I Had Various Parts Of My Body Hacked Off To Craft A Penis
Having already bought you a first-class ticket to the wonderful land of hairy vagina monsters (and other such delights of vaginoplasty), it seemed downright sexist not to visit neighboring Dongistan. We talked to Gerbil, a trans man who recently underwent phalloplasty, and he told us that turning a hoo-ha into a wang comes with its own unique challenges. For example ...
Finding A Dong Doctor Is Nearly Impossible
Every candidate for gender reassignment surgery runs a gauntlet of therapy visits, hormone injections, and probably also actual gauntlets -- why not? -- but there's another obstacle for female-to-male candidates. Phalloplasty is both less popular and more complicated than vaginoplasty, so there aren't a whole lot of doctors who do it. A cursory Google search returns a list of about a dozen doctors in the U.S. who are both qualified and still practicing. Guess how long their waiting lists are?
"It took me around three and a half years, that's only because I had no idea what I was doing," Gerbil says.
To be fair, WikiHow doesn't have a guide for- well, we'll be damned. (Still, probably don't trust that.)
If major surgery is depicted like Ikea instructions, you're probably not getting all the information.
"Initially, a therapist at the University Of Minnesota's Center For Sexual Health pointed me to the TransBucket photo gallery site, where the surgery outcomes of one Mr. Christopher in London looked closest to what I wanted my own equipment to be like," Gerbil continued.
Because this is apparently a "bring a picture of Macklemore to your barber" kind of deal.
Though to really get the true male experience, you should view whatever you end up receiving with a mix of pride and disappointment.
"I booked a consultation with him in early 2014, and after only a few months' wait, I was there in his office, being told that ... he wouldn't do a phalloplasty if I wasn't willing to get a hysterectomy. I was told a couple months ago that he's since changed his mind, and now performs phalloplasties with or without a hysterectomy," Gerbil notes, adding "he's one of only three surgeons I know of who do."
After going back to his therapist and informing her that these were not the 'noids he was looking for, "she told me of an up-and-coming young surgeon who'd just started a practice in San Francisco, one Dr. Curtis Crane. I count myself lucky that I was told about him so early in his career, because when I made the appointment to see him there in SF in July 2014 ... it was still a year's wait before I could get the surgery. Even with adding another surgeon to his team, Dr. Chen, he's still in such high demand that having to wait over a year or two from initial consultation to surgery date is standard."
Though if there's one thing trans people get plenty of practice at, it's waiting.
Yes, getting a dong is a lot like getting tickets to Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: You have to get up early, and you're definitely going to bleed.
You Can Keep Your Original Plumbing
Wait, what was with the whole "not having a hysterectomy" thing? You have to trade the old parts out first, right? Not so much: Getting new outsides doesn't require giving up your insides. You can have your dick and, well ... not "eat it, too." But something!
"I was born with a uterus, ovaries, vulva, vagina, that whole deal, and yup, I still have all those parts," Gerbil says. "Few people are aware it's possible to have a phalloplasty and still keep them."
Turns out incredibly invasive organ removal isn't totally necessary for slapping some dangly bits on.
It makes sense: A hysterectomy is not known to be a happy fun time, and in general, the fewer body parts you hack off, the better. Also, it turns out phalloplasty is a real mix-and-match operation. If you want the full enchilada, you're looking at a lot of surgeries:
"To make sure that your entire wing-wong is operational, inside and out, phalloplasty surgeons usually break down the process into anywhere from two to four stages," Gerbil says. "There's the main phalloplasty, i.e., the shaft. Take a few months for healing in between, and you're ready for the glansplasty, or attaching the head of the dong. If standing to pee is important to you, the surgeons need to do a urethroplasty. They actually kept the original urethra, and built off from the end of that, in a process called 'urethral lengthening.' That means my new urethra has a giant bend in it where it's attached to the inside of the penis."
Like a crazy straw!
... made out of dick-flesh. Let's get that image right out of our heads.
"Then there's the scrotoplasty (yes, balls cost extra), so add some more months to heal up your brand-new taint," Gerbil continues. "Optional, but popular, is the separate surgery to implant rods that can make your new dong erect. More time healing, yadda yadda. Try planning college classes around all this, by the way. Or a work schedule ... There are surgeons who do all the steps but the rod implantation in one step. Currently, there's two of them. Working from the same office, in a San Francisco suburb. Guess how busy they are?"
