Note: While I’m not going to rehash what I said in Review: “My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy” (NYT), I will touch on some of the points from that post; you may wish to read that post first.
When I responded to the New York Times op-ed piece My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy, I was about 6 weeks away from having my own vaginoplasty. I’m now about 12 weeks post-op, and I have a different perspective now that I’m on the other side of surgery.
I’ll start by saying my new vagina doesn’t make me happy. Well, at least not all of the time. A better way to put it might be I am quite happy with my new vagina. Having a vagina is a gift… a blessing… a miracle! While I didn’t hate having a penis, I love my vagina. I love the way my abdomen seamlessly curves down and out of sight with nothing in the way or sticking out like a crop of rocks breaking through a ski slope. I love the way my clothes fit me better now, with nothing to hide or tuck away. I am more at home in my own body; I am more at peace. I do not worry as much when I use a public restroom, and my confidence with myself has increased. I have experienced a significant decrease in dysphoria, with nearly zero physical dysphoria (having to do with my body), and when I do experience dysphoria, it tends to be less intense, less frequent, and shorter in duration. In short, so far, having Gender Confirmation Surgery to get a vagina has been one of the absolute best things I have ever done for myself!
That’s not to say that everything is perfect. Dilation is a chore and is sometimes uncomfortable (but it has not been painful at any point). I still have sutures from the surgery and they can get very itchy and irritated. I occasionally have random nerves fire off which can manifest as sensations from an itch to a sharp pain. I have to pee much more frequently nowadays, and cleaning up takes a bit longer than before. But my vagina is not an open wound; the skin has healed and as the swelling subsides, everything is settling into shape. While I do not go showing it off to other people, in the course of living, I have needed to allow medical professionals to examine my pelvic region, and all have told me that they are very impressed with the results – that what I have is very much in line with the variety of shapes, sizes, and colors that other vaginas come in.
And I can’t yet say that this is the only surgery I will need to address my gender dysphoria; there is always a possibility that some kind of revision will be needed for my vaginoplasty, and I cannot say for sure that I won’t need Facial Feminisation Surgery or Breast Augmentation at some point. But having bottom surgery has made a huge difference for me all by itself. When before, I felt like I was constantly in (a losing) battle to stop the pain of dysphoria, I have now experienced periods of Gender Euphoria(!) which have given me relief and respite from the fight. I can finally see a future where my gender fades into the background, much as I suspect that it does for cisgender people.
So basically, GCS has been a big positive for me. I am happier with my body, I am experiencing less dysphoria, I am more confident, and my emotional state has improved. No, my vagina did not make me happy, but it has indeed removed some of the barriers I’d had preventing me from being happy. And that’s a very good thing!