Author: Jolie Laide

The Desperate And Divided Years

#MomentsInTransition — The other part of the emotional root canal I’ve been doing with my therapist is coming to terms to the damage to my life from all those years of having to hide my true self — the desperate and divided years — and the ways in which my survival strategies played their own part in that damage.

The stereotype of being in therapy is sitting on the couch while your therapist intones: “Tell me about your childhood….” There’s a lot more to it, but yeah, sometimes issues do go back to your childhood.

One of the hard breakthroughs was realizing that I never really got much nurturing from my parents. They were both (German/Scandinavian) emotionally-constricted, workaholic loners, who while they might have been loving, weren’t really able to show it, nor able to give me the support I needed as a young child. Later on, I was one of the first-generations of latch-key kids — I was literally on my own when I got home from school with no one to talk to about the ostracism and bullying that became an all too frequent occurrence.

In these circumstances, it’s common for children to “become self-reliant and independent. This is to avoid any possible feelings of rejection from an emotionally distant caregiver. They learn to stay quiet on any issues or upsets they may be facing and/or find a way to deal with things themselves rather than seeking help from others.”(1)

I feel personally attacked…. Seriously, seeing that, everyone of them words rang true and glowed like burnin’ coal, pourin’ off of every page like it was written in my soul. Ms. High Functioning, that’s me. I built up a defensive shield of self-esteem and self-sufficiency.

Growing up as purported boy didn’t help either. As after all, boys don’t cry, right? I don’t think most women truly understand the ways men — at least men of my generation — were trained to shut down their emotions, even from themselves. As bell hooks aptly put it: “The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves.”

It also didn’t help that I was the sort of little boy who sucked at the conventional expectations of boyhood. I was an introverted, dreamy, artsy, highly intelligent, clumsy boy who was always chosen last for sports teams — in a neighborhood of meathead jocks.(2) When your day-to-day reality sucks, withdrawing and putting up walls is defense mechanism. Don’t let anyone in, and I can’t be hurt. I wasn’t bullied for being trans per se (I would’ve gotten the same treatment had I actually been a cisgender boy), but it was definitely for being gender non-conforming.

I first started cross-dressing around 11 — an extremely common age for us late-life transitioners. Unlike the young transitioners you hear about today, who as young as 3 or 4 assert their true gender, impending puberty surfaced a feeling that we were “different,” often without  really knowing why. There wasn’t any internet back then. Eight television channels (which was far more compared to many areas). There might have been information about trans people lurking somewhere in the local college library — if I’d even know what to look for.(3) But I didn’t. I thought was the only person in the work who felt that way.

I was extremely fortunate that unlike so many of my peers that I never felt guilt or shame about my crossdressing. I knew it was problem, but it was *society’s* problem, not mine. But I also sure as hell knew that it wasn’t safe to be open about it. So like many of my late-life transitioning peers, I built up the facade. I may have sucked at being a boy, but I wasn’t femmy, in the ways that young-transitioning trans women are often overtly femmy as kids, their femininity too powerful to be able to conceal.

It didn’t help that in high school I was the odd kid out. A liberal in Orange County, CA. An atheist during an evangelical revival. A misfit who didn’t even fit in with the other misfits.

And so more walls went up. Don’t let anyone inside, if they see who I really am, they’ll reject me. Maybe even hurt me. Emotionally. Physically.

Isolating myself. Telling myself that “I don’t need others, and they aren’t really important to me. I am fine as I am.”(4) Elsa isolated in the castle lest anyone discover her strange and terrible secret. But also Anna separated from the world outside and longing to be part of it.

It’s kind of been that way the rest of my life. I tried. I developed people-pleasing habits to my own detriment in a variety of non-reciprocal social and romantic relationships.  I threw myself into workaholism and busyholism to distract myself from the that feeling that: it’s so lonely over here, it’s a cold part of town. Never quite fitting in, feeling like I always had my nose pressed up against the glass. Never having some someone to rely on — having been let down too many times. Always having to go it alone.

In retrospect, I realize that part of it was internalizing the transphobia and misogyny in our society. It’s hard to swim in a sea of poison and not swallow some. To feel, despite my defense of apparent high self-esteem, that I was unworthy of love. Plus all the other side-effects from living in a society that hates who you are. (For you younger folks, the world was far different, far less tolerant place — even from within the LGB communities — back then. Even as little as 5-10 years ago. Even now as TERFs still viciously assert that trans women aren’t women, and trans women continue to be excluded from “women only” spaces.) I think pretty much everyone who belongs to a stigmatized minority group deals with some degree of life-long low-level PTSD.

Armoring up, not letting myself feel, not letting anyone in, was my way of coping. Compartmentalizing was necessary for survival. I’m privileged and lucky that my transition went as smoothly as it possible could — but it was still by far the most stressful things I’ve done in my life. Far more stress than even the death of my mother from cancer last year. Tunnel vision is what enabled me to get through it.

Especially since I essentially transitioned single handed. Yes, there was plenty of people online were supportive from afar, and for that I’m greatly appreciative. But there was no one in-person to show up for me, and rarely did people online reach out to me. I’m not blaming anyone. Like a lot of “strong friends” it’s hard for me to ask for help.(5) I’ve mastered the art of masking my pain. To look like I’m hanging strong even when I’m falling apart inside, and could really need Aunt Beast(6) to comfort to me. Someone who could actually hold me tight and tell me it was going to be OK.

So what now? The first step has been admitting that I have a problem. That my past solutions aren’t working anymore and have become my current problems. I’ve known in my head, but I’m finally allowing myself to actually *feel* this in my heart and in my gut. To grieve the damage and the years I wish I’d been able to live differently. To come to terms with past that I can’t change the past, but move past that and focus on changing my future.

I’m working on it. I’m still socially awkward, still have that inner teenage wallflower standing by the wall at the school dance (plus when I do go out to lesbian spaces, it seems like everyone’s two or three decades younger) but I’m forcing myself to get out there. To get outside my Fortress of Solitude. Working on building up a social network and finding new friends. Which is a hella harder at my age, since there’s less inherent places to meet people compared to when you’re young and in school, or going out clubbing regularly.

I haven’t felt centered enough yet to do so, but I’m planning to just embrace the suck and get out there and start dating again. Which when you’re trans is extra fucking hard. Disclose upfront in your profile that you’re trans and you’re unlikely to get many replies, except from chasers who are attracted to the *kind* of woman you are, not who *you* are. (Plus, now I’m now longer a “chick with a dick,” I’m not of interest to them anyway.) Don’t disclose, and lots of people will ghost you when they find out.

It sucks to deal with all this stuff again my 50s, but there it is. The only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin’ on, like a bird that flew. Tangled up in blue pink. I’ll get through this. I always get through things. But maybe going forward, I won’t have to do it alone. At least that’s what I hope. Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have — but I have it.(7)



1 https://www.thrivetalk.com/avoidant-attachment/

2 Of course there’s jocks who are smart, and jocks who aren’t assholes. Unfortunately, they didn’t live on my street.

3 There had been trans people in the public eye periodically over the years — such as Christine Jorgensen and Renée Richards — but none during my teen years, at least that I was aware of.

4 https://jebkinnison.com/bad-boyfriends-the-book/type-dismissive-avoidant/

5 https://humans.media/check-on-your-strong-friends
https://sherijbooker.com/2018/06/12/what-it-really-means-to-check-on-your-strong-friend/
https://www.brit.co/how-to-support-your-strong-friend/

6 https://avidly.lareviewofbooks.org/2019/02/08/queer-aunt-beast/

7 “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have — but i have it” by Lana Del Rey, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY2LUmLw_DQ

Having My “At Seventeen” Moment

During the past weeks, I’ve been having my “At Seventeen” moment about 37 years too late, which has been a bit crippling and one reason you haven’t seen me out at shows. I’ve hesitated to write about it, because it seems so… damn adolescent. I’m talking about my looks, or lack thereof.

I’m not talking about sexy. The stage has taught me how to turn the sexy on when I want to. I’m not talking about beauty. The various “we’re all beautiful!!!” ad campaigns and body positivity affirmations have ended up really talking about how everyone is valued, how everyone is worthy of love, etc. Although, it’s telling that for women, all that gets lumped under “beautiful.”

No, I’m talking about pretty. And not everyone gets to be pretty — it’s simply statistics. A few of us are ugly, most of us are average, and a few pass the cis-het bar of being considered pretty or handsome.

Me, I’m coming to grips that I’m plain.

