CTMS Vaginoplasty Support Group
7th Ave, NY NY
Hi May I Speak To Crystal Please? this is her speaking, who is it? My Name Erin I’m Coordinating A Support Group For Women Seeking Vaginoplasty At Mt. Sinai And I Understand You’re Interested In Joining? oh hi erin yeah i’d love to join. Okay Great So The Format Is A Support Group, Are You Famiilar With How That Works? no i just know them from tv i’ve never been in one. So We’ll Have Topics To Discuss Each Time We All Meet And The Discussion Is Mostly Led By The Group Itself And My Role Is To Help Facilitate The Conversation. that sounds great when does it start? It’ll Be Every 1st And 3rd Tuesday Of The Month For Six Months Can You Commit To That? yeah i’ll be there. Okay Great Looking Forward To Seeing You.
on the first day of the support group i went to 7th avenue and checked in at the front desk and they told me to go to the conference room and i entered and was met by two people from CTMS and five other women seated at the table. in the center were snacks and a sticker for your name and preferred pronouns. Hi Welcome Find A Seat And Feel Free To Help Yourself To Any Snacks In The Room And Fill Out A Nametag With Your Pronouns. ok thanks. the snacks were chips and soda which made me wonder why healthcare couldn’t be holistic or maybe i just had too tight of an asshole to appreciate a good snack. a few more women entered the room and we were nine. Okay Let’s Get Started Today Is The First Day Of Our Support Group For Vaginoplasty If You Don’t Know This Is Zil Goldstein She Is The Director. zil said a few words to the group and offered to be in touch to anyone in the room and there was a stack of her business cards in the center of the table and i’m pretty sure we matched on tinder so i guess i could have gone that route too. zil left and there were three faciliators in the room and one of them i recognize as the social worker and another introduced themselves as erin from the phone call earlier. we all introduced ourselves and there were varying experiences across the room with some women about to get their surgery and others who had already gone through surgery and healed up and then folx like me who were still getting information about the procedure. we all set ground rules for ourselves and erin scribed on a big poster sized paper post-it and then stuck it on the wall so we could all look at it. For Our Topic Today We Will Talk About What Care Looks Like To You. erin picked up a sharpie and tore off another big poster sized paper post-it and stuck it on the wall and wrote What Does Care Look Like. the room was silent for a bit and someone’s cell phone kept going off making even more elongated silences and we all tried to not stare at her while she was trying to turn her phone off.
one woman talked about her care experience with her friend
The Surgeon’s Office Was Hours Away From My House So I Had A Friend Drive Me There To Make My Follow-Up Appointments. we all agreed that having friends who could drive us places when we’re healing was definitely a form of care. But I Have To Say... she paused for a moment and we locked eyes and i could tell she was going to drop something serious. her bandana was tightened around her forehead and her hair pulled up. I Have To Say The Surgery Does Not Come Without Complications, You Have To Always Be Prepared For That. I’m A Year Post-Op And I’m Lucky I Could Sit In These Chairs Today Because They’re Padded. I Can’t Do Hard Chairs For Longer Than 15 Minutes It’s Too Painful. I’m Still Going Through The Process Of Healing After A Year. the woman whose phone kept going off chimed in
Well I Had No Problems With My Surgery At All I Could Walk Around Within The First Week And Was Cleared For All Activities Within A Month Now I’m A Complete Woman And I Have My Man. i was tuned into the conversations and experiences in this room because they were so wide ranging. i was surprised the group wasn’t just a bunch of millenial transwomen but rather intergenerational with multiple backgrounds of people. the group continued on for two hours and concluded with all of us writing a letter to our future selves about the reasons we’re here which is one of my favorite exercises. CTMS also gave us 2-trip MTA cards as we left which has a pretty neat hack to turn it into an unlimited metrocard if you bend one of the corners and swipe it about 30 times corrupting the unique ID barcode on the 2 trip card.