Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

Archive for July, 2009

The Never Ending Granulation


This post is whiny, I feel like shit – just be forewarned.

So, I saw the gynecologist this morning. It was my first time ever. I was actually sort of excited beforehand, even though I know that’s silly. And I was definitely nervous.

Anyway, the doctor I saw was recommended by my mom’s doc, and he was very nice.

So, let’s see, where to begin…

I got there, got checked-in, and forgot that like half the women there would be pregnant, a couple of them were very pregnant. I’m getting better on the whole infertility thing, but it still stings sometimes, and I doubt I’ll ever be “over” it.

I was called in by the nurse. She asked what brought me in today. Okay, well, blah-blah-blah, I had SRS five months ago and I’ve noticed an odor and I think I have granulation tissue internally. She was very sweet. She said, “You had this done just five months ago?” With a very warm smile.

The doctor came in and asked a few questions (he was very cute, because he was almost ~overly~ apologetic about asking questions about my history and surgery). And then he did the exam. Yea, okay, I’m over stirrups, fer sure, and, um, speculum=bad time. He used a pediatric speculum, and even that felt like a lot (which seems weird to me, because I dilate fine and get about 5.75 inches of depth with my biggest dilator – weird). There was a lot of pressure on my urethra (I really felt like I had to pee).

He took a couple cultures to make sure the odor isn’t from an infection.

And then he dropped the bomb of saying that he felt like I do have some internal granulation tissue (he said when he took the culture it bled just being touched by the swab). Son of a…

Also, he said that he didn’t feel comfortable treating me. His first suggestion was for me to call my surgeon in Colorado and see if they knew of anyone local. When I told him that I had already done that and they didn’t he said that he would do some homework and see if he could find someone with experience doing this sort of thing.

So, I know that it’s good for him not to work on me if he doesn’t feel comfortable doing it, and he did say he’d do some research to find someone that did feel comfortable doing it, but in the emotional state I’m in it just came across as if he had said : “not my problem.”


Then he threw in that my vagina seemed “very small.”


Then the woman in front of me checking out was six weeks pregnant, so it was “congratulations” all around.


I did good, I got out of there without crying, but I was really shaken. I called my mommy and told her all this, and when I told her that he said that my vagina was very small she said, “Well, maybe it’s hereditary, because I’m very small.” God, I love my mom. At least I got a little laugh…

So, yea, yet more granulation to deal with. When I had my surgery I told myself that I wanted to feel healed by my 40th birthday (that’s in March), so I’ve got time, but this still just feels like it’s taking forever, and like it’s one thing after another.


Not when you’re wrong

I’m such a noob at being part of a minorty. One of the things that I have learned is that when you kick ass and take names, other members of your minority will chafe against the expectation that they should be as successful. And then there’s the fact that people who aren’t part of the minority will think you’re all the same. And then there are the coat-tail riders. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting right now, but probably the most annoying to me is when a member of the minority misbehaves and then expects unanimous support from the other members of the minority simply due to “shared experience.” (sort of)

[I’m possibly mixing a lot of things in here. I’m being a little flippant about being a member of a minority, since the group I’m talking about is “transgender,” and if I ever was a member of that group (which I doubt more and more everyday) I’m certainly not now. However, women with a history of surgically treated transsexualism are pretty small in number, so I guess I could count that – though I sort of resist referring to my medical condition as grounds for considering myself as part of a minority. The thing I’m really talking about is how we’re all, as sensitive and caring people whether or not we’re trans, supposed to get on board with anyone who is transgender even when they act a damn fool. Well, um, see the thing is, not so much.]

Transgender mayor’s clothes spur complaint
(story with video here)

See, this bothers me because it so plays into what was my worst fear before my transition. I teach drum lessons to (mostly) kids between 8 and 15 years old. I was really scared that people would have baseless fears about letting me continue as their kid’s drum teacher (the owner of the store ~specifically~ asked if I was going to come to work in mini-skirts – seriously). Fortunately, my students and their parents believed in me and my drumming and teaching ability, and my sense to not make a spectacle out of myself. Most people won’t even notice that this mayor self-identifies as a crossdresser and not transsexual, they’ll just lump us all together and question ~my~ competance under guilt-by-association. (And just for the record, that halter top looks like incredibly hot material – the “heat” excuse just doesn’t wash with me.)

