Guest Blogger

But, where's my penis?

Filed By Guest Blogger | December 13, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: gender construct, Ronald Gold, transgender, transitioning

Editors' Note: Not Aiden is a gay man of trans* experience who prefers to remain anonymous because he's tired of being everyone's token tranny. He enjoys photography, notaiden.pngyelling at Project Runway contestants, and the eternal search for a good gay film. For the moment you can catch him at Not Another Aiden.

"Let me state it categorically. There is no such thing as a male or female personality. Personality is not a function of gender."

Well, Mr Gold, you at least got one thing right. After all, can't everyone agree that there's no one true way to be a man or a woman? We're all a mix of different ideas, hobbies, dreams, and traits that transcend the boundaries of male and female. I like boy bands and bluegrass, shopping and soccer. I wear conservative suits and (on occasion) glitter eye shadow. Yes, I have many traits that fall into the "gay sissy" stereotype. I also have a few that would put John Wayne to shame. My gender is not defined by my personality; I am simply a man like any other.

I am also a transsexual. I am the exact opposite of what most people (trans and cis) expect a female to male transsexual to be like, yet here I am.

Why am I a transsexual? Contrary to popular belief, it's not due to some deep seated desire to conform to societal expectations. I could have done that far more easily (and cheaply!) without the therapy and weekly injections. I am a transsexual because I wake up every morning and wonder where my penis has gone.

That's not a popular thing to say these days, particularly not in trans* circles. You see, in an effort to welcome people of all gender identities, body orientations, and experiences we've started insisting that genital configuration does not matter. To many of us this is true; there are trans* men who are perfectly happy with their vaginas and trans* women who have no desire to invert their penises. However, we have forgotten about the people like me, the people who don't care about the societal implications of gender nearly as much as the physicality of changing sex.

While I fully agree that no one should be forced into medical treatments they don't want in order to conform to a cisgendered doctor's idea of what a "real" transsexual is, I would like to point out that we've backed ourselves into a corner by dismissing body image entirely. If we don't transition for the physical aspects and we understand that there's no such thing as a male or female personality...why exactly are some people trans*?

Some would say it's a political identification. There is no such thing as gender, therefore they are trans* because they transcend societal gender norms. That's great for you, but then why do some of us feel the need to take hormones and/or have surgery in order to be comfortable with ourselves? Surely you don't buy into Mr Gold's premise that we're all simply trying to fit into a heterocentric society? I disprove that theory and I'm not even trying.

I was raised to participate in beauty pageants, but also take Kung Fu and kickboxing with my (male) cousins. I enjoyed princess dresses and grimy jeans. Now, those jeans had better have been the proper wash to go with whatever shirt I was wearing, but I didn't mind if they got dirty or ripped while I was out rollerblading with my friends.

The social aspects are not why I transitioned. In fact, I was able to enjoy "honorary flame queen" status long before I ever came out. For some reason it didn't occur to people that if I was wearing a glittery gown and high heels it wasn't exactly drag. I dated gay guys, participated in all the same social activities as my gay male friends, and generally did what I do now. I still wasn't happy.

It's hard to explain to someone who's never experienced it, but I'm never quite comfortable in my own body. I know, that's so cliché, but in my case it's true. I wear a binder that exacerbates my asthma and ruins my back because I can't handle looking down and seeing breasts. I can't have a sexual fantasy without being disappointed when it's over because I don't have a penis. I inject myself with hormones every week even though I'm terrified of needles because I only started being able to recognize myself in the mirror after my facial features started shifting.

There is nothing societal about my need to transition. If there was I'd have been happy when I was nine and everyone thought I was a boy anyway. I certainly wouldn't continue to prance around like a hyperactive fairy now that people see me for the man I am. Any effeminate guy can tell you, we're not exactly accepted by society.

In my case that goes triple. I certainly am not well loved by close minded people who toss around "sissy" and "nelly" as insults. I've had more than a few trans* men tell me that I'm not "really" trans because I have no desire to wear baggy polo shirts and stop smiling in order to force society to see me as a man. I even know of gay men who think guys like me (be they trans* or cis) should stop being ourselves because we "enforce harmful stereotypes."

What no one seems to realize is that I am what I am (horrible musical references included). You can say I've been brainwashed by society, others can say I'm buying into stereotypes, still others can say I need to accept my body and move on. At the end of the day none of that matters. I'm here. I'm queer. Get used to it.


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I love it! Thank you for posting this.

My own experience has been similar, with the body-issue aspect. I went back and forth on the issue, usually just trying to fit in to whatever attitude was in-vogue with the group I hung out with.

