[ID: White text on a pink and blue background reads, "Trans and Caffeinated, The Podcast. I went to NYU Langone and all I got was this brand new pussy. Special edition" An illustration of a cat sits on top of the words “special edition” and the S letters in “Pussy” are stylized as dollar signs.]

Trans and Caffeinated, Special Edition #2: I Went to NYU Langone and All I Got was this Brand New P****

Here is a full transcription of my new special edition podcast episode, “I Went to NYU Langone and All I Got was this Brand New Pu$$y.”
This episode is now available on:
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Transcripts of previous episodes are available here

Transcription

Arielle: My vagina. My vagina. My vagina. I just like saying that.
Oh hey, there. 
You’re pretty cute. 
Haven’t seen you around here before…
Heh heh, come here often? 

Oh, you work here?
So you’re here to stay?
Oh fuck yeah, they fired the other guy?
Honestly, I never liked him—yeah, what was his name…
Uhh… what was that? Oh, yeah, Penis, that’s right, Penis used to be there

Penis used to be there but now here you are all shiny and new and pretty and well…
You’re mine. I mean, you were always mine but four months ago I woke up from a surgery and they were like “you have a vagina!!!” and I’m like “cool I’m on a lot of drugs and in a lot of pain!!”

And then four days later, when they removed the bandages, that resident assistant lady took one very intense look into your eyes… erm, eye… and said, “UGH! Rachel’s an artist!” and I looked down at you, and looked up at her and said “that’s art?!”

No, seriously, I said that. Or… I thought it really loudly? I don’t know, they still had me on that pain stuff, but you were categorically not cute back then. Art was a bit of a stretch.

But uh…. May I say. Now… now I see art.

I look at you and you’re a fucking masterpiece—my dazzling David chipped out of the metaphorical penile stone by my very own private Michaelangelo, AKA Rachel Bluebond-Langner at NYU Langone. And you’re mine. All mine, no one else’s. Nope, you’re mine.

No more staring at myself in undies in the mirror, dick yanked back between my buttcheeks and wishing my coochie would just sit nice and flat against my pelvis. 

No more staring intensely at someone’s face as they take stock of my naked body for the first time, wondering what they’re thinking, wondering if they’re realizing they actually think my body is kind of gross and now they’re second guessing their impulsive decision to go home with that hot trans girl who absolutely wrecked them at pool in the back of Henrietta Hudson—not based on a real example… or several real examples.

Nope. None of that. Now, it’s just me and my pussy. My. Pussy. 

I can’t wait for all the… climactic adventures we’re going to have together.

I’m very grateful that you are mine.

This episode mentions transphobia, discrimination, violence, genitals, sex, and surgery. It’s also… really funny, if I do say so myself.

This Very Special Episode of Trans and Caffeinated, I Went to NYU Langone and All I Got Was this Brand New Pussy, is brought to you in part by… 

Otters, holding hands while they sleep… no wait, wrong episode.

Ah, yes, Anchor. Thanks Anchor. You’re a pal. 

[Anchor Ad Spot]

Arielle: Welcome to this special edition of Trans and Caffeinated, called “I went to NYU Langone and all I brought home was this Brand New Pussy!”

Joey: Yay! 

Arielle: Um, I’m here today with my friend and sound editor Joey, she/her. Joey—say hi, introduce yourself.

Joey: Hi, my name is friend and sound editor, Joey, she/her. 

Arielle: (laughs) What a good name!

Joey: How is everybody doing? I know that all of you out there can’t actually answer me, but I hope you’re all doing well.

Arielle: I hope you’re all, uhh, drinking some, uhh, booze or on your commute to work, or uhh, excited to hear very weird and personal details about my vagina.

Joey: Look, it’s the most ultimate form of podcasting when you’re revealing intimate details like this, I would say.

Arielle: I…I mean, I habitually do this, like this is just kind of my thing, is just talking about trans bodies.

Joey: Honestly, like, uhh… editing this podcast, I feel like I have learned more about your life through editing this podcast than I have in any conversation we’ve had before.

Arielle: Well, to be fair, like, people don’t necessarily, like, sit around and, like, talk about their past when they’re just hanging out day to day, you know?

Joey: That is very true. I mean, I feel like a lot of the time, it ends up that way with me… and especially with me and my trans friends, because a lot of the times, we just kind of bond through talking about our trauma and our experiences… including our experiences as trans people.

Arielle: This is true.

Joey: You just had an experience as a trans person.

Arielle: I did…I did have a… segue into talking about my vagina.

[cassette tape sound plays]

It is February 26, 2021, at like 10:30 AM, and I’m currently—as transes do—running late for my doctor’s appointment to get my medical clearance for surgery. Umm, I have been anxious this entire week, so that’s real fun. Umm, and yeah, it’s T-minus, uhh, I don’t know, 69 minus 20 days until, uhh, til bottom surgery, otherwise known as 49. But, you know, 69 minus 20 is funnier. Umm, I’ll have a brand new pussy soon. Yeah, cool, bye.

[cassette tape sound plays]

So today is, uhh—not when you’re listening to this, but as we’re recording this, is early July 2021. I got my pussy installed on April 15, so I am almost 3 months post-op. Umm, Joey, you remember the first time you saw me after surgery, like a week after surgery?

Joey: I remember. You were very, very… you were very miserable in that bed there during your recovery period. But who could blame you?

Arielle: I mean, to be fair, they had just carved into my pelvis. 

Joey: From a very literal standpoint, a physically traumatic experience.

Arielle: Yes. Very physically traumatic experience. Well, that’s a thing I didn’t really anticipate is, like, even though obviously this is a good thing happening to my body, like, my body interpreted is as a major physical trauma. Like, over the past few months, I’ve had to sort of, like, teach my vulva that, like, touch can feel good, touch can be a good thing, because the only touch it knew, and only sensation that my vulva knew for… especially those two weeks, but I mean, most of the past three months was pain, was discomfort. And like, I’ve had to reteach my body that sexual pleasure is something that can feel good.

The recovery is not linear. I mean, nothing was as bad as the first two weeks. Like, I mean, I was basically horizontal for the first two weeks. Like, walking exacerbated my phantom penis pain, which is a weird thing that I never would have anticipated—nor did anyone talk to me about.

Joey: I feel like I’ve heard some people talking about that before, but it’s like been very, very rare…

Arielle: Right.

Joey: …in those specific sections of Twitter, where people try to boost, like, lesser heard trans experiences.

Arielle: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s the thing about, like, trans information sharing, and that’s why I am so candid about my… like, my experiences is because that information is just not that accessible, like, there aren’t that many folks sharing about it, writing about it, talking about it. 

Joey: I know that I legitimately did not know super much about this whole process before, like, I was talking to you and Em about it.

