Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins University ceased performing gender reassignment operations in the 1970s. Steve, or Stevo, has been clicking links on the Internet, never an easy way of achieving understanding, and felt the need to tell me this. He read an article, I think he said by a surgeon, which argued against the operation, claiming it did no good.

I felt such anger, and expressed it pungently. The reason surgery does not always do us much good is that we are so damaged before we get it. I went on to Sam Hashimi, who transitioned to Samantha Kane and wrote or had ghosted a book about how she had been Liberated to be her True Self, then reverted to Charles Kane and started making complaints about her psychiatrists. As if there was a discrete group of people who are “Transsexual”, whom psychiatrists can recognise, and who on reassignment will live Happily Ever After; and another group of people, always wrong about their desires, whom a psychiatrist should recognise as Not Transsexual and discourage from transition. Kane now has this hydraulic thingy which in some ways resembles a penis. (As opposed to the organ which some trans men acquire, which is one.)

I am not attached to the identity “woman”. If you want to call me a man, go ahead- though you will have to stretch your definition of the word to include me, with my desires, feelings, actions and way of being; and indeed stretch your ideal, for I am in no way an “inferior man”.

Transition is difficult. Living authentically as who I am is difficult. It does not mean that I am wrong to try, because living in denial of my feminine self is impossible.

What may I do with the anger? I went back to the Circle after this conversation- I have been on retreat with HAI- still feeling my anger. I felt the need to share. The only identity I am attached to is “Abigail”. This is so difficult, with various groups saying that I should not transition for various reasons, often linked to the fact that I do not have a uterus. This is who I am. My anger has been a burden, as I have been frightened of it, and frightened of showing it.

It can be my power source. My anger is energy, which I can waste energy on suppressing or holding back, or use to live life more fully. I get up, and prowl around the circle, looking people in the eye. Hello. I am Abigail. Hello.

In the closing circle, the instruction was say a few words. I said, “Gift. Gratitude. Love. Respect.” Then I laughed. After, someone said they wished some of my laughter could be not ironic. Some of my laughter- more and more of it- is joyous.

William Holman Hunt, the Lady of Shalott

6 thoughts on “Johns Hopkins

  1. I don’t disagree per say with gender reassignment surgery but I would classify it with other cosmetic surgery and I think that cosmetic surgery is a waste of medical resources in a world that needs medical procedures for life saving reasons, and there isn’t always enough money for that. Having said that, I don’t mind so much if people have cosmetic surgery as long as they pay for it themselves.

    I understand you perspective on this and am sorry I had to disagree with you again.


    • The world needs life-saving procedures, yes, but why should the resources for that come only from cosmetic procedures?

      The world also needs procedures to improve life. A breast reduction will not save anyone’s life, but would help the man with gynaecomastia go outdoors without feeling everyone is staring at him. Or a woman with an unusually large bust, who gets back pain because of its weight. So there we have a cosmetic operation, for physical problems, mental problems- do you draw the line there? Then what about top surgery for a trans man. He goes around in a binder, which is extremely uncomfortable. Why would you have surgery for the cis man with gynaecomastia, but not the trans man with female breasts? If you would have surgery for the physical problem of back pain, why not the mental problem of self-consciousness, with which most people would sympathise? Or would you restrict surgery to “life-saving” situations?

      Oh, and get an NHS. Everyone hears about the US health care system, and shudders.


      • Why would you have surgery for the cis man with gynaecomastia, but not the trans man with female breasts?

        I’m not saying I would. I would put surgery for physical problems ahead of mental problems. I would say the mental problems of individuals are easier to solve then the mental problems of the public at large. So in the case of the trans man going around in a binder it would be a case of what would be most cost effective – a mental or physical treatment.

        One other thing – Why would you presume a British citizen resides in the U.S?


        • Sorry about that. Most on WordPress are from the US.

          How do you define a physical problem? “Gynaecomastia” is a name for a “condition” because people do not like it. It does not conform to our ideas of Manliness. But it is a natural physical process. Deal with the mental problem! Make these men happy with their moobs!

          Mental treatment to make us happy has never worked, any more than ex-gay “therapy”.


          • Very good example. Gynaecomastia should have low or no priority for public funded surgery. Put it this way. If you had cancer and were awaiting surgery how many cases of Gynaecomastia would you like ahead of you in the queue?

            If medical treatment to make people happy never worked they would never have put half the population on Prozac.


            • It does not work that way. NICE assesses Quality Adjusted Life Years to calculate cost-effectiveness. We have the infrastructure in place, including the professionals, for a certain amount of cancer treatment and plastic surgeons could not just be transferred over so easily. There are different queues. And I imagine gynaecomastia can be extremely distressing- of course I want it treated on the NHS.


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