Human beings dream big. These "Pipe Dreams" are allusions to our grand potential; a paradigm shift from current circumstances. Though most of our aspirations go unfulfilled. Failure to achieve such matters of import over time hinders our resolve and leads to complacency. We begin to accept some things as being utterly impossible. But what if you achieve the impossible -- what then?
Funny thing, waking up from anesthesia. It felt more like waking up after a 20-year coma. From a complete absence of sensation or thought comes a flood of information. Which the brain is unable to fully process. Couple that with an inability to move, and you've got a recipe for panic.
"Relax. You're in the hospital."
His words reach my ears; but my consciousness missed it completely. I was startled by the rush of sensations overwhelming my mind. I couldn't move. Something or someone was holding me down.
"Calm down. Everything went great. You're in the...," blackness gripped me.
Through the emptiness I could feel myself moving, ascending. I caught only whispers, the ghosts left over from empty thoughts. From the smallest sliver of a light beam breaking the surface of my eye, I gained a sense of where I was. An elevator.
"We're headed up to your room," my awareness waned once more.
The air shifted as my family entered the room. My parents brought flowers and balloons. My sister Rachael brought in a curious pink teddy bear. They'd all been with me for the last couple of days. Driving all the way here to support me. My sister even slept on the horrifically uncomfortable pull out bed in my hospital room each night; just so I wouldn't have to be alone. (Seriously though, the bed was so bad, it was criminal) They were all here; because I had achieved the impossible.
Gender Reassignment Surgery is a big affair. To even reach the stage where surgery is an option, you jump through hoops; some on fire. And rightly so. It's a decision not to be taken lightly. As evidenced by the sheer amount of paperwork you have to sign attesting, ad nauseam, over the permanence of this procedure. For me, up until they placed the oxygen mask over my face and asked me to count to ten, I was terrified.
After regaining consciousness, when I could feel and see myself -- I cried. I was not missing a penis. To me it had never truly been there. Seeing my vagina for the first time I was like "Of course!," what else would I have? It felt like the most natural thing in the world. It was never a feeling of loss or gain; but a truth, that had been revealed.
That was one year ago; when I was born again. Having a vagina did not make me a woman. It simply complimented the woman I have always been; it corrected a birth defect. It didn't equal instant and everlasting happiness. It didn't erase the bigotry and hatred directed at my transgender status. It did, level the playing field a bit. It gave me a new beginning; a new normal. For the first time in life I was free to be just -- me.
So what has my first year with a vagina been like?
Well, I've been saying (and writing) "vagina," like a lot. What can I say? The world is new again, absolutely full of "firsts": first elevator ride, first step, first hug -- first tear. Each followed by the qualifier "with a vagina." Nothing is too small to escape notice and subsequent celebratory acknowledgement. My first time passing that particular lamp post. My first time sitting on this chair. My first time in prison with a vagina. Yes, to me having a vagina felt natural. But can you blame a girl for getting excited?
While not every transgender person identifies within the traditional notion of the female/male binary. And not every transgender person wants, needs, or even has access to appropriate medical care. Having gone through this life altering process has brought me only immense joy. The surgery does not "affirm" my womanhood; but my very life, my potential. It's proof positive that I can do anything. No matter how impossible it may have seemed all those years ago.
Knowing that from here on in I get to move through life unburdened by the specter of my assumed manhood, has given rise to a confidence and sense of hope for the future. The likes of which I have never known. To that frightened little girl living under the societal mask placed upon her by fate -- I've done the impossible. She needn't be scared any longer; needn't feel shame or drown in a lake of depression and suicidal thoughts.
There remain many obstacles along the road ahead of me. I will meet resistance. My resolve will be tested. I will stumble and fall; I will pick myself up. I will know loss, and love. Life is never what we want it to be. That's just how it is. But if I can stick around long enough, I just might achieve a few more of those new dreams.
A feat -- that was impossible a year ago.