When 17-year-old Emmie Smith underwent her long-awaited sex reassignment surgery, the operating room was filled with a team of surgical experts — and National Geographic photographer Lynn Johnson. In hopes of increasing awareness and shattering the stigma and mystery that still sadly remain regarding the process of medically transitioning from one sex to another, Smith chose to document her entire surgical process on camera. The inspiring (and very graphic) video is below. Throughout the procedure, Smith's surgeon explains the entire process calmly and adeptly, chronicling how the penile tissue is repurposed to form the labia, vagina, and clitoris. The doctor adds that "when people don't do well after their transition, it's because they have absolutely no support system." Smith is one of the lucky ones: Her mom, Kate Malin (an Episcopal Reverend) is behind her every step of the way. Cosmopolitan reports that Smith's goal in revealing her journey in such detail is to "spark more informed and compassionate discussion of both the triumphs and the hurdles that many trans people face." She is one of so many trans individuals who are sharing their stories in hopes of normalizing the trans experience. And in doing so, Smith is reassuring other young trans or gender-nonconforming people that they, too, can feel comfortable being who they truly are.
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