SRS: 365 Days After

Today marks the 1st anniversary of my vagina.

You read that right. Exactly one year ago today (at around 3 pm), I was lying in a hospital bed in Bangkok, counting backwards from 10 as a nurse sedated me til I passed out. Six hours later, waking up groggy and heavily medicated, it’s done. My sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) was done. I haven’t even thought much about it these past few days til I just remembered it out of nowhere when I woke up earlier. One year. One very fun, interesting, and challenging year.

One year of having to adjust to that new “part” down there

One year of dilating (or not :p)

One year of pads and pantyliners

One year of people asking if they can see it (SERIOUSLY)

It was my first time traveling out of the country and with not much preparation at that. I only got my passport within a week before we had to leave, I was late in submitting my necessary documents and most of all, it was only a day before I had to leave that I told my mom of my real reason of going to Bangkok. I was sure she had her suspicions, and it was funny. I never confirmed nor denied it, partly because I was afraid of what she had to say about it; how she might react. The moment I did tell her though, suitcases already in tow, all she had to say was for me to take care; to make sure I call if anything ever happens. And with that “blessing” from my mom, I got ready to leave for Bangkok more confident than ever.

We landed on Bangkok at May 29, 2012. Of course it wouldn’t be til a few days before I was gonna have my surgery; I still had a few more tests to do, questions to be asked and answers that I needed to know, and the dreadful liquid diet which I had to endure for almost a week (People might jokingly tell me I’m anorexic but I never subjected myself to any extreme diets).

To anyone who might be reading this, it might be odd to see that not once have I mentioned that I was excited, nervous, or feeling anything in particular regarding my surgery. Not once during the days leading to it, the minutes leading to it, even shortly after the procedure. I was even worried that I’m not feeling any excitement, fear, or any emotion regarding it at all. It took quite a while before it eventually all sunk in that “Hey, you have a vagina now!” Heck, I’m not even sure if it has sunk in til now but at least I didn’t end up crazy or anything, right?

Drugged and filthy, with only a stuffed bear for company... For 4 days.

Drugged and filthy, with only a stuffed bear for company… For 4 days.

One year has passed and though I don’t really see SRS as that big of a deal (to which people think isn’t the supposed-to-be normal reaction), I’m very glad and grateful to the people who made it happen for me.  I was such a slob, even in getting all the things I needed to make it happen and for that, I’m grateful to my ex; who made sure that I did what tests needed to be done and process all documents that needed to be processed. I’m grateful to my mom, who despite her occasional misgivings, remained supportive of my transition and even if she didn’t make it easy all the time, that doesn’t mean she made it difficult. To my friends and the countless people who gave me advice, support, and simple inspirational messages, both virtually and in person, I’m grateful to have such great people in my life. And of course to Gabbie! The person who I really owe my SRS to. Without her, all of this wouldn’t have happened and I’m grateful for the trust and opportunity she has given me. You will forever be a big part of my life even if we haven’t even met yet, though I’m hoping that could change soon.

My first meal of solid food after one week

My first meal of solid food after one week

It has been one year and now, I’m better, more at peace with myself, and one step closer to feeling complete. Transition isn’t just a journey with SRS as the destination; it’s a lifelong struggle/challenge/road trip/high, whichever you make it to be. You’ll be successful or fail, fall in love or fall out of it, be better or worse. The beauty with transition though is things are never permanent, that’s why it’s a transition. No matter how good or how bad the current situation is, we are always reminded that all things shall pass. So carpe diem you beautiful people. You never know when it might be your last.

The ever so reliable donut pillow..

The ever so reliable donut pillow..

PS: If anyone was expecting to get details of my surgery from this post, I apologize because it wasn’t intended to be an SRS guide. Feel free to get in touch with me though should  you be interested to know of the nitty gritty of my experience 😉

Entry #03312012: Climax of my 21.xx year life

I was a participant to this Public Speaking and Writing Seminar last Mar. 30-Apr. 1, 2012. It was fun; I learned a lot and met lots of new friends. Many months after that fun long weekend, I barely remember what we exactly did during the seminar until I stumbled into this:

 That one point after which, I was never the same person.

I was cleaning my room when I found the old notebook we were given at the seminar. One of the exercises we had was to write, in 5 minutes or so, the “climax of our life.” And so I went to write:

It was the summer of 2009, I was reading randomly on the Internet when all of a sudden, I came about the subject of transsexualism. I researched and read more about this and soon enough, I realized that I was in fact, a transsexual woman and not a gay man. A few more months have passed and I was still learning a lot about the topic. (I even came to a transsexual dating chat site where I would meet my boyfriend of almost 2 years). By October, I attended my first STRAP support group meeting. I felt inferior, ugly, and totally like a guy. With these thoughts running through my mind, at exactly Nov. 1, 2009, right after my 2nd STRAP SGM, I started my journey to transition.

