Sally To Shay
I started a Facebook page solely for FTM's so they had somewhere to go to ask all their unanswered questions or just to talk. So many people asked to join the page and were so pleased they finally had someone to talk to, unfortunately it got taken off and my page was closed down...
I knew there was a need for someone in my position who had completed their journey of transition, someone people to go to with any issues or concerns they may have.
I wrote 'Sally to Shay' regarding my transition to assist others on their own personal journey or considering starting but are unsure of what lays ahead of them.
'Sally to Shay' covers my life and struggles from a child up to adolescence into adulthood. The book contains descriptions and real images of graphic medical procedures all of which I underwent, so you get a real insight into what your transition will entail and you can see for yourself what your body will be put through to get to where you want to be.
When starting on my own transition it is sad to say I found very little literature on the journey I was about to take. There was plenty for the MTF but nothing for the FTM me!Becoming Shay has given me the ability to assist other trans people on their own personal journeys through transition, someone real to talk to and to find answers to their many questions, something I wish I had.
Noticeable Changes & Hair Growth
The length of time it takes to see any noticeable changes like deepening of the voice, body shape and facial hair growth varies with each individual. My experience of voice change would be different to someone young, because of my age, the fact that I had already gone through puberty and my voice had already developed years prior, taking testosterone altered the tone of my voice but not as drastically as someone half my age or younger. My facial and chest hair growth was pretty quick. I had noticeable chin stubble within three months of starting testosterone gel, my sideburns and moustache took a lot longer, chest hair was already apparent before I had my top surgery which I must say look quiet strange.
Drastic weight loss was a necessity for me to be able to move on with my life and become my true self on the outside to match who I was on the inside. My BMI was pretty high at 35 so before any surgeries would even be considered I had to get it down to at least 30. This was tough I needed to lose 3 stone in weight but I was determined!
Under The Surgeons Knife
Being under the surgeons knife, I seemed to be laid up for the best part of eighteen months throughout my transition, each procedure took its toll on my body but the outcome was definitely worth it!.
After waiting two years and attending regular three monthly consultation appointments under the mental health, on the 20th August 2014 I was given my first Prostap injection (to reduce female hormones) and a batch of testosterone gel (to increase male hormones).
A further twelve months passed before I was put forward for my first stint on the operating table September 2015 for 'top surgery' (double incision/bilateral mastectomy).
I opted to be on the cancellation list so that if someone for whatever reason was unable to attend their appointment I would be one of the first to be called in to take their place. I was happy to be called at the last minute with sometimes just one days notice which was pretty much the case with the four future procedures I chose to undertake to become the real me!
Next, my second procedure on the operating table March 2016 for total abdominal hysterectomy (complete removal of the uterus and cervix) the vagina is sewn shut at the top, and bilateral salpingo oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes).
The risk of cancers like cervical, ovarian, uterine remains if any female reproductive organs are left behind i:e womb/uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes.
I had two drains, one either side of my abdomen and one catheter bag which were removed before I was allowed home.
Surgery lasts about five hours and involves a 3-5 day stay in hospital.
Recovery time is approximately 6-8 weeks. The procedure leaves a 4-6 inch scar on the abdomen usually just above the pubic hair line.
Within three months, June 2016 I was called in for my third procedure. Stage one of three (during the first stage the phallus is formed and transferred to the pubic region, at this stage urinating is still done naturally) lower surgery\creating of the phallus\penis. (Radial forearm artery phalloplasty) the forming of a penis using skin and fat harvested from the non-dominant forearm which is then transferred to the pubic region. This technique is mainly used for total penile construction. The phallus has a more realistic appearance and this allows for the making of a neourethra (water pipe) to be formed inside the phallus so urinating like a male is achievable. The sexual sensation of the phallus is also achieved with this technique.Skin is then taken from the crease of the buttock cheeks to graph back onto the forearm. The scar which is left on the donor arm is referred to as 'shark bite,
The newly formed phallus/penis is attached to the pubic area. It has a catheter going through the centre of it to keep the urethra open this has to remain like this for two weeks meanwhile you're still urinating from your original genitalia. A heartbeat monitor is used to keep a check on the phallus pulse to make sure its still alive and taking to the area.