Arielle: Yeah. 

Joey: It feels like a kind of mystifying process that shouldn’t really be as mystifying as it’s made out to be.

Arielle: Yeah. Well, the thing about it is that, like, it… the process has changing all the time, the information that is true now was not true five years ago, and it’s also very different surgeon to surgeon and person to person. So unless you find someone from your specific surgeon who’s had it within the past, like, two or three years, it’s really hard to even know that the person you’re getting your information from is going to give you information that lines up with something similar to your experience.

Joey: Absolutely. And I know… I’ve spoken to a lot of people who’ve had… especially issues finding doctors who, like, perform, like, gender-affirming surgeries who even, like, seem to know what they’re talking about regarding trans people. I had a couple of friends who, uhh, recently had top surgery. They actually talked about the whole process on, like, their own podcast—which I also edit, Gay Breakfastthey’re very fun, great group of people. They have, like, two whole episodes where they were talking about… both of them had experiences with this, in very different ways.

So many, like, loopholes that you need to jump through even just to find someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Arielle: Oh, yeah.

Joey: One of them only wanted a partial reduction, and one of the doctors didn’t seem to understand that that’s a thing you can do.

Arielle: It’s not uncommon, but it’s just not talked about. I had a friend that did that recently, and they were like, “yeah, this is a thing” and people were like “ahh, I’ve never heard of that before.”

Joey: Jesse’s planning to do that as well.

Arielle: Fuck, yeah! Umm, for listeners, Jesse was in an episode of this podcast, and is also Joey’s partner.

Joey: Yay!

Arielle: Yeah. So, back to phantom dick syndrome. Umm, so it was a very strange sensation. So, my body expected there to be a penis there, and so, umm, the only way that I can describe what phantom dick syndrome is like is—

[cassette tape sound plays]

It’s weird, but it’s going okay so far. Umm, but yesterday I started having a ton of phantom pain, like, in my penis-not-penis. LIke, it like, feels like my penis is trying, like, push itself out from my body, even though I don’t have a penis anymore. And that’s because a lot of the skin that was, like, on my shaft is now internal. And it’s a very, very, very weird and confusing feeling.

Umm, so that’s what’s going on with me. Sometimes, actually, dilation helps it because my brain processes, like, “oh, this skin is not outside you, anymore. Umm, just lying here, staring down at my vulva, trying to get my silly little brain to process the fact that there’s no penis there so that I will stop having phantom pain all the time, especially when I’m walking, umm, that feels like my penis is trying to rip outside of me. 

And I’m like—”brain, this body doesn’t have a penis” and brain is like “erect penis. erect penis.” and I’m like, “no, you don’t understand, I did away with that material” and they’re like “erect penis. erect penis.” It’s like, the fucking, like, Daleks or some shit—I don’t know, I’ve been watching Doctor Who. Umm, but yeah. It’s, umm, been weird, so now I’m just starting down at my junk.

[cassette tape sound plays]

It felt like my dick was tucked between my legs, but tucked so far that it was tucked up inside me, and that I was getting hard while I was walking but my dick wasn’t able to swing forward so instead it was just tearing in half.

Joey: That’s so fucking surreal.

Arielle: And then sometimes, like, because the tissue that was once the tip of my penis was then my clitoris, one thing that I would do to dull the phantom dick syndrome was, like, apply either pressure or ice to my clitoris—either, like, to desensitize it, or to tell my body, like, “hey, your dick is not trying to rip out of you, actually, and here’s what is there instead. Here, feel this sensation.

And then like, I took, umm, CBD one time that accidentally had THC in it, and for those of you who know me, umm, I do not handle THC well. I do not smoke weed, for that reason. And I had, like, a three-hour-long anxiety attack where the pain was just so, like… the only thing I could think of, the only thing I could focus on, like, no matter how much I iced, no matter how much I, like, did anything.

And then eventually I just, like, exhausted myself to the point that I fell asleep until I was no longer high.

Joey: Ouch.

Arielle: For those of you listening, like—yes, it was absolutely worth it, but the first few weeks were so, so incredibly difficult. And like, I had gone through a lot of, uhh, personal trauma around the same time, umm…

Joey: It was a really, really tough time for you then.

Arielle: Yeah, umm.

[cassette tape sound plays]

Hi friends. Today is February 27, 2021. It is T-minus 69 minus 23 days until my bottom surgery, otherwise known as 46. But I like to give myself a good laugh, because I am panicking. I launched my GoFundMe yesterday after a while of being sort of unsure about what I was gonna do, and I am… I’m struggling. I’m having a very hard time. Like, I’m definitely excited to be all healed up, and uhh, you know, have a vagina—that’s cool, that’s wonderful. But the road to getting there, and the anxiety about the recovery, and the anxiety about if everything’s gonna go well is… really heavy right now. 

(sighs)

And I expected this. I expected that it would be a pretty tough time. Uhh, did the thing that I always do—I load myself up on a bunch of work and shit that I have to do in this month, when all I wanna do right now is kind curl into a ball and be anxious and do nothing…

(getting audibly choked up)

I… I got about $5,000 in support from people in the last 24 hours alone, and I’m just so… I’m just so touched by the way that my community has shown up for me in this really scary time. You know, there were times in my life where I never thought I would get to where I am today, and there were times in my life where I had nobody that I could tell what I was going through, and nobody who would understand. 

And… over the past seven years that I’ve been out, I have worked so hard to surround myself with community, surround myself with people who see me for me, and coming from Carlbrook—my abusive southern therapeutic boarding school, where I was outed to my family and told I would never be a real woman—umm, it has been so beautiful and powerful to see this little community taking shape around me over the past almost seven years now that I’ve been home, you know, I came out at 18, I transitioned at 20, I’m gonna be 26 next friday. 

And I think for me, sometimes it’s hard to see myself as deserving of this love and support, umm, that people have shown me. But then I remember that we’re all deserving of it. I am someone who likes to be there for others, who likes to support other people, and it’s not always easy to remember that I deserve that, as well. 

And I think, right now, these next couple of months, I really need to focus on myself. ‘Cause this is a wonderful thing, but it is also the scariest thing I’ve ever fucking been through. And that’s saying something, because I’ve been through a lot. I am going to be, you know, documenting a lot of what I can over these coming months, in the hope that it sort of normalizes the reality of the experience of approaching bottom surgery. ‘Cause yeah, it is this beautiful, wonderful thing, and I—and a lot of trans folks—have wanted this for a long time, and there were times that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. But I ultimately came to a peace with that decision, and at the same time, that doesn’t make this period of time any less scary. And I want people to know that.

