Deconstructive Surgery
by Julia Serano

--this piece originally appeared in Draw Blood, a chapbook of julia's spoken word pieces--

being an out transsexual woman
there is one question
that follows me around where ever i go
inquiring minds want to know
have i "gone all the way"
you know, have i had “the surgery”

and to me, it feels like a no-win inquisition
if i tell the truth: “no, not yet”
then i get to deal
with everybody else's emotional baggage
because nothing makes people more paranoid
than a real life female with a phallus
straight men shake in their boots
at the possibility
that they might accidentally
become attracted to me
and those who patrol
the gates of women-only spaces
are often dead-set on discriminating against me
driven by the ridiculous belief
that my girly little estrogenized penis
is somehow still pulsating
with hyper-masculine energy

on the other hand
having the operation
has its own stigma attached to it
no medical methodology
induces as much fear and anxiety as SRS
sex reassignment surgery
a friend told me that he once saw SRS
on the video "faces of death"
sandwiched in between
real life shark attacks and murder attempts
some people go so far
as to call SRS a form of self-mutilation
conveniently ignoring the fact
that more common procedures
such as nose jobs and liposuction
also involve the removal
of a small amount
of non-essential tissue

most people are surprised when i tell them
that the surgeons don't really cut the penis off
they just turn it inside out
and move the nerve endings around
to make a functional and realistic looking
clitoris and vagina
at that point, i am invariably asked if i want SRS
so that i can have sex with a man
and you should see the blank stares i get
when i reply: "no, but i’m really looking forward
to having my wife fuck me
with a strap-on dildo"

see, we live in a phallic-obsessed culture
where we're all trained to believe
that everything having to do
with gender and sexuality
somehow revolves around the penis
that's why so many clueless straight guys
come on to dykes
with pick-up lines like
"once you've had the real thing baby
you won't ever go back"
they actually buy into that crap
and it is also why most people can't even talk
about transsexual women or SRS
without centering the discussion
around "the penis"

but the thing that nobody seems to get
is that my desire to have SRS
has absolutely nothing to do with my penis
this is about me wanting to have
a clitoris and vagina
but we don’t even have the language
to describe this desire
it's the ultimate freudian slipwe naturally assume
that all young girls suffer from penis envy
but we can’t imagine that any boy
could possibly have its polar opposite
it’s all in the words we use
when someone is bold or brave
we say they have “balls”
while words like "pussy" and "cunt"
are only ever spoken as insults
and while everyone seems to understand
how the penis works
we treat female genitalia
like they’re a mysterious black box
most young women aren't even taught
the names of all their body parts
many people are unaware
that the clitoris even exists
and as for the vagina
well aren’t we all taught
to see that as simply the hole
where the penis is supposed to go?

so it’s no wonder that most people assume
that i must be mentally ill
because in this culture
wanting to be a woman
is something most people find literally unimaginable
and when i do have SRS
my surgically deconstructed genitals
will no doubt be seen by some
to be an abomination or blasphemy
because my cunt
will be the ultimate question mark
asking how powerful can the penis really be
if a sane and smart person like me
decides that she can do without it?

and if the world supposedly revolves around the penis
then my SRS will knock it off its axis
and phallic symbols everywhere
will come crashing down
like nothing more than a house of cards
after all, a cigar is always just a cigar
and i am simply me
and i refuse to let anyone project
their penis obsessions onto my body
as far as i’m concerned
if they can't fathom
why i might want to trade in my penis
for a clitoris and vagina
then they're the ones
who have the gender disorder.

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