my sex reassignment surgery

I swung into Charing Cross Hospital’s Ward 4 South, feeling pretty much as I did the first time I ever joined a ship – lost. At least the smell was nicer than a ship’s. I was shown to a bed in a side ward where there were three other people, and left to it. As the day wore on, I was visited by various staff, who checked this and that, and wandered off again. I asked whether I should be doing anything, like shaving the surgery site. “Oh no, that’s done in surgery,” the nurse said.

 

So I chatted with my fellow residents; Janet, a sculptor, who’d come in a week before for a very simple operation to cure excessive sweating; the op had gone wrong, and there’d been some very serious complications. She was obviously feeling quite overwhelmed at this unexpected turn of events. It was nice for both of us to be able to talk about arty stuff… Then there was Pamela, who’d also had loads of complications including having her spleen removed, and was very fragile but making the best of things. And then there was a bloke whose name I didn’t catch; he’d been beaten up, and had all sorts of internal injuries. He was constantly attended by hordes of visitors, who ignored the “two visitors per patient” sign and sat around chatting volubly in Punjabi, or, in the case of the womenfolk, stared expressionlessly at me. I tried smiling at them… and gave up.

 

I was issued with my hospital gown, the one where your bum shows at the back if you’re not careful; and I put it on, thereby formally institutionalising myself. I was then given an enema. Gosh, that was interesting… And so to bed.

 

In the morning, I was visited briefly by Phil Thomas and Lisa the gender nurse. I can’t remember what we talked about; it was just a ‘well, here we go’ sort of thing. Except that it turned out that I did indeed need to shave the surgery site. So I made a hurried job of it in the shower, cursing the failure of things to run as smoothly as I should have liked.

 

Back in gown again, I read a bit more of the travel book I was in the middle of. Then I thought that I should perhaps be thinking more elevated thoughts, just in case I didn’t come back out of the anaesthetic. So I tried thumbing through my poetry anthology. No dice. So I tried lying there thinking about how you set about mentally preparing for something like this… and after a bit I went back to the travel book.

 

After a while, a couple of people in blue appeared and modified my bed into a Mobile Patient Carrier, and we were off, with just time to wave goodbye to Pamela and Janet.

 

Now I was in a room with the anaesthetist, who inserted a thingy in my arm; we chatted about something….

 

+++++++++++++++

 

…. I was conscious enough to feel a pressure on my bladder. There were people around. I tried to explain that I needed to go to the loo. Someone made reassuring noises…

 

I’m slowly taking stock of my surroundings. The sensation of pressure is still there. There are tubes leading from my middle; a catheter for urine, and two drains from the surgery site. There are two tubes leading into my left arm; one from a bag of clear fluid, and one from a black handbag (this is the on-demand morphine…)

 

James Bellringer and Lisa appear, the former in a characterisitic item of clothing. “You’ve heard about the cycling shorts, I suppose?” he asks. I nod.

 

They peel back a large and bloody nappy, and make admiring noises. No, really, they did. Then off they go, and two nurses pull away the nappy and remove the drains from my abdomen. Gosh, another funny sensation. They went on for ever…

 

I finally get to see the new geography. At least, the top part of it. Which answers the question, “What If I wake Up And Realise It’s All A Mistake?”. I see the labia, swollen and discoloured with iodine and bruising, and definitely unlike what was there before. I think, “Oh. Okay…” They’re not just any old labia. They’re part of me.

 

Time passes. When I get bored of being awake, I press the morphine button.

 

“Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.”

 

S+2, it’s time to give up on the morphine and swim back to the surface. Tubes disappear , leaving only the catheter. I start to have worries about bowel movements, which ain’t happening. Mr Bellringer says, “No laxative till the packing’s out.” This is turning into a big issue. A low point comes in the middle of the night, trying and failing to go to the loo, while avoiding tugging the catheter, holding the packing in mortal fear of a prolapse, dribbling blood on the floor…

 

I resolve the bowel business eventually, but things can get overwhelming for me quite easily in this sort of situation…

 

I’m moved to the women’s ward, and meet Louise, who was opped on the same day as me; and Eve and Janice, who were done on Wednesday. There’s also the octogenarians; Pearl, who takes a shine to my teddy bear; Evelyn, who is trying to maintain a fierce independence in the face of a failing body, and who had a nasty fall in the loo late one night in consequence; and Beth, who’s very much a Cock-Er-Nee. Beth’s in the next bed to Eve. “Eve; that’s a funny name for a feller,” she says to a visitor. Visitor, almost as venerable as Beth, explains something in what might be a whisper to an octogenarian, but could be heard from Beachy Head on a stormy night…

 

“whisperwhisperwhisper…BLOKES WOT LIKES TER DRESS LIKE WIMMEN…”

 

Notwithstanding this sort of thing, we all get along famously, and help each other out as best we can. As Pearl said to some young relatives, “We gets along nicely in here; folks looks out fer each other.” “Yer,” says the young man with the enthusiastically-pierced face, “It wuz like that in Pentonville….”

