There is no such thing as a perfect human body. Perfection has never been a goal of mine, but being happy in my own skin… You can be happy in your own skin without perfection. Just being complete makes all the difference. I’ve gotten to that place, where I feel right in my body. I’ll also say, maybe if Dr. Coon I were trying to imitate a cisgender body, you could call these differences imperfections, but together he and I made something new and different. It is my trans body, and I like it. No one can take that from me.
If transphobes could know what it is like to feel the kind of happiness we do, completing such a quest… I think if they knew how healing it is just to be able to fill out clothes like you always knew you should be able to your whole life, maybe they wouldn’t be so critical of us doing what we need to in our own bodies. A little live and let live, right?
That being said, are there downsides? What doesn’t live up to the dream? What doesn’t look… cis, if someone were looking?
At a distance– One of my biggest goals was that I wanted to be able to walk around through a place where nudity was unavoidable and not stand out as unusual. Before surgery, I couldn’t go to places like the Korean men’s spa where you are required to shower before going to the baths or sauna rooms– and the shower area is public. I know, there are way worse things to have to give up in life than the spa. But it was more than that; it was just knowing that because of my body, I couldn’t previously participate in things ordinary people could, because my body might not pass. After bottom surgery, I felt liberated from that. 100%, if I have to be nude, I can pass.
Up closer– The elements of my penis that theoretically do not pass are the fact that I have (1) hypertrophic scarring due to a genetic condition and (2) the fact that I did not complete hair removal before phalloplasty. I haven’t bothered with finishing my hair removal yet, since Nair cream is adequate when needed. I suppose I’ll get around to the rest of the laser when that starts to bother me. You can probably find some photos in the blog of moments when I didn’t remove hair. I included that so that you wouldn’t just have all my best angles– I want this blog to be real.
The scars. I say there are elements that theoretically do not pass because I have been up close to others, even in medical contexts, and my penis has passed for natal. Why? For anyone who has seen a lot of dicks, there is huge variation in them. They have bumps and asymmetries; they have scars from hypospadias, chordee, and surgeries from bent angles, circumcision, and injuries. Some people even have scar art on their penis. That’s just how penises are. Having a scar on my penis is not the end of the world for me, and in actuality, it has not impacted my passing. If you are considering phallo, it likely would not impact your passing at all either. But is it a part of it? For me, that’s just how my body heals. Other people do not get hypertrophy. Luck of the draw. It’s about as annoying as having just slightly crooked lower teeth. You don’t have to be perfect to pass. I’m not perfect, and I’ve passed every time.
The hair. I can preface this story by saying that there is no reason to believe that phallo dicks have to have hair on them. I myself have a little soft hair left on my penis because you are supposed to have hair removal complete on your donor site for surgery. In my timeline, I was offered a calendar opening to move up my date. I jumped at the chance, not having completed hair removal, so then a small amount of hair transferred with the graft. No big deal, my doctor said, since I can have it removed at any time. Fun facts, lots of average men around the world have hair on their penises. I’ve seen photos of this, and my laser hair removal technician confirmed that most of the cis men coming in there are having the hair on their penis, neck, or scrotum thinned out/removed. Really! Just like women having hair above the lip or around the nipples, there is a stigma against discussing it, but it’s just part of hair from being a mammal that most people remove. I just need to set aside some time for a visit to the hair removal spa.
I don’t love the hair that grows on there because of my moved up date, so I can either Nair it, shave very close, or plan to have more LHR therapy done. It is annoying if I have gotten lazy and neglected to remove the hair and then realize that my wife is about to touch my penis– in those situations, I’ve just excused myself to freshen up before sex (good manners anyway) and shaved close. No, it doesn’t hurt to shave close, and I’ve never nicked myself there. I have nicked my ballsack once in a minor way when I was experimenting with shaving there, haha. Again, we are in the category of minor annoyance if even that. About as annoying as needing to trim my toe nails when I just put on sandals. It takes a second, but no big deal. And if you haven’t, if it matters, it’s easy to fix it right then.
Meatus. I guess this doesn’t pass: I don’t have a true hole in the end of my penis. It wasn’t my priority to reroute my urethra, not minding leaving well enough alone, so I have the shape of the hole in the end of my penis from a dermal punch, but it doesn’t open or go anywhere. On the positive side, when I have bareback sex, I don’t have any of the other person’s fluids traveling directly in my body there. It’s like I was able to make my penis for pleasure but not for urination, which is okay with me. Other people have other priorities, and I respect that. Fortunately I am never in situations where someone needs to look down the hole at the tip of my penis.
Anatomy inside the ball sack. I don’t have epididymis in my ball sack. I have the prostheses– the Torosa and the pump bulb that is part of the Coloplast Titan– but they don’t hang on a cord sort of thing in my ball sack. I don’t miss having this part. Maybe it is like how trans women don’t miss not having a cervix? It would be cool if the docs could 3D print one to go in there with the rest. WELL, HOLD ON, I guess since the Titan bulb is connected to the cording to the reservoir and cylinders… That’s like a prosthetic epididymis. Well, how about that. The Torosa is anchored down at the top, but my anchor snapped one day. Shrug, I like the way it hangs lower off the anchor. I find the asymmetry of one side hanging lower to be more natural looking. Some surgeons don’t anchor them.
