Phalloplasty and Fear

I got approval for phalloplasty, and it’s what I’ve wanted for years. So why am I still so scared?

Yesterday I had practically the shortest meeting I’ve ever had at a gender identity clinic (or GIC for short). My doctor talked to me for about five minutes, about things unconnected to my transness, and then brought up information about phalloplasty on his computer, and told me that as soon as I felt I was ready, I would be approved for phalloplasty.

For those who don’t know, phalloplasty is a type of gender affirming surgery some transmasculine people undergo. It uses a skin graft to create a neo-penis, one that can be used for sex, to pass water, and can get erect with the help of the erectile devices implanted in it. People who have phalloplasty almost always have full sensation, are able to orgasm, and are able ‘pass’ as cis when naked.

I really want bottom surgery. I’ve wanted it as long as I can remember knowing I was a man. It’s not always been the most urgent need in my transition, but it’s always been there,

It’s been over half a decade since I told somebody I was a man for the first time, and now I’m here, at what I’d always thought was the final stop, the thing that everything else was leading up to.

I’m here, and I’m scared shitless.

I’ve spent years thinking about phalloplasty, years researching the processes of it, the experiences of those who’ve had it. And for years, I’ve felt that everything else, all the packing and prosthetics, using an stand-to-pee device, wanting sex and masturbation where I penetrate, all of that has just been to ease my pain until I can get bottom surgery.

I’m scared of the time it will take. I have so many other things I would need to put aside for bottom surgery- grad school, my career, hobbies that are too physical for the recovery time. Three stages, weeks and months of recovery over almost a year of my life.

I’m scared of having to relearn how to have sex. The sex life I have now isn’t perfect, and having sex hurts me psychologically sometimes, but for the most part I’ve found something that works. I’m scared of losing the knowledge of something that works, of having to start from scratch and figuring everything out again. And I’m scared that I won’t find anything as good, or even as okay, as the patterns I had for pre-op sex.

I’m scared that one I get phalloplasty, I stop being a boy and start being a man. Boys have places in queer spaces- they’re soft and gentle, and allies. Men though, men are different. Men are threatening and rough and the enemy. Even though I hate it every time somebody younger than me calls me a boy, find it infantilising to be called soft or gentle by people I don’t know, I’m still scared of losing my boyhood. I am an adult, but barely, and I want to hold onto the boyhood and the childhood I was denied as a trans child.

I’m scared that wanting phalloplasty makes me not queer enough. Men with vaginas are radical, breaking down cisnormativity and gender roles. Men with vaginas are sexy, are edgy, are desirable and hot and queer. Men with penises are… just men with penises. Men with penises are always assumed to just be cis men, to the point where ‘men with vaginas’ is used as a casual umbrella term for all trans men. I’m scared that I’m so trans that I might as well be cis, that I won’t have any claim to my trans identity any more.

I’m scared because I don’t know how to conceptualise of my post-op self as a sexual being. I don’t know how I can be sexy, because every single depiction I’ve ever seen of transmasculine people in erotic contexts has been of those who’ve either not had GRS, or (once) have had metoidioplasty. I don’t feel like there is a place for me as a post-op transmasculine person to be considered sexy. Between cisnormative society viewing GRS as mutilation, misinformation about bottom surgery in the transmasculine community, partners who’ve pressured me into not having bottom surgery, and body positivity movements only seeming to focus on non or pre GRS having trans folk, I genuinely don’t know how to be sexy as a post-phalloplasty man. I don’t know if I can be. I’m scared that I’ll never know.

I’ve wanted bottom surgery for so long, but now the ability to have it is here, I don’t know what to do. And the fact I don’t know scares me too.

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