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 I was 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.
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.
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.