The head understands this, but the heart, and especially the gut, aren’t rational. It had gotten so bad that I couldn’t bring myself to attend some of the burlesque shows I really wanted to, because the wormtongues kept whispering in my ear: “They’re all so pretty — and I’m not.” I couldn’t even bear to see photos from the shows. I haven’t been able to bring myself to debut a new number that all about loving your body, because I feel like a fraud. I’ve even flirted with the idea of quitting burlesque.

I know I’ve written about my body issues before, but now it’s more about how the goalposts have shifted. Now I’m feeling the full weight of being a woman in a woman’s body being measured up against the beauty myth.

ETA: It’s not that I didn’t feel many of these pressures during the year I spent living as a woman outside of work to socially transitioning. But back then, there was the psychological defense mechanism that “not bad for someone whose male-bodied.” I blended in as a woman far more than I’d ever expected to. On stage, with stage makeup, I could be joie laide — unconventionally beautiful — I could make audiences feel I was sexy. But ordinary life isn’t on-stage, and now that I’ve got a woman’s body, that crutch of “not bad for someone whose male-bodied” has been taken away.

They don’t tell you about that when you’re thinking of transitioning. As the story goes — as least for those of us who feel the need to modify our bodies — you make the physical changes and your body dysphoria goes away. If only…

While I’m far more comfortable in my skin than I was three years ago, free of discomfort that I wasn’t fully aware of at the time, my body still misrepresents me in ways that no amount of self-love can change. I still get “sirred” at least once a week. It’s no longer the dagger in the heart it once was, but it’s yet another in a series of a thousand cuts. A reminder that I wasn’t blessed by the androgyny fairy and I’m still seen as a man at least part of the time.

Trans people have a remarkable ability to handle cognitive dissonance about our appearance. To look in the mirror and see, not the reflection looking back at you, but who you really are. To know that you’re not really “passable” and yet tell yourself that you are. It’s necessary if you ever want to leave the house.

For years I’ve had an image in my head about what the “real me” looked like. But post-surgeries, it’s been coming to grips that I ain’t her, despite the enormous blood and treasure spent over the last three years. So I’ve been having a bit of a requiem for a dream.

On top of all that there’s the new and improved Body Dysphoria 2.0 in the same ways that virtually all cisgender women feel about their bodies. I thought I understood this pre-transition, thought I understood the pressure society puts on women about their appearances, but I vastly underestimated it. It’s one thing to understand, it’s quite another to live it.

It’s also an odd thing to transition to living as a woman at an age when women become invisible. I know many women welcome that after a lifetime of unwanted attention, but for me, there’s a sadness that I was never seen as a woman, a young woman, with those who called to say “come dance with me” and murmured vague obscenities.

It’s especially hard in the burly world, where most of the other performers are two, even three decades younger than I am. Aside from not having the beauty of the bloom of youth, time and various injuries over time, mean that my body simply can no longer do the things they can.

That constant reminder that I’m not a young woman, that I’ll never have been a young woman, is the hardest of it all. It’s a reminder of the all the years lost. I’m so envious of the trans kids today who will be able to live out their full lives as themselves. In the words of Mama Rose, I feel like I was born too soon and started too late.

I am getting better. Part of the emotional root canal I’ve been doing my therapist is finally let myself *feel* and grieve for all of this. To feel the anger about being cheated out of four decades of my life. The frustration about what testosterone did to my body.

I have to let myself work through it in order to work past it. To lance the boil and let out all that which aches like tetanus, all that which has been festering underneath my consciousness. Perle Noire’s “Healing Through Seduction” online course is also helping me find ways to love my body and myself.

I’m not there yet. I’m not yet at the point where, as friend advised me to do, I just say “fuck that shit.” But I’m working on it, and that’s the important thing.

About Transgender Day of Visibility

FYI, here’s a piece I was asked to write at one of the political blogs I follow:

As I mentioned in the comments, today is Transgender Day of Visibility, held every March 31, intended to honor and celebrate transgender and gender non-conforming people (GNC) — both those visible and those invisible.

It started a decade ago but only took off a few years ago, and is intended as a complement to the annual Nov. 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors the memories of that year’s victims of anti-trans violence — usually always all trans women, the vast majority of them trans women of color, in particular Black trans women. For years, TDOR was the only national/international event for trans people, and while it is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this, it’s also, needless to say, more than a bit depressing. Hence TDOV, which focuses on the living.