I want cis people to know that. I want people to understand, you know, this is not easy, this is a lot to carry, this is very heavy, and I don’t spend a lot of time resenting being trans, cause I love being trans, and I love who I am (sighs). But right now, I feel like it would have been really fucking easy to just have been born with a vagina. And I don’t want to not be trans, but I don’t want to be going through what I’m going through right now. 

[cassette tape sound plays]

Hey friends, the date is March 1, 2021. It is 4 days before my 26th birthday, apparently, that came out of nowhere. Umm, and it is: T-minus 69 minus 25 days until my bottom surgery, otherwise known as 44 days. Umm, whoo! This month is, uhh, whoo! The month before bottom surgery, officially. Some updates: so, as of yesterday, the place where I was initially planning to recover fell through, and that…uhh, has been very hard. Last minute now, I’m having to scramble to figure out a place to stay. umm, I’m really grateful. A number of folks have reached out to me offering some options thus far, which has been super, super amazing. I am super blessed to have a friend who was on a previous episode of this podcast, Em Rabelais, and fae is willing to come with me and be my caregiver, which is just super beautiful and such an important reminder of the way that the trans and non-binary community shows up for each other in times of need. It is an example of community care, the way that Mar and I, and Em and I have both discussed it on this podcast. It’s just a really amazing reminder that I have folks that are willing to show up for me in my time of need. 

In terms of medical coverage, I still do not have an official quote from my insurance. Uhh, I launched a GoFundMe a couple days ago where I’m asking for $15,000, and that is the cost that I will be responsible for, in addition to now I’m having to pay for lodging for probably about six weeks, in addition to food—costs that I really didn’t have to worry about before with my initial lodging situation. And so that’s been really tough, umm, but insurance hopefully should come through within the next, you know, couple of weeks. I’m getting my last letter tomorrow, I’ve had to update all of them because my initial letters were over a year ago, so my insurance won’t take them.

Things are coming together. Umm, really wish I didn’t have to work this month, but I do. That being said, I’m very grateful that I have the ability to make money to help fund some of my surgery for myself. Umm, I’m just trying whatever I can to get through this next month. Gonna continue documenting the time over the coming months. The sound quality might not be the best, because I’m not traveling with my recording stuff, but I will have some stuff on here for us to listen to. And yeah, umm, I’m creating this episode so that cis folks can sort of experience what it is like to go through this process, but also to give some trans folks some insight into, like, you know—my hope for this series is: I am feeling all this anxiety right now, but I’m hoping that by the last recording I do for this episode, that I’m feeling super positive and it was all worth it, and everything, like, telling trans folks that if this is a step that is right for you, things will work out well in the end, and I’m also just kind of trying to do this to show myself that, to show myself, you know, when I listen back to these recordings—”yeah, Arielle, you were feeling really, really shitty just a month and a half, two months, three months ago, and look at where you are now. You can get through this.

[cassette tape sound plays]

It is April 15, 2021 at 5:47 AM, Eastern Standard Time. It is—after a very long time of waiting—the day of my bottom surgery. We are about to find parking, I am anxious, of course, but ready. And at peace. And anxious for the recovery, but excited for three months from now when I will have a… ow, I just hit my head on the car—fully functional vagina. Thanks for following along on my journey. Y’all are pals. Also, fun little meta-tidbit for you, I chatted with Joey—my sound editor—on the phone for two hours this morning to distract myself from my impending life-changing major surgery. Alright, thanks, bye.

[cassette tape sound plays]

Arielle: You know, I had had a friend who had died, uhh, two weeks beforehand, one of my closest friends. Umm, so it was just a really tough time, like, emotionally and physically, and it was just, like, one of the darkest times of my life that has now led into, like, one of the most beautiful parts of my life. Umm, and obviously a lot of that trauma is still stuff I’m working through, but like…

Joey: Was it the night before you went in for the surgery we were talking on the phone, you were like, kind of processing all the emotions, and like, the trauma that you’d been experiencing then?

Arielle: Yeah, yeah. Umm, yeah, and trigger warning for, you know, self-harm and suicidal ideation here, but I had had to contact a, uhh, crisis hotline ‘cause I… I was off my hormones, and I’d… specifically had gone off my Spironolactone, which is my testosterone blocker, which like, sent me into a spiral and I relapsed on self-harm, and was contemplating suicide, like, three days before my surgery. And I almost cancelled it, like, three days before…

Joey: Oh my god.

Arielle: Cause I was just…I was in just such crisis from all the trauma, and then going off my hormones, and all of the stress of going through a major operation.

Joey: I can’t imagine how much worse even that would have, like, made you feel if it was cancelled as a result of that.

Arielle: Yah. And they were like, “do you want to delay it? We have next dates in 2022.” 

Joey: No!

Arielle: I was like, “I have waited two years for this since booking this fucking operation, no. No!”

Joey: 2022.

Arielle: No.

Joey: No! 

Arielle: That’s not even a real year!

Joey: That seems made up. That many 2’s cannot exist in a year.

Arielle: John Mulaney has a joke about, like, when someone’s like, “oh, you’ll pay it off in 2035” and he’s like “that’s not a real year.” That part where he’s umm… he’s talking about college, and he’s like, “hey John, remember us? We’re college. It’s been a while since you’ve given us money.”

“Yeah, college, it’s been a while since you’ve housed and taught me.”

Joey: oof! I feel like you can make, like, a similar joke about the medical industry.

Arielle: Yeah.

Joey: At least in the US. 

Arielle: Yeah. And I’m still not squared away with my finances, because they keep, like, charging me and then refunding me the money, and then charging me again, and then refunding me, and I’m like, “okay, when are we gonna, like…”

It’s very strange. My insurance is kind of dicking me around. Like, I definitely have the finances to cover it, ‘cause I raised $11,000 from my beautiful community of people. Super, super appreciative. So I have the funds to cover it, but I just still don’t know exactly how much I owe.

Joey: They’re just kinda jerking you around with what you’re actually supposed to do next.

Arielle: Yeah. And then I have like, other… my insurance is just, like, being a dick, and I have different insurance than I had when I had my surgery, so like, I don’t even, like… so it’s like, I don’t even… I’m squaring away my final, umm, like stuff from when I did have that insurance, but I don’t have that insurance anymore, so I don’t know if that’s a factor in why they’re being weird. But like, I can’t get a clear answer out of them.

And it probably has nothing to do with it, insurance companies just suck.

Joey: Hot take: insurance is transphobic.

Arielle: Insurance is transphobic, honestly. So yeah, so pussy—so, umm, yes, my vagina.

