Phalloplasty: Picking your penis size

Every day, I see questions in trans medical support groups with trans masc ppl agonizing over selecting their penis size. The grief about selecting the right size is completely unnecessary. You don’t really get 100% say over it– you can express a general wish or goal, but the donor site’s network of arteries and nerves are what’s going to make the call. And, the size you’re built to have may not be the size you end up with when everything heals.

Showers, not growers

Because our bodies are built to be show-ers and not growers, it doesn’t make sense for most people to aim for that eyebrow-raising, magazine-headline size. It’s there all day, people! Even average sizes erect are cumbersome in clothing. Pouches in the groin area of pants, of underwear, and swimwear are designed for a much smaller flaccid size. Would you sacrifice day-to-day comfort? Most people don’t realize the greater complication risk of additional length or the exhaustion of multiple debridement and debulking surgeries. Medically, it is not going to make sense for most people to go as big as conventional wisdom would imply is impressive. (And for some people, it will make sense. Do you come from a family/population with larger average size? Is it important to you to be like your family? Or is it very important to you and your partner?)

Should you just pack to the size you want? Test it out?

On the other hand, I don’t think we should shame the green folx who come into support spaces having done little research and proclaim they want 8″-10″. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the community recommendation that they should pack with that size and see how it goes. This is bad advice. It isn’t the same. Some people never will like packing and will go on to feel completely congruent postop. While not shaming, it is fair to cut off the conversation and just say, “Hey, let me help you look at this from another lens…” It’s not wrong to want to be extraordinary. But most of the time, you’re just sitting with your genitals, not starring in a biopic about your life as the next John Holmes.

Satisfying a partner

They usually say it is to make sure they can satisfy a partner. Well, that’s a healthy impulse, but if we trans folx have learned anything from our prior life experience… it’s that penis size only plays a sidecar role in that ability to please, if it plays into it at all. You’d think these things would be obvious, but we absorb the same toxic messaging in the culture.

How I decided

You know what I told my surgeon? Give me what my network of nerves and arteries would optimally support. That way, “nature” can be the guide, and I could be the most healthy possible. It would be a surprise to me how things would turn out. I am happy I did it that way. I did tell him which aspects of shape I find aesthetically important. It is okay to make your wishes known. But… In a surgery so complex, so many factors influence that outcome.

I suggest that energy expended devoted to deliberating penis size be devoted to deeper research into surgeons, methods, donor sites, surgery accessibility, and the toxic masculinity that considers the penis absolutely central to sex and pleasure.

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