So it makes sense to weigh your options and think long and hard about whether you really need balls to feel like a man. When those of you who have passed out just reading that come back around, Gerbil wants to point out that metoidioplasty -- a surgical procedure to separate and reposition a hormonally-enlarged clitoris -- is a popular, "far less risky and hospital-intensive" alternative. "It gives you a micropenis you can't pee through, which wasn't what I was after," he says. "Phalloplasty is basically metoidioplasty's much more clickbaity cousin."
As for Gerbil, "It took me one surgery to get the main phalloplasty, glansplasty, and urethroplasty, and it's taken me five surgeries to get through all the complications I had afterwards."
There Are So Many Terrible Ways For It To Go Wrong
"Most patients undergoing phalloplasty won't have nearly that many to worry about, though it should be mentioned, there's no way to tell ahead of time if you will or won't have trouble with complications," Gerbil says. "In my case, I had several severe strictures -- to put it bluntly, my new dick's urethra kept 'healing' itself shut."
Which sounds like a good way to add "exploded kidney" to the list of complications.
Well, that sounds like a curse from a Stephen King novel. How bad was it, really?
The road to peeing freely included "two attempts ... to cut out the sealed-shut parts and tie the ends together," then sliding a camera up his dong (pause for wincing), and eventually "two separate stages of a urethroplasty, where skin was taken from the inside of my mouth and rolled into an entirely new urethra."
Yep, there are parts of his mouth in his dong.
No, we don't know if he can taste with his dick. We wanted to ask, but our editor insists it's too stupid a question to answer.
Anywho: "Your surgeons have a lot of options available to piece together that new wangdoodle of yours. The most common skin donor sites are the arm ('radial forearm' method), the stomach ('abdominal'), the meaty part of the inner thigh ('pubic') -- heck, there's new techniques being mastered by individual phalloplasty surgeons all the time. The forearm is a common choice, as erotic sensation nerves from there grow back the easiest, but if you take that route, extra skin is needed from your leg or butt to patch up everything taken from the arm."
Gerbil chose the arm-replaced-by-leg method, but he wants you to know that "folks who use the leg as their donor site have bigger penis size overall as a benefit. They may not be able to feel as much erotic sensation, but dang, those guys all seem to be hung like horses!"
You wanted to know. You know you wanted to know.
Between building the tower and patching up the cracks, "significant chunks of your body will be missing," Gerbil says. People will ask about that, and "for folks who don't want to be outed as being transgender, popular responses are 'a motorcycle accident,' 'there was a fire,' or 'cough HEY LOOK AN EAGLE.'"
(PSA from Gerbil: "By the way, learning this info doesn't give you permission to bug that guy you know with the badass arm scar about his private parts ... Not everyone's so open about it. Be cool, don't be a jerk, etc.")
Even If Everything Goes Well, It's Still Awful
"The staff has to test your new dong to make sure the surgery was successful," Gerbil explains. "Every hour, all through the day, into the night, they'll be wheeling in what's called a Doppler reader to make sure blood flow's going to your new fun rocket ... For the whole week."
That's a whole seven days of never being allowed to enter REM sleep, all while doctors prod you right in your still-healing dick.
"Yup; still a dick. See you at 3 a.m."
Then, "if they've taken skin from your leg to patch up your arm, the donor site generally has a synthetic-skin bandage placed over it for a few weeks to help regrow the skin there," Gerbil says. "And once your skin relearns how to sweat after a few days, it keeps churning that stuff out like it just got a promotion. Just try pulling sheets over your body at night without waking up to a gummy, sticky, sweat-addled mess from the waist down, terrified on a primal level that the Ghost Of Bedwetting Past's come back to haunt you."
And once it dries, "the area can get so itchy and flaky that you might have the opposite problem: your legs won't stop twitching," Gerbil says. "I personally need an Ambien and a blow to the head to go under for any length of time, so those first few weeks post-dickquisition were ... difficult, to say the least."
Yup, he said the word "Dickquisition." If anyone wants to question whether Gerbil is really a guy, that should put the issue to rest.
Every Dick Is A Snowflake
Try as you might to explain to your dick stylist exactly what kind of Greek statue you want to look like, "no surgery-attached schlong is going to be 'perfect,' just like nobody born with the equipment gets to pick exactly how it looks," Gerbil says. "You're never guaranteed to know for sure what kind of tool's going to be popping out of your boxers until months after the actual phalloplasty."
