The day I never thought would be ever happening has finally come: I am getting gender reassignment surgery. It feels unreal, a dream, a daydream, a fantasy, there are many adjectives and nouns to describe this feeling. It’s an exciting time for anyone that desires it and many of us do. It’s a long sigh of relief after the struggle has finally started to give way. But I have doubts. Or what I feel or think are doubts. It feels so unreal, that I almost don’t want it. If I go through with this surgery there’s no going back, and yes that is what I want! But do I really want it? Why am I doubting this?
"FOR ME IT FEELS THAT IF I GET THE SURGERY, 'HE' WILL COMPLETELY BE GONE."
Can you imagine finally having your body’s genitals aligned with your gender? The answer is yes and that is what we all want! Well the ones that want (need) the surgery. For me it feels that if I get the surgery, “he” will completely be gone—this time he really will be what so many people have claimed of my former presentation: dead. I’ve been charged with killing a person so many people held dear. A person that was a father, a friend, a family member, a lover, an inspiration to some in the military.
Not long ago I was shopping at a store, and I ran into a cis woman that had a thing for “him." She is a beautiful girl, and “he” seriously thought of starting something with her, but nothing happened because of me. When I ran into her, she was with a man. He was a good looking tall guy with a well-trimmed beard (who I actually thought was cute for me!). I avoided running directly into her as much as I could. For some reason I felt guilty, I didn’t feel presentable. I wasn’t presenting as “him."
When I left the store as I approached my vehicle, I saw them by their vehicle. They were smiling and the man opened the door for her and in dramatic fashion motioned the lady to step into the vehicle. She laughed and bid a salute to him playfully, then they laughed together, embraced, and kissed. They looked so happy. I ran into them a week or so later, this time at a park where I was taking wedding pictures for some friends. She approached my best friend and commented on how beautiful she looked for her pictures, but she didn’t see me, and again I avoided her. My friend’s fiancée, having known about her and that “he” had a chance to date her, laughingly said “We could have been running into you just now!”
I felt I was in a foreign land. I thought, “Yes that could have been me! That could have been me in this very moment with that girl in this park running into my friends." It’s not that I still like that woman, and that I wanted to take her back. For the first time, I felt that I was Olivia, suddenly awake in the life of some person in which I had to mold their life into my own. I’d have to keep all his family members, his friends, all his memories, all his emotions towards past lovers and all the love he still had for the one true love of his life, which like many “love of their life” stories, always end in sadness. I cried myself to sleep that night.
I came to realize that I am mourning. “He” didn’t have a bad life, there were many good things in it. But even though all that may be good and true, that life wasn’t truly real. “He” was not real. It was me in a mask pretending to be “him." For years and decades I pretended. Now that I feel I am being myself not only in my presentation but with my emotions, I can feel how incomplete “he” felt even in the happiest of moments. There was a wedding and trips to Paris and London. There were military humanitarian rescue efforts and tours in Iraq accomplished. I can see myself in those moments but at the same time the moments do not belong to me and they weren’t for me. They were “his”—for his life and his events.
"LIVING THAT LIFE, PRESENTING AS A MAN, SLOWLY STARTED TO BECOME INCOMPLETE AND HAD STARTED TO FEEL LIKE SUCH A STRUGGLE."
This is how all this has to do with my surgery: Living that life, presenting as a man, slowly started to become incomplete and had started to feel like such a struggle. Transitioning had felt unattainable at many points. If you knew me 5 years ago and asked me if I would be transitioning, I would have resoundingly said no. I was living my life as a he, and my she was inside, deeply buried into the palace of my mind. Now I am saying goodbye forever to that male presentation that has come to mean so much in my life. In fact it does feel like a death; someone I am never going to see again. It hurts because I know everything about this person—what he likes, what makes him laugh, his favorite things and his life’s most adored moments. It hurts because he was a good person. It hurts because it feels like my existence comes at the cost of a life and many people’s pain.
That moment I wake up from surgery, the world will be mine and only mine. I will always remember him, but I will no longer be incomplete. Now I can be everything that I can and I will honor his memory. For today and sometime more I will mourn him, but now I know I don’t have doubts. I am surely not the only one that has felt like this about their former self. But I’m sure there’s many that have interesting perspectives on what gender reassignment surgery means. I would love to read about it please share if you’d like!