I had really hoped I’d never have to write a post like this, but it seems like there’s still a lot of ignorance out there, so here I go.
Stop talking about ‘sex changes’. They are not a thing. That is not how it works.
Confused? Let me bring you up to speed. There is an idea out there, one that is apparently held by an uncomfortable number of people, that there exists an operation called a sex change, where you go in as one gender (usually a man) and come out as the ‘other’ (ie a woman). Frequently this is tied in with Thailand, a place where a lot of medical costs are cheaper than a great many other countries. Let me tell you, right now, that is not a thing, and it’s not how it works. And thinking it does is wrong and gross and offensive on just so many levels.
Let me tell you what does exist. Some transgender people undergo what is medically termed ‘Sex Reassignment Surgery’, or SRS. This is a procedure that takes the existing genitals, and attempts to reform them into a reasonable facsimile of what is considered normal for that person’s identified gender. It’s imperfect, dangerous, very expensive, and affects only the genitals. It doesn’t change a person’s body other than that, and definitely doesn’t change their identity, which is the most important thing.
Now, if you want SRS, you need psychiatric approval by not one but two independent psychiatrists. You also need to have spent a minimum of one year on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and depending on where you live, might also need to prove you’ve been living ‘full time’ in your identified gender for a specific length of time. Then you need to gather up a lot of money because you can be damned sure this is not the sort of procedure usually covered by insurance (it’s considered ‘elective’ despite being a literal need for a lot of trans people). As a result, not a whole lot of people can get this surgery. You do not fucking walk into a hospital as a man and walk out as a woman.
There are other surgeries involved in transitioning, and like SRS (also known as bottom surgery) they don’t apply to everyone, for a variety of reasons. For instance, ‘top surgery’ is something that some trans women get to augment their breast growth, and trans men can get to essentially remove their breasts. This is a wholly separate and still very expensive procedure, and also not very accessible. Some trans women will get a ‘tracheal shave’ which is a risky procedure to reduce the size of their larynx, a very common masculine identifier.
Once again, though, none of that is a ‘sex change’. Those are aesthetic surgeries that exist to help trans people bring their bodies more in line with their identity. They are extremely important to a lot of trans people, and non-essential to others, but only the person in question can tell you what it means to them.
If you want to know the whole procedure behind what you might consider a sex change, that is, (in this case) going from a ‘male’ body to a ‘female’ one*, just go back through the archives of this blog. It takes years of medication, all of which carries risks, a variety of coaching and counselling and maybe, eventually, surgery. And that’s just the bodily changes. I’ve compiled it all into a handy little page for you, so you don’t even have to look.
And please, for the love of whatever deity or deities you may or may not pray to, stop calling it a sex change. You are causing a lot more harm than you know.
*As I’ve said before, my body is female, regardless of what it looks like, because I am female. But, for the sake of helping you understand what’s involved, I have to bend my language a bit, because we don’t really have the satisfactory vernacular for this kind of thing.