[cassette tape sound plays]

I am on my third full day of dilation, which means that four times a day, for fifteen minutes, I have to stick a giant dildo up my pussy to keep it open. And while I’m recovering from surgery, that’s sometimes really painful. Umm, and I’ve also been gassy and constipated, which makes it worse. I think after I’ve dilated for a few months, I’m gonna make a video called, like, “thing to make dilation easier” because I’ve already learned a couple, like, turning my hips outward, and putting myself under warm blankets so I’m not shivering, and deep breathing. But right now I’m just, like, mostly focused on getting through it, and honestly, you don’t think about, like, four times a day for fifteen minutes, plus, like, 10 minute setup, and also the 15 minute timer doesn’t start until it’s all the way inside me. And that’s hard, there is resistance. Anyway, when you account for all that, plus the fact that I still have a fucking catheter in, and have a UTI, like, aftercare and pain management takes up, like, most of my day. But I’m still cute, and my pussy looks great! So like, what am I complaining for?

Anyway, I’m gonna keep posting videos throughout the month while I heal with what I learn. Love y’all.

[cassette tape sound plays]

Joey: I do remember, umm, while I was there, uhh, visiting you for the couple days I was helping out there, you showed me this one, uhh, this one piece of media that you said was giving you, like, a lot of comfort through that time.

Arielle: Oh my god. Yes. Ahh. 

Joey: I’m not saying the name of it ‘cause I want you to introduce it.

Arielle: Oh my god. Yes. Ahh. Okay, so it is—I’ve watched it so many times, umm, it’s called Manifest Pussy, it’s by an artist and actress named Shakina Nayfack. And she did a one-woman musical about her experience with bottom surgery. I watched it literally the night before my surgery. Like, I had pulled an all nighter ‘cause I didn’t wanna work out waking up at, like, 3 AM, and there were these… there was this one moment in the show where she just was talking about how, like, the divinity of trans people and the sacredness of trans people, and there was one thing that she said—

[cassette tape sound plays into clip of Manifest pussy]

Shakina Nayfack: I came across this passage, Matthew 19, or Solomon 12. He said to them, he said—he, being Jesus, right?—he said to them, “Not many of you can receive this saying. Only to those to whom it is given. There are those who are born eunuchs from their mothers’ womb. There are those who are made eunuchs by men. And then there are those who make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. Let the one who is able to receive it, receive it.”

Shit. I’m a fucking eunuch for the kingdom of heaven! 

[cassette tape sound plays]

Arielle: I’m a… I’m a goddamn eunuch for the kingdom of heaven. Um, yes. That is the line. 

Joey: That is a hella powerful phrase.

Arielle: Right? And there… she goes on about that phrase, and about what that means to her, and it was like… I mean, my surgery was at 6 AM, so we left my… we left the AirBNB at like 5, so I was probably watching that moment in that musical at 4:30. I have been contemplating this surgery for six years. I had watched that musical before, and I don’t know why, but it took me right up until that moment, hearing her say that I was gonna be a “goddamn eunuch welcomed into the kingdom of heaven” until I was finally at peace with my decision to go through bottom surgery. Cause it was…not an easy road to making that decision.

Joey: You were telling me that you were going kind of back and forth on the decision for a while.

Arielle: ‘cause the thing is, a lot of the decisions we make as trans people are a direct result of how we are treated living within a cissexist society. And that doesn’t make any of our decisions less valid…

Joey: absolutely. 

Arielle: But like, a lot of the things that we have to do… a lot of the things that cause our dysphoria, at least I’ll speak personally, like, a lot of the things that have caused my dysphoria don’t necessarily have to do with my body itself, it has to do with how cis people interact with my body. Like, my body dysphoria around my penis had very little to do with me seeing my penis—like, I didn’t love it. My discomfort around my penis really was a result of how other people would perceive me based on the fact that I had a penis, based on how people would behave towards my penis during sex, how they would interact with it. If I was in the beach, and I had a little girl bulge, like, how people would respond to me, how I felt people were looking at me, you know, how people on the internet would respond to the fact that I have a penis, ‘cause I am—I was really open about my body, and my experiences as a trans woman—like, the way people would talk about it, the way people just talk about women with penises in general.

Joey: You’re probably one of the most body-positive trans activists I’ve encountered, to be honest.

Arielle: (sing-songy) Fuck yeah. Bodies are meant to be bodies! Or something like that…

Joey: Honestly. I feel like it’s so easy to, like, look at it from the outset. Like, someone who’s like, either trying not to let it get to them, or someone who’s, like, not in this position and say, like to try not to let it bother you, or to just say, like, “well, fuck their oppressive gender norms…”

Arielle: Yeah.

Joey: That’s something that I tell myself a lot. But at the same time, these things still hurt, and they still affect us.

Arielle: It’s death by a thousand paper cuts, right? Like, it’s this idea that: yeah, if one thing happened to me one time, maybe it’s not that big of a deal, but if it is something that I have to go up against each and every moment of each and every day, or you know, repeatedly, over time, like, that gets really, really heavy.

Joey: Sometimes, you don’t see what gets us to our breaking points with these things. 

Arielle: Yeah.

Joey: Sometimes…

Arielle: They don’t live our experiences.

Joey: Exactly. Exactly. And even, like, the ones of us who do have these experiences, who, like, criticize about this… there’s… there’s only so much you can do to just ignore things.

Arielle: Yeah. There’s only so much you can take. If there’s something that we as trans people can do to interrupt that, I don’t see anything wrong with us doing it. Like, you know, for me, getting surgery… people were like, “oh, well if you’re just doing that for how other people will interact with you, then like, are you really doing it for yourself?” like, “fucking yes I am doing it for myself! I’m doing it to have the peace of mind of never having to fucking deal with that again.” Like, I love having a vagina, I probably could have been fine with a penis, but the fact of the matter is now, I will now never again have to deal with all of the bullshit that being a woman with a penis brings. All of those aggressions—I don’t have to deal with those anymore. And sure, there’s other bullshit that I still have to deal with, but that is a huge thing that I just will never have to deal with again. And fuck anyone who tells me that it’s not a valid decision that I went through bottom surgery because I did it based on other people… how other people interact with me.

Joey: Honestly, it’s like… it was just a… it sounds like a decision that you made largely for the sake of your mental health.

Arielle: Yah. 

Joey: We’re already… we already have a hard enough time managing our mental health, even putting aside us being trans and people, like, seeing and interacting with our bodies in these, like, sometimes awful, sometimes fetishistic, sometimes just like, ignorant… just ignorant ways. It’s just… it’s hard, it’s hard all around. And we gotta do what we gotta do to help ourselves.

Arielle: Yeah. No, totally. And I mean, now that I’m on the other side of surgery, like—yeah, that portion of it is better. Like, the way people interact with my body just feels better, doesn’t feel as dysphoric. And it’s also just better in general. Like, I love having a vagina. It’s beautiful. I love my results. I love sex. Like, I was never a person that enjoyed sex, I was always so uncomfortable. Like, sex is great. I know what all the hype is about now!