It’s all too rare that trans/GNC people have chance to celebrate who we are, and it’s also a chance to express our defiance of attempts to eradicate us from public life (the Talibaptists have a literal five-point plan to do so, and under the Trump administration, and red state governments, they’ve made significant progress on several fronts).

But perhaps the most important aspect is being visible. These days roughly 37 percent of Americans know someone who’s trans/GNC. Think you don’t know someone trans, well you actually probably do. There’s still an unfortunately-huge number of us who never leave the closet, and for those who do, there’s can often be a desire to fly under the radar, to blend in. For those in red states, this can be a matter of literal survival. But it’s also because — unlike coming out as LGB, which tells who people who you are — coming out as trans, invariably puts the focus on who you were. At least for a binary trans woman like me, i.e. I’m someone who prefers to be seen as a woman who’s trans.

OTOH, there are definitely trans people who are out and proud, and don’t care about that. There are GNC folks — who may also refer to themselves as non-binary or genderqueer — who are proud to be out and visible. (As well as those GNC people who struggle with being visibly “betwixt and between” which can be an enormously hard place to be.) There’s also trans people who can’t be invisible even if they wanted to, because they physically can’t blend in — most of us weren’t blessed by the androgyny fairy — and being “visibly trans” can be an exceedingly hard life. And some of us trans/GNC folks have had no choice but to be visible and fight like hell for our rights and humanity (to quote from the fierce and fearless Black trans advocate, Monica Roberts, whose blog is well worth following).

Personally, this TDOV, I’m feeling quite ambivalent about being visible — even if for years my motto has been “visible for those who can’t be” — for personal reasons that I go into at my blog. The tl:dr version is that 1) while my divorce from masculinity may have been amicable, the past three years still have been hugely stressful, with trans issues dominating my life, and I’d like to a break from that for some time to do some self-care; 2) I’m facing a Catch-22 where the more I writing and activism I do, the more “being trans” becomes the thing that defines me, when I’d rather it be the third or fourth most interesting thing about me.

I’m not quite sure how to square that circle, but this Teen Vogue article by 11-year-old trans girl about how visibility has changed her life inspires me to figure a way to do so. 11-year-old me didn’t even know that trans — or trans people — existed. I just knew that I was “different” and thought I was the only one in the world. I don’t want trans kids today to know that feeling. My hope is that we “late-life transitioners” are the last of a lost generation, that the younger generations will have the freedom and support to find themselves without wasting decades of their lives.

Unfortunately, we still have a long ways to go — a 2018 study found that up to half of trans/GNC teens attempt suicide. It’s hard to swim in a sea of poison without swallowing some. And so we fight.

And Forget About Everything

So today is Transgender Day of Visibility, and this year I’m feeling extremely ambivalent about it as far as myself. <tl:dr, long soul-searching post ahead>

OTOH, we need visibility and activism, especially in these times, and I’m one of the examples that, yes, it gets better. Likewise, when I was young, I didn’t even know other trans people existed — or that trans itself existed — and I don’t want other 11-year-olds to feel “different” but not know why, and feel like they’re the only ones in the world who feel that way.

But OTOH, there’s a huge difference between coming out as LGB and coming out as T. The former puts the focus on who you are, while coming out as trans inevitably puts the focus on who you were — at least for binary trans people like me. That’s one reason that I haven’t been posting much about my transition lately. And who I was… that’s a part of my life that I’d prefer to leave in the past.

Especially right now. My divorce from masculinity may have been amicable, but like many divorces, the past three years still have been hugely stressful with Teh Tranz dominating my life.

A friend who’s watched trans people transition for decades once observed that three years after transitioning, the vast majority of them had not only changed job, but changes fields; and many of them had moved as well. They weren’t necessarily going “stealth” —  i.e. living a life where no one knows that you’re trans — but they, consciously or not, wanted to start over, free of the preconceptions of people who knew them “before.”

I’m really feeling that pull myself. To start over. To not hide the fact that I’m a trans woman, but not have it be the first thing people know about me, and have it be the third or fourth most interesting thing about me. But to do so would mean giving up performing, which is one of the few things that has given me joy in life. So I’m feeling a bit trapped.

