Vagina. It is a fairly innocuous word, don’t you think? But in today’s America, it has become more than a correct clinical term for female genitalia; it has become a naughty word. Suddenly, in a presidential election year notable for its lack of substance and abundance of acrimony, the vagina has taken center stage. The rules, however, for its inclusion seem to be muddy. Countless state legislatures have passed increasingly draconian laws that relate directly to the vagina. Ironically, the majority of people who have been most vocal in anti-vagina activities do not have one. In Michigan, at least, it has even become a word whose use can get you banned from speaking on the legislative floor. Love, lust, empowerment: These are all words that describe feelings different people have about vaginas. But what about envy?
The closer I am to getting a vagina, the more I understand that I don’t actually need one to be the woman I am.
A few days ago, I received a private Facebook message from a dear friend. It began, “I got to see my vagina today. For the very first time, my vagina. I know you know how significant that is and I only wish the same for you and soon. It will change your life.”
My friend, Natasha, sent this from her hospital room in Montreal, where she is recuperating from the most significant surgery anyone like us can ever undergo: gender affirmation surgery. We are transgender, which, for those few of you who might not know, is the phenomenon where the gender identity that is programmed into the brain of a fetus does not coincide with the physical sex into which that fetus develops. To make a million long stories short, it is unarguably one of the most painful conditions imaginable, largely because the person suffering from it has to fight tooth and nail to make people understand that it’s real. Continue reading