Transitioning the outward appearance of the body can be a very exciting – and intimidating – process for transgender patients. Knowing what to expect during that time can help you or your loved one prepare for the transition process, from mental and emotional challenges to physical changes. Here are a few things to know before gender reassignment from male to female:
It All Starts Inside
One of the first things to understand if you are facing the transition of a loved one is this: Your family member or friend has already been the person they are “becoming” all along. The physical changes they are undergoing now are simply part of the confirmation of who they have been in their heart and mind for what is likely a very long time. Remember this as you support them throughout the transition process.
Surgery – A Big Step
Having gender confirmation surgery is a big commitment. Most people who choose to do so have known this and been prepared for the major changes and challenges that come with this decision for years. However, it’s normal – and totally okay – to be anxious and even frightened before the procedure.
Knowing what to expect can help. Gender reassignment from male to female is also called a vaginoplasty when referring to the surgery performed on the genitals. The procedure typically lasts between 2-4 hours. The goal of the surgery is to physically transform the penis and scrotum into a functioning, aesthetically-standard vagina. The skin of the penis and scrotum are often used to create the new vaginal passage, while interior sexual organs – such as the testicles – are removed. In optimal outcomes, the patient can urinate, become aroused, and have comfortable vaginal sex after healing is complete – which can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending on a variety of factors.
The most important part of this process for both patients and families is to find a transgender health facility that offers information and psychological support alongside medical care for transgender patients. With the right support, your transition may well be one of the best times of your life!
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