(Joey laughing while Arielle speaks) 

Joey: If I remember right, last time we talked on the phone, uhh, when I was asking about how you’ve been, you said you’ve been hoeing around Chicago. 

Arielle: I’ve been hoeing around Chicago! Ahh!

Joey: I love that!

Arielle: Pussy world tour!

Joey: Fucking live your best life, now that you feel comfortable enough to.

Arielle: Fuck yeah. 

[movie clip plays]

Okay, someone wanna tell me why biggest size dilator is the size of a fucking baby’s head? Why does anyone’s vagina have to be this wide? Okay, I know a baby’s head is considerably girthier than this, but like, when will I never ever ever need to fit anything the size of this up my pussy? Um, this is fucking terrifying, it goes that deep inside me, to that white dot. Jesus fucking Christ, why?” 

Thank you. That’s all I have.

Yes, in case you’re wondering, if you’re a cis woman, my pussy is probably deeper than yours. No judging, but I paid a lot of money for this pussy, so.

[movie clip plays]

She has not even reached her glory days yet, because it is still another uhh, 13 days before I can have penetrative sex.

Joey: Oooh.

Arielle: Yah. Umm. I have… I already have plans for that day. Uhh.

Joey: Nice!

Arielle: Yah! I just wanna get bent over a kitchen sink, is that too much to ask?

Joey: (laughs loudly) Ah, mood.

Arielle: I mean, yah. Don’t we all kind of relate to that?

Joey: Uh, you know, over… over the past few years, I’ve like, come to realize that no, no, most guys don’t actually imagine what it’s like to have a vagina while they’re a teenager, coming of age into their sexuality. 

Arielle: Oh my god. The day that I found out that most guys don’t tuck their dick between their legs and picture what it would look like to have a vagina.

Joey: Oh my god, I did that, too!

Arielle: (squeals) 

Joey: So much! Though, when I was a kid—I told Jesse this story the other day, and they were shocked—when I was a kid, I never heard the word vagina, I never ever knew what one was. But… and yet, I still had that compulsion to tuck.

Arielle: Yah. 

Joey: So make of that what you will.

Arielle: I… I make a lot of that. I think you’re trans.

Joey: (laughs) I might be. I don’t know.

Arielle: I think you might be trans.

Joey: Let me take some more of these hormones while I decide.

Arielle: (laughs) Let me take more of these titty skittles to see what happens. 

Joey: (laughs)

Arielle: Umm, so I was in Jersey for three weeks. Umm, the pain was pretty bad for most of it. Umm, week three, it started to get a little better, and I was like, finally walking, finally like, kind of feeling like myself again. Like, it was still swollen and in pain, but it was not nearly as bad. And then I took a twelve hour drive back to Chicago.

Joey: Oooh. 

Arielle: Umm… and it made the pain a lot worse again. 

[cassette tape sound plays]

Hi, friends. I am crying tears of joy, cause I have been in New Jersey for six weeks, and it was the fucking trip from hell from like, start to finish. Umm, and now I am, like, less than an hour away from being back in Chicago, and I am just… so incredibly relieved. Umm, my healing is going great. Right now, I’ve been in the car for 14 hours, so I am super swollen and in pain, but like, my doctor said, umm, I’m healing up really nicely, umm, faster than a lot of other people. Umm, and now I just get to live my life and I’m back home and I’m feeling like myself again, and I’m just so grateful. And I love all of you. 

[cassette tape sound plays]

Arielle: I had to dilate in the car—which, for those of you unfamiliar with that…

Joey: —that sounds like hell—

Arielle: Yeah. For those of you unfamiliar with newly created vaginas—or, like, you know, other vaginas that have trouble with things being put inside them, umm, you use what is called a dilator, which is basically the least sexy dildo in the world. It is, uhh, nine inches of, uhh, cold hard plastic. Umm, six of which go inside of you. And it is like… girthy. Rather girthy.

Joey: There’s really no way to talk about it without, like, giggling about it.

Arielle: It’s like “hehehe… dildo”

Joey: (laughs)

Arielle: Umm, yah. And it goes, like, six inches inside of you, and you have to do it… for the first six weeks, you have to do it four times a day. I’m down to three times a day after six weeks, and I’m about to go down to two times a day. But because I was in a twelve hour drive, I had to dilate in the car. In the middle of Ohio, in a Park & Ride, with stuff covering the windows, I was just like… vulva out to the world. Umm…

Joey: Not quite the debut you wanted.

Arielle: Yah. Not quite the pussy world tour I quite imagined, no, you could say that.

Joey: I mean, you did say that you wanted to show it to everyone after.

Arielle: Yah.

Joey: I guess… I guess the ride home wanted to give you a head start. 

Arielle: I suppose. I mean, I want to show it to everyone in a consensual fashion, with safe people. I did not want to show it at a rest stop, where no one was wearing masks, in the height of a pandemic, and umm, everyone was like, wearing M*GA shit. That was not my goal, umm…

Joey: That sounds like something out of a horror movie.

Arielle: Yah. It was not the best. But it’s fine, I mean, no one saw me, obviously, but… still like a super—

Joey: That still sounds super anxiety-inducing. 

Arielle: Oh, it was not fun, it was a super uncomfortable position. It was like, halfway through the drive already, so my swelling had already gone up a ton. Umm, when I got back to Chicago, I collapsed onto Em’s couch and cried, because I was in so much pain. Em, if you’re listening, thanks for my vagina.

Joey: Thank you for being so nice and patient with me while I was there trying to help.

Arielle: You were super helpful. You sell yourself short.

Joey: Thank you.

Arielle: Thank you. And like, my swelling was back up to what it had been a week and a half earlier. It was like… I was in so much pain. I couldn’t… I was once again, I went back to basically being in the bed 24 hours. Umm, a nice little reminder that recovery’s not linear. 

[cassette tape sound plays]

I’m back in Chicago, fuck yeah. Umm, I was walking better, and then the trip back really, like, kicked up my inflammation. Umm, and some of my suture lines are now, like, open, and really inflamed. Umm, and then I had this one stitch that’s just like, right below the opening to my vagina that’s, like, poking out, and it’s like, so fucking teeny tiny, it’s literally this one tiny suture, and it’s making it so difficult sit that I’ve been, like, laying in bed most of the time… which is, like, feels like I’m moving backwards, but also everything else is better. Like, the inflammation is down, I’ve been doing a lot of ice. Umm, I just orgasmed for the first time, which was cool. Umm, and yeah. For me, it’s just kind of a reminder that recovery is not linear, and that’s okay. Like, some things have gotten better, some things have gotten harder again, but things feel like they’re moving in the right direction, and I’m very happy, if not a little exhausted and tired of being in bed all the time. But I’m on my… I’m on my way up. I’m on my way up.

