Many states, including my own, are putting off all surgeries deemed “non-essential” or “elective” to make available more doctors and surgeons to help fight COVID-19. Sex change surgeries have been categorized as “elective”. I know my transsexual siblings who had their surgery dates lined up would disagree and counter that they’re medically necessary.

You can wait a few more weeks. That COVID patient may not live to see tomorrow.

I underwent top surgery in 2016, and a botched bottom one in 2017. (My hysterectomy caused severe bleeding, forcing my surgeon to forgo metoidioplasty. He did not want to reschedule that, but rather follow up with phalloplasty. I declined.) Getting either wasn’t straight-forward; I had to follow-up with paperwork from an independent therapist, one not connected to my sex change, to show I was mentally sound to make such decisions. (This was a major setback for several weeks, but I was lucky to be seeing an independent therapist at the time for other psychological issues who was willing to grant me that letter. I still keep a copy saved with me to this day.) Those delays also took a toll on my family, because my delays caused them issues with their lives and their trying to schedule for time off from everything to take care of me while recuperating. Every consultation, every visit, required me traveling two-three hours one way alone to visit, and every consultation required me to take days off from work, days that cost me potential income. Faxing documents was a pain because I had to go to the local FedEx, because anything requiring my signature couldn’t be done via PDF via email, and faxing is for some reason prohibitively expensive. $20 for a ten page document!? (As it was a while before discovering cheap fax apps.)

Looking female because HRT took longer to masculinize me due to obesity also didn’t help. Yes, it made me at times suicidal. But I toughed it out, kept going to work, kept making my appointments.

I had to put off many hallmarks of maturity—college, moving out, paying for savings and retirement, looking for a permanent full time job that could blossom into a lifelong career—to undergo HRT and my sex reassignment. I had to give both arms and legs to pay for all the premiums, the copays, coinsurance, my share of hospital fees. I was lucky for health insurance that covered my surgeries and greatly reduced my expenses, though my premiums were still hella expensive on my retail paycheck. I say this so none of you can say I’m saying this from a place of “privilege”, as I was broke as fuck but still worked my ass off to get it done.

Society still often excludes us from national conversations and presentations, but we should not harden our hearts because of this. I know our surgeries are necessary, not “elective”. We often have to wait months, if not a few years, before our surgery happens. A few more weeks’ wait is doable, so others with more immediate, life threatening issues can be treated immediately.

If your need for surgery is so bad that a delay may cause you to be suicidal, check in with a therapist and get help quickly. If your surgeon found out you had these feelings, he‘d more than likely postpone your operation anyways until he knew you’ve been deemed mentally sound again.

If the trans community were indeed a community, then let’s help support one another and hang in there. We can help out each other, because those patients on those ventilators can’t. Let’s be positive about our temporary sacrifice, so that our doctors, surgeons, and specialists can help save their lives for sure.

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