M2F Transgender kept in male prison

Here’s where I become an essentialist hag (and yes, I’m well aware of the hole I’m creating for other people to attack me, so be it). You see, what are we supposed to do with a person in this situation? I’m not feeling super-groovy about funding a sex-change procedure (if that’s even desired) on tax-payer money (I paid for mine out-of-pocket, afterall, and if we’re not going to cover law-abiding citizens we really shouldn’t be covering people in jail). I chafed against the fact that I couldn’t change my birth certificate until I had surgery, and yet I understood why. This person, legally female, still has a penis, and wants to be put in women’s prison. Um, I really don’t think that makes sense. Likewise, I do understand that men’s prison is not a great alternative. I have a big enough heart that I can see that the reality for this prisoner is mostly protective-custody for the bulk of their prison stay. But I can also see that perhaps not committing the crime in the first place might have been prudent.

I know that I’m supposed to be all onboard the tranny-train, but I have my own impressions, and reservations. I admit to not being 100% comfortable with crossdressers using the ladies room (which isn’t the same as saying I think they ~shouldn’t~ use the ladies room, because I think they should, but I’m admitting to feeling a little iffy about it). I admit to thinking that there’s a difference between transgender folks and transsexuals; I don’t understand transgenderists, genderqueers, or the pregnant man (which isn’t to say that I think negatively of them, just that they’re different from me and that I don’t understand them).

I guess I’m combining a few similar but different thoughts in this post. First, I am uncomfortable with the concept of the “transgender umbrella;” I really do see transsexualism in a different way to the gender-deconstruction that seems so essential to transgender people. Next, if I see someone behaving badly I will acknowledge their bad behavior, especially if they’re associated with me (whether incorrectly or no) by others. Finally, while I often consider blurring my way into the woodwork, I do think it remains important for me to be at least reservedly open about my history. (I have noticed, though, that every time I think about it, the qualifiers get stronger – first it was “out,” then it was “partially” open, now it’s “reservedly” open. Hmm, I bet that means something.)

But, yeah, just because you’re trans I won’t stick up for you if you’re a bonehead (that’s one of my most fundamental rules of life: “Don’t be a bonehead”).

I still hate the “N”-word, and yet…

I’ve never been a big fan of the word “normal.” I felt for so long that it was used against me in a way to be specifically hurtful. I was called a lot of names which all had as their underlying meaning: “not normal.” (some of those, of course, were “weird,” “freak,” “strange,” and on and on – always compared to “normal,” which meant the way people should be)

And then, I think late last year, while I was chatting with someone I said something about just being a “normal girl with a penis.” And then, after I had surgery, anything that I had ever felt about being a freak, or strange, or abnormal melted away pretty quickly (most of that baggage was long gone by then anyway). I feel so bloody “normal” at this point it’s almost strange.

I’ve realized that so much of what made me feel outside of “normal” in the past was trying to live the wrong life, and at this point it seems even more specifically – having the wrong body (I think at some point I joked that all that time I had thought I was a “weird” and it turned out that I was just a woman).

I understand how limited language is when trying to describe elements of human feelings, which compounds the problem.

So, I guess I actually think of myself as normal at this point, yet I still dislike that word. It was used for so long in a fairly intentional way to cause me pain, and it is still used in that way to cause people I love pain.

Words are weird, and I have always tried my best to recognize intent and context when speaking with people. I still rankle at the word “normal,” though, even though it seems I am.

very strange

~much~ TMI about scent

I’m starting to smell the way I’m supposed to.

I knew it was supposed to happen, but I’m surprised it’s so soon. And it’s very groovy.


I noticed a new aroma just about a week ago. I asked two doctors and one friend about it, and they all said not to worry about it. It seems like I’m starting to grow the proper balance of vaginal flora; I think that’s pretty damned cool. I must confess to being a little obsessed with my new scent; it really is developing a whole new area of my body, and it’s fascinating and awesome. I think this ties into my increased awareness of smells in general, too, because I notice my own scent constantly (though it has diminished a bit since the first few days), but no one else seems to notice it.

I’m sorry, but I just find this beautiful in so many ways. I even ~smell~ right now. Ah, the peacefulness of having to proper body. 😉

More with the Soldering Iron


Well, I guess that should be:

*owie* *owie* *owie*

So, I saw the local surgeon again today. The granulation tissue at my vaginal opening seems to be greatly reduced (though not totally eradicated), but I had noticed some more up on top of my clitoris. I asked the doctor about it, and he said that if I wanted he could remove it with the same method as before. I was a bit intimidated by the thought of having a that same procedure done right at the heart of every last nerve ending known to man. I mean, seriously, would you be thrilled to have a soldering iron directed at your clitoris? The answer is: No, you wouldn’t.

