Humans are naturally curious creatures - it's a primate thing.
As kids, we tend to explore those curiosities and ask whatever random question popped into our heads. As adults, we learn that some stuff just isn't our business. Some questions are intrusive or uncomfortable.
We don't necessarily "mature" beyond ever having an inappropriate or intrusive curious thought. We are just mature enough to know we aren't entitled to those answers, and that it's unfair to make someone uncomfortable by asking those questions.
But then there's Reddit...
Reddit user Spunkybluepuppy asked:
"What’s something you wish you could ask trans people without any judgement?"
Curiosity isn't a good enough reason to treat a random stranger like a science experiment - but there are plenty of people willing to talk openly about their experiences - and they're the real heros of this thread.
Stopping Cyclesperiod yes GIF by U by Kotex BrandGiphy
"Do periods go away when you start T? Is there a way to get rid of them without surgery?"
"For some folks, yes, for some folks no."
"Some IUDs can stop periods, like mirena, or for some taking birth control without the sugar pill week can stop periods."
"For transmasculine folks The most reliable way to get rid of periods is by having a full hysterectomy with oophorectomy , which also helps reduce the amount of estrogen in the body."
"My period stopped after two months on T. My friends' stopped after he had been on T a bit longer, not certain of the exact number. But both of us had a last period that was a real b*tch. Worst cramps ever! I'm glad I'm done with it now! 😂"
"Yes, my cycle ended about 6 months into T."
"Do you get to choose a size?"
"For trans guys, it depends on how much skin they can safely graft, I think. But after the maximum is established, yep."
"NB transmasc here, MtF wife So for masculine bottom surgery:"
"It really depends on a lot of things. First HRT will grow your clitorus, this averages 1-4cm of growth, some surgeons require either a certain amount of time on HRT/ certain amount of tissue. So from here there are 2 commonly surgical options, each have their own pros and cons and have different methods of being done : 1- metoidioplasty, sometimes referred to as a Meta 2- Phalloplasty sometimes called a phallo. Either can have urethral lengthening, some surgeons will require one depending on the surgery. An issue with urethral lengthening is that the urethra can become blocked/collapse which is obviously no fun. Scrotoplastys are also common to also have done, usually that's done in 2 surgeries where they create the scrotum and then add testicle implants later."
"For a meta what is happening is the ligaments that hold the clitoris to the body get cut and released from the pubis, giving you more shaft. 4-6cm is average length. It will basically look like a small penis. Benefit of it is it can get erect without further surgery. You will likely have more sensation compared to a phalloplasty. You also don't have a giant penis 24/7. Depending on length you may or may not have issues standing to pee."
"For a phallo there's usually multiple stages to the surgery. If you have a meta you can still get a phallo in the future but not vice-versa. So you'll have a donor site, either your arm or you thigh is pretty common, you'll get some say in length but it really depends on how much tissue they can use and the goal is generally average size. They cannot become erect on their own. You have to get an implant for that which is an extra surgery and more money on top of the money you've already spent to get a phallo. Because the tissue is donor tissue taken from other parts you won't have as much sensation if any. Some say they never get sensation to the shaft, some do get some sensation to the shaft. The lack of sensation can actually be problematic during healing because you can't feel if you accidentally bump your penis into something. And with a phallo it will always be full length as it can't deflate like a cis-penis would."
"For transfeminine bottom surgery: So there are a few different ways to make a neovagina. A common way is by taking the penile tissue and inverting it, so the length here varies based on how much tissue. Another procedure uses rectal tissue, the benefit here is that is has some self lubricating capabilities, unlike with penile inversion. Though due to risk factors it's less commonly done. Another surgery involves taking peritoneal tissue from the abdomen to create the vagina. This is a newer surgery for transgender women even though it's a surgery that has been used on cis-women for decades. It also has the benefits of self lubrication and having a stretchier vagina compared to penis inversion. Length here varies quite a bit on what tissue is available for use. Most surgeons operate with the goal of length of cis vagina when aroused. Though some will result in a short vagina. Dilating the vagina after surgery and for years afterwards will help maintain depth overtime. Anecdotally I've heard of dilation once you're past recovery stage to only be necessary if you aren't sexually active and it can depend on the type of surgery you received."
"Edit: I came here from a trans sub honestly expecting the worst and was pleasantly surprised. Thanks for the really great questions. It was fun to spend some time answering questions. I think there really isn't enough good conversation on trans topics. The people who are the loudest on trans topics are generally the ones who are not transgender, incredibly misinformed, and do not care to listen to other points of view or scientific information. So I really hope there were some good conversations that might have brought issues to people's attention/ broadened the understanding of what being transgender is. Anyways, have a great rest of your day! If you comment a follow up question to my comment I will do my best to answer if possible. :)"
Most Manly ExperienceThats It Season 7 GIF by One ChicagoGiphy
"Trans men… do you realize the manliest experience you’re having is being told you’re not a man?"
"That’s like 60% of being a man."
"This was hilarious and validating thank you"
"You know what's the crazy thing? I've always been bullied for being a girl. Decades later I come out as a girl and now the same 'manly men' tell me I'm a man. Like make up your mind! JEEZ!"
"Does sitting down feel different after you get bottom surgery"
"At least for this one trans woman, Sitting down the three months after bottom surgery is a b*tch. You're still recovering and all the irritated flesh is very painful."
"Then eventually sitting down is the same except for the fact that I no longer have my privates in the way."
"However for me personally, when I sit down my belly button feels weird because my nerve endings regrew incorrectly."
"Over a year post-op, and it feels way more natural & easy. There's no extraneous crap between my legs any more, and I can sit like a degenerate bisexual much more easily now."