Now that I feel comfortable in who I am, my physical transition has little to do with gender. I am usually a femmey girl, but I also veer into genderqueer territory quite easily. The bottom line, though, is my sense of how my body is supposed to be. "But, where's my vagina?" I can tolerate having the wrong bits, but it sure as hell isn't ideal. It's a nagging itch that can't be scratched. I have other body issues as well, but they can't be fixed. It's an eternal compromise.

Angela Brightfeather | December 13, 2009 6:01 PM

I really don't know why people don't understand the quesgtion of who is a man or who is a woman are unquestionably a hot button issue that even the Supreme Court doesn't dare touch.

On at least several occassions in gthe past tebn years, the Supreme's have been faced with having to accept cases that would most probably end in a judgement of what is a man and what is a woman. In all cases, they have decided that they are not going to take up those caseds and decide on them.

What does it take for people to understand that if the Supreme Court does not think that they can figure it out, people like the Friends of the Family sure can't either.

As you say, the refusal to accept the fact that we are what we are and other's need to not be satisfied to accept us as just people first, usually leads to losses on both sides of the coin.

Aiden, thanks so much for writing this. Transgender (IMO) has a lot to do with gender expression (and also gender ID). But transsexual has all that and, very specifically all the body issues you've mentioned. It's about body mapping to the brain (and no, I don't believe it's one in the same as 'Body Dysmorphic Disorder'). No one should have to apologize for those feelings or made to think they've been brainwashed by the patriarchy because they feel that way. It's not incidental to who we are and what we've gone through. I'm a woman who's trans, have had SRS and, despite how fortunate I feel to have been able to have that, still have a lot of body issues, it's not all about genitalia. Yup, I have issues with not being able to have given birth (although I do get to experience being a parent to my amazing daughter who came into my life through adoption). I have issues with my hips and shoulders and how tall I am, my foot size, all even though I 'pass' in everyday life and very much live as the woman I experience myself to be. But I also understand that, for me, transition is an imperfect gift whose limitations I've begrudgingly needed to accept. Transition (and all the difficulties attending it) have taken me much farther than I had any right to expect, but it will never quite make the screw-up of being a transsexual at birth disappear. Queer folks out there, this fact of our lives does NOT in any way demean or dispute your queer theory or how right living between the binary is for many. It's about us, not you... it doesn't have to be one or the other. That would be another kind of binary.

crescentdave crescentdave | December 13, 2009 8:50 PM

I'm also happy Aiden wrote this. It's an unapologetic statement of personal reality. I think, though, there's definitely room in queer theory for a more inclusive range of gender & sex expression and identification ... or should I say ... understanding.

I'm tired of the boxes and the need to "prove" the legitimacy of what I know, what I feel, what I experience. It's why I appreciate posts like this.

"(and no, I don't believe it's one in the same as 'Body Dysmorphic Disorder')"

I can't stand when people bring up body dysmorphic disorder to try and invalidate transsexual feelings. I know that for me, changing my body has nothing to do with becoming more "beautiful" or more attractive—it has to do with becoming more female. There is a big difference between the two. I do have that urge to be more attractive, like most girls in our society do, but that is separate from the issues regarding my subconscious sex (as Julia Serano calls it).

I don't think BDD and GID are the same thing, but I'd like to clear up the misconception that people are only diagnosed with BDD when they want to be more attractive. While the plastic surgery addicts are the classic image of BDD most people are aware of, many others with BDD have much more subtle manifestations. Some people look in the mirror and watch their bodies shift right in front of them. Suddenly they have three arms or one leg or an extra 600 pounds of weight. It's not quite as simple as wanting to be prettier.

That's interesting, I had no idea.

It's not just personal reality. It's reality reality. Despite all the bs "gender" lunacy coming out of various circles these days, there really is such a thing as transsexual. I hope more people like Aiden can write about their experiences without being attacked by the gender machine.

As a queer (faggy, geeky) trans guy myself, it's nice seeing this in a broadly public forum. A bunch of the standard Trans 101 phrases still mess up on the sex/gender front... like "sex is between the legs, gender is between the ears". An internal sense of sex exists, seperate from one's internal sense of gender, and like Aiden, I transitioned because I felt like I was a male (but not necessarily a man). Cheers.

I'm glad you made it over here Aiden. I read your blog before it went temporarily dark and found it quite a good read. Even though I'm a cis-male I have experienced situations where my physical body has let me down in ways that were challenging to overcome. It isn't the same thing, but I can relate on some level to the emotion. Of course it is the conservative suits and glitter eye shadow that I want to read about. ;)

peace,
g

Lol, maybe I'll put up a picture of my glitter pinstripe suit when the site goes back up...

