Why would I want another operation on my genitals? Why would I even think of it?

I discussed a colo-vaginoplasty with Phil Thomas, consultant urologist and the surgeon who does vaginoplasties for trans women on the NHS. He said I was unlikely to get funding, and in my circumstances the risks were unacceptable. However, he offered to stretch my vagina under anaesthetic. Eleven months later, the date for that, 17 October, looms.

If I had a colo-vaginoplasty, I could be penetrated. The stretch would not by itself make that possible. My opening is too small. It would need to be stretched further by dilation. I don’t know why he offered. At best, it is a step towards what I said was my goal, which he can justify. I don’t think he would fob me off. I loathed dilation so much I stopped, and the thought of going back to it now revolts me as much as it did. So the stretch would be useless. That makes the cost of it to the NHS and to me a consideration: anaesthetics are dangerous, it is a bother to go into London, it would be painful.

So I would have it done by the registrar, and the dates proposed were inconvenient (the first was just before Christmas) then she went off on maternity leave. Then I was offered this date. A nurse phoned up and I declined. She persuaded me to go ahead- the surgeon has recommended it, he must think it beneficial- and, weakly, I gave in. Then I had a letter giving the date, and still I did nothing. Then a woman phoned to check I had someone to take me home and look after me overnight afterwards, because I probably could not have a bed overnight to recover fully from the anaesthetic. Yes, I lied. And just before writing this, on Friday 14th, I phoned to cancel.

Why would I equivocate? I don’t know. Sometimes we pursue a wrong course until the obviousness of its wrongness becomes unignorable- and I can deny reality like the best of them. Or the authority figure, the surgeon and the nurse, say do it and I don’t consult my own wishes but my respect for authority.

Or I feel guilty about giving up dilation (yes) and hope against hope that something could be done.

So I sat in a funk, thinking that probably I would not go and so the decision would be made for me. To get to the hospital by 12 I have to get a train at whatever time, and not eating after 6am would be a pain. That is not behaving well to the hospital, but might be all I could manage. I have been depressed about this all week. The authority figure says do it. I ought to want it. I am still living with the guilt of giving up. And now I have decided not to do it.

Just not going, like a sulking person (I was going to write “child” as sulking is “childish”) is a way of avoiding what I do not want to do. Positively deciding and stating that feels more grown up. What can I achieve, or expect? What do I want?

Why would I want the “procedure”- they don’t refer to “operations”- is a useful question. These are emotionally significant reasons- hope, guilt, respect for authority- that have no relation to reality.

4 thoughts on “stretch

    • I am not sure it was ever possible, but I have never been willing to put in the effort necessary to dilate myself sufficiently for penetration. I would need to make the effort to dilate, to avoid the opening shrinking further- I had thought it would have closed up by now. There seems little point in making that effort for a slightly bigger but still tiny opening.


  1. Something within was stopping you, it sounds like your heart wasn’t in it because you genuinely saw no benefit. Some kind of halfway house offer that wouldn’t actually take you halfway anywhere at all. And you may not even want to take that path anyway, though not being able to have an operation funded by the NHS takes the option away I’m guessing anyway. It reads as though a part of you was going along with it all because to say no, might make you or others feel that you aren’t committed to who you are. But you already are who you are – you’re Clare, a woman called Clare. I don’t mean to simplify this, genitals are a big deal without doubt, how we view own and how others view them from the outside, and I can’t know your mind, but it read to me like that.

    esme feeling for her upon the Cloud

    Liked by 1 person

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