I’m 45 Years Post-op Today

I originally posted the piece below on June 22, 2012.  Leslie St Clair who is beside me in the photo passed away July 5, 2010.

I will be 70 in a few days, fifty years ago I was in the process of leaving home.  The Summer of Love was calling and I needed to fly, to see America, to do what I had to do.

Now I am one of the really old timers, one of the last of an era.

An old hippie dyke who dealt with being born transsexual so many years ago.

The version of Sex Reassignment Surgery they performed in 1972 was pretty primitive by today’s standards.

I was one of the people they perfected their techniques on.  All of us who were among the first to get our surgery from one of the University Hospitals were the bodies they learned on and sort of experimented on.

I remember going into the OR and then waking up in pain.

That tiny basement room, hidden away from the rest of the hospital was hot and miserable.

I was stuck on my back with my legs tied together.  They had sewn a large stent into my vagina. I was catheterized.

I had tubes in both arms and I remember a lot of pain.

Chope was sort of hard to get to and I didn’t have a lot of visitors.

There was a male respiratory therapist who grew up in Middlebury, Vermont just across Lake Champlain  from where I grew up.  We talked about growing up in the north country and skiing.

There was a nurse who was convinced that transsexuals were bizarre perverts and that I was trying to seduce him.  Even though I was in pain with tubes going into me and coming out of me.  My hair was filthy and felt physically filthy with sweat.

After a week they put me back under to change the dressings and pull the original stent.  I made the mistake of having implants done at the same time.

I was still in incredible pain as I was developing a vaginal-urethral fistula.

They were limiting my pain killers and telling me that the pain was psychosomatic.

I developed bed sores from where my legs had been tied together.

When they discharged me from the hospital, ten days after SRS, I was still in a great deal of pain.

Several days later my friend Kim, drove me down to Chope for a check up where the doctors discovered I had a fistula and was peeing through my vagina.

They shoved a large needle in to my bladder above my pelvic bones, and inserted a suprapubic catheter.  They gave me a large supply of pain killers at this point.

I was in pain and the results of my surgery looked horrible,  I was black and blue with horrible swelling and stitches running every which way. Worse yet they were starting to itch.

Jerry had screened the mail from my mother.

He asked me if he could destroy a couple of the letters without my reading them.  He told me not to read them.

In one my mother told me that if I ever came home my father would kill me.

Between weed and pain killers Jerry and my friends kept me stoned.

Between the stent and everything else I developed a vaginal infection.

This meant another trip back to the clinic, this time at Stanford where they removed the catheter.

Dr Laub told me I had a yeast infection and it was the first time they had ever encountered that particular vaginal infection in a post-op transsexual.  He asked if I minded if he showed it to some of his interns as they were learning about transsexuals.

I translated some to be two or three and wasn’t ready for the twenty or so eager to see young doctors who crowded in to see my infected cunt.

I got better eventually.

I was expected to wear the stent full time for the first six months.

At first it was painful then annoying.

The surgery was ugly and primitive but was vastly improved when I got the follow up labioplasty a little over a year later.

I’ve learned to live with the fistula.

I answered all the questionnaires they gave me over the years.

I never sued and I ignored a whole lot of abuse that went along with being used as sort of an experimental subject.

Twelve years later on a follow up, after the movie Bladerunner, had come out I used the term “Replicants” to describe us and how they treated those of us who were among the first to get surgery done in the University hospitals.

This was after the Meyers/McHugh Report.  Judy Van Maasdam chided me for using a slur to describe myself.  I said, “Replicant is the term people use when they are being polite.  The bastards at Hopkins probably call us “Skin Jobs.””

The thing is very few of us complained.  Not because everything went perfectly.

Many of us tried to present a squeaky clean image not because the doctors required it but because we didn’t want to fuck things up for those who followed us.

I never sued, hell I probably signed away the rights to sue or even demand they cover the costs of correcting the fistula.

I laughed it off when they had all young doctors look at my twat.

I had friends in line behind me waiting to get their surgery and loyalty to them kept me from complaining.

Forty-five years later this is the stuff of my memoir.

Forty-five years later this was the price, those of us who got our surgery back then paid.

The doctors learned on our bodies and perfected the techniques they use today.

Am I envious of modern surgeries?

Honestly I am a little.

I wish I didn’t have the fistula and I wish I had a clit that looked like a clit.

But my cunt is my cunt, it is my body and the ball of tissue that lies hidden only to turn into a little knot when I get aroused, works the way it is supposed to, particularly with the Hitachi Magic Wand.

The only thing I wish I could convey to those who come along today and say that so few of the pioneers stuck around to give back to the community, is this, “We paid more than most of you will ever imagine.”

We put our bodies on the line with no guarantees and most of us did so with  grace and care because we didn’t want to fuck it up and have them stop doing SRS.

Everything was so experimental in those early years in American University Centers.

The photo below is as close as any one is going to see of a before picture of me.  It was taken about a month before I had SRS.  I’m wearing the purple skirt and one of my very special BFFs, Leslie is the tall blonde beside me.

Friday Night Fun and Culture: Rosalie Sorrels (June 24, 1933 – June 11, 2017)

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I Was Recently Informed I’m Not a Transsexual

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2017/6/07/i-was-recently-informed-im-not-transsexual

When the Nazis Come Marching In

What a lot of folks on the Left don’t get is that the Second Amendment gives them the right to keep and bear arm precisely to prevent the take over of our nation by totalitarian forces be they Nazi or Communist.  The First Amendment guards the rights of all people to speak their minds.  It does not guarantee them any particular platform but prevents the denying of any platform to anyone no matter how hateful others might find their speech.

