“My Realignment Surgery Made Me More Trans, Not More Woman”

Photo by Patcharaphan Watchiraphan/EyeEm
The following passage is an extract from Trans Power by Juno Roche.
I only really moved into my body when I arrived at the word 'trans'. 'Trans' alone, with no addition, base or stem. Trans is my label, my mate, my bedfellow and my confidante.
I now have the keys to my trans home and I’ve fucking taken up residency.
Finally I feel more beautiful than I ever have in all of my fifty-something years. I know at this age we’re supposed to be lamenting the loss of youth, but I’m not. I’m revelling in the gloriousness of my queerness and transness. To be honest, it feels like I’m existing outside of age. I have learnt how to touch my body intimately, sexually and with great self-care. I respect my identity and I have even learnt to love, accept and stroke the downy hair around my arsehole. That’s how far I have travelled. I don’t avoid any part of my body. The word 'trans' is the one that fits me now like a glove. Like a beautiful soft, old leather glove. It feels like I have only ever been this word 'trans', even though for many years I didn’t know it. Born trans, born this way.
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Were my genitals ever really gendered or were they always simply trans-genitals with the capacity for change? Was my body always a trans body, never binary, never gendered? All those socialised and structural learnings around how to act to lessen the external attacks and condemnations. I was taught to not be natural but to act to please others via unnatural performance. Even throughout the process of transitioning, I have had to fight to please myself and not please those outside of me who deem me not good enough, too freakish or just not real (often other trans folk who see me as transgressive and troublesome). I need to feel that the words I use for me and my body fully enclose and embrace all of my process, my struggle and the very core of my identity, the very nub of me.
Trans does.
I don’t want to rely on the constant repetition or the constant renaming of 'I'm woman, woman, woman' and 'I'm real, real, real' to gain access to the greater – or at least the larger – gender binary framework. I don’t feel 'found' or 'seen' there; in truth, looking back, I never have. I always felt like an outsider-outside, until 'trans' came along and allowed me the capacity of real feeling and touch.
I cannot find (fuck knows, I’ve really tried) my value within the word 'woman'. It just isn’t happening, and now it’s mine to own it still makes no difference. I find my meaning and my value – erotic, spiritual, conceptual, actual and economic – in the word 'trans'.
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I honestly feel that my realignment surgery made me more trans, not more woman. Nothing new was added in the surgery: no additional skin, no cells, not a single blood cell. Everything used to fashion my cave was already there. In their new form my genitals simply allow me access to my inherent meaning. They allow me to go deeper than cunt-depth to my very essence.
The hormones I take every day make my trans exquisite and nuanced, not more feminine. They enable my body and my sense of self to be taken to new understandings, in a completely different direction: not to woman, not to man, but to an unknown place I haven’t yet grown anywhere near accustomed to. On a daily basis my hormones reiterate my transness, our beautifully complex yet simple journey.
Trans Power: Own Your Gender by Juno Roche (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) is out now.
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