This hurt considerably more than the last time. Like, ouch, seriously, and that’s after the shot of lidocaine.

Remind me: no soldering irons near the clitoris.


So, I’m seeing him again in three weeks, and I think there might be a little bit more at my vaginal opening for him to take out. But I think I’m gradually getting to the end of this process.

Oh, and I need to do some stretching exercises to get my legs into those damn stirrups. I’ve already had enough of stirrups.

WTF is “read” anyway?

Yesterday I hung out with a friend. We had an interaction with a third person (my interaction with the third person was very limited, while my friend’s interaction with them was direct). After the interaction with the third person, my friend told me that she thought that the third person had “read” me.

I guess I’m struggling with a lot of this.

I don’t know what being “read” means in relation to me anymore. I’m a woman that happens to be tall. Does being “read” mean that someone thinks I look masculine? I sure as hell don’t think I do. Does being “read” mean that someone has divined something about the nature of my genitals at birth? If so, that’s pretty impressive. Does being “read” somehow invalidate my status as a woman? I don’t think so, but who knows what my friend thinks.

Actually, when my friend explained why she thought this third person had “read” me, I thought there were many possible explanations, and that my having been “read” seemed less obvious than other possibilities. I also can’t understand, even if it were true, why this friend would think it made sense to share this with me. To me it’s as if this friend had said: “Hey, they could tell you used to be a guy.” Which is just fucked up on only about a million levels. First, I never “used to be a guy,” I’ve always been a woman (well, girl first) struggling to exist in the world. Also, what about all the women that were born with their vaginas factory-installed yet appear more masculine than me (and there are plenty of them)? Do we get to guess about their legitimacy as woman by trying to “read” them?

Guess what: I’m a woman; telling me that you think someone “read” me is incredibly insulting. Incredibly.

This friend is also trans, though in a different place on her journey, and she’s dealing with her own self-acceptance issues, and I see this pretty clearly as her projecting some of her stuff onto to me, but it makes it very tough to be around her when she bleeds her perceptions onto me. I’m very willing to be supportive and helpful, but not when part of that is her pulling me down, even if she’s doing it unintentionally. I’m done with any sort of thinking that society doesn’t see me as a normal woman, because ~it does~. I understand that this friend still needs time to process the fact that she’s not a freak, but I don’t. We are both normal.

It’s funny how sometimes it seems like cis gender people that “get it” get it better than some trans folk. I totally understand the trans people that get the hell out of the trans ghetto and just exist in the real world (I actually mostly do, but I don’t feel right abandoning people struggling with stuff I once struggled with). In the real world I’m real.

I am a woman.

Doing Enough?

Something I’ve pondered more than once is how to balance my life and activism and outreach and education.

I’ve never been super politically active. Sure, I vote, and sometimes I’ll talk to friends about political things, but I’ve never done any campaigning or fundraising or donating even.

I just want to live my simple little boring life and wring as much happiness out of the world as I can. I’m actually doing a pretty good job; I’m probably one of the happier people I know.

But a weird thought occurs to me every now and then – am I doing enough? I’ve been very surprised to find that I’m a fairly gender-normative woman. I drum, sure, but no one is 100% in one direction or the other; I seem to fall well within the “typical woman” range. I know I never signed up to fight the gender binary and all that, but sometimes when I feel so comfortable with it, I wonder if I’m some sort of traitor to the cause. I remember once upon a time when I was all set to challenge society’s perception of gender and now I find that, while I still think most folks could stand a little broadening of their understanding of gender, it feels so much less pertinent to my day to day reality.

Once upon a time a I was a bisexual transsexual; I was fine with the label “queer,” now I’m a heterosxeual woman. I guess this is more stuff about human nature and issues which directly impact our lives being the ones we care about most directly.

Which is different from saying that I don’t care about those issues. I strongly believe in discrimination and hate crimes protections for people outside the gender binary, even though I feel that I fall within the gender binary nowadays (yes, I’m aware that in some people’s eyes I’m ~way~ outside the gender binary and always will be). I believe in same-sex marriage rights even though it probably won’t be an issue that directly impacts my life.

It’s becoming an interesting balancing act, being open about my history when appropriate, but also just living my life as makes the most sense.

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