Tag Archives: female

Me and My Surgically Created Vulva: A Love Story

My own pride n’ joy was created under the gifted and extremely skilled hands of Dr. Pierre Brassard of Montreal, Quebec Canada

A NOTE FROM RACHEL’S MINISTRY OF PUBIC AWARENESS

Before we *ahem* delve into the delights of my female anatomy you’ll probably want to move on if you are a younger person and/or are offended by words beginning with the letter V. I really do try and keep this site as family friendly as possible despite dealing with the nitty-gritty of transgendered life—but at times it’s simply impossible.

Okay, now that that my debt to social responsibility has been paid, I’d like to discuss the realities of life when one possesses a surgically created vulva. I’d use the more commonly used word, vagina, but apart from sounding like a certain Swedish automobile, vulva is the more accurate term insomuch as it encompasses more of the female anatomy including (but not limited to) the clitoris, and labia majora and minora—all of which I now possess.

Some may wonder why I would chose to discuss such a private and intimate subject in a public forum but the reason is quite simple. There remains a lot of misinformation and curiosity surrounding transsexuals—especially post-operative ones such as myself. So in the interest of furthering our collective knowledge and perhaps dispelling some falsehoods in the process I offer the following observations.

I was operated on by Dr. Pierre Brassard of the Clinique de chirurgie esthétique at 995, De Salaberry East Montréal Québec on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008. So as of this writing I am 4 years post-operative. Wow! does time ever fly!

The name of the procedure is called vaginoplasty. Various techniques exist but I’ll simply focus on the specific procedure employed by Dr. Brassard. And what better way to answer the details of Dr. Brassard’s technique than to do a quick cut and paste from his own website:

The technique used is the one step penile inversion. It is done under general or spinal anaesthesia as an inpatient in the hospital. The duration is 2 ½ hours. The scrotal skin is removed along with the testicles. The neoclitoris is fashioned from the tip of the penis (glans) keeping its blood and nerve supply (neurovascular island flap).

The labia majora are formed with some of the penis skin, the hood and the labia minora with urethral mucosa and penis skin.

The space for the vagina is dissected behind the meatus (urinary tube) between the bladder and the rectum. The penis skin is inverted to line the vagina and the thinned scrotal skin graft is sutured to the end of the penis skin tube. Hair roots on the scrotal skin graft are destroyed with the cauthery. A urinary catheter is put into the bladder, a packing of cotton covered with a condom is put inside the vagina. The prostate is not removed.

Source: http://srsmontreal.com/2009/09/08/vaginoplasty-description/

Well, I certainly hope that got your juices flowing. Yeesh!

After a few days the catheter and cotton covered condom is removed. And it’s a case of getting familiar with your own portable sitz bath and walking awkwardly (what we called, the Montreal straddle, hobble, waddle, etc…). The days immediately following surgery are not much fun to say the least. The most obvious challenge was sitting down to eat. I confess I did a lot of eating while standing at the dinner table. 🙂 Nonetheless, the near euphoria obtained from finally looking like a woman down there; not to mention the effect of post-operative medications contributed to a general state of well being.

The operative expression here (pardon the pun) is no regrets!

Obviously, the most frequently asked question about all this is can you orgasm? The answer is an unqualified, yes! I had my first inkling as to how things were going to work in this regard during the flight back from Montreal. Knowing I’d be out of commission for some period of time during my stay in Montreal I wisely brought along a few books to read. Notable among these was Holly Black’s excellent “Tithe” Trilogy (I blog about Melissa Marr and Holly Black elsewhere on this site). It’s an epic romance fantasy adventure seated within the urban faerie genre.

Holly is a great writer and there’s some mild but undeniably hot scenes in Tithe. Well, I came across one of these erotically tinged vignettes and reacted pretty much as you might expect a woman to react. My new anatomy responded with an involuntary spasm that sent an unmistakable signal of pleasure to the dopamine receptors in my brain. I couldn’t help smiling to myself as I contentedly thought, “So this is how this is going to work!”

Just over a week post-op I was able to experience my first full-blown orgasm. The things I am aware of when it comes to my female orgasm as opposed to the ones I had as a male is that now I tingle all over my body and I’m aware of extra sensation both in my nipples and toes. While I have not had sex with a man post-op I have tried out a little vibrator I picked up at a sex-toy party one of the girls from work hosted. My only complaint—I should have purchased a larger model!

My clitoris is gloriously sensate but it can be super annoying if a stray pubic hair happens to come in contact with it; which has happened on occasion. Fortunately, it’s mostly just a little pleasure bud awaiting some gentle stimulation in order for it to perform as intended.

With regards to sex with men—I am in a permanent life-long committed relationship with a loving, attractive female so in my case that admittedly tantalizing prospect is off my bucket list. However, I welcome my post-op sisters who have had that experience and do not mind discussing it to post their comments here.