I am more afraid of those well meaning people who attack both the First and Second Amendments to our Constitution than I am of the Nazis.

From Slate:  https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/06/fear-of-the-first-amendment-in-time-of-violent-protests.html

I never feared the First Amendment until white supremacists came to my hometown

By Dahlia Lithwick
Jun 07, 2017

As a resident of Charlottesville, Virginia, I have been forced of late to spend too much time thinking about Nazis. In mid-May, a handful of white supremacists, Holocaust deniers, xenophobes, and recreational racists—among them Richard Spencer—marched through one of our parks with flaming torches in support of a Robert E. Lee statue that has been slated to be sold by the City Council. The demonstration grabbed headlines worldwide, the statue’s removal has been placed on a six-month hold by a judge, and the Ku Klux Klan is now seeking permission to march here in July. A few weeks after the first march, a Facebook post from a local black farmer went viral due to its suggestion that the arrival of the white supremacists was more a culmination than an inciting incident, and that the fight over the Lee monument was empty symbolism that distracted from a meaningful discussion about the systemic racism that already exists here. The post included the claim that “it isn’t Richard Spencer calling the cops on me for farming while Black. It’s nervous White women in yoga pants with ‘I’m with Her’ and ‘Coexist’ stickers on their German SUVs.” White women in yoga pants were upset. Alt-right websites rejoiced.

My little city in central Virginia has become the stuff of reality TV. The local police, who didn’t see the Lee Park thing coming, are dialed up to 11. And with threats, incitement, and actual assaults perpetrated both by alt-right sympathizers and the protesters who oppose them, their job is no longer to stand back but to surge in almost as soon as the shouting begins. Now, when we come to meet in our town square, we are uncertain of whether we are suiting up for events that fete the Constitution or violent altercations for which we should park with an eye to high-speed retreats. Lee Park itself, where my babies learned to walk, has become ground zero for people expecting the worst.

This is how I felt as I headed to a local counter-protest the morning of May 31: afraid for the first time in my 16-year residence in a town I love. I was afraid that the cycle of arrests and assaults that have followed the Richard Spencer march would lead to more arrests and assaults, afraid about where we parked the car because white supremacists in this town have followed protesters home from rallies, afraid for the first time in the small town where my kids walk everywhere alone. For the first time in a lifetime of journalism, I was also afraid to wear my press credentials because today, in this town, they might invite punching.

Last week, I had come to a place where I was thinking—if not saying aloud—that maybe it was time for me and the First Amendment to see other people. It’s not me, to be sure, it’s the First Amendment—or at least what’s become of it. I am weary of hate speech, wary of threats, and tired of the choice between punching back and acquiescing. I am sick to death of Nazis. And yet they had arrived, basically on my doorstep.

Continue reading at:  https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/06/fear-of-the-first-amendment-in-time-of-violent-protests.html

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In Defense of Cultural Appropriation

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/opinion/in-defense-of-cultural-appropriation.html


June 14, 2017

LONDON — It is just as well that I’m a writer, not an editor. Were I editing a newspaper or magazine, I might soon be out of a job. For this is an essay in defense of cultural appropriation.

In Canada last month, three editors lost their jobs after making such a defense.

The controversy began when Hal Niedzviecki, editor of Write, the magazine of the Canadian Writers’ Union, penned an editorial defending the right of white authors to create characters from minority or indigenous backgrounds. Within days, a social media backlash forced him to resign. The Writers’ Union issued an apology for an article that its Equity Task Force claimed “re-entrenches the deeply racist assumptions” held about art.

Another editor, Jonathan Kay, of The Walrus magazine, was also compelled to step down after tweeting his support for Mr. Niedzviecki. Meanwhile, the broadcaster CBC moved Steve Ladurantaye, managing editor of its flagship news program The National, to a different post, similarly for an “unacceptable tweet” about the controversy.

It’s not just editors who have to tread carefully. Last year, the novelist Lionel Shriver generated a worldwide storm after defending cultural appropriation in an address to the Brisbane Writers Festival. Earlier this year, controversy erupted when New York’s Whitney Museum picked for its Biennial Exhibition Dana Schutz’s painting of the mutilated corpse of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American murdered by two white men in Mississippi in 1955. Many objected to a white painter like Ms. Schutz depicting such a traumatic moment in black history. The British artist Hannah Black organized a petition to have the work destroyed.

Other works of art have been destroyed. The sculptor Sam Durant’s piece “Scaffold,” honoring 38 Native Americans executed in 1862 in Minneapolis, was recently being assembled in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. But after protests from indigenous activists that Mr. Durant was appropriating their history, the artist dismantled his own work, and made its wood available to be burned in a Dakota Sioux ceremony.

What is cultural appropriation, and why is it so controversial? Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University, defines it as “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission.” This can include the “unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”

Appropriation suggests theft, and a process analogous to the seizure of land or artifacts. In the case of culture, however, what is called appropriation is not theft but messy interaction. Writers and artists necessarily engage with the experiences of others. Nobody owns a culture, but everyone inhabits one, and in inhabiting a culture, one finds the tools for reaching out to other cultures.

Critics of cultural appropriation insist that they are opposed not to cultural engagement, but to racism. They want to protect marginalized cultures and ensure that such cultures speak for themselves, not simply be seen through the eyes of more privileged groups.

Certainly, cultural engagement does not take place on a level playing field. Racism and inequality shape the ways in which people imagine others. Yet it is difficult to see how creating gated cultures helps promote social justice.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/opinion/in-defense-of-cultural-appropriation.html

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Naomi Klein: How to Resist Trump’s Shock Doctrine

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: The Waitresses

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