Dominic Collins Dominic Collins | December 13, 2009 11:18 PM

I see so much of my own experience in this post. I was just about to send in an entry for possible publication, but I think you just said everything I could have said that isn't pure wankery.

Thank you for posting this.

Thanks for posting this.

I think that, just maybe, something good is coming out of this whole Ron Gold thing, because these things are being discussed in front of a perhaps wider audience, that needed to see it.

I readily admit to being a gay man who has at times been far too ignorant of the life experiences of trans people, and a couple of years ago, after a random (drunken) conversation with a transgender woman who started out as a drag queen at our local gay club, it hit me that there was a lot more that I needed to understand.

So, whenever possible, I'm doing my best to be a strong trans ally. But there are still so many people out there, in our wider community and beyond, who simply don't know that they don't know.

So, at least for that, I'm glad this conversation is going on.

"I think that, just maybe, something good is coming out of this whole Ron Gold thing, because these things are being discussed in front of a perhaps wider audience, that needed to see it."

Would that you are right.

It's only that the very same stuff has been argued, suggested, tossed about, for the last 40 years.

Folks coming out are still told they can be "pioneers", even though Christine J. was splashed all over the newspapers in 1952-53.

Ah well, I've met gay guys who were far more accepting than many lesbians, and had my spirits bucked up by some of the kindest of the Radical Faeries during a very dark period.

I guess we get support where we can.

At the same time, that does not make us a "community". It does mean some folks are kind, and willing to live their ideals.

That's a good thing.

To be fair, many early transsexuals were openly homophobic and tried to distance themselves from the GLB community as much as possible. So much has changed within the trans* community since then that it's not really fair to say we're fighting for the exact same things as Christine Jorgensen and Michael Dillon.

It's only really within my own lifetime that trans* men like me have been allowed to transition at all. Lou Sullivan was in the 70s, but he was so far out of the realm of most people's experience that he had to fight people every step of the way. Therapists insisted he wasn't really trans, doctors refused to treat him, there was only one surgeon who would even talk to him and that was after years of arguing.

Hell, effeminate trans* men are still dealing with those things, both in and out of the trans* community. That's not even including the changes that have come from genderqueer and breaking the gender binary. It's not the same fight it was in 1950, it's barely even the same fight it was in 1980.

california panda | December 14, 2009 2:45 AM

Perfect! You are perfect. The article is perfect. I love it. I love you. I am totally entranced by this viewpoint. From a geek woman of operative history who loves chop-saki Kung Fu movies and torn jeans, and frilly dresses and skydiving, and .... well... you get the picture.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Valerie

Hey, Not Another Aiden, cool that you post here!

I came here because of the Gold discussion and it's been an interesting read so far.

I think it's almost inevitable that we as transfags come to the conclusion that there must be more about the trans experience than gender-- because prior to coming out as trans, often our gender (and sexual desire) is to a large degree feminine enough to live as straight women. But still we struggle with those feelings that something is wrong and that we need to live as guys, effeminate gay guys.

The sheer existence of transfags disproves lots of stereotype thinking about trans *and* gay.
Because if:
a. female to male transsexuals are men trapped in women's bodies
and
b. gay men should have been girls
than
c. there can't be female to gay male transsexuals, right?

But still we are here.
(the same holds true about trans butch dykes, of course)

Same here and I recognize you from Not Aiden's site, so Hi! Anyway, I need to chime in on this.

I am also an effeminate gay trans man and my life does not match the typical trans narrative in that before my transition, my gender expression and sex matched up perfectly.

I have a typically feminine personality and I was born female. I lived as a heterosexual woman and was never mistaken for a guy. I transitioned because I needed to have a masculine body (the hair, the muscles, the voice) to match my brain gender.

Now, I am always presumed to be a big homo sissy by strangers because of my gender expression, and this is okay for me, because I also identify as such. But I must be seen as male - this is not up for discussion. Just as gay men do not want to be seen as women, I don't as well.

rapid butterfly | December 14, 2009 8:57 AM

great article that really resonates within my own experience and, clearly, that of many other trans people here too. thank you.

Oh, Not Aiden. I'm so glad you decided to guest post - and you know there's a spot in the family if you ever decide to join us. I'm a huge fan of your blog - and Tumbler site.

A quick point that you left out and I got e-mails about that should be clarified - at least as I understand it. About a dozen gay men wrote in and asked why you didn't have a penis since you'd transitioned. They wondered if it was the same as MTF folks who decide - for whatever reason - not to have full surgery. I replied to each one to say that penis construction surgery isn't nearly as advanced as the surgery to invert the penis into a vagina. One takes an existing body part and transforms it, while the first would be creating something entirely new. Correct?