[cassette tape sound plays]

And then, like, slowly started taking walks again, but then I got a fricking hemorrhoid… which obviously was not in my vagina, but it was in the same region. I’ve been dealing with that… like, I literally still have it, it’s been a month and a half now that I’ve had this fricking hemorrhoid. But yeah, so that made things more painful again.

But yeah—over the past, uhh, month, month and a half or so, things have gotten a lot better. I… to answer some common questions, umm: yes I can orgasm, yes I think I can orgasm multiple times, umm, yes my orgasms are better than before. Sorry, testosterone-fueled bodies, umm, estrogen is superior, it is definitely even different now, because, like, erection is not a factor. And I… I had really painful erections before surgery, and I also like, couldn’t get hard for almost three years before surgery, because of how much… how painful it would be, like, my body stopped being able to get erect. Which is not super uncommon, umm, like, not being able to get hard among trans feminine people, but a lot of folks are able to, like, if they want to, take meds for erectile dysfunction, like viagra, umm, I did not want to, a) because of dysphoria, and b) because of pain. 

And so… yeah, so I, you know, had mediocre orgasms for most of my life. Like, sex didn’t really feel good. Like, it was just, like, intimacy that I craved, but sex was always kind of this, like, awkward and uncomfortable and a lot of explaining and often a lot of pain, and like…

Umm, my orgasms now are great. Umm, yes I can self-lubricate. It varies from time to time how much. Umm, I self-lubricate a little bit every time I dilate, but I do still have to use a little bit of lube.

Joey: That actually was something that I didn’t know and kept meaning to research myself, but I’m glad to actually learn that now.  

Arielle: It varies from person to person. Umm, surgeons will tell you that you won’t self-lubricate. Trans feminine folks will tell you that they can. Some folks will say that it’s like a flood, and others will say, umm… the general understanding that I’ve gained from talking to a lot of people and the way one person put it to me was that you can self-lubricate. You can self-lubricate about as much as a cis woman who is ten years your senior. 

Joey: Interesting.

Arielle: Yes. Because among cis women, self-lubrication gets harder and harder, and less and less as you age, so I can get approximately as wet as a 36-year-old person who was born with a  vulva.

And none of this is, like, researched… I mean, I guess trans people is research. I trust the lived experiences of my community 1000 times more than I trust any doctor. Obviously, I’m not gonna have a community member slice me up, just because they say they know how. I will probably go to a surgeon for that. But…

Joey: There really need to be more trans doctors in this, uhh, specific field.

Arielle: Yeah. I mean, Marci Bowers it the only one that I know of that, like, trans surgeons, I’m sure there are more, but she’s super prominent. Yeah, I agree, ‘cause it’s so difficult, ‘cause like, you are expected to trust everything your doctors say, but your doctors actually… like, they know how to do the surgery, they know what they’ve read in their research, but like, ultimately, the research is outdated, and the research on HRT is largely on menopausal cis women, and the research on bottom surgery keeps changing, and they don’t actually have a lot of research on it. And there haven’t really been, like, long-term longitudinal studies of trans feminine people, or of trans masculine people to document any of these results.

And so, like, when they tell you, like, “no, this won’t happen” or “expect this,” like, they can only tell you what they know for certain, and what they know for certain is ultimately so little. Like, they know that if you were orgasmic before surgery, that you’ll probably… probably be orgasmic after surgery. They know that they can achieve a certain depth, and that has gotten more and more certain, especially with certain versions of the surgery over the past, you know, couple of years.

You know, I have about…approximately six inches of depth, which actually on the… on the upper end of the range of, like, most vagina owners. Like, average is between 3 and 7 inches in depth, and I have 7 inches… or, I have 6 inches of depth. Umm, because I had robotic penile inversion vaginoplasty, where they dug in through my belly button, so I’ve got a neat little scar on my belly button, and bonus points: I have a cyborg pussy.

Joey: Finally, the trans cyberpunk future is here.

Arielle: (squeals) The trans cyberpunk future has arrived and her name is the TARDIS.

Joey: Oh yeah, you were watching a lot of Doctor Who while you were in recovery.

Arielle: Uh, yeah. So, my vagina’s name is the TARDIS, because it is now bigger on the inside. 

Joey: I love it.

Arielle: I was watching a lot… a lot of Doctor Who, I watched like, ten seasons while I was recovering. 

Joey: Wow! (laughs)

Arielle: That’s not an emph… exaggeration, I actually am on season 12 right now. Umm, I watched ten years worth of it! In like a month! Umm, I was in bed all day, okay!

Oh, yeah. So, my clitoris is named…the lesbean. 

Joey: (gasps) Oh, yeah! I remember you… we were talking about that, too. 

Arielle: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, since the pain has mostly subsided, one of the biggest things that I’ve had to deal with in terms of recovery is, umm, working the scar tissue. So, I have to go to physical therapy, uhh, originally it was twice a week. Now it is about once a week. And one of the biggest objectives is to reduce the scar tissue around my vulva… which is already significantly reduced, umm, but that is… the only thing that’s like really still painful is the scar tissue. Like, mostly the scar tissue in my groin creases, and then like, along the edges of my labia minora are really the only things that I’m dealing with right now, and…. 

So, basically after I dilate at the end of the night, one of the things that I have to do is massage the scar tissue to break it down, and that’s… you know, you have about, like, two to three-ish years before it starts, like, getting a little bit more difficult to deal with, umm, but the earlier you break down the scar tissue, the better. And so, part of dilation—yes, like, they say that dilation is to, like, maintain the girth and depth of the vaginal canal, but another huge portion of that is to mobilize the scar tissue to keep that skin stretchy. Cause your body’s natural healing process is to scar, but you don’t want the inside of your vagina or your vulva to scar. The whole thing about, like, it closing up is, like… there’s actually very little evidence that that’s something that would happen. Like, maybe you could lose a little depth, like, maybe if you don’t dilate for a long time, like you would need to dilate a lot to get your width back. But like, that tissue is there, that tissue was the outside of my penis, like, that tissue is made of me, so it’s not gonna…like, at least from what I’ve understood from reading experiences of other trans people, and like, doing research…

Joey: And I’d imagine there’s not really that many, or any, longitudinal…longitudinal studies on this kind of thing.

Arielle: No. Yeah, really none. What a pity. 

Joey: What a pity. Big gap. 

Arielle: haha! 

Joey: Big gap. 

Arielle: Yeah, there’s a big gap in the research on… big gaps.

Joey: … on big gaps.