This year, I’m also coming to terms with how much not being able to be myself, and having to hide myself, really damaged my life. (I’m in the middle of some necessary, but painful work with my therapist about this.) So it’s for me hard to say “being trans is wonderful” given what it’s cost me — although I’ve got no desire to be cisgender. And it means Teh Tranz is still dominating my life right now, as I work through the anger and grief at the decades that were stolen from me, the life that I didn’t had, the life that I never will have, the other damage it’s done to my life. Hiding my core self, and walling myself off so that I couldn’t get hurt was a necessary survival strategy, but one that’s left me feeling lonely and isolated.

So lately I’ve been wishing I could move away from Baker Street and settle down in some quiet little town and forget about everything. Sometimes part of activism is taking time out for self-care, and trusting that other will take up the fight. That’s where I’m at.

Consequently, to paraphrase The Waitress’ Christmas song: Happy TDOV, happy TDOV, but I think I’ll miss this one this year.

 

Tap, Tap… It This Still On

I realized that it’s been months since I’ve posted. Mostly it’s because no news was good news. The short version is that the physical recovery went well, and I’m back to normal. Although I’m going to have to return to Thailand for a revision to fix something that didn’t quite heal as desired. (Fortunately, it’s more of a cosmetic issue.)

I’ve also been dealing with a massive amount of burnout from the past three years, and so I haven’t felt much like writing about trans issues.

Plus there’s less to say day to day, now that I’m more or less through my transition.

But I’l still be posting occasionally.

 

GRS Post-op Day 99 – Getting there

Good news: Pain levels have been dropping dramatically and I finally should be able to get completely off the opiate-based pain killer by Monday – although I’m still on a hefty dose of Tylenol, until I can ramp off that as well.

Which in turns means I can get back on my antidepressant, which had a conflict with the pain med. I’d previously been doing well without it, and had hoped I wouldn’t need it anymore now that the source of much of my depression had been resolved.

But between feeling overwhelmed by current events, and the first holiday season without my mother, it seems prudent to go back on for the time being.

Also good news: I now only have do two shorter dilation sessions of aftercare daily. Still two hours a day, but less than half the time I’ve been spending the last three months. Plus twice daily is far easier tos chedule than three times a day.

Bad news: I don’t know if it’s the reduced pain killers, but aftercare is now a lot more uncomfortable. Heard mention on the patient support forum that some folks go through an additional round of scar contration.

Plus, I still don’t have much energy. Another three months to before I’ll (hopefully) feel 100 percent again.

GRS Post-Op Day 71 – Made It Through The Week

10 weeks post-op and the first week back at work was pretty rough, but I made it through it. Well mostly — I had to leave early Friday afternoon to go home and nap because I realized I’d been staring at my computer screen for the past half-hour and not gotten anything done. Fortunately my co-worker on the project has been understanding, and I’ve got a job where as long I get the work done in time, I can be fairly flexible with my hours.

So this weekend is pretty much devoted to catching up on work and catching up on sleep. Much as I really want to go to a major even in San Francisco (after having missed it last year), it’s simply pushing too hard to do so. Trying to dilate three times a day (which takes about 90 minutes each time) has been a huge challenge time-wise and mentally, even with leaving work early. I’ve had to fight through a bad case of the “just don’t wanna’s” and did miss the third dilation more than once. In three weeks, I can go down to twice a day, and I can’t for wait that.
The good news is that the pain is slowly going down, and I was (mostly) able to dial back my pain meds a notch. Which means I now only have to wake up once during the night to take them, which in turn will help me get better sleep, although the short-term trade-off is I’m waking up a bit more due to pain as the meds wear off.

The non-stop post-op discharge also seems like it’s starting dry up, and it’ll be a welcome relief when (eventually) I won’t have to wear pads 24/7. Especially since I’m still getting urethral irritation and bleeding, and even reusable pads, which are softer, tend to worsen that.

Acupuncture to the pubic mound and vulva also has made a noticeable difference in reducing swelling in both places. I’m really lucky that a few years ago I saw an acupuncturist for my pinched nerve pain, and she 1) also has a specialty in pelvic floor acupuncture, and 2) has worked with other trans women post-op. The trade-off is the drive up to San Francisco to see her tends to worsen the swelling, but she’s offered to educate my local acupuncturist about what to do, so that I won’t have to travel.

I’m also at the point where I’m officially allowed to have “sexy thoughts” and engage in “gentle self-exploration” of the outer vulva (the inner labia is still too delicate), which I did for the first time last night. It was a mixed bag. The good news is that I definitely have sensation and it was pleasurable. The bad news is getting aroused is still a bit painful — as mentioned, my vulva is still swollen and so when blood flows to the erectile tissue that was reused to create my labia, the pressure is too much and makes things hurty.