 

At last it’s time for the packing to come out. Three nurses sit in on the operation, as part of their ongoing training. A gentle tugging…. And a tape appears, and goes on and on appearing, like a ribbon from a magician’s hat. I start to laugh… I’ve never been tickled there before…. I’m shown how to use the smaller dilator, then left to my own devices. With the mirror, I finally get to see what’s there, and realise that I just don’t know my way around, let alone any names for what I can see… still, never too late to learn… disappointingly, the catheter remained in until the last day, when I was required to pee at least twice before they’d let me go…

 

And so the time passed. I was fortunate to receive visitors every day. The food was survivable. The staff were wonderful, and seemingly from every nation under the sun; there were folk from Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, the Philippines (including the wonderfully-named Amor Resurrecion), Ireland, Lancashire, even London.

 

My abiding memory of the time in Charing Cross will be an extremely happy and pain-free one.

 

Which did not stop me pining for home, when the time came. The bag was packed, Louise and I were waiting for our discharge letters. Again it reminded me of seafaring days; gear stowed, ready to pay off and waiting for the gangway to be lowered…

 

And then it was all over and farewells made and Susan, who’d come to collect me, staggered ahead of me under the load of my luggage down the Fulham Palace Road, as I teetered gingerly.

 

Some voyage.

17 Responses to my sex reassignment surgery

  1. Sarah Winfield says:

    Nice, and bought back my own memories. I had my surgery privately at Parkside Hospital by the same surgeon and the procedure exactly identical. The only difference I would imagine was the quality and the variety of the food. Painless? I fear not, I was back within a couple of weeks with some horrendous discomfort which required a secondary procedure to relieve the pressure on my clitoris.
    It is now about 8 months since the operation and I am still experiencing some awful feelings.

  2. nel greenhough says:

    .. but you do have some understanding of female anatomy before taking such a drastic and irreversible step? it seems your knowledge of female anatomy is very basic..what are you talking about clitoris? surgery cant give one, you can only ever have a cosmetic approximation, chromosomal males simply dont have the pelvic skeletal, nervous or muscular anatomy to ever experience orgasm or function as a real woman. its simply not possible, no matter how many glossy brochures you read or how much you pay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhoSUoZ_uJ0…surely you must understand that re assignment surgery might possibly make you able to fool sexual partners, but that is a terribly cruel thing to do to someone offering you trust and intimacy. otherwise, the only person who will ever know what you have in your pants is you and your intimate partner… can you explain why you would put yourself through that? whats with the obsession? I mean, nobody cares what you wear or how you express your gender identity, no one cares whats in your pants. people only care that you are honest with them. especially if you are sleeping with them…the vast majority of cis women are miserable about their bodies, but not to the extent of mutilating or removing healthy, functional organs and replacing them with poor approximations of another gender.. I can just about grasp gender confusion, but not the importance of gender expression to that degree… i think in the uk its probably the the only classified psychological delusion (you will inevitably find this offensive, but if you don’t like it tell the shrinks and charing cross, maybe then we can get you all off disability living allowance and freedom passes and you can pay for your own surgery) commanding NHS funds for cosmetic surgery, yet all the john the Baptists and joan of arcs are locked up. no ones offering them corrective surgery to make them feel okay about their identity… you can never really change gender, have a clitoris or a vagina, because no one can change your chromosomes and a womans anatomy doesn’t merely consist of a hole and a nubbin..thats such a typically male perception.. when you’ve had a lifetime of periods, pregnancies, childbirth and breastfeeding infants beatings, rapes and being used as an object until you reach an age where you become totally invisible,,, then you can claim womanhood. the self obsession and vanity of it all, even to the devastation of family and partners the more you try to make them look bad for ‘rejecting’ you, the worse you look because anyone with any sense can see its the other way around, that your diva ness and sense of being entitled to more respect, more help, more free money than everyone else doesn’t make every transgressor transphobic.. they have as much right as you have to express themselves. so long as no one is threatening you there must be room for discussion on realistic terms.. that’s maybe a bit hard to grasp for people who devote their lives to faking it one way or the other. as we know from tabloid treatment of countless, similarly misguided surgery addicted women, this kind of vain self regard is repulsive…except maybe to others who equal the TG community in the shallowness stakes. if you showed the slightest sign of solidarity with cisgender women you might have a chance, but all ive seen is misogyny and misogynistic interpretations of what it is to be a woman that are laughably characteristic of dirty old men. , and to be honest, the more I learn about gender obsessed people, the less I like the way they insist on rights that do not belong to them while utterly disregarding the rights of everyone else seems to be the ultimate in self-obsessed selfishness… nothing I ever heard from my ex justifies what he did to me and my daughters and for all his talk of the ‘distress’ it caused him, I only ever saw him laughing. I was the one who ended up dangling from the ceiling, being nutted off and forcibly medicated.. I was informed my partner was gone and was never coming back and instead of a funeral and a hug, I endured malice, betrayal and more lies. he and people I believed were my friends thought it was hugely funny, and to this day amuses his charming friends with the tale of how upset I was when I found out I was the last person to know about his double life and the subject of his blogs on trans forums about how he was having a non-consensual lesbian relationship without my knowledge or consent. not to mention the shock of finding out what he’d been up to online and behind my back… all those years, while having unprotected sex with me a single mum with young daughters..not knowing he’d been out since 1980 like a fool I was the last one to know…then suddenly he was gone and in his place someone I didn’t recognise… physically yes, but personality no… and while I didn’t care what he wanted to wear, and continue to love him to this day, due to his age, and the fact he was completely bald and only had one tooth, being certain there was no realistic chance of him ever passing, I stupidly tried to persuade him to stay. he went. he s gone and he’s never coming back and it kills me. the irony is, if he’d been open and honest with me from the start, at least we would have been still friends. I like to think id have been able to be more supportive… yet knowing what I do about him and his past life, I believe surgery really is not a good idea considering the possible complications, his age, his viral status, his medical and psychiatric history etc..even though he wants nothing to do with us, and who can blame him?… I am filled with horror at the thought of some stranger cutting off and throwing the parts of him i love so dearly, that have given me so much pleasure over the years into a bin. I miss my man so much. I didn’t know. he never gave me the choice.he lied. I thought we were so happy together… I never ever would have hurt him. I trusted him. I gave him all of me. he gave me a fake. like men all over, the choice was all his. I cant even begin to tell you. I know this sounds stupid, but still, every night my arms ache with the emptiness. every night my heart breaks everyday he is notable by his absence. my daughters miss him. I miss him. life seems empty without him. we cannot understand why he did this to us. .before this happened I was supportive though ignorant of the trans agenda. the more informed I become the more hostile the community seems to me. the more questions I ask, w,hich I think are reasonably understandable in the circumstances the more i find myself being blamed accused, hated, labelled….there is no help for straight partners/victims unless you enjoy bible bashing hate-mongers…the trans community wont let me ask honest questions or make any statement they deem offensive, I cant rely on google and there are no books in the library…im sorry if I offend.. im coming from a 30 year heterosexual relationship with a man who turned out to be a woman as well as a liar, freeloader and cheat.

    • Dru says:

      so why have you taken all the time and effort to write this, Nel? Are you really asking questions or venting? -the reason Richard and I took the trouble to produce the book… Becoming Drusilla, you know, I’m sure it gets mentioned somewhere on this site…. was to explain as truthfully as possible how it was and is for me, and possibly, by extension, the wider trans experience. If you really want to try to understand, maybe you should do some reading. I’m approving your post despite my misgivings that it won’t prove helpful to anyone, or that you are even genuine, because it may be instructive for others to see what you think.

      • janefae says:

        don’t think he did write it. It looks remarkably close to an identikit comment that i got some time around the time i was a tad more public about transitioning…and reflects many of the same obsessions as other commenters on the transition process.

        Step back. What they are doing is creating, in their own imagination, what it is you think you are doing when you transition. Or maybe what they thought someone else was doing.

        Of course, this is actually THEIR imagining and doesn’t really touch you. I feel sad for them, for their loss – but equally, i am shocked by their own obsession with genitals: the idea that they somehow “know” what your relation to your body was or is now. The idea that trans women must somehow conform to their belief in how it is or would be to transition.

    • cyndicentaur says:

      Nel, while it is understandable that you are struggling with negative feelings about your personal experiences, it is unacceptable to use them as an excuse to attack Dru, or any other trans woman. They get enough shit! Did you know that 1 in 12 trans people will be murdered in their lifetime? This is higher for trans women, and rises to 1 in 8 for trans women of colour. You’re actually attacking an already disproportionately oppressed group with how you’re expressing yourself. It’s not ok.

      There is actually support available for cis people dealing with someone important to them transitioning. Here is one of many websites that you might find helpful: http://community.pflag.org/transgender I found it by googling ‘support for family of trans people’ and there are plenty of other resources available on the internet. I can assure you that you will get much more out of these resources than you will from misgendering and attacking other trans women, or using their online spaces as a vehicle for seeking support. It’s beyond inappropriate.