Would you or one of the other readers be willing to (pardon the pun) flesh that out a bit for some of our less knowledgeable readers?

bil,

as I sit here recovering from my, as you put it, penis construction surgery, I am saddened and a little disturbed by your words.

for one thing... I'm a gay man, too. so if you meant that only non-trans gay men e-mailed you, your comment would make more sense if you specified that.

many men do need these surgeries, and the vast majority of us who are fully informed going into surgery report no regrets and vastly improved quality of life due to decrease in body dysphoria. I certainly hope further comments here won't imply that my post-op body is in some way ugly or inferior, as that'd be awfully rude (and would make me feel quite shaky about my welcome in the/my gay community)...

many men do not get these surgeries. these men are men regardless of surgical status, and I don't think their reasons for not getting surgery should be any concern to non-trans people. what an invasive, personal question! it's a deeply personal topic that nobody owes anybody an answer or explanation for.

what should concern the whole lgbt community is that trans people often face steep financial obstacles to obtaining necessary medical care due to outright discrimination from insurance companies. lack of health care access also leads to difficulty changing documentation and a host of other related struggles...

I thought we learned from rob gold not to comment beyond our experience, on what we don't know?

True - I should have specified that it was cisgender gay men e-mailing me - most of whom didn't think they'd ever met someone who was FTM.

I don't think that I implied that your penis would be ugly or inferior. I simply said that the surgery techniques aren't as advanced. I'm not judging the looks or functionality of anyone's penis. How would I know unless I've seen it myself! *grins*

Lower surgery for trans* men is incredibly complex and debated. Currently there's no option that's near the same level of functionality and appearance that trans* women have. Meta ends up small (VERY small, even considering my height) and phallo requires mechanics (usually a pump) to get hard. Both have some serious cosmetic issues that will just frustrate me more than not having a penis at all.

That's not including the price factor. Top surgery for me has been estimated at $7k. Lower surgery with my preferred surgeon would be about $15k. That's money I don't have. Surgery is very rarely covered by insurance and when it is most surgeons still require you to pay up front and ask for a reimbursement later. In fact, the top surgeon I want to go with won't work with insurance at all. It's one of the major issues with classing transition-related surgeries as "cosmetic".

So for me it comes down to simple cost effectiveness. I can spend $15k on a surgery that won't actually make me any happier or I can go to Italy and buy myself a hideously expensive suit that will at least make me feel good when I wear it.

I respect your path for yourself.

to add to my other comments, I am tremendously happy with my surgery. from the moment I "came to" from anesthesia I've been so relieved, such a giant weight lifted. I never knew before what it was like to be so happy and comfortable in my body, and I hope every single person reading this will or has experienced this (whether it is surgery that brings them there or not)

I hope myths about unhsppiness and lack of functionality or aesthetics of mens' surgeries will not be discussed or perpetuated here. you'd be talking about real peoples' bodies, after all... (and the very most personal aspects of our bodies)

Oh I meant only to comment for myself. This entire thing is about me and my experiences. I fully understand that other men have made many different choices with regards to their bodies and would never want to diminish those choices. I'm sorry if it seems that I have.

Aiden, I just want to remind you that, for years, SRS for transwomen wasn't that great. Virtually every transwomen I know who transitioned in the 60s- 80s has had to have follow-up surgeries, had painful dilations or issues with penetration during sex. It's only in the last 10 years that sensation has really been improved in SRS MTF surgery. But those women needed, wanted and got SRS anyway knowing the results wouldn't be perfect. The truth is, no results from transition (especially when doing it as an adult) are going to be 'perfect' but that doesn't mean, therefore, they're not worth doing. When I was having my SRS there were a number of transmen recovering from their surgeries as well (both phalloplasties and metoidioplasties). I had a lot of opportunity to talk with them about how they felt about their bodies and procedures. They all had very rational expectations about their surgeries but needed to do them anyway. In the case of one guy who was coming back for a 'touch up' on his meta, he was incredibly happy with the results one year after. What I'm saying is, painting oneself in a corner of "either it's perfect or I won't get it" is a hard place to be. Sometimes you have to ask "do I NEED it or do I NOT need it". If you don't, well then, fine. If you do, then be realistic but also know, much of the benefit from SRS is emotional... perfect or not it brings a lot of peace of mind and sense of integration that someone who isn't transsexual will find hard to understand.

My issue is less about perfect (after all, there's a reason many men exaggerate their size) and more about "close enough for me." For that matter, it's about "close enough to still work with the next surgical advance". I seriously considered a phallo and only ruled it out in the last year because I don't want to hinder my ability to have one of the surgeries that will be available as time goes on.

