After two years of battling over emails with doctors, receptionists, and basically everyone who thought they could put a stop sign in the future of his health, Lee and I were gladly relieved when November came rolling along. We had been notified that he finally was 'rewarded' the hysterectomy that his body was begging for. The letter that came in the mail symbolized more than just 'oh here is your surgery date'; it was like being knighted after fighting in ten crusades and losing a leg and an eye, plus having everyone laugh at you when you strolled to the market each day. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but you get the jest. To be honest, we were very worn from being told he wasn't going to be given a hysterectomy for a macabre of reasons ranging from 'uh..men don't get that...' to 'we do that procedure with phalloplasty'. Well what if he doesn't want phalloplasty? What's he supposed to do with these parts if he doesn't need them and they're causing discomfort? But the frustration was over; we had beaten the Sauron invading modern day Middle Earth.
Nevertheless, this is a story of the celebration of our hospital experience, so let's begin. The operation day had come and he was nervous. Picture a Labrador retriever after ingesting his owner's entire chocolate stash; one was very ill indeed. Although his nerves were high, we managed to arrive on time to the hospital.
First thing to note was how welcoming the nurses were. You can imagine how on edge we would be walking into a designated 'Woman's Ward' and them looking at me and me sheepishly pointing to him. To our amazement and dazzle, they smiled and said 'oh yes, Lee we have your room ready!' and bounced us off to his room with smiles and friendly chatter. We gave each other a raised eyebrow and surprised smirk as we were whisked away to his private room, given to him for his elevated comfort and privacy being in a 'woman's ward'. Wow they even thought of his privacy?! We weren't expecting this, but had armoured up for a bundle of intolerance including odd looks, body scans, rude comments, misgendering, and flat out disrespect. What we relished was a moment of warmth from decent humans.
A few hours breezed by and the surgeons popped their heads in to let us know how the operation would go. Again we were on the edge. But to our amazement the surgeon didn't view him as a specimen of Frankenstein proportions and me the doting spouse. We were given cheery smiles, clear instructions on what was going to be touched on his body and what was going to be removed, and nurturing comfort towards my worries and confusion. We expected invasive questions about our lives and 'functions' that were irrelevant to the operation, but to no avail. The doctors were the second thing to celebrate.
The Day and Aftermath
The stress had begun at 8am. I got to the hospital as quick as my legs could carry me. I was told the operation would start at 9am and only last an hour and 30 minutes. Well I knew what I would be doing. I paced and paced around a tiny waiting room whilst being forced to listen to a daily talk show about Christmas fashion and décor (trust me, a few minutes of that could force any rational human being to jam rusty nails threw their ear drums!). Two hours, then three, and finally after five painstaking hours of waiting the surgeon approached me and said all was well and he was waking up. Anyone that tells you an abdominal hysterectomy is 'a breeze' is a poker-faced liar!
Now I know Lee had envisioned himself emerging from operation looking like Robin Hood gliding through the trees, but in reality I walked in to find what resembled a drowsy version of The Joker. Yes, I had a sweaty mess on my hands. I sat with him in all his sloppy glory until new nurses entered the room to discuss the schedule for the next day. Once again, they introduced themselves and made us feel relaxed and confident that we were respected and well taken care off. The surgeons also emerged and spoke to us about the success of the hysterectomy, what they had done internally to close the wound, and what to do at home to heal best. Nurses even aided in showering him later in the evening and I was obviously extra anxious about what they might 'stare at' or how they might make him feel like a wounded Bambi. Smiling, he appeared from the shower room stating, 'my body may have been exposed in all its glory but I was never stared at, they actually had a good laugh with me!'.
After a few days of continued healing in the hospital under the care of such nice people, we were headed for home!
Looking back on the last few days we spent in hospital, it grows apparent how unusual and rare our experience must have been to many in the ward we were staying in. I mean, he was the only dude in the place! More importantly, we were genuinely shocked at how 'normal' they made us feel when many others would've/could've treated us like The Addams Family. We don't think that happens very often. In fact, many other trans men we have spoken to don't experience treatment from cisgender medical professionals that is memorable, at least for positive reasons. Our story may not be unique, but we feel it is definitely exceptional and worth sharing with other trans men. With the ever changing ideals in society surrounding transgender men, we hope it becomes a more common sight to see surgeries, like hysterectomies, being performed on trans men with easy accessibility and respect from all in the medical community.