With regards to a related question: How deep is your vagina? In my case I have a depth of 5 inches which according to my gynecologist and Dr. Brassard is entirely satisfactory for male-female coitus. Of course, I can hear the comments of some men from here:

Not deep enough for me baby!”

These are the guys that show up at the local drugstore determined to buy the product designed especially for them:

Vanity marketing? Do you have these in XXL?
All Prices are Canadian 🙂

My vagina also lubricates. Part of the reason for that is the presence of my prostate gland. Does it bother me that the prostate wasn’t removed? Frankly yes, but the rationale for its presence postoperatively is that it does help lubricate my vulva. Keep in mind, my trust in Brassard’s expertise when it came to entrusting my self to his care was pretty near absolute. Therefore, his insistence on maintaining the overtly masculine gland was accepted albeit with a tinge of regret.

Does my vagina smell like a cisgendered woman’s? Yes. However, I lack some of the naturally occurring bacteria that help keep a woman’s vulva fresh smelling. Therefore I have to be more vigilant with regards to my hygiene. It’s not overly concerning, but something I need to be aware of. In my case, disposable wipes handle any outstanding issues nicely.

Does my vulva look like a cisgendered woman’s? Again, the answer is yes. My wife can certainly affirm that but so can my gynecologist. Yes, I get one of those now too 🙂 I see him only infrequently but I must say I was delighted with his comments following my first appointment. I guess he did not have many post-operative patients but what he said warmed my heart—if not my vagina—those instruments are cold!

He looked up from where he had been inspecting Dr. Brassard’s handiwork and he said to me with a voice that resonated with a respect that bordered on awe.

“I want you to know that the man who did this was extremely [he then paused for dramatic effect] extremely skilled.”

Of course I had to ask outright—does it look like other vaginas you see?

The answer was an unqualified Yes.

Well, I think I could have floated out of the room at that point. I was certainly on cloud 9.

Again, I try and keep this blog generally accessible for all  but you can see examples of Brassard’s surgical outcomes at the following website:

http://www.annelawrence.com/brassard.html

Dr. Lawrence takes a critical and objective analysis of Brassard’s work but generally rates him highly. I know I certainly do!

In order to maintain my vagina’s depth I am required to dilate a recommended time of 15 minutes once a week, but life being what it is generally results in a more frequent schedule of once every two-weeks. It’s a bit uncomfortable as I have to insert a stent inside my delicate lady bits.

Ahhh… The Stuff Dreams are Made of

The dilators come in a variety of widths and you generally progress from smallest to largest as your new anatomy continues to heal. Since I have been post-op for so long I get to enjoy the company of “Mr. Big” the number 6 in the set I was given. Of course, when not in use they make lovely candle like decorations when displayed to effect! I’m joking! I’m joking!

Am I glad I had the operation? Yes! Yes! Yes!

Again, I have “no regrets” at all. If I had to do it all over again, I would—but sooner! For me the whole process of transitioning has been like Goldilocks finding that specific bed, porridge, and chair and concluding just as she did that “this one is just right!”

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I am Woman: Glorious Wonderful Woman

The greatest desire for most male to female transsexuals is simply to take our place within that wonderful mosaic of women found everywhere

My 20th post! Thanks to everyone that’s dropped by for something other than nude pictures of Justin Bieber. My latest entry posits that most basic question: “Why on earth would you change you sex? And um… why choose the weaker sex of the two?” The simplest answer is the easiest to forward. I identity as a transwoman.

Now, everyone, including my worst critics get the “trans” part. What many don’t get is the woman part.

Sadly, we live in a culture inundated with disbelief. “No No”, they say. “You are a man. You are an XY chromosome combination and therefore you are a male. No ifs ands or buts, “buddy“. Ouch! That’ll leave a mark for sure. Fortunately, I have “some” science on my side and a good deal of history. First the history bit; do you know when the XY chromosome was discovered? If you didn’t, that’s ok, neither did I. But thanks to the ever resourceful “Google” search function I came across the following from no less an authority than the Encyclopedia  Britannica (online edition). Now for all you undergraduates mentally reciting your prof’s warning: “Encyclopedias are not credible sources” I say, Pffft! This is just a blog entry so relax. 🙂

Anyways, back to said Encyclopedia:

Clarence E. McClung,  (born April 6, 1870, Clayton, Calif., U.S.—died Jan. 17, 1946, Swarthmore, Pa.), American zoologist whose study of the mechanisms of heredity led to his 1901 hypothesis that an extra, or accessory, chromosome was the determiner of sex. The discovery of the sex-determining chromosome provided some of the earliest evidence that a given chromosome carries a definable set of hereditary traits. He also studied how the behaviour of chromosomes in the sex cells of different organisms affects their heredity.

