The goal for many transsexuals is to ultimately live as members of the opposite sex. We’ll pick up that second job, forgo many other milestones, get flat mates to save on rent—whatever we need to do to save up and pay for our gender affirmation therapy. (That’s if our insurances wouldn’t cover us; luckily, we can still get mastectomies and hysterectomies.)
I know our community often disputes this necessity, and that’s why many are reclaiming transsexual as a term to describe themselves. Transgender often means not identifying with your natal gender designation, and that open-ended definition allows for such fluidity we often fight in-house about its necessity.
My case in point, to recap. I was able to undergo a double mastectomy (a.k.a. top surgery) with chest masculinization, and a total hysterectomy. Where my bottom surgery fell apart was when trying to undergo a metoidioplasty—my hysterectomy caused so much bleeding that my surgeon forgone doing any reconstruction, fearing further loss of blood. At a follow up, along with my gynecologist‘s second opinion, the feeling was that I was not a candidate to attempt metoidioplasty again. The suggestion, rather, would be to undergo phalloplasty at a later date, when I healed. (Which, to this day, I won’t consider.)
My clitoris still isn’t big enough to attempt metoidioplasty again. I still refuse to undergo phalloplasty due to its great chance of medical complications, long recovery time, and the fact I don’t have the insurance to cover it, nor the funds to take 6+ months off from work to heal. (If you are looking to undergo a sex change, I recommend working for an employer who’s comprehensive plan will cover it; afterwards, if premiums are too high, a basic plan with a prescription discounts helps to keep the cost of HRT down. I can give you pointers if you are still left confused.)
My other big issue with phalloplasty is what I’d live with if I had it. It’s pretty much a meat sack, nothing akin to that of a cisgender male. One size, whether flaccid or hard. The extra cost to create a foreskin, because the default presumption is a “cut” look. That I may end up still squatting. The fact to get physical with women I still a prosthesis to get erect and perform. With metoidioplasty, even though I would have a “micropenis”, at least it would act totally like a cissexual, congenital penis; it would allow me to act as a cis man, from the bathroom to the bedroom. Instead I live with my vagina, and occasionally “pack”—though not often, as I find the process cumbersome, and for me usually unnecessary. I have learned to live with my vagina, and most of my dysphoria previously stemming from this has long since faded.
So, without a penis and no longer seeking to undergo any kind of bottom surgery, does that mean I’m not a man? Far from it. There’s more to defining manhood (or, as this quote explains with defining womanhood) than your sex organs:
The controversy at play here is that there are multiple approaches to explaining what makes someone a woman. Carlbrook repeatedly [… implied] that certain biological abilities inherent to many female-assigned people grant them exclusive access to the highest degree of womanhood. In their eyes, this degree of womanhood is fundamentally inaccessible to people without these abilities, which means that being transgender precludes one’s ability to be “complete.”—Trans and Caffeinated
If lacking certain organs eliminates your womanhood, many of my female friends and relatives couldn’t be considered women anymore. Breast cancer, ovarian and uterus cancers, organ deformities (in my case if I never transitioned)—these women don’t consider themselves any less being women. They agree, in some form, with trans women that re-aligning feminism with one’s ability to produce or not is not good for the movement.
Throughout history, whether due to war or medical issues, men without penises were considered “less than” their peers who had a full penis intact. In today’s culture, if a man had his penis blown off due to war, or had phallic cancer, or something that removed his penis, he is not considered less than a man, and our medical establishment would do whatever possible to help him. Despite “size envy” when comparing in the locker room, we don’t think about size in everyday situations. Regardless of size (or even existence), people are judged as a “man” or “boy” not just by age, but by his actions. In many societies, just because you were born male, doesn’t mean you become a man at puberty or age of majority; other societies would even allow women to live like men, like in the Balkans, expat Chinese laborers, even ancient Egyptians. Ultimately, let’s not forget that all embryos begin as female, and only undergo metamorphosis sometimes.
I will never be a cisgender woman, and that’s okay. My womanhood is no less valid than any cisgender woman’s just because I’m trans. My lack of a uterus or vagina, my facial hair growth, my Y chromosome – none of these make me any less woman. Some women have penises, and frankly, it’s time that people get over it.—Trans and Caffeinated
I understand there is a double standard around the transgender community, but it’s understandable. Because of the high rates of failures from phalloplasty, trans men are able to live social and legally as women. Yet, when a trans woman doesn’t have or forgoes get vagioplasty, she’s not considered a woman, because of the rare saying, “It’s easier to dig a hole, than it is to build a pole.” The science for phalloplasty and metoidioplasty is far behind that of the bottom surgeries for trans women. Many people still don’t realize the medicine involving bottom surgery with trans men, or they at least understand how much more complex our surgeries are compared to those of trans women, so have an easier time understanding that if trans men don’t pursue any further than a hysto.
My brothers are no less men because we forgo these surgeries because they aren’t medically more advanced, they leave us “hanging” (pun intended), or they don’t act anywhere as close to that of congenital penises. The medical community still fails us, often as they are more fascinated with trans women than they are with our needs, and because they use some outdated quote that there’s far more of them than us, so the research funds should go where the profit is more potential.
So, until the science can come along to develop a neopenis that acts, grows, shrinks, and functions like a congenital penis, (or trans men can qualify for a transplant) any arguments we’re not men fall short. Can’t say the same for trans women, though.