Are You Sure You Want to Do This?

It’s one year today that I began the process of having an orchiectomy. It is the first surgery I went through for my gender-affirming care. I completed it in November and am now just paying off massive medical debt over it

One of the things that kept hurting was the amount of people who asked me if I was sure at doing my orchiectomy. The people, my own mom included, who said I was being impulsive at having this surgery.

I have known since I was 4 that I was a trans woman. I have grappled with it all my life. When Caitlyn Jenner made news, I thought I wanted to do that too. I don’t like her politics, but I admire her doing it despite so much backlash.

I didn’t begin my journey until 2020. I began hormones and my medical treatments on December 15th, 2020. Fun fact, that is my partner’s birthday and was just an amazing coincidence once I realised this when we began dating.

It took me a year of hormone replacement therapy, which I had to get approval to begin that, before I was allowed to begin surgery.

A year ago today I finally had my first consultation on my orchiectomy. For those who do not know what that is, I had my testicles removed. I had to wait for a long time to get this consultation booked. I booked it in January of 2022 after I got the referral from my endocrinologist in December of 2021.

I had to wait many long months and I had to do a bunch of thinking about whether I really wanted to do this surgery.

The appointment was incredibly scary and I remember telling my best friend, who is now my partner, that I was so scared. He and I had been talking through the implications of this. At the time we didn’t realise we would be spending our lives together, he was just someone I was talking to a lot. Like friends do. He talked to me to help make sure I was really ready. He asked good questions, but in a very caring way.

Once I had my consultation I had to undergo some therapy sessions to get a write-off for my insurance. These therapy sessions unfortunately were not covered by insurance and I estimate have cost me between $600-$1,000 out-of-pocket from two therapists. Because insurance didn’t want just one person. I had to put these on credit cards. Which has added to the debt that I am currently working through.

These sessions were very grueling and asked me a lot of tough questions. The therapists weren’t pushing me towards the surgery. They were affirming, but they many times asked me if I was ready. Every medical professional along the way was asking me if I was really ready. They all talked me through the implications of this surgery. I never felt pushed into this, if anything I had to prove I was ready.

I remember once the surgery date was set that I was incredibly scared. I was having some major second thoughts. Someone I know sent me a letter saying this was impulsive. I remember sitting with my partner crying and talking through this surgery while I was visiting with him in October.

I met with a friend of a friend who asked me some very difficult questions. He wanted me to make sure I wasn’t making the wrong decision. Now he wanted me to undergo thousands of hours of therapy (at a cost to me of course due to the healthcare system in this country), but I don’t think any further therapy would change what I knew. I was literally a week away.

The days and hours up to the surgery I was questioning whether I should do this. I thought long and hard again about this. I know the narrative is people are pushed into these surgeries, but the reality is we have to fight to have them.

Insurance, literally with a day to go, almost hadn’t approved it yet and I had to fight to call and get them to approve it.

The day of, the doctor talked it through with me again. My partner and I had some heart-to-heart talks that morning. As I was about to put on the anasthesia to fall asleep, I kept thinking of whether I wanted to do this. This was not an impulsive thing.

I woke up from the surgery and felt relieved that it had happened. I have not lost that sense of relief. I didn’t like the surgery due to the immense pain I was in for a few months following, but it was the right choice for me.

Just please I urge people to not spread the narrative that anyone who elects to undergo gender-affirming surgery surgery is being forced into it. We aren’t. We aren’t being impulsive. We’ve had to do a lot of work to get to this point. You might not realise how much we’ve had to do. But please maybe have a bit more empathy for us.