Arielle: Umm, yeah, it doesn’t seem like it is all that likely that it would close up, but most of what people say is if you don’t dilate regularly, it’s like, the tissue there is not as mobile, so penetrative sex will be really painful and really difficult, but that even folks that stop dilating for  while and started again were able to get back to a place that felt good. That being said, like, if people just don’t dilate at all, like, eventually the scar tissue gets very, very difficult to break down, and they just might not have good results in general, and so it is really, incredibly important to keep dilating. But from what I can tell, it doesn’t really seem like…like it’s closed up the way that they say it will. Like, maybe it won’t open because you haven’t dilated so you haven’t stretched the skin, but it’s not that it’s closed, it’s just that it’s difficult to open. Does that make sense?

Joey: Yeah, no, that makes perfect sense. 

Arielle: And again, not a medical professional, but this is my understanding from hearing people in my community. 

Joey: And I know, umm, dilation schedule kind of like, uhh, it never stops over the course of your lifetime, but it does sort of taper down, like, a significant degree, at least, over time, correct?

Arielle: Yeah, so I’m at 3 times a day now. Umm, up until…another 13 days. After that, I’m down to two times a day up until 6 months. Then once a day ‘til 9 months. And then after that, I can do 1-3 times a week. Some folks in the community say that after that, they’re able to substitute penetrative sex for dilation.

Joey: I know that’s something very common I’ve heard.

Arielle: Yeah. My surgeon says no. But again, I trust my community, and also, surgeons… I feel like, kind of, they have to say that in order to…’cause like, if you don’t dilate, and then you’re like, “well, I lost, like, my stretchiness” or it’s like “sex is painful now” like, yeah, they want their results to be good, they want, you know, people to review them well, they want people to recommend them to go there. So they want to make sure that your results are good, and that they tell you, like, what they, like, medically believe is necessary.

Joey: Like, ideally giving all the information that they, like, know could be necessary. 

Arielle: Yeah. Some of it’s to prevent them from getting sued. Umm, some of it is to, you know, have good results so that people, you know, say, “hey, I got a really great vulva from x and x, such and such surgeon.” So yeah, dilation now, I’m down to 3 times a day, umm, have mostly been good at keeping to that, although like, some days it’s just… I’m out all day. 

And then the other component of aftercare is douching. So, I believe it’s up until 12 weeks I have to douche with a vinegar solution at least once a day. And then, after that I can go down to, like, 1-3 times a week.

Joey: Why with a vinegar solution?

Arielle: So, it… I mean, that’s true of a lot of vulvas, so vinegar helps reduce the bacteria count, is my understanding. So, the… a common misconception about the post-operative vagina is that it doesn’t produce enough of, like, the good bacteria to keep it clean. And actually, the opposite is true—but still a problem. Vaginas after bottom surgery closely resemble, like, the microbiome of a vagina with bacterial vaginosis. Yeah, so bacterial overgrowth. And so, those who have had bacterial overgrowth, or bacterial vaginosis know that it kind of smells a little bit.

Joey: oop!

Arielle: So, I mean, recently, I went a couple days without douching, and I went to pee one morning, I was like, “what is that smelly smell that smells kind of… smelly?” and it was me. Umm, it was my vagina. Had a mini freakout where I was like, “my vagina smells.” Umm, talked to some of my, umm, fellow vagina owners about it, and they assured me that it is quite normal, so I, you know, went back to my normal douching schedule, and have been mostly fine since. Eventually, I can reduce the number of times, but it’s something that is still suggested that I do pretty consistently…. Which is like, it’s fine. I can do it in the shower. Sometimes, I do it after I dilate, and it smells fine after that. 

Joey: (laughs)

Arielle: ha ha! Yuck it up! Smelly vagina! Yah! Ha! Ha! 

Joey: (continues laughing) Sorry!

Arielle: Laugh at my struggles, Joey! 

Joey: I’ll laugh at every struggle. Oh god…

Arielle: Well, last time you saw my vagina, it was not nearly as pretty as it is now, I have none of my stitches anymore. But it… smelled a little bit, until a couple days ago.

Joey: I… I remember those stitches were a bitch for ya, there.

Arielle: Well, like they’re… they’re like, dissolvable, so they push themselves out, and like, I can’t even… that was so fucking painful as they were pushing themselves out, especially the ones near my clitoral hood. Umm, because there’s so many frickin’ nerves endings there. Clitorises can feel great, and they can also really fucking hurt!

Joey: They’re a… they’re a very sensitive, delicate part of the body.

Arielle: It’s a very sensitive lesbean. 

Joey: Uh.. on a… just in general, like, on anyone with any set of genitals, it’s a very sensitive area…

Arielle: Yeah.

Joey: … and you can imagine even way more sensitive after just getting out of surgery.

Arielle: Yah. No, totally. And like, ‘cause I can’t do anything penetrative, but I tried to masturbate like, about four and a half weeks after my surgery, which was definitely a mistake, umm, and that was painful. But then, like, I tried again—yah, I was just so frickin’ excited, listen to your body, I was like, “this feels good, and also it hurts, but I’m gonna keep going ‘cause it feels good.” And then, I did have an orgasm, but then it was followed by a whole mess of pain for like, a week.

Joey: Ouch.

Arielle: Live and learn. Umm, but now it’s good, and now I have great orgasms! I had one so good a couple days ago that I was walking kind of sideways for the rest of the night. And it was only 4PM when I had it.

Joey: Holy shit.

Arielle: Yeah. 

Joey: That’s a good way to coast down the rest of the evening.

Arielle: I got into the car with my friend, and I sat down next to them, I was like “hey, I’m sorry, I’m a little, uh…wobbly, I just had a really good orgasm.” And I looked at their face, and they were kind of looking half asleep, and they were like, “Arielle, I also am wobbly ‘cause I just had a really good orgasm.”  

Joey: (squeals) I just imagine the… the glow off the two of you just lit the entire Chicago night sky.

Arielle: It’s… it radiated across the scars… stars. Scars? Stars?

Joey: Across the…across the entire universe, just straight out to the [indiscernible] or something

Arielle: uh! Yes! I live for it! I, umm, I also commissioned an artist who does The Vulva Gallery to paint a picture of my vulva, and it came out beautiful. I got it a couple days ago. 

Joey: I can’t wait to see that myself. Uhh, what is the name of the artist?

Arielle: So, their name is Hilde Atlanta, and I’m going to ask them to be on the show at a later date, but I don’t know if they will have time, or will say yes, ‘cause they’re quite a big deal on the Instagram. Their Instagram is @the.vulva.gallery, and if you go to that page and keep an eye on it over the next little bit, eventually a picture of my vulva will be up there. Who knows, by the time this episode is live, maybe my vulva will… will already be up there. 