Every day is like Christmas in your pants, shaking your package to see if you got a Red Ryder (you'll put your eye out, kid).
"If you didn't get at least a year of laser hair removal on your donor site before surgery (or in my case, even if you did!), your dong can grow hair afterwards," Gerbil says. "I happen to think this adds character, but again, your mileage may vary. Personally, I had a bit of skin die along the ridge of my glans in the process, leaving a dark patch there even after healing. Though this gave me the chance to give my junk a snappy nickname: Spot!"
It was a tough choice, but "Professor Cockington D. Shaftmore, Esquire" wouldn't fit on a nametag.
But we all know what you're really concerned about.
"You can try for a certain size, but your glans might heal up a smidge over to the left, or the shaft might shrink more than you anticipated once the swelling's gone down," Gerbil says. Personally, "mine did shrink a bit, especially the head, though the difference wasn't really big enough for me to mourn the difference. I was more happy to have one, quirks and all."
You're Not Prepared For The Questions It Raises
"The most common myth I've known a lot of people to bring up, both inside and outside the trans community, is that you have to go through gender confirmation surgery 'in order,'" Gerbil says. "That is, you go on hormone therapy first, then get your breasts removed via top surgery, and THEN you have bottom surgery, either through metoidoplasty or phalloplasty. Having just phalloplasty, nothing else, is nigh unheard of."
He's like a trans unicorn, but with a dong instead of a horn.
It's a weird process, to be sure, but it doesn't seem like that much to ask for strangers not be total dicks about your ... penis.
"The internet's full of people who feel I did the whole thing wrong," Gerbil says. "That I didn't go far enough. That I need to get my boobs removed instead of continuing to bind them down before I can be a 'real' man. That I needed to take hormones first, even though I can't actually process testosterone thanks to a personal medical quirk. Or that I didn't need to bother with phalloplasty at all."
"The question I hear most often is 'But why would you stop there?'" he continues. "To which I have no better response than, 'Because all I needed to feel like the person I need to be was to be able to pee standing up, using body parts that are my own.'" After all, "to be honest, a lot of folks can't say that about their bodies. I know lots of female-to-male transexuals who need to get hysterectomies, who can't feel themselves unless any organs seen as 'female' are out of their body. I can only speak for myself."
If you're already taking the risk of surgery, why not get exactly what you want?
As far as that goes, it's been a pretty smashing success:
"Right now, I'm just enjoying not feeling like I have to distance myself from my own body to have sex," Gerbil says. "I used to only be able to perform if I ignored my body, thinking of it as this abstract meat that was attached to me. And now, finally, I don't feel that way anymore ... Before, I can't explain very well what it felt like, but not having something down there felt seriously wrong, even back when I was a kid and I'd never seen a dick before ... I'd shove folks I was dating away from my crotch if they went exploring, because the way it looked down there was not right to me. And now, that feeling is completely gone!"
The mechanics of sex are interesting, to say the least.
Shocking, we know.
"I may be permanently limp due to not having an elator implanted in my penis, but after taking a few months for the nerves down there to regrow bit by bit, I can (and do!) gladly receive oral sex."
That's thanks to a method known as "burying" the clitoris, "that is, having the new penis built over/around the clit ... it's like having a gigantic 5-inch clit to work with, even if the sensations are a bit muffled through the new skin ... Even being penetrated vaginally seems like a fun thing I can do now, not the numb mannequin bumping I'd carry out before phalloplasty. As my current partner put it, pointing at my junk, 'You're ... gonna have to explain some things. But I'm down if you are!'"
Gerbil has even reached a personal milestone that dick-owners the world over take for granted: writing his name in the snow. There's just nothing quite like 'claiming' nature.
Does Manna still have a Twitter? Better check.
Behind every awful movie is the idea for a good one. Old man Indiana Jones discovers aliens. Good in theory, bad in practice. Batman fights Superman. So simple, but so bad. Are there good translations of these movies hidden within the stinking turds that saw the light of day? Jack O'Brien hosts Soren Bowie, Daniel O'Brien and Katie Willert of 'After Hours' on our next live podcast to find an answer as they discuss their ideal versions of flops, reboots, and remakes. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased here!
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