Erections. Although my erection is not natal to me, the fact that I have an erectile implant inside the penis isn’t a trans thing. Something like 40,000 men just in the US have one. If erectile dysfunction pills don’t work, and if injections don’t work, you can have these erectile prostheses put in by AMS or Coloplast. I think they are fascinating technology. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the hydraulic mechanism of the pump; it is much more complex than just “inflate”– although that is still the colloquial language for it. Most of my cismale friends are truly envious that I have total control over my erections like that. It gets hard with some squeezes on my scrotum and soft again with one push of a button below my skin. Through engineering, you can’t really push it accidentally, so it’s a cool piece of technology.
Texture. This part is interesting. So, I’ve been married to a man before, prior to my transition and remarriage to a trans woman. I’m very familiar with the textures of a penis from my earlier life. There are some subtle differences between my penis texture and others, but just about every aspect of the texture falls within normal ranges. The skin of a phalloplasty is not mucosocutaneous, but if you’ve ever been with a circumcised guy, the keratinized tissue behaves more like ordinary dermis. Since we are generally built to circumcized shape, texture is appropriate. I would say that the penis is slightly heavier than similarly sized natal penises, but that’s not anything someone would notice or be bothered by. The feel to the hand is good, appropriate as you’d expect. In my appraisal, my glans is a bit less springy than the average very erect penis (you know how they can get plump?), but it is not a problem at all. According to my wife, the textures when giving a blow job are the same as textures of a cisgender man’s penis. She said honestly that it does not feel any different. Since I am not fellating my own penis, I’ll take her word for it.
No vaginectomy. Haha, that part stands out as not typical male. No surprise there. When I am walking or even sitting nude in a comfortable, knees slightly apart way, everything is private and not displayed to anyone else. I know this is not everybody’s wish for their body, but I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world to get to experience both and don’t have to decide one or the other. I think many cisgender people would like to know what it feels like to have both or to experience both perspectives. Since my dysphoria was that I did not have a penis, and I had minimal dysphoria about the vagina I mostly ignored except to have an orgasm and bond with my spouse, I just left it there. I am glad I did. I like having multiple ways to achieve orgasm and multiple ways to receive penetration. Vaginas with no cervix or uterus are easy maintenance, too. I have a script for Estrace cream to keep the tissues strong and healthy post hysto. It’s good stuff. A lot of trans men and nonbinary people have had good experiences with this stuff.
No clitorial burial. I always have to disambiguate– burial is NOT the same thing as nerve hookup. I have had nerve hookup: That is, I have had nerve anastamosis of the lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve to the ilioinguinal nerve. I have also had nerve anastamosis of the medial antebrachial cutaneous nerve to the dorsal penile nerve of the genitofemoral nerve branch. I have sensation base to tip, but it is a bit stronger on the right side, where they do the nerve hookup. Not having burial means that I can experience the acute sensations of the natal erectile tissue without it being surrounded by my other penis tissue muting it. I know, some folks really get down with this, having the nerves of one nested in the other. But for me, I like having multiple pleasure centers. Whether you have burial or not is a personal decision which will vary from individual to individual. I think it is a plus I have good sensation in both places.
How I sit to pee. Well, since urine is not part of my sexual life– no shade on people for whom it is– my experience of peeing is really just me alone in the bathroom sitting down. Urethrostomy is very common in middle aged and older men– that is, the rerouting of urine directly down around the prostate– and that has their urine coming out of the same place as mine, perineally. If you have big STP dysphoria, urethral lengthening is probably going to be one of your top priorities. For me, it wasn’t. But since the majority of men stand to pee, and I don’t care to, that is a difference from the average. Again, that gets a shrug from me. About as annoying to me as… being a shorter person and realizing that some things are built for taller people, like a bathroom mirror hung too high. It’s annoying when I need to use that facility (urinal or mirror) and it’s the only option I have, but the huge majority of the time I have options and it’s no big deal.
Time to be real… Cum. There’s no sperm or prostatic fluid coming out of the end of my penis. I guess this difference might bother me if I had a partner who wanted that from me. If I had had UL, the Skene’s glands of the paraurethral ducts (analogous to a prostate) might emit fluid at climax out of the end of my penis hole. I know people for whom this happens. Their cum is clear like a man or trans woman who had had orchidectomy but very similar otherwise. I’m generally not into penis fluids at all for health reasons, associating them with STI transmission risk, so I don’t miss this one personally at all. Also it’s messy and smells to me. But if that’s your thing, enjoy:) I did not have UL, so this is not possible for me with my current setup.
So, that’s the tour. I have a couple scars, my own special blend of organs, a few nifty sexual abilities others don’t have, and some things other bodies can do that mine doesn’t. It’s all fair in my mind. I have everything I need and nothing I don’t. Okay, there’s one thing which I think would be really swell if I could have gotten it as an option– foreskin. Maybe the science will catch up to us on that one sooner or later. I think I would find myself in understanding company with many men, if I brought up not getting a choice about whether I got the uncircumcised model dick or not.