Joey: And that’s @thevulvagallery? 

Arielle: Indubitably. 

Joey: Nice, nice. 

Arielle: So, that was my little, like, 3 month post-op gift for myself. And honestly like, I had reservations for such a long time about this frickin’ surgery, but I could not be happier that I went through with it. Like, I look at myself in the mirror now: with underwear, and I’m like, so euphoric about how flat it is, and the shape of my body, and the way the underwear sits on my body, the way clothing fits me now. Like, I take it off, and I look at my naked body in the mirror, and I’m like, “damn, she’s sexy” and I just feel sexy, like actually sexy for the first time in my life when I’m naked.

Joey: Honestly, the best kind of gender euphoria, just being able to look at yourself in the mirror, and actually like, find yourself attractive.

Arielle: Right?

Joey: ‘cause I feel like the entire trans experience for a lot of us is just trying to make ourselves look like what we’re attracted to.

Arielle: I avoided mirror for such a fucking long time. Like, I literally would, like, pee with the lights off because as soon as I stood up, like, the mirror was in front of the toilet, and I just would not want to see myself for the first, like, three or four years of my transition. Like, it’s really only within the past two years that I can even look at my face without makeup on. And it… it’s so… it’s such an underrated experience being able to just, like, look at yourself in the mirror and be okay with what you see. And that’s not a uniquely trans experience, but it is often really… it’s often worse for a lot of trans folks, ‘cause also, like, looking in the mirror and seeing something we don’t like also carries, like, consequences of, “hey, if I look somewhat masc today, I could be attacked and killed for looking like this.”

Arielle: But yes. I am very happy. And I, umm, also am, like, very aware of how much privilege I have in having been able to access this surgery, having gotten so much in donations, being… you know, making enough money, having insurance where I can afford to take time off work, and I have a new job that has better insurance now, and I make more money here than I made before, and all of these positions… like, as a white, skinny, passing trans woman, like, I receive so much social support from my community, from cis folks especially, that trans women of color don’t experience necessarily the same way. And I have so much privilege in being able to access bottom surgery when and how I did. 

But yeah like I… I…. I think that the bare minimum is, like, myself and other trans feminine folks like me, at the very least, be able to acknowledge and name that privilege, and also then to use that privilege to create spaces of liberation for other trans and non-binary folks, which is like, my goal with this podcast, that’s very much why I pivoted more to podcasting than sharing my story on my blog, is because it’s ultimately not my story that needs to be heard more often. Like, yes I have a platform, and how do I use that platform to uplift trans folks whose stories may not get told as often, and tell these stories in ways that allow the folks I interview to have agency over how their story is told? ‘Cause I can get up here and share about my pussy all day, but I also, you know, want to use this space to share other trans stories, I think it’s…

Joey: Absolutely. Like, that’s the only way that we can just keep helping each other is by uplifting each others’ voices, signal boosting… can you imagine, like, if not for people doing that, like, over the years, we might not even be having this conversation, you might not have had the information you need to make the informed decision that you did here.

Arielle: Well, totally. I got… all the information that I have on surgeries is from other members of my community. So, the least I can do is pay that forward.

Joey: 100%

Arielle: …and answer questions. And the amount of people who I have sent, like, full on close up pictures of my vulva to over the past month, like, not in a sexual way, just in like, a… a lot of it is people who have reached out to me to be like, “hey, like, I’m considering having bottom surgery, and I’m researching surgeons, and I literally cannot find pictures online from your surgeon.” Or like, a lot of the pictures are like, “hey, I got bottom surgery two days ago, like, this is what my vagina looks like.” But, like, there’s just such a lack of information out there. 

Joey: It’s surprisingly hard to find, like, images to, like, actually know what the hell it’s gonna look like.

Arielle: Yah. And so, like, folks have been asking me for pictures, and it’s like… especially when it’s members… like, I’m not gonna send it to, like, random chasers, but like, when it’s members of my community who are considering bottom surgery, and are just curious, like, what the possibilities are and, like, what different surgeons’ results look like, like, of course I’m gonna send those pictures, cause I know how hard it was for me to find information when I was looking for it. 

Joey: Of course.

Arielle: Yeah. So if you’re… if you’re listening to this show, and you’re considering bottom surgery—Yes, the answer is yes, I will send you a picture of my vulva.

Joey: (laughs)

Arielle: Umm. Don’t share it around, but uhh, if you need a, just a…

Joey: Please respect Arielle’s consent.

Arielle: Yah. Umm. That. Umm. But yeah, umm, I don’t know that I have… I mean, I always have more to say about my vagina, but I don’t—

Joey: Yeah, we could go on for so… so long about this, I’m sure.

Arielle: Totally. I guess all I want to say to sign off is: if you are someone who has questions about vaginoplasty, about bottom surgery, if you are a member of my community especially who has thoughts, or questions, or concerns, or you’re actively considering going through surgery, and you’re scared, or you’re uncertain, or you’re working through all of your own shit about, “Do I want it? Do I not want it?,”—I was there. You are valid. Whatever you decide is valid, and is the correct decision, and I am happy to chat with any of you. My Instagram DMs are open, especially always always always open for members of my community. 

Joey: And definitely… definitely take them up on that, if you can. I know that talking to Arielle about this has helped me personally a lot in my own decisions in this neighborhood. 

Arielle: Love you.

Joey: Love you. This has been great, nice talking to you about this.

Arielle: Yeah. So if you are a trans or non-binary person, and you’re planning or thinking about going with any sort of medical step in your transition or any sort of surgery, just know that you’re not alone, and that it’s okay if you’re fucking scared. And your feelings are valid. And you are valid. And any decision you make is the right one, because it’s the one that’s best for you. And it’s okay if you take your time with that. It’s okay if you’re not ready to make a decision. But it’s also okay to trust yourself and that was something that was really hard for me, cause I spent a long time in my life being told by the world that I couldn’t trust myself, couldn’t trust my understanding of reality, couldn’t trust my understanding of my own experiences, and I think that’s something that, you know, as trans or non-binary folks, we experience a lot, and you know for marginalized people more broadly, we experience that gaslighting of our experiences a lot. But your understanding of your own self and of the world around you… is correct, you can trust yourself. You… know what’s going on, your perceptions are rooted in reality, and you’re doin’ okay. 

And if you are a cisgender person who is listening to this episode—maybe you have someone in your life who is pursuing medical transition, maybe a surgery, maybe you don’t—try to understand, try to meet them where they’re at, try to understand their realities, understand that this is not easy. Understand that this is scary. Understand that no matter how long we’ve wanted it, no matter how certain we are of our experiences and of our reality, like, we may need a little extra support right now. And just love us that best that you can. And be there for the people in your life.

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