Source: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/353973/Clarence-E-McClung

1901! Wow!

So what this means is that anyone living before 1901 could not possibly have used the XY/XX chromosome differential as an arbiter in determining ones’ sex. But we still had males and females prior to 1901. How then could they tell if someone is male or female?

“Oh that’s easy we just look at them naked. Males have their magnificent albeit intimidating outdoor plumbing and females have their complex and sophisticated and oh so mysterious indoor plumbing.

But it’s not so easy as that. Various conditions can affect normal sexual development so that females develop male characteristics and vise versa. Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) is one such condition and Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasiais  (CAH) is another.

See the websites below for some images showing just how unreliable a cursory physical examination of an individual’s anatomy is in determining one’s true sex. I’d include them here but they are pretty graphic.

Source: http://imueos.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/adrenal-disorders-%E2%80%93-adrenogenital-syndrome/

Source: http://carolguze.com/text/442-6-sexual_differentiation.shtml

So basically, prior to 1901, sexual identification would be based simply on appearance since those living at the time lacked any other basis on which to assign one’s gender. In fact, even today that’s what it comes down to. Unless you know an individual’s medical history the woman sitting next to you may in fact be an XY male and vise versa.

But what about people like myself that lack any obvious physical determinant in identifying with the opposite sex. Well, we have some interesting research available on that front. It’s all a bit tedious but basically it comes down to possessing something akin to a “female brain”. A number of studies exist each focusing on some aspect of  the brain’s functioning.  Those interested can check out the Wikipedia entry on the causes here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_transsexualism

On a much more immediate level being able to live, interact, and function as a female is akin to Goldilocks finding that perfect chair, porridge, or  bed. This one is just right (cue contented sigh). I love being female! Sure, I have a male past but even then I had a strong feminine impulse—one I spent a lifetime suppressing. I was like Atlas carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. My transition was inevitable it was only a matter of time before I collapsed under the sheer pressure of it all.

The pull towards the feminine has been with me as long as I remember. Fear immobilized me. Fear of my parent’s reaction, that of friends, and to a lesser extent, society all worked to constrain me. Coming out as transgendered and specifically as a transsexual was really a means of releasing all that pressure. I knew who I was. I just decided to let the world in on my secret. The feminine impulse acted much like a boat’s rudder steering me unerringly into female waters.

As to being the weaker sex—well, yes women don’t possess the upper body strength that males do. They also have lighter smaller bones, lack brow bossing and have a greater fat to muscle ratio than males. It’s astounding that so many males have misappropriated that saying by applying it to every aspect of the female gender.  How incredibly misogynistic! How utterly foolish! and how fundamentally wrong such an assertion is.

The human story is replete with women who have sacrificed themselves for a higher good; stared death in the face; demonstrated enduring irreproachable faith and have inspired a hurting world to better itself. A woman’s ability to empathize with and comfort others is something to see and anyone fortunate to witness it should be humbled by the experience.

I remember back in “boy world” as I call it, sneaking away at social functions to sit with the women present, and listen happily to them chat away about their lives, the lives of their children, and their interests and concerns. Inevitably, my “buddies” would notice my absence and I’d be called back by the boys to watch the rest of the game or rehash some adolescent adventure we had undertaken. Thankfully, now I get to stay with the girls at these sort of events without fearing a call to join the men (cue contented sigh again).

I am not interested in male-bashing but I decry the way our society has systematically failed to value feminine traits, deeming them inferior to masculine ones. And men, remember, had one change in your XY chromosome pair occurred you’d never have needed those ongoing reminders to lower the toilet seat.  😉

I love my female friends trans and otherwise. Don’t envy the men ladies. Yes, they are exempt from the inconvenience, pain and discomfort of menstruation, hormonal storms, menopause, and the pain of child-birth. However, they cannot rejoice in the sensuousness of the female form—not like we can. Nor can they share the bond a woman has with her children. I love seeing my female friends with their children. There is an invisible but easily detectable energy that flows between them. It impacts me greatly. In other words, I get it.

I am certainly no beauty along the lines of a Jenna Talackova but I am still female and if I may allow myself a moment of self-satisfaction—confess to possessing a beauty of my own. I love people greatly. It brings tears to my eyes—such passion and feeling—never taken for granted and always humbled and thankful—that I am a woman.

THE BEAUTY OF A WOMAN

Author unknown

The beauty of a woman; Is not in the clothes she wears,
The figure that she carries; Or the way she combs her hair.

The beauty of a woman; must be seen from in her eyes, Because that is the doorway to her heart, The place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman; is not in a facial mole, But true beauty in a woman; Is reflected in her soul.

It is the caring that she lovingly gives, The passion that she shows, And the beauty of a woman; With passing years – only grows!

Source: http://feelinfeminine.com/?p=736

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