Trying to be patient….

GRS Post-Op – Day 66 – Headed Back To Work

So I’m headed back to work tomorrow. Not really ready, either physically or emotionally, but Mama’s gotta eat.
It’s especially going to be a slog the next four weeks because I still have to dilate three times daily, and each session takes 75-90 minutes. Thankfully, I can work from home and my office schedule is usually fairly flexible, so I can leave early to take care of the second dilation and then catch up on work in the evening. But it means I won’t have much of a life, at least until I can reduce to dilating twice a day (for another three months), which is a bit more doable.
The upside is at least I’ll be around people again. It’s been disappointing how few people reached out to see how I was doing.
I’ll make it through, I’ve got a Master’s Degree from Figure It The Fuck Out University. I’m the strong friend. Come 2019, hopefully I’ll be feeling good enough again to start making some major changes in my life (as if I haven’t already been through enough of them the last three years). One chapter of my life closes, another one begins. But yeah, I wish this past chapter had been a little different.

GRS Post Op Day 63 – Nine Weeks

So, I’m nine weeks post-op as of today. As expected month 2 really kicked my ass. Getting better week by week, but definitely up and down.

The good news is that pain has been gradually improving. In fact, I’ve often been late taking my pain meds for the last week because my body hasn’t been making it clear that it was time to take them. So starting to experiment with ramping down the amount.

Unfortunately those plans have been foiled the last couple days by a probable urethral opening tear. (Thanks constipation…) Which is really painful, and all the more so because I’ve having to wear menstrual pads for the discharge, which makes it pretty much impossible for the tender area not to be rubbed and bleeding constantly. At night, even a single bed sheet put an uncomfortable amount of pressure there. Doesn’t help that dilating puts pressure on the urethra can cause irritation, plus the dilator stretching the skin around the urethra wasn’t pleasant at all. But gotta dilate lest my neo-vagina close up. So just tried to do my best to grit my teeth and think of England.

There’s also been two bouts with vaginal order, which occurs when I don’t get the lube (used for dilations) completely rinsed out and it ferments. Which can occur rapidly and smells really nasty. Thankfully, I’d reached the point where I could switching from the irrigation syringe to an actual vaginal douche bottle, which resolved things. (With either it’s just rinsing with clear water.)

Still fairly wiped out, since at a minimum I’ve had to wake up every three hours to take pain meds, and there have been plenty of nights where I’ve also woken frequently due to pain. Hard to nap during the day because they’re doing construction next door.

I knew it was going to be hard recovery, but I definitely underestimated how hard it would be. But I’ll get through it. Until then, I’m just embracing the suck.

GRS Post-Op Day 56 – First Time In The Stirrups

It’s another womanhood achievement unlocked — first time in the stirrups. 😉

Granted in Thailand I had to assume the positionevery morning during the daily post-op visits by the nurses, as well as during the twice weekly check-ups at the clinic. But today was the first time stirrups were officially involved.

I was actually in to see my hormone doctor, since now that I’m 1) sans testes and 2) done with the initial round of breast growth, it’s time to adjust my estrogen prescription to take me down a “maintenance” dose, which I’ll need to take for the rest of my life. (Otherwise, I wouldn’t have any hormones in my body at all, and long-term that can cause some health problems.)

But since my hormone doctor has decades of experience treating trans women, it turns out that he’s also done post-op care for them — including with other patients of Dr. Suporn, who uses a technique that’s very different than the one used in the States. (In fact, Dr. Suporn generally doesn’t want you to have other doctors examine your new vulva/vagina unless it’s an emergency, since they won’t understand what he’s done, and they might cause damage if they try to “fix” something that’s actually not a problem. It’s happened.)

However, since my doctor is familiar with Dr. Suporn’s work, I took him up on his offer to check things out if I wanted. I figured it would be useful to get his opinion on how I’m healing. So up went to the feet, and out came the speculum.

The good news is it’s going well overall. There’s a small area of the 400-500 stitches inside me that has granulated tissue, which can be painful, but nothing that he’s concerned about. He also confirmed that I’ve got urethral opening irritation, apparently it’s pretty red. But while it’s ouchy and annoying, it’s not serious. Hopefully some of the things I’ve been doing in the past week will help calm it down.