A Phalloplasty Penis is a Real Dick

A REAL penis built by phalloplasty 2017-2018

I hear all the time from trans men and nonbinary folx, “I’m interested in phalloplasty, but I am worried my penis won’t look real.” I always want to say, “yeah, because your penis will look as fine or finer than any factory issue.” What makes a penis “real”, anyway?

Even if it were not a beautiful, healthy thing in my eyes– and it hasn’t always been– it is a real penis, because it is my own flesh and blood that courses there for that purpose. It is not prosthetic; it is me. Imagining a phalloplasty-constructed transgender penis is not real would require me to say that anything physically altered would not be “real”; but my pierced ears are real. A circumcised penis is a real penis. The part of my arm which received a graft is my real arm.

There is nothing so mysterious and powerful about cis male penis that can’t be built from scratch, transcended, and owned– except for the inherent cisness of a dick, which I’ll tell you isn’t real. Sure, I don’t have identical structures, but were a cis man to have a variation in structures, no one would call his penis imaginary or fake.

While I’m on the train of telling you my transgender penis, built by plastic surgery and microsurgery, is a real penis, I also want to call BS on the local doctor who told me, in a tone of compliment, that it is a fantastic imitation of a penis. No sir. It is a fantastic penis. I laugh to say it, but can you not.

The fellow had his foot in his mouth, and he backpedaled to say, “What I mean to say is, it’s very realistic.” And, no again. You would tell a not-penis it was realistic as a penis. If I sculpted Play-Doh and put it in a museum under glass, maybe you’d tell me my sculpture was realistic. But what if the heat of my living blood animated the beautifully sculpted tissue? Which by the way, did not come out of Dr. O’Brien-Coon’s surgery at Johns Hopkins just looking like it does today. My body healed the grafts, grew into them, incorporated tissue scaffolds and acellularized sheets into my own body. My body softened scars, nourished the cells, and became a vital part of me. “I would like better to say, instead of with a language of realism or imitation, that my penis looks healthy.”

This is why I bridle against calling it a phallo dick, but I will call it a phallo surgery. Most of the trans community isn’t ready to discuss the language we have about lower surgery or bottom surgery, because so very few on the trans masculine or ftm or AFAB spectrum (or whatever we are going to call it) have access to these surgeries. So, how can one percent of the community with this tremendous privilege speak to the rest, asking for sensitive language, when to bring up provokes the pain of inaccess for so many? One day we may be.

If we could cast off the notion of the real vs fake penis, we could reframe a major aspect of philosophical oppression. I’m of the strong opinion that a tdick is also a real penis. It is a dick. I’m going to go a little farther: Before and after T. The line of differentiation between a penis and a clitoris is subjective, fluid, overlapping, and serves whom? Of course, I don’t erase the reality of categorization based on a spectrum, but I think the language we use for where we place ourselves along the verbal spectrum is more subjective than not.

I had a penis before phalloplasty. It was only one or two inches long outside of my body. How shall we categorize this tdick? Clitoromegaly or microphallus with hypospadias? By what cisnormative, violent, anti-intersex standard do we say who has a penis of a kind and who does not?

I needed, medically, the construction of an average-sized penis– but it wasn’t because I was a woman becoming a man (although insurance saw it that way). It was because the deficiency of erectile tissue growth to anywhere near average brought me intense psychological trauma. One of my dear friends calls his unburied tdick his natal erectile tissue; and this is true. We all have natal erectile tissue, except for very rare absences of initial formation.

The congenital formation of my scrotum differentiated to labia, while my brain developed structures that informed me that I should be able to reach down and touch a scrotum, it was a jolt to me every time I looked down and saw or felt the majora. A sense of shame to me every time someone else looked at them; that they simply should not be that way. I did what I could to forget them, or throw myself headlong into sexual situations where I could forget they were there, confronting them painfully each evening when I removed my packer after work, or in drying myself after toileting.

As ineffably as one can know (that is, such a deep understanding, it is beyond words), to move my flesh to these places where my mind already knew a penis was– it was an experience of placing the matter of life where the spirit already dwelt. That act of creation, a transsexual incarnation, is as real as anything in all the universe.

1 thought on “A Phalloplasty Penis is a Real Dick”

  1. “to move my flesh to these places where my mind already knew a penis was– it was an experience of placing the matter of life where the spirit already dwelt. That act of creation, a transsexual incarnation, is as real as anything in all the universe.”

    This is just absolute beauty! <3

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