I am gifted (or cursed?) with a photographic memory, and I remember the time in medical school where we were taught, in an innovative new curriculum for its time, that sex and intimacy were not another part of a person’s humanity, they are inextricably linked.
Unfortunately, we weren’t taught about the human drive to live in one’s identity, how it can be more powerful than the will to live, and how health care can undermine both.
I also remember the times that transgender women have told me after vaginoplasty procedures that their surgeon’s guidance on supporting and maintaining the neo-vagina was “ask your friends what to do.” This advice doesn’t work when a person’s friends are all cisgender men (or cisgender women). Not a very humane or respectful way to protect the investment made in a complex procedure by patient and surgeon.
This is why, when friend and community colleague Connie Rice posted her guide, “Care and Feeding of Your New Vagina,” I was immediately interested and decided to post it here.
It shows through humor and frank and direct language, that body positivity, including sex, and intimacy are inextricably linked, for all humans, regardless of identity.
It also shows the impact of more human beings living in their true identity thanks to broader access to medically supervised transition care. I see this wherever I go now – more humans living, not dying, and now, living healthy. Washington, DC, by the way, has the highest proportion of transgender people in the United States, 500% higher than New York or California.
I don’t know if there are any surgeons still recommending that transgender women learn how to maintain their neo-vaginas by asking their friends or not. If they are, a guide like this is going to be a lot more useful and health promoting.
Connie began her career as an avionics technician in the US Marine Corps and has been in technology ever since. She’s the proud parent of three Eagle Scout sons. She bikes extensively and rides 5000 miles a year or more. Connie transitioned to female beginning in 2010 and over the next several years.
Connie feels lucky that her education, career, and family allowed her to make this change and felt a strong need to give back to the community. She is a transgender activist and member of Equality Virginia’s Transgender Activist Speakers Bureau where she works to further community understanding of transgender issues.Care and Feeding of Your New Vagina, Connie Rice
What Connie, myself and all of us have in common
Connie, who’s also a leader in technology for a fortune 500 company, also wrote this beautiful essay in 2015: I’m glad I didn’t kill myself – Connie Rice – Medium
By definition, if you’re reading this, you didn’t kill yourself instead of becoming who you are. You weren’t killed because you became who you are.
I wrote this after the murder of 49 people in Orlando who were killed because they were living in their true identities:
I survived. I didn’t kill myself. I didn’t get killed. I hoped to become a doctor. Then I became a doctor. And then I found other doctors and nurses who also survived. We came to health care to change everything. We’re working to be great allies. Thank you for being ours. Every human deserves a long healthy life, and we’re going to help you live one.Photo Friday: This doctor is here for you during LGBTQ pride, and for your long, healthy life – Ted Eytan, MD
Enjoy the guide, feel free to share. Connie’s contact information is within.