When I told my dad I wanted surgery, it went something like this.
We were at the Zócalo – Mexico City’s downtown district – shopping for my very first suit. He started talking about how the staff didn’t know whether I was a boy or a girl, how they were very confused by the whole situation. “You know I don’t care. I’m fine with that, I’m fine with you and whatever and however you want to be.” This was 6 months since I had started speaking to him again – after an entire year of silence due to my parents’ rejection. At the beginning of that year, my father had sent me a huge apology that his whole worldview had changed, for the better. At some point he realized that “it’s better to add than to subtract” (as he puts it) and that he loved me no matter what, something which, over the years, he has continued to prove true.
“I just want you to be happy” he continued. But this was still a sensitive time for me, and in that heat-packed car in late June, in between jokes and offhand remarks, he was fetching for the truth. So he added, “just, don’t ever do anything to your body.”
“Actually dad…” The Philadelphia Trans Health Conference – one of the biggest pivot points in my life – was only a couple of weeks behind me, and with it the revelation that top surgery was a real “thing.” I came away with the obvious conclusion that I must do it immediately. “Actually dad, I was thinking of having top surgery. It’s a real thing, lots of people do it. It’s something I really want, and I think it will make me really happy. ”
My dad exhaled, one half of him probably disappointed that his fears were confirmed, the other half happy that it had won the internal bet. “Ok,” he said after a few brief seconds, “if it’s going to make you happy, that’s fine. Just don’t do anything else after that.”
I promised I wouldn’t. Even as we sat in my hotel room emptying the drains in my swollen chest, I promised this was the one and only thing I wanted and needed. Even though, at that point, “transition” wasn’t a concept in my vocabulary yet. And, at that point, I meant every word of it.
Then came the hormones. I wrote a letter to him which I never delivered, so my dad accidentally found out I was on testosterone after sending him an unpublished article from my blog. “I can see you have a great team of doctors taking care of you, so I’m not worried.” He was probably trying to reassure himself more than me. “I just can’t imagine you with a beard.” Nope dad, neither can I, but the nuances of my identity continue to escape him, so I’ve stopped trying to explain. “But that’s all, right? That’s all you’re doing? Just a low dose and then you’re done.” (You know where this is going.) “That’s right dad, that’s all, I don’t have plans for more.” And, at that point, I didn’t.
I guess the legal name and gender change were not all that surprising, especially since it’s something I had brought up before. Probably the quickness with which it happened was the surprising part, at least for him, since I didn’t share much of the process (nor the interminable waiting) I had to go through. It took a while to find my name, which was the biggest hurdle, and it’s true he’s still kind of confused by it. Probably not overly enthusiastic either, since he’s never met or heard of anyone named Micah. The name is a bit anglophonic, I’ll admit, and everybody who speaks Spanish pronounces it /mee-kah/. But that’s OK with me, so it’s OK with my dad.
It’s not that I’ve lied to him, because every single time he asks me, I’ve told the truth. But much like us, the truth changes over time.
At this point, whatever I decide to do is fine by my dad. While the possibility of my body changing is not in his list of thrilling news he looks forward to, he’s very accepting of it once he processes the implications of whatever it is I’m doing. Especially the part about me being happy.
Still, it doesn’t make me any less hesitant (and scared) to tell him that I just scheduled a hysterectomy for January.
21 thoughts on “Today’s Truth”
He keeps catching up with you, and that makes him a classy dad in my book. You’re both lucky.
Awesome! Here’s keeping fingers crossed for an uneventful surgery and quick recovery. 🙂
Ah well, you know there’s going to be a blog post about how I’m second-guessing everything and did a bunch of intellectualizing research to reassure myself. Perhaps I should ask Dr Rose!
Your dad sounds fantastic. That’s a step I’m considering myself, would love to read more about your research.
Based on his previous responses to your stages of transition, I am guessing you’ll get a sigh and a “OK if it makes you happy but don’t do anything more” again. Which kind of makes me chuckle. Your dad seems to have come a long way. Here’s hoping he keeps walking with you on this life journey. And all the best for your surgery.
Haha, you’re right, that’s totally going to be his response!
i’m really glad your dad is dealing as well as he seems to be. yay! i do the bargaining thing, too. first it was “just a new name, that’s all.” then it was “oops! better start binding all the time!” and then “oh, and, uh, now i want top surgery. and maybe a hysto one day. eep!”
i like how you tucked the bit about getting a hysto in at the end. it’s almost like you were hoping we wouldn’t quite notice… yeah, you’re awesome.
you’re spot on, there’s a lot of self-bargaining that goes on in the process, and as I like to say, we do things when we’re ready.
I guess everyone noticed that last bit… goes to show people do actually read what I write, till the very end!
Yes, truth is not written in stone, and even if it were, stone breaks down with time. I am deeply touched to see the love that you both have for each other, in spite of your differences. Deanna Joy
Out of curiosity, are you considering eventually going with an infibulation/vaginectomy?
Also, I can’t help but find it monstrously unfair that FTNs’ various surgeries are of the sort that one can simply get due to informed consenst (because they’re not too unheard of for medical reasons for other reasons), but MTNs’ ones require long periods of therapy, finding extremely sympathetic doctors, and jumping through a LOT of hoops even with ridiculous amounts of supporting documentation (especially in my case, where I haven’t been able to stay on an anti-androgen for very long because of their primary effects causing other health problems – because of course there’s no drug that JUST reduces T levels, since why should there be because T is normal and T is good and blah blah blah, and of course me being on spiro for a few months and feeling BETTER THAN I EVER HAD BEFORE OR SINCE isn’t enough for “any responsible surgeon” to use as a justification, according to the only surgeons who have even given me the time of day).
Uh, sorry about the rant.
No, I totally understand. Because WHO WOULD EVER WANT TO REMOVE THEIR GENITALS right? But… only if they are on the outside, oh and and define your entire sense of manhood upon which society is built.
I hope you find a doctor who will listen. In the UK there have been a handful of bottom surgeries, though I don’t know of the details.
Yeah, there have been a few cases of it happening through legitimate medical channels, and quite a few more of it going through cutters and other such things. Semi-famously, the Samui clinic in Thailand would do this surgery, but unfortunately the Thai government put an end to their “medical tourism” practice. Meanwhile, there was a semi-well-circulated story about a year ago about a Japanese MTN artist, and I actually got in touch with him (we managed to communicate well enough via Google Translate and our respective minimal understandings of each others’ languages) and he gave me a couple pointers, but unfortunately the doctor he went with doesn’t deal with foreigners either.
In the US bodymod/eunuch community there was a very well-known guy named Tom the Eunuch who was as far as I know the first person who at least publicly sought this out and managed to get it and document it, but his doctors asked him to keep their identities secret since they were afraid of losing their licenses due to malpractice and so on. And the last I heard, he’d had a stroke and disappeared off the Internet.
But still, at this point I wish I could even just get a damn orchiectomy.