      If your ex wasn’t a very nice person, that doesn’t mean that all trans women are too. It also doesn’t mean that you have to be a not very nice person to others. Get it together.

  3. So, Nel, what’s with the obsession?

  4. Nel, I think that rather than lashing out at someone who has nothing to do with your personal situation, you need to seek support.

  5. Lisa D. says:

    Hi. I read your story in hopes of better understanding the mindset of someone undergoing such an extreme change to their body, which was perfectly made in God’s image. I won’t tell you who you should love. I won’t tell you if you should wear boxers or thongs, and I have no right to instruct you on how to beautify yourself. I will only say that God made you perfect the way you were, and He still sees you as perfect. Yes, people will verbally attack you. Yes, people might be angry when your true sex is revealed. Yes, people might stare. Understand it is because they feel like you are trying to mislead them. Try to accept these people and continue to show them Godly love. They do not understand that they are charged by God to love you, regardless of what you do with your body. More importantly, accept and love yourself- not because of the appearance of your genitalia, but because of who and what you are, a beautiful child of God. Did you make this decision because you were uncomfortable with your the natural appearance of your genitalia? Well, what if I get uncomfortable with having toes? If I cut them off, I’ll be faced with more discomfort. My point? Learn to love what you like about yourself, and accept what you don’t. Your surgery is done, and I hope you are able to live the rest of your life happy- just don’t go changing too many more things that make you who you perfectly are…. You might need these things one day. In peace and with love, a concerned behavioral therapist.

    • Dru says:

      I approved your comment, Lisa D, despite you not providing your full identity, because I thought it would be instructive for others to hear what a ‘concerned’ ‘Christian’ has to say about the trans experience. When you say you read my story, do you simply mean that you read this particular entry, describing the surgery? -I am presuming so, as you have evidently not read the book ‘Becoming Drusilla’, or indeed any of the recommended books provided in the links on this site, which would hopefully have put you right on your lack of understanding and your misconceptions. So I would strongly recommend that you go and amend your ignorance; another common trans experience is for people with no knowledge of the subject to come blundering into a conversation and demanding to know what a little research on their own part would have told them. Though, to be fair, you seem more motivated by your desire to tell me that I am misguided.

      Please go way and educate yourself. There is no excuse for ignorance, particularly on the part of someone who describes themselves as a ‘concerned behavioural therapist’. I am myself concerned at the potential damage you could do to a transgender client, through your ignorance. What is your opinion of reparative therapy? I suspect I know the answer to that, but I shall allow you to tell me. I would appreciate a bit more openness about your identity, though. I am, after all, posting as my real self.

      Oh, and when you say “Yes, people will verbally attack you. Yes, people might be angry when your true sex is revealed. Yes, people might stare. Understand it is because they feel like you are trying to mislead them…” -I think that this is more a projection of your own response than one which I usually experience. I think you’ll find (if you look) that people are generally more accepting than you. Perhaps you could reflect on that. May your God give you the grace to understand that which is different to you.

    • Jennie Kermode says:

      I’m concerned by having an immune system that has wasted away my muscles, destroyed much of my skin and damaged my kidneys. Should I stop taking the medicine that keeps it under control and accept my body (and life expectancy) as God intended it?

  6. Andi Mother Hen says:

    awesome response Dru, Lisa D needs to broaden her circle of friends… Andi X

  7. pollymoyer says:

    Dru your humanity and beauty shines through in your response.

  8. Fiona Sami says:

    My God taught me to be tolerant, empathetic and non judgemental, all qualities that would best serve a Behavioural Therapist.

  9. haikutec says:

    I’ve been very fortunate and lucky to have known Dru a few years now. She is a really lovely, loving, and loveable woman to her friends. I wish there were more people like Dru who have a deep set of values and stop me becoming a cynic about when so many humans act in the most despicable way.

    Thank you Dru for being my friend, and I am awed by you, having witnessed some despicable things done to you when I first met you. You have never let my belief in humanity diminish.

    my very warmest regards,

    Alan

  10. Marie Wallace says:

    Lisa D needs to talk to her supervisor about how she can better avoid making inaccurate and unhelpful assumptions. Not to mention attending some Gender and Sexual Diversity Awareness workshops.

  11. KAY MEDDINGS says:

    As others have said; a superb reply to a very silly message., Dru. What an idiot some people can make of themselves! You patience is outstanding.

  12. Please Why don’t people leave people alone! Why all this voyeurism, and curiosity verging on the porn does it gratify? Stop being personal, and preaching.

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