For my 4th gender expression surgery in November of 2019 I chose not to share it with anyone… Well, mostly anyone. Some few people knew; my health providers were aware on a per need-to-know basis. Though my family knew I didn’t dwell on the details.

This surgery was different, very different from the others.  The other surgeries were… How can I put it… more public. For FFS, HT and then BA I was somewhat chatty about them before I had them done. Partially because I felt people would be seeing and noticing the results, so I preferred they heard about them from me beforehand, instead of speculating “what I had done”.  This 4th surgery in late 2019 was unlike the others. This surgery was more for me. To be crystal clear, all my surgeries have been for myself, but the one in 2019 was, for the most part, for me to see.

Not Sharing Before Deciding

While soul searching to see if this surgery was for me or not I did not want my decision to be influenced by anyone. Though the determination of all other prior surgeries had always been mine and mine alone, deciding on them and choosing where to go had a bit of influence from other people’s experiences. An example was asking my friends that had a BA before me. Their experiences definitely had an influence when it came to making my decision to go ahead. For some reason this time, in 2019 I was not keen on that affect.

This time I knew what I would want and what I wouldn’t want long before I actually decided on having the surgery. Meaning that if I were to decide on the surgery, I knew exactly what I would be getting. For my other surgeries where I wasn’t exactly sure about the details before deciding I didn’t mind sharing my decision process with others.

I wanted my decision on having the 2019 surgery to be sterile.

It was just ultra personal. For the last couple of years I didn’t tell anyone I was considering surgery. By the time I shared it with my family and my whole medical team I had already decided and by the time anyone else knew I had already done it.

Keeping Quiet After Deciding

Once I had decided on moving forward with this 4th surgery I knew from personal experience that I would need to get my head around lots of concepts and changes post-op. I’m a firm believer that preparing for surgery is all about planning for the convalescence and recovery phase, short and long term after the surgery itself. For my planning and preparations I did not want my experience to be affected, and to a point, influenced or coloured, by anyone else’s experience.

Opposite to my preparation for BA where I gathered feedback on what to expect and what other people had done for their recovery, for this 2019 surgery I decided to base all my preparation on speaking with my assessors, reading many times over the documentation provided by the surgical centre, speaking with the nurse that would follow up with my after-care and of course speaking with the surgeon well in advance.

Apart from preparing from the information provided by my medical team I also chose to only listen to my own experience with prior surgeries. I have realised that I can digest knowledge better when I don’t have to discern personal points of views and preferences from basic facts.  The decision and later the preparations for this surgery were so extremely personal that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing them before the actual surgery.

Ice Bag

Me, Myself and I

This was my most intimate, personal, private, deep-seated surgical procedure. For none of my prior surgeries I felt as prepared as for this one. Since the great majority of feedback I gathered came from my medical team I knew my readiness was rooted in evidence based knowledge and my own previous experiences. All my expectations were created by myself and not from trying to interpret someone else’s well-meant suggestions or comments. This approach made me proud of my decision making process. I don’t need anybody’s approval and I’m not meeting anyone else’s expectations.

One of the hardest aspects of keeping the long preparation process to myself was keeping my mouth shut. At every step of the way, every milestone that passed, felt like a little win or a victory, and of course I wanted to share these successes with others. But my desire to keep it all to myself as I decided and later as I prepared was stronger than the desire to share.

No Pressure

Now that everything is set and done I am extremely glad that I managed to keep it all to myself. I now feel that I saved myself from a range of questions and self-doubts if I have had the input from others. It also made me realize how important is for me to keep certain aspects of my life to myself. After all it’s me who is in control of what I share and when.

8 thoughts on “No One Knew About Surgery

  1. I have always maintained that the decision is a deeply personal one to make. It is a part of you that you alone have a personal relationship with. If you share that with anyone else, and how you would share that part of you with another is also a consideration. I have realized that since hearing about this and allowing my own thoughts to run their course, that I now understand where you’re coming from. Realizing and accepting that you will in all likelihood not have children, and maybe because you weren’t able to have them by giving birth to them yourself in the way that feels the most natural to you is okay too. There are plenty of ways go be a mom, or an aunty than having “your own”. I got that from you in our many conversations. I was never going to have kids myself. And that was a decision that I made. Sometimes things don’t turn out as we expect. I’m happy that you have finally decided what you need, and were able to make it a reality. 💛 big hugs!

    1. Aw, thank you! Though, it never ceases to amaze me how different you and I see things even when we’re on the same lines. TBH, the concept of children or no children had not crossed my mind at all while considering my decision. It wasn’t until I read your comment a second time that I had to think why you’d mention it. My decision was based just on myself and no one else, regardless of having or wanting children or not.

  2. Hi, I just read your post on the GRS Montreal blog. Here’s a copy of what I said.

    Franches, thank you so much for this! I have been considering vulvoplasty also, and I have to say this resonates with me so much. Aside from the tucking, which I don’t need to do because of shrinkage, all your reasons are the same ones that I consider important to me. As a parent of three kids ages six and under, combined with being in a committed marriage to a cis woman, I’m not sure that I have any true need for a full-depth vaginoplasty. Like you, I just want that physical congruence.

    1. Meghan, if you’re not sure, it’s not a bad idea to discuss the topic with the surgeon, with a therapist, and/or someone that already had the procedure. If you want to get a hold of me, let me know by leaving me another comment and I’d be happy to contact you via email.

      In the pre-op consultation with Dr. Brassard, I specifically asked him if there was a way to create a cavity after the vulvoplasty. His reply was that he could by grafting skin from somewhere else like the inner thigh. I don’t know if it’s possible or how complicated would be to close a cavity after a vaginoplasty if the patient had regrets, though.

  3. I am deciding on getting Vulvoplasty but not sure what’s the whole process. I just saw my surgeon in Los Angeles. I know I don’t want to dilate or go through an extensive procedure.

    1. At GrS Montréal the process is the same for a vulvoplasty and a vaginoplasty. The main difference is just a little quicker surgery for a vulvoplasty with a simpler recovery.

      If you’re mostly concerned about the recovery, do consider the long term effects against your long term expectations. In my view, though the recovery phase was very important in my decision, I believe in most cases it should not be a deciding factor. Rather think what you would like a year or two after surgery, but always aware of what to expect during recovery.

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