% My experience with gender reassignment surgery, and my trip to Thailand, part 1 % Leah Rowe % 2018-10-11
Warning: I am quite drunk while I write this. I don't normally blog whilst drunk, but tonight I thought I'd do something different.
I mean... not really. Only 1 bottle of red wine, and not even good wine. Plus I'll sober up towards the end of this article, since I anticipate that this will take several hours to write (because there's a lot of ground to cover). It takes at least a bottle of strong gin/whiskey to get me drunk... however, since I'm under the influence, I have to mention this fact. I just randomly felt like writing this post. I was goingto write it on the weekend (beginning October 18th) but I wanted to write it now. I don't feel tired yet, and I have nothing else I feel like doing right now... so here goes.
The week before my last, I wrote about my pre-surgery transition. Now, I will write about my experience with the surgery itself, and my experience that I had whilst in Thailand where I had the surgery.
Please also see littleleah.md, which is infamous on reddit and 4chan (a fact that I'm quite proud of).
You don't really need to see my vagina in its current state (as I write this post, I'm 14 weeks into recovery post-op). At this point, the swelling around my labia is a lot less than it was in the littleleah post. My vagina now looks like that of a typical cisgender woman's vagina. Everything pretty much works now too. For instance, I can masturbate now. I have orgasmed many times, and I'm very happy with everything. I love my genitalia. I feel beautiful.
It's highly likely that I will write a sequel to this blog post, perhaps several months or even a year from now into the future. My intention with this specific blog post is to write about my experiences being a post-op trans woman in the last 14 weeks since I had my surgery.
Here goes :)
For many years, I had severe genital dysphoria. Dysphoria is a type of depression related to ones gender identity versus their assigned gender at birth, and in my case it was very severe. I was disassociating heavily.
TL;DR I needed a vagina, bad. My last article covers this, so I don't need to talk in detail here.
For many years, I had worked hard to get to the point where I could get surgery. Suddenly, it dawned on me a week prior to surgery that I was actually ready. I had been so focused with simply getting ready for it that I ignored everything else.
So... come July 29th, I fly out to Thailand. I chose to have my surgery with Dr. Suporn in Thailand, because he is the best surgeon on earth, or was at the time when I had my surgery. I chose July 29th because my surgery was on August 1st, and the flight to Thailand is about 15 hours, plus there are time zone shifts. Adjusting for Thai timezone, I arrived on July 31st. I didn't have an extended visa, so I was only allowed to stay in Thailand for up to 30 days. By booking the flight for the 29th of July, that meant I had the maximum amount of time in Thailand whilst still having time to prepare once I got there.
My parents drove me to the airport. I flew out from Heathrow airport (in the UK, since I'm British and Heathrow is the best airport to use when travelling to Asia).
The night before flying out, I didn't sleep. At the time, I was bogged down in work and needed to get as much done as possible before I flew. Story of my life. I was always overworked. I flew to Thailand on zero hours of sleep.
I ate a nice meal at the airport, with my parents. They weren't flying with me, so I ate with them in a restaurant outside the border. When I went through the ticket barrier, my parents were obviously worried since that was it. My dad had tears in his eyes, something which I never saw before, and he hugged me. So did my mother. Neither of them are huggers. My parents are usually very stoic, for the most part.
I go through customs, and pretty much just walk straight to the gate outside where the plane was docked. I get on the flight... and that was it. I was disassociating heavily, because this was a very fearful part of my life and I had learned all throughout the years prior to this to suppress my emotions, so as to cope. I was on disassociative overdrive during the flight.
The fact that I was about to finally have a vagina was merely a fact, during the flight. In other words, it was something which I merely acknowledged as absolute truth, and no emotions were consciously realized during this time. This was the same throughout the many months prior to that.
The same cannot be said about my experience after surgery. I lost the ability to suppress my emotions after that.
And it was amazing. But for now, I'll talk about my experiences in the most detail that I can. Keep reading this article, and you will know the full extent of the experiences which I have had.
I say this with finality, but do not be fooled. I am still in the middle of my recovery from surgery, as I write write this.
This, more than the surgery itself, was (and still is) the most scariest experience I've ever had in my life. I was disassociating heavily until this point, but then when I went through border security after arriving in Thailand, I began to feel like I was panicking. I basically thought that I might not be allowed to pass through security. It was scary.
After what seemed like an eternity, the border security officer gave the rubber stamp of approval and I was officially, legally on Thai soil.
I knew that I was being picked up by an agent of the Suporn clinic, but I was unsure how to find them. Plus, I was exhausted from having no sleep the previous night before boarding the flight.
I walked through the lobby area at the airport for what seemed like an eternity, and then I finally saw a young petite Thai lady holding a sign up that said Leah Rowe on it. Logically, it was extremely unlikely that this sign was intended for anyone else besides me, since it's highly unlikely that two people named Leah Rowe would be in the same airport at the same time, so I approached this young lady and said hello. I confirmed my identity, and then she said:
Which I did. At that point, I was now under the tender care of the Suporn clinic. They really make sure you're well cared for.
I had already given Suporn my papers from my own psychiatrist (a gender specialist) confirming the go-ahead for my surgery, but suporn also required a second approval from a Thai specialist.
I was therefore driven to Bankok, to a hospital located there, where I spoke to a psychiatrist. I was worried about this, since I was severely sleep deprived and I thought that this alone might make me seem unstable somehow. At each and every point, including this one, prior to waking up with a vagina, I was scared non-stop that I might be denied my surgery.
The fear of not being permitted to have surgery was extremely apparent (to say the very least) because up until this point, I had only ever dreamed of having a vagina. The fact that I was physically in Thailand, about to have actual surgery, was still a concept at this point. A simple fact. One that I had not yet internalized.
From the moment I met this person from the clinic, who picked me up at Bankok, I no longer even had to think. The Suporn clinic handled everything for me.
All I had to do was follow directions.
Ordered into the room with the psychiatrist, I answered a series of questions... the whole interview lasted about 10 minutes, but it felt like an hour. I said all of the same things that I had previously said to my therapist in the UK, prior to my trip. Suporn doesn't really care about anything except whether you're able to pay for surgery, but he still follows WPATH in the most minimal way possible so as to avoid being sued. This appointment with the psychiatrist reeked of meeting legal requirements.
I liked this.
The psychiatrist gave me the rubber stamp.
After the trip to the hospital in Bankok, I was driven to the actual Suporn Clinic in Chon Buri, where my surgery took place. It was on a Tuesday afternoon, Thai time, on July 31st 2018, when I arrived at the clinic.
Tune in next week :P
It's 1.30AM on October 11th. I need to go to bed. I'm currently trying to reset my sleeping pattern. Currently I mostly usually go to bed at 3AM.
I'll maybe write the second part to this article tomorrow morning, otherwise it'll be in a few days or indeed next week.