"Is it still possible for a person to have an orgasm after reassignment surgery? Not a doctor, but my understanding of the process of creating the genitalia (F-M or M-F) would seem to make that prospect incredibly dim."
"The sheer number of nerve endings in the clitoris and tip of the penis make it seem impossible enough survive the surgery to provide the same sensations"
"My surgeon uses a technique that leaves the neurovascular bundle fully intact, the tip of the penis just gets reduced in size to form a neo-clitoris. I had my first orgasm 34 days after surgery and the intensity is pretty much as before, I just can have longer ones now."
"To add to what many people are saying here... there is a risk of losing sexual sensation after surgical intervention. We all know it. Before surgical intervention is performed, that risk will be made explicitly clear to the patient, they will have to acknowledge that it is a risk, and confirm, often in writing, that it is an acceptable risk, and that they are prepared for that outcome."
"It is, however, considered an unintended side effect these days... something that decent surgeon will be able to avoid almost all of the time."
Just A Phase
"Is there any part of you that is genuinely worried that it is 'just a phase'?"
"Yeah. That's why it took me over 10 years to accept it and begin my transition"
"Yes. Most if not all trans folk wonder this at some point, this is why a lot of us are depressed."
"Yep! I think that’s fairly normal with any identity tbh. It’s annoying because rationally I know that I have dysphoria and prefer certain pronouns but my irrational brain is really good at making me second guess myself"
Functionsstudying busy philipps GIF by Drunk HistoryGiphy
"If you’re transitioning MtF and are on hormone replacement therapy but haven’t had bottom surgery yet,"
"1) does the penis shrink up and become unusable?"
"2) can you still have penetrative sex (penis in vagina)?"
"3) can you get someone pregnant via question 2?
"I’m a cisgender woman and am genuinely just curious"
"1: It varies! Some people retain full size, some people shrink. The jury is out even among the community on if you can control it, and to what extent. 2: Yes! 3: Yep! Fertility is generally harmed by hormones, but not always completely gone."
"I am talking purely from personal experience."
"1)yes it does, but primarily when soft, you lose random erections which work as bodily check if your penis is healthy, which means it's recommended to get it erect every so often so the muscles don't atrophy, which could lead into it being unsuable."
"2)If I wanted then yes."
"3)Possibly...The funtioning sperm count heavily decreases on hormones, but that doesn't mean all of it does. Usually it's recomended to freeze your sperm before taking hormones. Still wouldn't count on it as 100% save from getting someone pregnant."
"This actually hasn't been studied systematically in trans women very extensively (there are huuuuge gaps in the medical literature), buuuuut there are cis men who get testicular cancer and can't go on testosterone replacement (like, their tumors were hormone sensitive, so it's risky to go on T again), and we know a fair lot about them. Since testosterone is what mediates penile response, what applies to them seems to apply to trans women who are either pre- or non-op. Thus, to answer your questions:"
"1)It's not that simple. When you nuke testosterone, some people lose the ability to have erections, but most retain it to some degree. What disappears is nocturnal erections--ie morning wood--and the biological function of that is to exercise the skin, vascular contractions, and so forth of the phallus. Unless you work the phallus out, you'll lose size and function, but if you use it regularly, it seems to stay just fine, according to the literature."
"2)Why wouldn't you be able to? Many girls don't want to, because it makes them feel dysphoric, but those who do can. Some need help from cialis or viagra, but that's not exactly a big deal."
"3)HRT has major effects on fertility, radically reducing the likelihood. However, 24% of girls with testes on HRT still produce some amount, albeit small, of sperm even years and years into transition. So, yes! HRT is NOT birth control."
"I work in medicine. Often times it can be apparent that someone may be transitioning, but it’s never right to assume anything about anyone."
"I’ll usually see their given name before I meet them, and it’s standard practice to have a pt confirm with their legal name and dob."
"What do you think is the best way of being asked if you have a preferred first name other than what is 'legal' in that situation?"
"I usually stumble with something like 'Hi I’m looking for John Doe is that you? Nice to meet you, is John okay or do you go by another name?' "
"But it always feels clunky."
"Looking for advice."
"EDIT: My main clinical setting is an urban hospital in a large network of hospitals. This makes any change to charting/intake very well out of my reach, unfortunately. It is a discussion that I hope continues to climb to the administrators."
"I don't know if this was to avoid using my birth name (most likely it was) but I've had doctors use just the surname when calling me and then confirming by asking for my birth date or ID."
"the way you say that is perfect, i don't think there's a better way to do it. big ups for actually asking, way too few people do that!"
"love that! you can still say that, if you don't want them to assume you thought they weren't cis (some people may feel discomfort from that) you can say its because some people don't like their name or go by a nickname they use as a first name (you can make up a person in your life, if you want to add in small talk, for example, both my parents don't use their legal names simply because they're too used to what friends and family have been calling them)"
"These answers are the dialogue that's missing right now."
"After years of trying to understand, I finally feel like I get it. Thank you all for educating and enlightening! Media dialogue seems elusive and circular - these answers made clear sense and I feel like I learned something."
"No- thank you. This comment made my day, aside from this post going viral. I’m so glad that you showed and interest and even happier that you learned something after years of trying to understand!"
"It’s been really nice to talk about it without pushback for the most part. I feel like education is what’s needed for it to be understood without malice."
"Media dialogue on trans people not being very helpful to understanding trans issues is very much by design - media has grown increasingly hostile to trans people in recent years."
"thanks for reading and learning :))"
When people are willing and able to freely talk about their experiences, we can all learn a lot from one another.