Video of Sexual Reassignment Surgery, Male to Female

The video below features extremely clarifying,  eye-opening, unsensationalized, medically matter-of-fact, step-by-step footage of the procedure for transforming the skin and tissues of a penis into a vagina. I think it is must-see. Of course, this is footage of graphic surgery and obviously features genitalia. So, be advised if you are too squeamish about blood and other bodily tissues. But personally, I think anyone trying to overcome default ingrained mental habits of thinking that there is an absolute difference between penises and vaginas needs to see this. It will help you really process how the same basic skin and tissues, etc. can be transformed from the one into the other and make for real working genitals; genitals which, post-op, are indistinguishable to the naked eye from those which grow on their own. It also, for me, is worth marveling at from a technical standpoint to see and wonder at the techniques and surgical skill required to make this happen.

I found this video as part of an “IAmA” at Reddit begun by a cisgendered man in a relationship with a transgendered post-op woman. Early in the questions, at least the ones that appear at the top of the page based on voting, another transgendered woman who is not the original poster’s girlfriend, does most of the answering. And she gives a really illuminating 101 on all things trans, including both how her personal experience is different as a woman, on the one hand, and some of the ins and outs of how the physical transformation occurs. You can skip the back and forth with commenters and focus on her comments by clicking on her name, isleepinahammock. In particular, here are a few well-put points everyone should understand:

Hormones rewire things so even before SRS, people often report a shifting in the way orgasms work. I know mine have changed a ton. They’re a lot harder to get and are more of a wave rather than a spike. They’re more spread throughout the entire body rather than just centered on the groin. They also can repeat. :3 I haven’t had SRS yet, only hormones.

A key thing to realize is that there is no such thing as male tissue or female tissue. There’s not male muscle and female muscle. There’s no penile tissue and vaginal tissue. The different set of genitals have the same kinds of tissue, just in a different configuration. With SRS, the tissues are just reconfigured.

And

People really don’t realize how much of their bodies and feelings are dependent on their hormonal balance.

Hormone therapy isn’t magic. It’s all pretty mundane really. All they do is adjust the hormone levels in your body to match those of the sex you’re transitioning to. Testosterone level too high? Take androgen blockers to bring it down. Estrogen levels to low? Take the same estrogen pills they give to post-menopausal women.

Just by changing the hormone balance, all the following happen:

*Your skin changes. It gets softer, any remaining acne from adolescence disappears. Body hair thins and becomes thin and clear.

*Your entire musculature changes. If you have well-developed upper body muscles like pecs or biceps, these melt away. I suppose you could keep them up with constant vigorous use, but without this they rapidly diminish

*Your fat distribution changes. It’s like your body just flips a switch and says, “oh! I should store my fat on my bust and hips/butt instead of around my midriff.” Slowly, your body fat just starts moving to a female distribution.

*Mental changes. Orgasms change. Emotions don’t necessarily become more intense, but they become more visible. It’s like before I was viewing them through a curtain and now they’re clear as day. Consequently, it’s now a lot easier to get happy or to cry.

*Breast development. Very much a YMMV thing, but it triggers the same breast development as in any other girl. It’s not like the pure-fat manboobs a fat guy would get. They’re the regular female breasts with all the supportive and ductile tissue. Nipples size and shape dramatically changes. They’re not just for looks either. Eventually, my partner and I will have kids. I won’t be able to give birth, but I’m really looking forward to being able to nurse. :3 <3

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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