not while my bowel function remained suspended due to the surgery medication.
Despite that Gatekeeping and those three decades of frustration, I think that I got a good deal. Any SRS done in decades past would have been anatomically inadequate, comparatively speaking, during the 1980s and 1990s. Likely that I would have needed another surgery later as medical technology improved. My results from Dr. Chettawut are better than anything that I would have had if I had surgery before him.
How does SRS feel?
My personal experience is not quite expert with the universal vanilla answer. Allow me to share what I learned from others.
Many people report a ‘tight’ feeling, a good Tuck. They describe no loss or absence of anatomy, as in Phantom Limb Syndrome, immediately following SRS surgery; no sense that those dangley male bits were ever there.
You might experience ‘stinging’ nerve shots, you might perceive them as ‘pain’. But they are pleasure, this is your erotic nervous system re-structuring for future use. Cherish these sensations, these ‘nerve shots’ diminish that sense of pain over time as you heal and they become pleasure.
Eventually, you will experience a form of body awareness, you will feel the presence of all your new anatomy as you test your muscles. No more male dangly bits as your mind will lose memory of your prior anatomy.
Later, when your new anatomy really kicks in to use, your feelings will include engorgement. But, instead of this abhorrent external experience, these new sensations will be internal exactly how Cis Female experience. You will find these a quite pleasurable release, rather than a source of deep anxiety. You can do these exercises at any time of your choosing and no one else will know except by the smile on your face.
– ‘I’ll have what she’s having!’
Family relationships are nil.
The only communication from Kathy is rare and it is abusive. We have not seen each other since 1993. She promised to visit me at the airport when I was travelling to Thailand (2016); she made a last-minute excuse that she was otherwise too busy that evening. She refused to allow me to visit her when she came to my community a few years ago; she wrote that she had no time to see me.
Cousin Bev made that same promise to visit me at the airport when I was on my way to Thailand; she, too, found a convenient excuse to evade me.
There are a bare few of my family who visit these social media and web-site posts. They click their ‘Like’, only rarely do they leave a Comment, and that is the extent of their contact with me. I write a message to them, but they exchange only formal niceties rather than real communication. I tried with Cousin Gail a couple months ago; that concluded in failure. After all, how can we have any communication after decades of separation?
A previous post.
Inter-sex Kids at Risk Due to Lack of Medical Guidelines, the medical community has failed to regulate itself on performing surgeries that can have lasting, harmful effects:
A video of SRS surgery:
Trans ally activism:
Evangelical summit plots their Hate for LGBT:
Gender Desire vs. Gender Identity – Is wanting to be a woman the same as actually being a woman?:
When is the Perfect Time to Begin Your Transition Male to Female?
Thank you for visiting this post today. I hope that this was positive information for you.
Please return for the next episode.