Featured image of post Surgery Diaries 2: One Month of Joy

Surgery Diaries 2: One Month of Joy

One month after facial feminization surgery, I'm feeling a lot better. As I gaze into the mirror, I ponder questions about what this experience has taught me about the importance of medical treatment for transgender women. This post deals with some heavy content, so there are some images I took while out and about in Bangkok offering you a nice break in between sections.

Looking in the mirror, an unfamiliar yet comforting feeling washes over me. The reflection staring back no longer evokes feelings of sadness or discomfort. Gone is the urge to hide from the world; instead, I am enveloped by an overwhelming sense of normalcy. With each passing day, a layer of anxiety and dysphoria melts away, making space for newfound confidence and self-assurance. What once felt like an insurmountable mountain of gender dysphoria now stands before me as a climbable peak, its pathway illuminated and clear.

Embarking on a medical journey to Thailand was not without its challenges—the financial burden and the rigors of recovery tested my resilience and resolve. Yet, as I stand here one month post-procedure, the weight of those hardships feels inconsequential compared to the immeasurable gains in my quality of life and emotional well-being.

As I reflect on this transformative period, I am filled with gratitude for the support and resources that made this medical procedure possible for me. I’m privileged for being able to afford surgery so early on into my life. Most transgender women struggle to afford gender affirming surgery at all. It underscores the vital importance of accessible and supportive healthcare for transgender individuals.

This experience has reaffirmed my belief in the transformative power of medical interventions for transgender individuals and the need for broader societal support and acceptance. It is my sincere hope that sharing my journey will inspire others to seek the support they need and deserve, and that society at large will recognize and respect the profound impact of such procedures on the lives of transgender individuals.

As I continue on this journey of self-discovery and empowerment, I am reminded that the path to authenticity is both a personal and collective endeavor. With each step forward, may we all find the courage to embrace our true selves, support one another, and create a world where every individual is free to live their truth, unburdened by societal prejudices or financial constraints.

MBK Center in Bangkok Thailand

Why Transgender Women Deserve Support

No one should have to navigate the complexities of gender dysphoria alone or be denied the opportunity to live authentically due to financial constraints or lack of support. Gender affirming surgery is vital in the lives of many transgender women. It’s not just anecdotal evidence that supports this, it is encoded within the standards of care published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).

What I went though was facial feminization surgery. This is not one procedure, but it describes a collection of procedures that aim to minimize or remove the effects of testosterone on the facial bone structure to achieve more harmony between the inner and outer self. In Canada, this is not covered by health insurance (except in the Yukon Territory). The reason why this is neglected by our health insurance, is that it is viewed as a “cosmetic” surgery by our governing bodies. However, in the world of plastic and reconstructive surgery, the “cosmetic” component cannot be separated from the “medical” component.

Most transgender women experience trauma in their lives called “exposure to testosterone”. Because of this, our facial bone structure develops differently. The most common examples are a square jaw, chin, and a protruding brow bone. These are facial characteristics that we in society use to categorize people by gender. Having these noticeable features can cause great harm in the lives of transgender women in the form of discrimination (including workplace discrimination), and violence that is sometimes fatal. In this way, the cosmetic component of having feminine facial features is DIRECTLY connected with the medical necessity to address the hardship and safety concerns that transgender women face in their daily lives.

However it’s not just an external threat that transgender women face. Gender dysphoria is also very real, and can manifest as physically, mentally, and socially.

Thongsmith thai boat noodles with Australian Wagyu

Gender Dysphoria Deserves to be Treated

When we feel a disharmony between our inner and outer selves when it comes to gender, this painful emotion can manifest as physical pain. Everyone may experience this differently, however in my life I‘ve experienced throbbing pain when I’ve had particularly bad episodes of gender dysphoria. It has made sleeping and waking up difficult.

Gender dysphoria also has negative consequences for our social lives. It has constantly made me want to curl up and retract from social situations and isolate from society. Even though I have beautiful and accepting friends, gender dysphoria remains an emotional and physical barrier that sometimes make it very difficult to interact with others.

In professional life, gender dysphoria makes it harder to work with others, causing higher rates of burn out. For me, it resulted in taking sick days to deal with. In so many ways, gender dysphoria manifests as sickness in our lives.

However medical interventions like hormone therapy, and gender affirming surgery can help lessen it’s impact and help us feel more normal as it did for me. Socially I feel much freer, and the pains I used to feel in the morning and at night are far less constant. These medical interventions along with therapy will help transgender women like me lead more normal lives.

However, surgery, medication, therapy are all very expensive. Most of these costs will come out of pocket for the majority of transgender women. It often feels impossible to seek out. Because of this, transgender women often resort to sex work or other risky industries, not out of love, but out of desperation.

There is a clear path forward for treatment for transgender women, but the cost of treatment is often the biggest barrier. Thankfully, that’s where we can help as a compassionate and empathetic society.

Me having a drink at a rooftop bar during happy hour

Sending love and compassion from Bangkok Thailand~

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