Dear Cis Friend,
In twenty-seven days (not that I’m counting) I’m having Stage 1 Phalloplasty surgery. In six months and twenty-seven days, I will have Stage 2. In six months and twenty-eight days, my transition will finally, after five very long years, be complete.
I am excited.
I am brimming over here. I’m already packing my bags. I’m counting down the days. I’m taking exactly the supplements the surgeon required (and I’m the man who couldn’t stick to a diet to save his life). I’m watching for that wonderful moment I can check into my flight online. I have my trip to the airport planned down to the minute. I’ve even lined up my reading material for the plane on my fully-charged Kindle. And the sharing-size bag of Maltesers for the seat pocket in front of me, none of which will be shared with my neighbour.
And then you pulled that face.
“You’re going on your own? That’s a long way. How long will your recovery period be? Aren’t you scared? Ooh, I hate hospitals.”
And just like that, you burst the happy bubble.
I try to be kind. I try to remember that you’re seeing things differently. I try to bear in mind that surgery is usually a negative thing for you. Being opened up with a scalpel and having surgeons rearrange things in there, that’s a little bit frightening, isn’t it? What if something goes wrong? And it’s a long way from home if something goes wrong.
But you make me angry anyway, when you say things like that.
Because for me, surgery is healing. Surgery is correcting what went wrong. Surgery is going to open doors that dysphoria’s been holding closed for twenty-eight years. I’ve been fighting for five years to get to this point, and I nearly lost that fight many times along the way. Without surgery, I would not be twenty-eight years old with two good careers, a fiancée, and a home to call my own.
I’m thrilled to finally be here. To be at the end of the road. And your response to my joy is to pull that face, and tell me that I’m doing the wrong thing.
Oh, I know you don’t mean that. But that’s what it sounds like. That’s what it feels like. And when I say I’m excited, and this doesn’t scare me at all, you look at me like I’ve lost my mind.
“I’d be scared!”
Yes, well, you’re cis. You don’t know what dysphoria can do.
This’ll be the last time I talk about my surgery in front of you, because I’ve learned my lesson. I don’t want to put my excitement on hold to teach you. I don’t want to have my happiness spoiled by your anxious expressions. So I’ll shut it away and show it to other people, and we just won’t talk about it anymore. I won’t share my momentous occasions with you anymore. I’ve learned.
But one day, there’ll be another me. There’ll be someone else in your life sharing their excitement about the same thing. So next time, maybe try one of these.
“Are you excited?”
“Ooh, I hope it goes exactly how you want!”
“Fingers crossed! And demand the good stuff!”
Anything that’s happy. Anything that shares in the excitement. Anything that boosts the smile on their face, like you couldn’t bring yourself to engage with the one on mine.
I’m not here to be your teacher…but maybe you can still learn from me after all.
Your First Trans Friend