Delivered as a speech for Trans Day of Remembrance on 20 November 2023, adapted from a previous speech.
I wrote this for a plastic surgery support group, to make the transgender experience more familiar to them. It was well received, so I am sharing it more broadly.
These two photos, ten years apart, tell a story.
Content Note: Discussion of pornography, conversion therapy. NSFW.
More than a few trans people enjoy transformation-themed fiction, often as part of how we find ourselves. I have spent more time than I care to admit on specific websites that cater to this fascination, including those that do so for erotic purposes. I’ve written before about how awkward this can become for a trans lesbian, aligned with the subject matter but not with its intended audience. What registers to them as a neat little storytelling twist rapidly becomes dystopian and horrifying to people like me. “Life Warp Opportunity,” a 186-page erotic graphic novella available on tgcomics.com, is emblematic enough of this pattern that I have not been able to clear it from my mind in the two years since it was published. So, let’s have a look.
I had facial feminization surgery and breast augmentation on 28 January this year. Recovery from these procedures is a long process, even if the worst of it is over in the first few weeks. I already reported on the immediate aftermath and on two months later, so, how are two additional months treating me?
Two months ago, I undertook the last transition-related surgery I anticipate ever having. There are body modifications ahead of me, most importantly various forms of hair removal and more tattoos, but this step makes my medical transition feel complete in ways that previous steps did not. So how did it go?
I wouldn’t tell her, “you think you’re a boy, but you grow up to be a woman.”
I remember my first and, so far, only Against Me! concert. It was in Montreal, and the day got a rough start when I narrowly missed my train and had to rebook for the next one, taking six hours out of the time I could spend with my girlfriend and a mutual friend in the city before the show. Punk rock isn’t a genre that has held much appeal for me in the past, but knowing that Against Me!’s frontwoman, Laura Jane Grace, was transgender and that the band was among my girlfriend’s favorites inclined me to give it a chance. It was also hard to pass up a trip to Montreal, even if it ultimately did not involve much sightseeing between my arrival and the show.
For the handful of people in my life who do not know, I recently had facial feminization surgery (FFS) and breast augmentation (BA) in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, provided by the expert hands of Dr. Lázaro Cárdenas Camarena. This adventure was the culmination of years of careful saving and exhaustive research and represents the last significant transition-related body modification I anticipate ever pursuing. As I heal from this sizable achievement, I also reflect on it.
It was ordinary people who told me my soul would burn when I told them I am an atheist.
It was ordinary people who kept me from recognizing my gender until my 20s.
It was ordinary people who promoted a level of homework that devoured my free time for most of high school.
It was ordinary people who saw everything about me that was not useful to them and demanded that it change.
It was ordinary people who kept me feeling excluded, misunderstood, and feared until I was an adult, and sometimes still.
It was ordinary people who lied to me for fun and jeered at me for believing them.
It was ordinary people who made the world too bright, too loud, too messy, too much, and told me I was wrong for noticing.
It was ordinary people who made it so that, when I am frustrated or scared enough, I stop feeling my hands.
It’s one of the last retreats and first rejoinders of people whose support of the transgender community isn’t rock-solid. It’s the base of operations of people who don’t oppose our existence but nevertheless find us grotesque and confusing. It’s tiresome, it’s exhausting, and it makes more of us more likely to date each other than our shared experiences and social spaces already did. We have to warn each other that our relationships might end if we transition, partly because of this specter.
The argument from “genital preference” simply will not go away, and that’s because its framing is tangled and often dishonest.
As a trans lesbian who herself finds one genital configuration more aesthetically and sexually desirable than the other, I come at this topic from a distinct perspective. And the most important thing I have to offer here is this point:
It is not the preference that is a problem, it’s how that leads a person to treat their prospective partners.