The Neverending Story of Transgender

Life without a ramalamadingdong

Amethysta Herrick
Amethysta Herrick
The Purple Dragon of Identity - image by the author via Midjourney

I am a very special person. I am transgender. When I was born, a doctor inspected my anatomy and came to a conclusion about identity that affected 52 years of my life. She guessed wrong, assuming my anatomy implied I would identify as a man.

I don't blame the doctor. She couldn't ask me if I was a girl. I don't completely blame my parents, although they had the opportunity to get to know me and allow me to decide who I was on my own. I only partly blame my social environment. After all, I accepted its judgment on my identity for as long as I did. I bore the pain of gender dysphoria as my inheritance for 52 years.

But my anatomy does not define my identity. Physical structure is only one component in a complex of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual factors expressed within the context of a social environment.

Physical structure is transient, plastic. It can be shaped by accident, age, and self-harm. In the hands of a skilled surgeon, it can be made beautiful - even to the exacting standards to which society holds us.

It is with this last that I concern myself at present.

Twig and berries: the early years

In July 2022, I began to transition gender. I had visions of long hair, liquid eyeliner, flowing skirts, and adorable shoes. I didn't consider anatomy much - it seemed like something that would take care of itself.

To my delight, I began developing breasts within the first two weeks of hormone therapy. I watched as my cheeks grew chubbier and chubbier - on my face as well! My clothes began to fit me as I hoped they would. After more than a year of hormone therapy, I am decidedly feminine-shaped.

In this time, I never seriously considered surgery. My face has always been of a feminine cast, and my chest - as slow as it seemed to develop day-to-day - has developed well. Last weekend, I bent to wash my hands in a basin, and glanced up to be greeted with a dash of cleavage in the mirror - my own this time!

But the one big "if" in my transition has been bottom surgery. When I started hormone therapy, I did not experience significant gender dysphoria from the parts down there. I was undecided on whether to do anything at all - surgery frightens me, anyway. Best not to get too hasty on changing anything. I knew I would cross that bridge if any rivers flowed through the desert of my concern.

The rule of three broken

But the bridge didn’t seem to need to be crossed. Also to my delight, I discovered hormone therapy shrank my parts considerably and quickly. My only real issue came when wearing a swim suit, and there were ways around that...more or less.

Yet one day, in a moment of intimacy shared with my wife, I viewed the same part I'd seen for 23 years. But this time, my reaction was different.

"Dang...I wish I had one of those," I thought.

Except I didn't think the whole thought. I interrupted myself halfway with a far louder thought that I could have one. It was possible. I heard Oscar Goldman in my head:

We have the technology.
We have the capability to make the world's first transgender Dingbat.
Amethysta Herrick will be that woman.
Better than she was before:
Prettier, Femininer, Purpler.

The seed had been planted long ago. I simply hadn't noticed the sprout, the sapling, the new leaves, the falling leaves, season after season - not until I realized it was not a seed any longer. It had grown into a full-blown ash tree.

The next couple of months were a blur of fear - fear of surgery, fear of pain, fear of recovery...and fear of change. The ash tree grew more imposing, its growth cycles seemingly speeding up.

I steadfastly ignored it. That worked - until a single sentence caused me to question my entire identity...and find it lacking.

Depression, suicidality, attempts to change other aspects of identity. A sense of betrayal, suicidality 2.0, an unexpected caretaker. A purpose for living, beginning to heal, and reaching today.

Bits and pieces never to be reassembled

My stream of consciousness above proves one point: if I am to die, it will not be by my hand, and it will not be with those parts. I will excise in order to grow.

It is time. It is time for bottom surgery.

This week, I fly to Ohio for a consultation about vaginoplasty. Almost magically, many of the boxes WPATH asks to check before gender-affirming surgery have been: more than a year on hormone therapy, more than a year presenting in a way congruent with my true gender, laser hair removal, medical and mental health professionals willing to vouch I - Amethysta Herrick - am of sound enough mind to endure.

It is time. I am ready.

Of course, a consultation is not scheduled surgery, let alone waking up in a recovery room. There is still much to prepare, much to consider, and much to understand about myself. No matter how long I live as a woman, I can never undo every year I buried my true self just a bit deeper.

Identity is not only physical. Identity is mental, emotional, and spiritual as well. And with every step I take to address a long-standing pain, another longer-standing pain rises to take its place.

I am ready.

The staff of life grows ever longer

Now I can see the real meat and two veg of the matter. Not long ago, I was gobsmacked by the idea my highly-sketchy, affect-half-my-life, disrupt-everything-around-me, master plan made with no data could deviate from my desire.

But this is identity - the ongoing process of negotiation between who we know we are and who our social environment expects us to be. It simply can't be planned.

We may try to regulate our identity, we may try to force ourselves into clothes that never fit, but identity will not comply. Identity will not be legislated, no matter how many religious zealots, governments, or religious zealots masquerading as governments want to believe it.

Now I am gobsmacked by a different thought: this is finally going to happen. The changes I knew I must make almost 40 years ago, but tried so hard to deny - those changes will be made. My psyche called, and she will not be denied this time.

I am taking the first step of the last step of my gender transition.

Ah...but wait. Not the last step. This is identity. This is just one more step in a long, long life of steps.


Amethysta Herrick

Ami is a transgender woman dedicated to exploring identity and gender. She is Editor-in-Chief of Purplepaw Publications, LLC.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the offical policy or position of Purplepaw Publications, LLC. Please view the Disclaimer page for further information.