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  • Cynthia Fortlage

Bricks in the Wall Part 2

As I was writing the first piece about Bricks in the Wall <insert published URL here> I was struck by one of the bricks that I mentioned. The brick was about how far I would go in my gender transition.


As I write this on the four-year anniversary date of having my name legally changed to Cynthia I am struck by the significance of this question and what it really meant as I have now travelled that part of my journey.

You need to understand that when this question was asked, I didn’t know what surgeries I would have done, how far would I need to go to feel that I was in my body.

Can you imagine waking every day and not feeling that the body you are in is not yours? As if you are wearing someone else’s skin. Even as I write this it is so foreign to me, but then again, I have been in my body for just over two years and it feels so right, the feeling of the wrong body is fading as but a distant memory.

Back then there was a very difficult discussion as a couple, a discussion that I didn’t have answers for, at least not clear answers. As the brick feel out along with others, they clearly weren’t the answers that my ex-partner wanted to hear.

During lockdown due to Covid, I have used this time to do deep work on myself. I have dealt with some rather deep, dark stuff. I am glad that I am finding peace and serenity coming out of this time. One aspect was the real impact of the trauma from these conversations about bricks and what the unintended impact was on me.

As I reflected on why this one brick stood out as significant it became obvious as I went back and looked at the play I wrote in 2018 for Sarasvati Productions, in that play, I covered this topic, so I provide a first-ever free excerpt of that scene from this production, which is my exclusive copyright. By sharing this excerpt, I do not grant any license to use, re-use/repurpose, perform or adapt this material for any purpose.

I Have 99 Problems My Penis is Just 1 of Them©
Written & Performed by Cynthia Fortlage
Scene Five: Gender Dysmorphia
Realizing that my feelings toward my body have changed made it even harder when my ex said.
“If you have bottom surgery you will take the last part of him away from me”
[Convey the feeling of how that made you feel]
The sole existence of 32 yrs. of a faithful marriage reduced to an appendage that now doesn’t feel like it belongs on me.
I thought if you love me, then accept me!
Was there ever love or was it just the sex?
I never felt so worthless as in that moment!
I never despised my penis so much!
I never felt so unloved as in that moment!
I know that she didn’t sign up for this, neither did I!
Is a relationship built solely on the strength of one body part?
Does she not realize that outward appendage that gave pleasure becomes an inward tunnel to receive pleasure?
If she was upset at losing the last part of him, how would she react when I have breasts or facial surgery?
[end scene]

Quick Google Search to help explain what is gender dysphoria referred to in this scene;


Gender dysphoria (GD) is the distress a person feels due to a mismatch between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth. People with gender dysphoria are typically transgender. The diagnostic label gender identity disorder (GID) was used until 2013 with the release of the DSM-5. The condition was renamed to remove the stigma associated with the term disorder.
Gender nonconformity is not the same thing as gender dysphoria. According to the American Psychiatric Association, the critical element of gender dysphoria is "clinically significant distress".
Evidence from studies of twins suggests that gender dysphoria likely has genetic causes in addition to environmental ones. Some transgender people and researchers support declassification of the condition because they say the diagnosis pathologizes gender variance and reinforces the binary model of gender.
Treatment for gender dysphoria may involve supporting the person through changes in gender expression. Hormone therapy or surgery may be used to assist such changes. Treatment may also include counselling or psychotherapy. - Source Wikipedia

This topic is still significant compared to other topics we had as our bricks back then.

On a simple level, I could tell you it was about a lack of acceptance, but this one had real implications on a few levels.

There were the mental aspects of how much is enough to get to my body, I ended up having 9 procedures in 7 months. My body was a trooper and helped me through all of that. It took its toll though, not something I would recommend to anyone. Simply put I was changing so fast my brain hadn’t caught up to the physical changes. It took a year of healing and I was in fact barred from any sort of elective surgery for at least one year by all of my surgeons and medical practitioners. In short, I hadn’t caught up to accepting my new body.

There are of course financial aspects to all of these surgeries, money was a concern as one of the bricks. This definitely was a real consideration.

There were real health risks at so much surgery, let alone any surgery. I relied on honest conversations with my health care providers, test results, and regular psychological check-ins to make sure that this was still a good path for me to be on, regardless what I thought I needed to do, having the extra voices provide their expert guidance was appreciated by me during this time.

Sexuality is not something you choose, it’s how you are born just like your gender identity. My ex-partner was not a lesbian and changing my body was out of alignment with their sexuality. I could not exist in an asexual monogamous relationship but that was my fate if I was to agree with that brick in the wall.

Acceptance sometimes isn’t just a theoretical thing; it was very real in this case. The reluctance to accept can be a protective mechanism to other parts of our psyche that we are not ready to challenge the assumption of what it means. That’s why the journey top acceptance is something you need to be prepared for. Be prepared to challenge every social, gender, sexuality norm you live by, not just the ones you want to challenge. That doesn’t mean that everyone’s journey is a gender or sexuality journey. Accepting everyone as human beings at the theoretical level means not passing judgement so you have to challenge those norms that define you today if they will become a barrier to you accepting everyone as human beings on their own unique journey.


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