RARP - My Cure and Finding Answers
After experiencing a life-altering RARP (robot-assisted radical prostatectomy), I searched for a way to repair the internal damage done to me. The only obvious way for me to enjoy life again required a surgery that only surgeons who treat transgender individuals perform. This is about people I met who helped me learn about that surgery.
Understanding transgender and intersex
My journey and writing about it made me realize that everybody filters what they think is normal by what they have experienced in their own life, without fully understanding what other people experience. Everyone’s life experience is different, and some are extremely different.
As a Christian, I had the impression transgender people were sexual perverts who want to convert your children. I assumed they would turn against me if they knew I was Christian. Instead, I found them friendly and welcoming, and I have talked with many of them. I was surprised to find that some of them are Christian.
I also discovered another group who are intersex, and there seems to be a sizeable overlap with the transgender group. The intersex group is larger, but no better understood than transgender people. Both groups are often ostracized by the general public, and some consider them to be confused or abominations. There is some disagreement about how to define intersex, but I believe research indicates that at least 1.7% of the population is intersex. Transgender people are thought by some to be about .6%.1,2
Some people I have talked with who are religious feel that many intersex conditions are insignificant and shouldn’t be included in the percentage calculations. I would say to them a speck of dust seems insignificant until you experience it in your own eye. I think the percentages are actually higher, but we may never know the actual number for either group because social stigma keeps them hidden for their own safety as well as that of their families.
“Biological sex” is often used against both groups, but most people never get their chromosomes, hormones or internal organs checked. Because of social stigma, many intersex people are never told by doctors or their parents that they are intersex. Unless a medical problem arises, they may never know they are intersex or why they sometimes feel “different.”
Overwhelmed by the reaction of others
I have heard many stories of transgender people who regret it and de-transition. What I discovered is that the majority who de-transition do so because they are overwhelmed by the reaction of their families, friends, churches, and coworkers. Very few decide they aren’t transgender, and most have not had surgery.3
To a cisgender person, de-transition often means to stop choosing to be transgender and wear clothes they themselves think someone of a particular sex should wear. To a transgender person, it means resisting their internal sense of self to please cisgender people no matter how difficult. Something not often discussed is that many transgender people transition back again when they realize dysphoria is harder for them than facing public backlash.
Transition can mean many things, and one size doesn’t fit all. Some just wear different clothes, either publicly or in private. Others get hormones for peace of mind as well as desired physical changes. Most don’t need surgery, and many never get it because of the extreme cost. Insurance often doesn’t pay. The whole world seems focused on sex reassignment surgery (SRS), which is normally called gender confirmation surgery (GCS) by transgender people and their doctors.
The guidelines that exist
It seems easy to get SRS and young children are getting it, right? That is not correct, and I feel the stories told about this are typically propaganda. There is an international set of rules called WPATH that regulates hormones and surgeries. WPATH stipulates you must live publicly as your internal gender while taking hormones for a period of not less than one year to ensure you can live successfully as that gender in order to get GCS.4
Because most people don’t immediately blend in, they are often subjected to harassment and abuse. For insurance to pay for GCS, two mental health providers must write a letter stating they have a medical condition called dysphoria and are of sound mind to make such a decision. WPATH states that a psychotherapist, who is often considered a PhD, should write one of the letters. Because of WPATH, insurance companies don’t pay for children to get surgery and usually not for hormones for someone under 16.4
At the same time, intersex children still have mutilating surgeries performed on them to make them appear male or female. These unwanted and non-consensual surgeries can cause extreme difficulty for them later in life. I have heard this from many of these people, and it may be found by searching almost any intersex organization online such as “Intersex Society of North America.” As insane as it may sound, intersex people I've talked to are often required to be “diagnosed” as transgender and procure two letters to get surgery to correct what the doctors got wrong at birth.
More than LGBT
LGBT is the term that everyone remembers, but there are more letters than that. I have seen LGBTQQIA+, and I’m sure there are more letters. Q means queer and/or questioning, I is for Intersex, and A is for Asexual. Pretty much every letter exists because of persecution, not because it is some kind of club.
There are lots of pronouns being introduced. Some of them don’t seem to make sense, and I struggle with them just as you might. If it isn’t hard to address someone as Ms., Mrs., or Mr., why does it hurt to show respect for someone different?
Most transgender people will not complain if you make a mistake, but will if you are doing it to disrespect them. Yes, there are bad transgender people. There are also bad people who are not transgender. I think the majority of both groups are good people.
Do you have ways of managing your mindset for big decisions?