GRS:The Next Generation
Perhaps to your great relief, I want to take a break from the unceasing river of often negative trans related political and religious news to call your attention to an article that might foreshadow the next revolution in the surgical care of MtF transitions. While this is a single story about a single type of new procedure, it gives me the opportunity to notice some other more general medical advancements that pertain to our condition.
The article, which appeared yesterday on the Wired website is all about very new way to do GRS surgery in male-to-female transsexual patients. It addresses several of the ongoing problems with neovaginas as they are widely done presently, including lack of sufficient tissue for desired depth, often insufficient lubrication, and the embarrassing and troublesome presence of hair inside the vagina. While the article does not go into particular detail about the construction of outer folds and clitoral hood and so forth, it only stands to reason that without the need to use the penile skin to create the vagina, such outward appearance concerns would benefit with more tissue to work with. The basic genesis of this new method is described in the following paragraph from the article:
During her research though, Anthony came across a paper describing the work of some doctors in India who were building vaginas a bit differently. They were performing surgeries on women with a rare disorder that causes the organ to develop abnormally or not at all. So they had to start from scratch, which requires a lot of material. They found a way to do that with tissue from the peritoneum, which is basically a bag of loose tissue that encircles the inside of your abdomen and holds your guts in place. She brought the paper into her next consultation and showed Ting. “At first he was like, ‘What is this girl doing?’” Anthony says, laughing. “I have no medical training. I’m not a scientist. But then he looked at it and said, ‘Oh, there might be something here.’”(Continued below...)
Upon further research the surgeon, Dr. Jess Ting at Mt. Sinai in New York City, concluded that use of peritoneum tissue had many advantages, not the least of which was that the tissue from the donor site would regenerate rapidly. As Ting described it, the tissue is pink, hairless, interior tissue that secretes fluid – and without the unpleasant downsides of previously attempted colon tissue such as odor. Implicitly, the surgeon can (laparoscopically) remove whatever amount of donor tissue is necessary to achieve optimal results, construct an essentially bioidentical vagina, and have use of all the penile and scrotal tissue for the outward characteristics. Indeed, or those who’ve had an orchidectomy in the past and seen significant atrophy of tissue, the barrier to a vagina of a depth compatible with coitus basically disappears.
It stands to reason this procedure will take some years to become common as many surgeons (and insurance companies!) will want to see a longer post-op period pass to evaluate the results, but barring unforeseen complications this is next level stuff girls. Sadly, I may be too old to benefit (I’ve already basically resigned myself to just having an orchi due to finances) but the nature of this is such that even at my age, as it becomes widespread and accepted, even relatively advanced age may not be a barrier. Cost might be an issue but if one can trade off the exorbitant price of electrolysis around the genitals, it might even be less expensive on the whole at some point. One thing I’d like more clarity on is whether or not dilation would still be a significant part of long-term maintenance.
I know that this news surly does little to thrill trans-men who still face a burdensome process for bottom surgery, but beyond the scope of this particular article I’m reminded that the advancements in the science of human biology and medical arts are seemingly constantly accelerating. We’re seeing womb transplant experimental surgery which, unless Trump blows us all up, portends a future in which trans women will be recipients; we’re seeing lab-grown organs which may well lead to a day when a trans man would receive a naturally grown penis (and testicles?) grown from his own tissue rather than the often problematic simulations now constructed; there are even advances in 3D printed tissue which could likewise have applications for trans people not yet fully imagined.In the face of haters who say “you can’t be a real woman if you can’t have periods and fertility” – that attack may well be silenced in the coming decades.
I hope I live long enough to see the first trans woman give birth, the first trans man become a father…especially if born from old fashioned insemination. I’m convinced that day is coming, and sooner than hardly anyone had expected.
Photo by: Artur Bergman