Discharged and going home
After being in hospital for seven days and being checked on regularly by the nurses I was finally being discharged.
I went home with my arm in a sling, disposable stitches in both my buttock cheeks and a sore groin.
Joining up & Sculpting
September 2016 procedure number 4: Stage two of lower surgery, joining up of the urethra (water pipe) the native urethra is connected to the one in the phallus allowing you to urinate standing. Glands sculpting (creating the head of the penis) to make the phallus look more realistic. Vaginectomy (excising/removal of the vagina) and burying of the clitoris (at patients request) to create a realistic scrotum (scrotoplasty creating the testicles).
Erectile and testicular prosthesis (penile and testicle implants)
Final time under the surgeons knife, January 2017. Procedure number 5: Stage three the last stage of lower surgery involves the implantation of a penile prothesis into the phallus to guarantee the rigidity necessary to engage in sexual activity. Dependant on the size of the phallus dictates whether a single or double implant is used. The rods are inserted into the phallus while the erectile operation button is placed into the new scrotum (created from the previous labia skin/vaginal lips) along with a silicon testicle giving the patient two testicles.
The saline reservoir is placed in the lower right side of the abdomen. When the button is pressed within the scrotum the penile implants inflate with the saline being released from the reservoir in the abdomen filling the implants making the phallus erect, to deflate press the button within the scrotum again the saline is then realised back into the reservoir in the abdomen the phallus then becomes flaccid.
Risks & Complications
Inevitably with injections of foreign bodies and any surgery procedures comes some risk and possible complications. Ones I encountered were...
A heamatoma, (a localised bleeding outside of the blood vessels) due to my first does of Nebido (testosterone) via needle into my left buttock cheek.
A fistula, (dying of tissue) beneath my newly created phallis after my stage one phalloplasty procedure.
Blood pressure dropping during surgery which put me into a brief coma.
Experiencing these set backs could have made me call time on continuing my transition but it was what I wanted, what I needed so nothing was going to stop me from completing my full transition from top to bottom.
Call Me Lucky
I have been lucky throughout my transition despite the minor mishaps. I know things could have gone drastically wrong, possible sepsis (blood poisoning). loss of phallis, loss of sexual feeling, blood clots, immobility, infections, allergic reactions, poor healing, heamatomas, nerve damage, abnormal connections.
Considering all of the above I have come through it all pretty unscathed.
Would I do it again knowing the pain, discomfort and set backs?... Yes I would!
I truly believe I was blessed to meet my partner Julie, Without her I honestly don't think I would be where I am today. With Julie's love and support I have been able to find my true self and actually love me! Living my life prior to Julie I was just going with what I thought was 'normal'... But what is normal?? Heterosexual, Homosexual?... these were the only two catergories I knew about when I was growing up. So out of the two I must be homosexual 'lesbian' as same sex female couples were called.
Transgender was definitely unheard of...Well I'd never heard of it!
Acceptance of Family & Friends
Telling my family was not at the top of my priorities at the beginning. My main focus was seeing my doctor as soon as possible to get the ball rolling. I had a long journey in front of me so the quicker I got it started the better.
I told my dad just two weeks before my first surgery and to my surprise he was fine with it all, his main worry was that I didn't have cancer as to why I was having my top surgery. As for the rest of my family they were great apart from my youngest daughter she found it hard to come to terms with but she came round eventually. My close friends were very accepting too.
I am lucky enough to have made many friends on my journey and look forward to making many more.I get messages from other trans men. parents of young FTM's and friends of which I am more than happy to converse with at any time, and it would be a pleasure for me to be able to be here for you too.
It is absolutely amazing! Everything works better than I could ever have dreamed. I look in the mirror and I admire what I see and I would not change a thing. Happy is an understatement... I am absolutely ecstatic.