Colo-vaginoplasty

Can I get a longer vagina? To see the Urological surgeon Phil Thomas to find out.

On the train I type my last two entries, and they clear my mind. I know I want this for itself not for any image or understanding of myself which I wish to preserve. It is liberating.

The answer seems to be No. He asks if I have a partner. Without a male partner, why do I care? Well, I had that one incident with Jim. He was beautifully generous, and I opened up to him. I mime it to communicate it better: I was closed up, turned away, self-protecting, curled up, and with gentle touch he brought me to relaxation and receptivity. It was a beautiful experience. It made me think that a physical relationship might be possible, even fulfilling.

He emphasizes risk. He says there is a 1% risk of adhesions, where the scar in the bowel heals up in such a way as to block the bowel. 1% sounds impossibly high. After her tumour was removed, my mother suffered adhesions and needed emergency surgery. She would have died otherwise. It is possible that the scar would leak fluids from the bowel into the flesh around it, causing appendicitis or other life-threatening complications.

The bowel itself is a natural tube, so does not need dilating; however the entrance hole is not, and does. He refuses to give any guidance on dilation: there are no rules. I would have to be dilating three times a day to start with and he has no idea how long I would have to be dilating six months later; but I would have to dilate life-long. Some people find the mucus generated by the bowel segment, and discharged, unpleasant; but if the entrance shrinks and the mucus builds up it can threaten health.

I am unlikely to get funding. As well as everything else, having paid for surgery abroad would count against me.

He examined me. There is no place to put my clothes, which seems crass, so I put them on the pillow. I am glad of the female chaperone. Then I lie back, prepare myself, relax, and a man I don’t know puts his finger up me. He tells me he can get about two phalanges of his middle finger in.

I could try dilating again. He offers to stretch me under general anaesthetic: I would be in as a day case, and need someone to escort me home. Oh, OK: there is no point in declining now, though I may refuse later.

I go East on the District Line, loving the poems on the Tube and feeling the sensation of cold lube in my crotch.

Dali, The Accommodations of Desire

Dilation

Orchard in bloom with poplars, detail (2)For someone who moves as often as I do, I have a great deal of junk- especially as “De-cluttering” is fashionable. I have a spare bedroom filled with junk, stuff I might use again and stuff I certainly won’t, and there is a bag in it which gives me painful memories when I see it in the pile, though I cannot quite bring myself to throw it away. It contains four plastic dilators, some outdated lubricant, and tools for douching myself.

I went to Thailand for my op, having heard that Dr. Suporn Watanyusakul produced particularly deep neovaginas, did not require pre-operative electrolysis to remove hair from the scrotum, and preserved the glans to produce a clitoris. Rather than lining the neovagina with penile skin, he used the scrotum, and I understand much of my seven hours under anaesthetic was occupied removing those hairs. Scrotal skin does not stretch like penile skin does, but there was no need to stretch with the 7″ of depth he generally achieved. Immediately after, I would have to “dilate” by inserting a plastic dildo into myself for two hours each morning and two hours each evening. I would hold a water-bottle between my legs to prevent the dilator from coming out.

I found this painful. The pain was in the opening to my vagina, and was constant while I dilated. Initially I was supposed to put in the medium dilator at first and replace it with the larger one, and then use the larger one only. I found this difficult. I used to get up at five, insert the dilator, and lie in bed trying to rest, but though I was supine I found it exhausting rather than restful. I crashed my car, writing it off and damaging another which I shunted, driving home in order to dilate after work. I hated it.

After six months, I was supposed to be able to reduce this to one session of two hours each day. However, when I did so, I found I could only use the medium dilator. On two hours a day, the opening was shrinking. So I gave up. I consulted a plastic surgeon and a gynaecologist, but rather than looking for a solution I was really seeking absolution for giving up. I could not celebrate my determination in sticking out six months, as I had failed. Eventually, I absolved myself.

I thought the orifice would heal up, and it does, but very slowly: ten years later I still have a neovagina, suitable for intercourse if my partner’s penis is no longer or thicker than my thumb. (People sometimes comment on my beautiful, feminine hands.) I had one try at what we jokingly referred to as “organic dilation”- using something organic rather than plastic- but it did nothing for me. My friend said her partner, after, complained of being sore, as our organ is not as stretchy as real ones. I have little sexual sensation in my clitoris, though this may be psychological rather than physical.

Some years after a trans woman gave me a dilator as thick as my thumb, to use in order to build up to thicker ones. Worth a try, perhaps, though I have never used it. Yet I cannot bring myself to throw that bag away.