This is an amazing time for medical advancements, particularly when it comes to trans* men. For decades society (including doctors) didn't recognise that we exist, now that they're starting to learn we're seeing more and more surgeons experimenting with new techniques. As you said, it's really only in the last decade that options for trans* women have gotten as good as they are. I don't want to have a surgery I'm not fully happy with now only to later have it keep me from getting the one I would have chosen to begin with.

(So you know, this is a tactic I take in other areas as well. I was the kid who held off on getting the latest video game system because a better one was scheduled to be released six months later.)

Can you explain the differences between meta and phallo? You gave a brief one for phallo, but even I don't know what meta is.

Thanks for your patience, Not Aidan. This isn't a subject that's been broached before on TBP, that I can remember.

It's unfortunate that our recent trans blow up has forced so many of our regular readers into e-mailing me instead of commenting, but they don't want to get jumped on for not knowing something. I'll be brave and ask the questions for them. This one, though, is for me since I don't know the difference either.

There's quite a bit of debate in the FtM community as to how much information about genital surgery should be available to non-trans* people so I'm not going to go into too much detail. I don't really care, but there are trans* men who feel that the more information is out there the more likely people are to assume they're trans rather than short/lean/etc. and I wouldn't want to make them feel threatened. As you can see, this is a VERY contentious topic.

Meta in the most basic terms takes what we've already got (a clitoris) and allows it to hang freely from the pubic mound. Phallo creates an entirely new structure using tissue taken from elsewhere on the body (most often the arm or side). Both have their advantages and drawbacks, not the least of which are potential loss of erotic sensation and ability to become erect.

There are some newer advances being made in surgical technology that I'm interested in. They're all still at the theoretical level though so it'll be quite a while before anyone has first hand experience.

Aiden, I've known a number of men who've had metas (BIl... respecting what Aiden said, a Meta is a combination of clitoral release usually combined with forming a testiclar sac from labial tissue, testicular implants and a urethral extension. They're usually about 11-17K depending where one goes) and not one has said they have issues with sensitivity. In fact, quite the opposite, they've been extremely pleased. From my life experience they very much fit in with the natural spectrum of penis sizes though maybe not for those into porn!

Okay, I get your video game analogy and realistically, I suspect you have a lot more life to live than i do but there comes a point where there's always 'something new'. One's body isn't like buying a car. Yes, I agree with phalloplasties, there may be tissue harvesting techniques in the next decade which create way less scaring than they do now but certain issues (like creating biologic erectile tissue) are very complex aren't likely to be solved for a looong time. Baring reincarnation, we all have only one life. Needless to say, I honestly wish I'd gotten SRS when I was 18, not in my early 50s.

Note that I never said which advantages or disadvantages would come from which surgical option. I try to stay away from discussing surgery in detail outside of RL FtM groups for this very reason. It's far too easy to say something that will be misinterpreted.

As for waiting, I doubt I'll last much past 30. For me, right now, at this point in my life the risks aren't worth it. I have more trouble finding guys because of my effeminate behaviour than my trans* history, I'm at a level of discomfort with my body that is liveable (though I admit, the genitalia problem does seem to get worse with each year), and I keep track of medical advances enough to have hope that by the time I can even save the money for surgery there will be an option that makes me happy.

It probably helps that I'm at an age where most of my non-trans peers are starting to settle down. If I'd had the option to have surgery when I was 18 and all of my friends were sleeping with a new guy every night I likely would've jumped at it simply so I could get laid more often. Now that I'm a bit older my relationships focus more on personality and shared interests than whether or not the guy's hot and well hung (though those are always added bonuses!)

Currently there's no option that's near the same level of functionality and appearance that trans* women have.

This is simply not true. Please do more research about surgical options for transitioning men before talking about our genitals.

Both have some serious cosmetic issues that will just frustrate me more than not having a penis at all.

I am so sick and tired of other trans men* talking about the "serious cosmetic issues" of "both" surgeries. First of all, there are more than two surgical options. Second of all, I have seen surgically constructed penises that you would never know were surgically constructed. Please remember that when you're talking about these surgeries and penises, people who have these penises with what you consider "serious cosmetic issues" might just be within earshot or reading what you say.

I am going to say this one more time and then I am done with the topic.

I was speaking ONLY for myself. For ME the current options are not worth the money, time, and pain. If I can't say that then what can I say?

I certainly am not going to begrudge anyone the choice to do what they wish with their own bodies. My comments are not meant to reflect how I feel about your body or anyone else's. For one thing, I likely have never met you. I am simply stating why I have not chosen to have any genital modification at this time.

If I were to say "I don't like red hair, it wouldn't look good on me" would everyone say I was attacking gingers? I certainly hope not because that would not be my intent. Just as my intent now is not to say that anyone's body is inferior.

