Forgoing surgery for #covid19.

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. Gender affirmative surgeries have been categorized as “elective”. I know my trans siblings who had their surgery dates lined up would say otherwise that they’re medically necessary.

Please understand. You can try to get by for 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 transition, to show I was medically 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 medically transition. 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, a luxury most of us don’t have, greatly reducing my expenses, even though what I had to pay for was still expensive on my retail paycheck. I say this so none of you can say I’m saying this from a place of “privilege”.

Society still often excludes us, but we should not harden our hearts because of this. I know our surgeries are necessary, and 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 is 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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