Neo-Vagina Monologue 3
I'll tell you who knows more about vaginas than anybody. Toby Meltzer, Eugene Schrang, and Pierre Brassard, that's who. These skilled plastic surgeons, and a precious few others around the world, know vaginas so well that they can, godlike, create them. They can make a vagina, a new vagina, a neo-vagina, where none exists--namely, in a male body. So skilled are these surgeons, that even gynecologists may not notice that some vaginas are the work of, not God, but man.
In a year or so, after hormone replacement therapy has had an opportunity to work whatever magic it can, I will pay some thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to one of these gentlemen. In return he will create a vagina in me, of me, a vagina that will become part of me. A new me. A neo-me.
An anesthesiologist will stick a needle in me and ask me to count backwards from 100. I will say one last quick goodbye to my little life-time friend, my penis, and start counting. 100, 99, 98,.. I will not reach 80. My part of the procedure will be done. I will sleep through the next 6 hours of surgery.
The surgeon will first remove my scrotal sac and testicles. The testes will be discarded.
(Actually, they will first be sent to a lab and checked for abnomalities. This might,
for example, catch a cancer early enough to do something about it.)
The scrotal skin will be carefully preserved, for it will be used later to construct the inner walls of my neovagina. Because of this, I will have previously had all the hair removed from my scrotum, probably by electrolysis. The surgical team will make every effort to ensure there is no potential for hair growth in this skin, by scraping or cauterization.
The surgeon will peel my penis like a banana, a little, gherkin-like banana. He will oh so carefully cut away every last bit of the erectile tissue, and discard it. One does not want any erectile tissue in one's vagina. While dissecting the erectile tissue, the surgeon will preserve the blood vessels and nerve bundle going to the tip or glans of the penis, as well as most of the glans itself.
A hole will be created between the base of my penis and my anus. This will become my new vagina. The penile skin will be sewn back together into a tube, extended with my scrotal skin to acheive some extra length, for this will dictate my neovagina's depth. This tube will be turned inside-out and positioned within the vaginal hole. Thus my penis will have been inverted, as we sometimes speak of it.
The glans penis with its blood vessels and nerves will be whittled down a bit and repositioned to create a functional and visually pleasing clitoris near the top of the neovagina. The urethra tube will be re-routed and positioned within the neovagina to support normal urinary functions. Everything will then be sewn up and held in the proper position with stitching, packing, and tape. Silicone tubes will allow blood and fluid to drain for a few days after surgery.
At this point I will have a vagina, and thankfully be rid of my penis and testicles. I will return for secondary surgery in about 6 months to create the labia minora, to give my vagina a complete and pleasing appearance.
But I will not be done with the creation of my new vagina yet. My body will not understand that it has a vagina. It will think it has a wound, and it will try to heal itself. For 6 months I will have to instruct my body about its new organ. I will do this by inserting dilators--dildos, if you would--white acrylic rods, 8" long, of progressively wider diameters. I will insert them 3 times a day, keeping them in place for a half hour at a time. I will continue this routine for 6 months, by which time my body will have learned to accept its newest addition. I will need to keep dilating, about once a week, for the rest of my life, or my vagina will shink up.
I will probably have some minor complications from this complex surgery. Almost everybody does. Most are taken care of quite easily.
My neovagina will be a real vagina. It will be functional and sensate for sexual and urinary activities. Unless I am very unlucky, I will be orgasmic. I will be susceptible to yeast infections, and I will probably get them. I will be susceptible to STD's, but I will practice safe sex and do my best to avoid them. (I hope to have enough boyfriends to make this an issue, but that's another story..)
I will learn more about vaginas than I ever wanted to know. I will learn more about vaginas than most genetic women ever know.
Of course I cannot ever become pregnant. But that will not be my vagina's fault. That will the fault of my uterus--or more precisely, my lack of a uterus. In this regard I will be in the same condition as genetic women who have no uteruses, either through hysterectomy or rare birth defect (Turner's Syndrome or Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome). None of us will experience the joy and pain of having a baby pass through our vaginas.
Is it peculiar that all of the surgeons who perform this procedure
are men? I don't know if we can make anything out of that, but it
is a curiosity. Of course plastic surgery--in fact, all surgery--is
overwhelmingly dominated by men. But it seems to me that this
particular specialty, like gynecology, should attract a number of
brilliant women, genetic or transgendered. The therapist who
assures me that I am not insane for choosing to live as a woman
is, herself, a genetic woman. The physician who supervises my
hormone therapy and treats my sniffles is a transgendered woman.
But for this oh-so-major procedure, I have no choice of having it
performed by a woman. Humph. [I've since heard of one female
SRS surgeon.* Let's just call this the exception that proves
Dr. Meltzer and company know an awfully lot about the physical
attributes of the vagina, just as I will become intimately
acquainted with mine. But they will never have the experience
of living with a vagina. So maybe they don't know so much about
vaginas after all. That is an education that I am anxious to begin.
Addemdum: More accurate and complete information about
this surgery can be found at
Anne Lawrence's site.
* The female surgeon is Dr. Annette Cholon. She practices in Menlo
Park, CA, which is just south of San Francisco. She will be
performing my SRS on February 10, 2003. Her office phone number
is (650) 326-7100.
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