I was speaking ONLY for myself. For ME the current options are not worth the money, time, and pain. If I can't say that then what can I say?

But this is not how you presented it. While it may not be an option for you, it is a viable option for many others. The problem here is that you explain that it isn't for you because of "serious cosmetic issues." To me, this says you haven't done a thorough job researching the options out there, because there are post-op men with penises without serious or any cosmetic issues. They look like dicks because they're dicks.

I certainly am not going to begrudge anyone the choice to do what they wish with their own bodies. My comments are not meant to reflect how I feel about your body or anyone else's. For one thing, I likely have never met you. I am simply stating why I have not chosen to have any genital modification at this time.

I get that, but I think you're missing the point entirely.

If I were to say "I don't like red hair, it wouldn't look good on me" would everyone say I was attacking gingers?

Seriously? Someone's hair color and someone's genital status aren't even remotely comparable. Come freaking on. You're missing the point. Your information about post-op genitals is inaccurate, outdated, and contributed to the myths men who have or are pursuing genital surgery have to constantly battle, even from within our own community.

I am a gay trans man and I don't plan on having bottom surgery, for many of the reasons that Not Aiden has posted elsewhere in this thread. Many trans guys (if not most) keep their bits untouched for those reasons and the fact they are not bothered by them.

I started transition 6 years ago and felt very insecure that I didn't have a penis when I was actively cruising for guys at clubs. But now, I'm okay with not coming well-equipped, because I still have fun with what I've got and many of the men I've dated have not had any problems either.

You may think that these men are straight, but they were not. They were gay, gay, gay. It took them awhile to get used to what was there instead of what they expected and some never did get used to it, but many just needed a little time. The key to all of this is for the other man to be open-minded. That's all it takes. You don't have to understand, you don't need to have experience, and you don't need a manual. You just need to accept that some men don't come with all the accouterments and that it doesn't preclude good times for all.

Bil,

You said, I replied to each one to say that penis construction surgery isn't nearly as advanced as the surgery to invert the penis into a vagina. One takes an existing body part and transforms it, while the first would be creating something entirely new. Correct?

No, this is not correct. There are many different surgery options out there for men who are medically transitioning. There many men out there with surgically constructed penises who have happy, healthy functional sex lives.

But don't worry, you're not the only one misled by a number of rumors that circulate about lower surgery for transitioning men. In fact, many of these rumors are perpetuated by transitioned/ing men who don't want to have surgery. There is a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of fear around our genital surgery not "being enough." It's incredibly frustrating to hear this from people within my own community speak negatively about our surgery options. When we do that, then we effectively say that the men who have chosen to pursue surgery have penises that aren't adequate in some way.

I challenge transitioned/ing men to do more research into the options, speak with men who have had surgery, and examine why they continue to talk about other peoples' genitals in a negative way.

"easier to make a whole than a pole" as the saying goes.

THe penis is a surprisingly complex organ that has unique tissues that are not available elsewhere in the body. It also has very unique plumbing.

The penis possess special tissue that absorbs blood when appropriately triggered and expands greatly, as well as extremely flexible skin. Duplicating these two parts is very difficult.

Although it is best for me to leave the specifics to a trans guy, the rough concept is that trans guys get a choice, more or less: they can pee or they can get hard.

Not both.

This means the complete functionality is not likely to achieve. Like many (but not all) people, I believe that part of the reason the science behind this has not advanced is sexism.

The choice is intensely personal on the part of the guys, just as it is on the part of the gals.

In more positive stuff, several recent developments ma converge to solve this particular issue within the next 10 to 15 years, and possibly to a greater degree of functionality than is presently allowed women.

And that I'll let Zoe talk about if she pops in.

based on my experience and knowledge, your commentary on the functionality of my penis is 100% incorrect.

When I saw your comment coming, I was piqued, and still am. In the curious sense. I like to learn.

Please help me by describing how.

You are, thus far, the first and only person to ever state such -- that makes you of interest, as there is something variant in our surgery or your personal experience that I would like to know in order to speak to the issues more clearly.

Yeah, if surgeons can come up with an option that looks and behaves like the penis I should've been born with I'll be the first one in line. It's just that right now there's nothing that wouldn't make me even more depressed than I already am.

One thing people tend to forget is that gay trans* men interact with other men's penises (if we have things our way anyway). It's not quite the same as a straight trans* man who usually only sees, feels, plays with, etc. his own. If there's something about my penis that isn't quite the same as one that wasn't surgically created I'm going to be confronted with it every time I get into bed with someone. I have enough problems not having one at all, dropping several grand on one only to have it not function the way I want would be many times worse.

I am also a gay man who has transitioned.

did you really just call my penis non-functional?

