When I was a medical student one of the subjects we had to become familiar with was called minor surgery. This meant learning how to sew up cuts, operate for ingrowing toenails, remove small skin cysts, and deal with similar problems. But it was impressed upon us that there is no such thing as minor surgery; there are only minor surgeons.

I was reminded of this aphorism when I recently came across another article on the curious subject of transgenderism. It can be accessed by clicking here. Look at the picture at the top. Do you see a man or a woman? Disregard the facial hair and look again. Now what do you see? I see a softness and a sadness in her eyes. Yes, it’s the face of a woman who went to extreme lengths to try to turn herself into a man.

Scroll down and you can read her tedious self-written story with its superfluous smattering of four-letter words. You’ll also find a full frontal photo. I hasten to add that she’s not completely naked. Over her womanly hips she’s wearing a pair of Calvin Klein’s, which, with all due modesty, cover an unnaturally large downward pointing bulge. Both her breasts have been removed and there’s a noticeable gap at the outer aspect of her right thigh from where tissue was transplanted for the construction of an artificial – I have to use the Latin word – phallus.

Apart from gruesome details of the surgery itself, the point of the piece is expressed in the subtitle: ‘I didn’t need a penis to be a man. But I needed one to be me.’ Couldn’t she be herself without going through all this? It’s enough to bring tears to your eyes.

Interestingly, she refers to the people who operated on her healthy body as ‘microsurgeons’, suggesting they were midgets. Perhaps in an ethical sense, they were. Microsurgery means using an operating microscope to manipulate very small structures such as nerves and blood vessels. It’s an important technique in many branches of surgery. Nowadays it’s also used to bring about bodily alterations in unhappy people who have nothing objectively wrong with them.

This woman put herself to enormous trouble and risk, with repeated surgical operations and revisions for complications, to say nothing of time and expense, but how did she end up? Her body mutilated and infertile, with a non-functioning appendage hanging down in the position where the penis would be in a man. Nonetheless, the last sentence of the article reads: ‘Days before my penis’s first birthday, the warmth and weight of it lay against my vulva, each supporting the other, holding me.’

The penis in certain situations does indeed lie in contact with a vulva, but in the case described here, both these body parts belong to one and the same person; she’s had herself turned into a kind of hermaphrodite.

It’s not for others to judge what is best for this woman, and if she now feels happier than when she was in her natural state, good luck to her. But rather than using modern technology to attempt to turn a fantasy into reality, it might be better to pause and look within oneself. Ultimately, that is the only source of true happiness.

Text © Gabriel Symonds

Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons