I came for a vaginoplasty, not to get SRS

Time to explain one of my personal gripes when it comes to commonly used language in the transgender community – SRS, or GRS stands for sexual reassignment surgery, gender reassignment surgery or even gender reaffirming surgery. This surgery is often described as “the final step” in someone’s transition – where the penis and testes are inverted to form a vagina [vaginoplasty], or where skin grafts attach to the large clitoris to form a fully functioning penis [phalloplasty]. The terms SRS & GRS, however, are quite alienating and offensive to a number of individuals in the transgender community, myself included.

The idea that one must have a vaginoplasty or phalloplasty in order to be legally recognized and accepted as your gender is not only dehumanizing, but also inaccurate. In Western Australia, you only need have a “reassignment procedure”, either surgical or medical, such as hormone replacement therapy [HRT]. Similar laws are also in South Australia & the ACT. In Victoria, you must have either a vaginoplasty or phalloplasty, or be recognized legally in another state as your gender. Similarly, in New South Wales, you must be both born in the state, and have undergone either a vaginoplasty or phalloplasty surgery. In Queensland, you must have changed your name, be born in the state, and have undergone phalloplastic or vaginoplastic surgery. Tasmanian law requires you to only have undergone surgery. Finally, in the Northern Territory, you must both be born there and have undergone vaginoplastic or phalloplastic surgery. In both the ACT & NSW, you are also able to identify as “non specific”, a third gender category.

Nearly all of the official documentation and legislation of these laws detail the phalloplastic/vaginoplastic surgery as “reassignment” surgery – which, considering that we have always been our gender, is quite infuriating. In addition, we know that intersex people often have non-normative bodies, and the idea of “reassignment” surgery sounds an awful lot like “corrective” surgery performed on intersex infants. Also, not all transgender people may want a vaginoplasty or phalloplasty – some are comfortable with their genitalia the way it is.

The idea that we should be “fixed” by society in order for us to be recognized as who we are is a sick idea – and consequently, I dislike terminology such as SRS/GRS. Also, as we constantly have to reiterate – whether I am a woman or not is purely a matter of identity. I shouldn’t have to be x,y,z or fulfill certain tasks in order to claim the identity – my identity – of woman.


One thought on “I came for a vaginoplasty, not to get SRS

  1. Skip To The Loo at UNSW says:

    You’ve pretty much addressed what I’ve been confused about for a long time and I really appreciate the fact that you’ve taken the time to communicate your perspective on this as a transgender person. I’ve always felt very uncomfortable with the use of the term ‘gender reassignment surgery’, which basically implies that a transition cannot commence or be complete unless people do undergo surgery. This is especially problematic if someone cannot afford to have the surgery but identifies as transgender. Perhaps medical agencies should start to just refer to genitals as it is, because not all males have penises and not all females have vaginas. Transgender people are no longer considered mentally ill in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders (version 5), but in terms of the way they refer to surgical procedures or bodies, perhaps there is still room for improvement when it comes to using the right terminology and attitude.

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