I respect anyone who doesn't want surgery. but there's no need to criticize others' bodies to make your point. phalloplasty is the best thing that's ever happened to me. perhaps that wouldn't be true for you. but neither of us has the right to generalize.

IMO, criticizing the appearance or function of my (or anyone's) penis should be against TOS here...

@Post-op: I hear you. I'm a post-op woman (and very happy and grateful I was able to have SRS). One issue I have in the trans community are people who are basically non-op ripping on SRS. It happens constantly with transwomen, whether out of bitterness and jealous, some queer identity, or reacting towards how they believe is SRS is an 'artificial status' within the community. I never judge pre-ops if they express frustration about SRS since I know their intention is still to ultimately have that as part of their transitions. But when I hear people who announce themselves as non-op talk a lot of smack and, often, misinformation about SRS (you'll never have an orgasm, it's fake, it's not like you'll have a uterus, it'll never feel real... yadda, yadda) then I have to wonder what that person's agenda is in talking about it. I'm especially on guard when I heard a non-op person start a sentence with "I have a friend who had SRS, and theirs turned out really bad, and..."

My reaction is, no thank you, I'm only interested in first person narratives!

It wasn't meant as a criticism. I only wanted to explain why the current options are not acceptable to me. Unfortunately, that requires stating what I think is problematic.

I understand it wasn't meant as a criticism.

however I think you can assert your own narrative without talking smack about mine. implying that my body is inferior or non-functional equates to talking smack.

I don't actually know why non-trans people need a reason from you, about why you haven't or won't have surgery. how is it any of their business? (and how would bil feel about being quizzed on the size and function of his genitals...?)

all that said, I was glad to see your piece published here. it was a welcome and encouraging response to the recent dose of Haterade (Gold flavor). as a gay [transitioned] man I hope people here will hear you out on the points you've made. and whatever your path, here's wishing you a wonderful holiday season :)

I have very few restrictions on what people can ask me about my own body. I try very hard to make sure they know that these are my answers and others will have different ones, but I don't shut down entire topics simply because another trans* man wouldn't be comfortable with them.

The way I see it, if someone doesn't answer these questions cis people will continue to have major misconceptions about trans* people. I can't tell you the number of times I've disclosed to someone only to have them think I'm MtF! I understand why most trans* men wouldn't want to do this (much as I hope they'll understand why I wish to remain anonymous), but since I'm comfortable I have no objection to answering for myself. They may not be the most polite questions in the world, but the vast majority of the time they come from a good place.

And again, I'm very sorry if I came off as implying that your body is somehow defective. It was not my intention at all. I read through that response for nearly half an hour trying to figure out if I could find any other way of wording it.

The way I see it, if someone doesn't answer these questions cis people will continue to have major misconceptions about trans* people.

The problem here is that when you describe our surgery options as you have above, these misconceptions continue. There are just as many misconceptions about lower surgery options within our own community as there are among cis people.

Elijah, I totally agree with you here. I can't believe the amount of misinformation I've seen in YouTube videos, etc. from FTMs about their SRS options. It always seems to break down to "I had a buddy who got this surgery, and it sucks... blah, blah". Interesting how "the buddy" is never the one to offer the information. Most of the videos on metoidioplasty don't even pronounce the term correctly, and that's where transitioners are getting their information from. I see some of the same spreading of misinformation on the MTF side largely from people who aren't anywhere near (or even willing) to get the surgery.

Antonia: Your comment about peeing or choosing to be hard isn't entirely accurate. FTMs who've been on T for several years (which you have to be in order to get either surgery) usually do get hard-ons with their enlarged clitorises. And with an urethral extension, you take a piss (I'm gendering this... can you tell) standing up. So, with a meta, you can do both. I've also known guys who do penetration with their metas. Granted, it's not John Holmes territory, but it gets the job done. I'm not trying to sell anyone on this procedure, but realistically, it's always going to cost a LOT less (again $11-18K vs. $35K on up to 75K) doesn't involve the extensive scarring that phalloplasties currently do (but may not in future) and has a much, much easier healing time. Moreover, getting a meta does not mean you can't get a phalloplasty in the future, you absolutely can.

Quite honestly, I think they're going to create a perfectly functioning surgical penis around the same time they create a surgical uterus and ovaries. The market ain't big enough and it's only likely to happen when certain other unrelated discoveries (perhaps for infertility or extreme penile dysfunction) are harnessed by some enterprising SRS surgeon. The changes which occurred in MTF SRS were very minor and relatively easy (rerouting nerves and mucosal tissue), not involving entirely new technologies.

It's an intensely personal experience for a guy, trying to figure out what his best options are.