I will never forget this moment. It was at this time in my life when I took what will most probably be the sharpest curve of my life, and steered myself into a totally different direction; one where I am myself. I’ve never really shared this out loud or in public with anyone. That time at the seminar made me think of pushing my boundaries and opening myself up to people, to possibilities. Life has never been the same. And when you come to think of it, it really shouldn’t be.

L-G-B-T getting J-O-B-S

I just saw this post from the Society of Transsexual Women in the Philippines (STRAP) Facebook group page:

We all know it, getting a job right now is already hard as it is. Sure, you can always just apply at some random place and get a job but of course it’s not all about that. You need to think of whether you actually would like the job in the first place, if you’re qualified for it, if you think you would enjoy it, and if you think it’s something you can start a career from, etc.  Now, things get much more complicated if you’re a part of the LGBT community, especially so in this country. We don’t exactly have the legislative protection from employment discrimination and even then, employers can just say you weren’t qualified for the job in the first place, even if you were.

For the L, G, and B people, it’s hard. But imagine what it’s like for the transmen/women who are looking for jobs. Like that post above for instance. Especially when you’re already in the middle of transition. The thing is, whether or not your lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, cisgender, or transgender, it shouldn’t even matter. We don’t work with our penis/vagina do we? But of course, we all know that for some, if not most people, it still very much is an issue.

When I graduated a year ago, I was still very much in bum mode. Not only that, I was also clueless and direction-less as to what I wanted to do next. Do you know how it feels when you have plans and all of a sudden, you discover that those plans no longer fit you? Well, that’s what happened to me. From the time I graduated til the time I got my first job at Greenpeace (a timespan of 4 months), I have been to 4 interviews, counting the Greenpeace interview. It’s not a lot, I know I didn’t look for much but of those interviews, 1 interviewer asked me if I was male or female (of which I answered I’m biologically male but identify as female), 1 conducted a 10 minute interview on me and never called back, and 1 panel of interviewees (for a research analyst position and upon seeing my resume) insisted I probably would not like working for them. Eventually, I did get the Greenpeace job and it was great. I worked for four months and I quit last June for reasons I am not willing to blog about. From the second week of June until today, I have been jobless. During that time until now, I have only been to one serious interview and I didn’t get the job (for some unknown reason).

Given that much interviews though, one can’t really infer that I got rejected based on my gender expression. But the thing is, one of the reasons why I haven’t gone to interviews that much in the first place, is that fear of rejection. I just can’t bear to know and be really sure, that I got rejected for a job post simply because I was a transwoman. I have been to some interviews and I know I’m very very much fortunate enough not to have some “incidents” happen to me, but it just freaks me out that those employers might be having some other thoughts at the back of their heads. Paranoid much? My mom doesn’t seem to think so. She tells me it’s one of the reasons why I’m still jobless. She tells me that the mere fact I’m trans automatically signals a red flag to employers out there not to hire me. And it sucks. My mom is all ok with the trans thing but evidently, not as 100% ok as I am. We even fight because of it; me insisting that me being trans is not the cause of the issue, and her insisting that it is. She’d go on saying, “Oh, don’t dress up too much.” or “Don’t wear makeup.” And I’d go thinking.. WTF!? Does my mom think I go in drag to interviews or something? Is that really how she sees me, just because I’m trans? It’s just frustrating. VERY frustrating.

The main point is, it scares me. And it’s unfair. I shouldn’t be feeling like this. No one should. Everytime I go out to an interview, I always have that worry that me being trans will be an issue when it actually shouldn’t. Why should it? It’s sad. I preach about LGBT empowerment and all that when in fact, I can’t even empower myself at times. No one should be feeling like this. I’m trans. Just like someone has blue eyes or curly hair, it’s just one part of me, along with many others that define who I am. I am a person who happens to be trans. Not a transwoman who happens to be a person.

She

I came cross this video on Facebook. It’s a “documentary” on transwomen featuring no other than Ms. Adri Pangilinan, a member of the Society of Transsexual Women in the Philippines (STRAP).

I must say that I am very much in awe how all of STRAP’s ladies always present themselves with great elegance and poise, and Adri is no exception. She explained the topic of transsexualism very well and I think it’s a good reference for those who are wondering, or simply curious about transsexualism. I’m actually also very pleased that they added another perspective in this video which is that from Adri’s boyfriend, Colin. All in all, I thought that it was a very good “documentary” clip and *minor* video production issues aside (advertising graduate here), it delivered on it’s main purpose: to answer many questions most people have on transsexualism, and even bring to light those things that most people are not even aware of about it. I hope I can either be a part of or, hopefully soon, make a video as enlightening and insightful as this one. So for all of you who have no idea what transsexualism is, or someone who is aware about it but remains confused, please go ahead and watch this video. It’s 17 minutes that will definitely be well-spent.