Surgery for transsexuals: it’s raced, it’s classed and it’s located.


Young Boi

February 19, 2008

(Ed.’s note: This post originally appeared at Grits & Eggs)

Lately, all my bois have started becoming men. In the last few months, four of my closest trans brothers have started their physical transition–through female-to-male top surgery and testosterone treatment or T. And I’m happy for them. Truly. But as half of me reaches out with open arms and congratulatory remarks, I feel the other half slowly backing out the door.


Well, I’ve come to realize that the reasoning involves a touch of jealousy, a bit of alienation, and a whole lot of fear.

Of course there’s a part of me that yearns to be them–that wishes that my transition could just as easily include or disregard the rest of my immediate family. And clearly, it’s difficult to find myself alone; The guys with whom I shared that scary process of self-unfoldment and coming out now swap stories about hormone shots and post-op delights to which I just can’t relate.

But mostly, it’s fear. I’m afraid of where our FTM (female-to-male transgender) community is right now. I’m afraid of the casualty with which young guys start hormones and schedule surgery. I’m afraid of how those conversations parallel those around body piercings and new tattoos.

Now, let me qualify. Starting these physical transitions have, no doubt, changed my brothers’ lives for the better–the changes definitely help them feel more genuine and whole. And I certainly prefer this era of (relatively) easy-access SRT to the hurdles and obstacles that faced transmen before us.

But I’m still afraid. Afraid that the relative ease of access for some will limit the access for others. I’m worried that those guys who want to genderfuck get to do so, and that those guys who would give anything to just feel more whole never will.

It’s raced, it’s classed, and it’s located.

Those who are white or benefit from skin privilege, those who are middle class, and those who live in large metropolitan areas do enjoy more access than those who are brown, who are poor, or who live in rural areas. And, I imagine, those who understand themselves within the context of an individualistic culture may have an easier time moving “forward” than those whose “selves” are linked to a family identity.

There’s something about the ostensibly instantaneous gratification that these guys experienced in their transition process that has me turning up more doubts and questions than resolutions and answers. Why has this process turned into some sort of competition? Why does it seem like I’m the only still stuck at the starting gate? What are they giving up in their process? What am I giving up in mine?

Like I said, I don’t have answers. I don’t know whether I would jump at the opportunity to transition if all things financial, familial, and cultural worked themselves out tomorrow. What I do know is that I hope my FTM community doesn’t lose sight of all it’s members. I hope that we can shift our understanding of a gender spectrum to the intersections of identity, that we can stop privileging a white boi’s right to play with gender over a brown guy’s right to engage his gender identity within his cultural community.

I hope we can offer support for bois to be bois, and that we can provide equal access for those who choose to become men.

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