There's a number of surgical procedures - and you really have to look at the track records of the surgeons involved. Is it better to go with one who gets a consistent 7/10, or one who sometimes gets a 10, sometimes a 2? Trying to find out this info is difficult, and there are few pictures of surgical results, nor good data on complication rates.

The consensus here where I live is that meta is the best option currently for most guys. And that the Serbian teams have the best track record. But this is truly a case of YMMV in a big way, and it's a very personal choice. One size does not fit all.

The G/F of a guy I know told me that while 2 inches is less than great in some ways, there are always toys. And that giving oral to her B/F was wonderful, that really is a case where size only matters if it's too big.

As for him? He can write his name in the snow. I will NEVER understand guys, but it seems that that's a big deal for them.

In the future - maybe 20 years - we'll be able to use existing techniques to grow cartilage scaffolds, and then colonise those with stem cells to produce a better reconstruction. We may also be able to turn off the FOXL2 gene so that the ovarian tissue masculinises, and the endocrine system flips to a male norm.

(Parenthetically, suppression of the SOX9 and FOXL2 genes might explain the few cases on record of people having a flipped endocrine system after severe trauma - and maybe even my own ideopathic condition).

Nice. Well done. I understand where you're coming from on this one, whole-heartedly. Being post-op, one would think my "issues" should all be worked out... but then, they're only issues to other people it seems. I guess they like subscribing to what I have to say and show... like comic books... people think the comic creators have the issues... but in the end, it's the people buying the books that have them, isn't it?

At any rate, the one thing that I've found quite curious is that from a scientific, biological, pure factual standpoint, it comes down to a Shakespearean question... "To modify my body, or not to modify my body... that is the question." As humans, we've been modifying our bodies for centuries. Genital reassignment (or rearrangement based on how you look at it) has been around for decades now. Society is more accepting of body modifications of various types now more than ever before... but modify our bodies to the point that they have to change the way they interact with us socially?? OMG... perish the thought! It's silly, it's stupid, it's ridiculous. Society... get over it. We're just being honest with you, finally... is that such a big deal? Or are we still, as a society, still so enjoying gobbling up "sweet little lies" that we can't deal with who people really ARE on the inside?

At this point in my life, for me personally, I'm well into the "whatever" stage. Call me what you want, it won't affect me anymore. I won't let it. I can deal with insults. I can deal with name calling. I can deal with your opinions. But if these begin to translate into lower pay, loss of income, loss of housing, loss of benefits, denial of basic human rights... you can bet I'll take up my sword and fight.

Mr. Gold has every right to say whatever he wants and I certainly won't jeopardize my rights to say what I want by impugning his. Having said that, I don't agree with his attack.

My view is that society is like a big cake still in the batter stage. We're all together in the same bowl... but there are a couple of chefs out there that think the nuts and berries should be beaten into a smooth, homogenous mixture while others know that they are awesome if they're left whole.

Interpret that however you like, the bottom line is that we should leave each other alone and get this thing in the oven before it spoils. :)

Not Aiden, you be exactly as you choose to be, honey. Those who love you for you will see the joy in your life and be grateful for it and help you celebrate. Those who don't are more-than-likely just jealous and want a little bit of what you got. Share it, but don't give it away... lol... what am I saying... you already know this, don't you? ;)

Peace,
Jenna

I thought for a long time on how and whether to respond to your comment. I assure you my life in the bathroom and the bedroom is quite satisfying (on the latter point, my boyfriend would agree! ;) ), however I'm not interested in discussing in detail here. I am not convinced that there is a benefit to folks knowing this info unless they're getting the surgery themselves... (at least none worth the sacrifice of discussing such personal issues)

Children, don't fight ;-)

From what I hear from my friends who are getting diverse surgeries here in the EU, these things have changed so much during the last 8 years or so. They are also different from country to country and from doctor to doctor. Sometimes surgeries that don't get done anymore in one hospital are still done in the other and so on. And every year some methods are improved. I was surprised how much had changed during the last years, even with top surgery.

Maybe it's time to go back to the original post, shall we?

That is pretty patronizing, even if it was tongue in cheek (referring to us as children). I appreciate the new voice and article here at Bilerico, but I'm also not going to sit back and watch even more misinformation be spread about lower surgery options. It isn't fair to our community and the men who have or are pursuing these surgeries.

I want to thank Not Aiden, postop, EJ, Elijah Jack, ginasf, and Zoe for assisting me in my collection of information regaridng surgcal options for FTM's the information and discourse around that information and its public availability, and realted stuff.

I understand a lot of the reticence and concern over such information, and accept the degree of discomfort that my asking for information can often lead to.

I need to know more, for personal reasons, and appreciate what people have shared thus far.

Thank you all.

Toni