The Magic Pill – or how surgery will (not) solve all one’s problems

When I first seriously looked at, and then began my transition, one of the first things I noticed in support forums, online groups, offline groups and in various chats was that there was a general attitude that one sets a timeline for one’s transition.  Further, the ultimate goal of any transition is often seen to be Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS).  What then comes out of this is that having SRS becomes the primary focus of transition.  An attitude that many have developed is that once one has the surgery all of one’s problems in life will be miraculously solved.  For some, this is the case, their dysphoria and unhappiness with their birth genitals is so severe that the only way that they can fully move on in their lives is by having SRS and then moving on in life.  For many others, however, it becomes almost an obsession, and certainly a focus that then limits working on other areas of life.  It comes to be seen as a magic pill that will miraculously solve everything.

In my own case I too initially got sucked into the mentality that SRS was the end all and be all of transitioning.  That it was the ultimate goal.  Fortunately I realized that this was not the case quite early on in my journey of transition.  As I worked through my own internal issues of transition and truly began to accept who I am as a woman in transition and now transitioned I realized that for me surgery would not be a magic pill.  I had years of baggage that needed to be dealt with.  I had depression that had started when I was nine years old.  I had years of brutally suppressing any feelings that I needed to transition.  I had, and still have some, unhealthy coping mechanisms that I had needed just to survive.

Fast forward a bit into an alternate decision path, one where I was able to do a tight schedule and just have surgery as soon as the gatekeepers would allow it and that I had the money to pay cash for it.  Add in if I would have internalized a feeling that it would have been a magic pill that would solve all my problems.

So, I have had the surgery in this alternate path.  What I haven’t done is come to terms with my own internal struggles or that I was burnt out in my work.  I come out of surgery, recover and then expect all of my life to suddenly get better.  The only problem is that it hasn’t.  I’m still messed up internally.  I still am burnt out with work.  I still haven’t fully come to terms with and accepted myself as a woman.  What happens then?

Knowing myself as I do I would likely be in a significant funk or even full blown depression.  My finances would be a complete disaster.  I would be feeling resentment that the surgery did not magically cure all my ills.  I would be rudderless and wandering aimlessly through my life, struggling to get by and possibly even ending up on the street with nothing.  All of this because I hadn’t worked through my own issues and developed a realistic expectation of what surgery would mean for me.

I didn’t choose that path, and knowing what I know about myself through these years of self discovery and development of self awareness I am glad that I didn’t.  Do I still struggle at times? Of course, but I know at my core that there is no magic pill that will solve all of my problems and resolve all of my inner struggles and issues.

2 Replies to “The Magic Pill – or how surgery will (not) solve all one’s problems”

  1. This is right. There are degrees of physiological dysphoria, and I believe that a minority have this. Sheer disgust and despair with one’s genitals. Living with GD takes its toll, and is complicated by losses, abuse, lack of acceptance and the not inconsiderable task of relearning the whole of one’s presentation. That means a period of actually being not very good at it! Friends are polite, and later you can see and they admit that you are “doing it a lot better now”. This is a huge unravelling and remaking process of clearing baggage, and you don’t see it until after the fact.

    However, when you transition and life becomes normal, and when your boobs begin to develop, the disconnect between upper and lower can lead to a desperation to “finish the job”. I agree with you that SRS is a completion and never a start. Slowness in the process is extremely frustrating, especially getting “officially” started. I short-circuited a bit of the process by not even presenting for referral until after the fact. I just got on with it before asking for help. And for all the waiting, there is a lot to go through mentally when you are going through the first year of so of living your gender, albeit struggling with an unadjusted body. It is best to sort yourself out socially and psychologically before you finish the physical job.

  2. While this particular “magic pill” isn’t one I’m experienced with, I’ve dealt with others (“Why am I twenty-five and not married yet, if I just had a husband all my problems would be over” is a familiar one, for example) and I can’t agree enough with the fact that panaceas don’t really exist, especially when it comes to the complexities of emotional trouble.
    Thank you for writing this. 🙂

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