Why We Need More Firsthand Accounts of Gender Transition
It took me until the age of 37 to discover I was transgender and begin living as the man I realized I had always been. It wasn’t that l didn’t know that there was something different about me, I just didn’t have the words to explain what that something different was.
Growing up in the ’80s, LGBTQ people were largely invisible. I had very little awareness of trans people and would never have considered that being a trans man was possible. I was described as a tomboy, and I thought that was my ‘something different. Ultimately, in searching for who I was, I decided my being a tomboy must mean I was a lesbian. However, although I felt at home in the queer community, my lesbian role did not feel quite right.
There is a saying that, “you can only be it if you can see it”. To discover who we are, we need to see people that are like us. This is why it is so important that we have queer literature. Reading and relating to stories is how we recognize and find ourselves. It is also important that queer literature is diverse, sharing experiences from a wide range of narratives. There is a growing trans literature now, but it's still predominantly trans feminine stories. We need more trans masculine stories.
It was the lack of trans masculine stories, particularly older trans masculine stories, which motivated me to share my own. I struggled with feeling ‘not trans enough’ at the beginning of my journey. I doubted myself because I wondered how I could reach the age of 37 without realizing I was male. All I saw and heard were stories of younger trans people. Therefore, I wanted to add my narrative into the mix and show that it is possible to discover yourself and transition, at any age.
Sharing my perspective became even more important to me when I began the process of lower surgery. I had initially decided against lower surgery because all I heard about it was bad things. Tales of lower surgery spoke of a lifeless ‘Frankenstein monster’ that was not worth the huge risks involved. It wasn’t until my lower dysphoria peaked and desperation hit, that I began to research more deeply.
I discovered that much of what I had heard about lower surgery, was outdated and largely untrue. Of course, as with any surgery especially one as complex as this, there were risks, but these were far fewer than I had been led to believe. An aesthetically pleasing, functioning penis with sensation, was in fact attainable.
In deciding to go ahead with phalloplasty, I was met with much resistance from the community. People were quick to react and warn me against it. This was tough to manage because these were my people and I trusted them. However, I knew that they too, like me, had been swayed by the many outdated myths and misinformation. I decided then, to document my lower surgery journey, as openly as I had the rest of my transition. I wanted to show a more balanced view of lower surgery, to help dispel the myths that I had once believed so strongly.
Initially, I intended to include my phalloplasty experience as part of my transgender memoir. However, the further I travelled in my phalloplasty journey the more I realized the experience needed a book of its own. There are a couple of books that contain a collection of essays from trans people about lower surgery experiences. There are also a few memoirs that mention phalloplasty. However, what was missing for me, was a complete story, I wanted to know about the entire experience. From this thought, my phalloplasty memoir was born. Dedicating an entire memoir, meant I could follow the entire experience in detail, from decision making to completion.
I wanted this to be far more than a book about lower surgery. I wanted to write a book that shared deeply and profoundly the experience of my changing relationship with my genitals. I wanted to share in a way that has never been done before, about the way phalloplasty opened a new world of sexuality and pleasure for me. Additionally, few trans men speak about gay experiences, and I wanted to document how having phalloplasty ultimately led to my discovery that l was attracted to men.
It is never easy to be as open and vulnerable, as I am, but the rewards make it worthwhile. I get so many kind comments from people in response to my YouTube videos and blog posts. It was this appreciation, which gave me the courage to take the next step and write my book. ‘Top to Bottom – A Memoir and Personal Guide Through Phalloplasty’ has now been published in the capable and sensitive hands of Jessica Kingsley Publishers. To know that this book will go some way towards helping folks to feel less alone in this challenging process, makes me feel very proud and happy indeed.
Bio and links
Finlay Games is a transgender gay man, and the author of Top to Bottom’ a Memoir and Personal Guide Through Phalloplasty. He is also a YouTuber and blogger, where, drawing from his lived experiences, Finlay shares candidly on topics of gender, sexuality, addiction, and mental health. Finlay also provides education, information and support, in his work as a public speaker and life coach.
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