“My gender reassignment is not about my balls. What I wasn’t comfortable with was living as a man”.
Tiana is fierce and speaks her mind unapologetically. Somehow, there is this assumption that trans people’s ultimate transformation is to match their gender identification with their physical genitals. For some trans people, this might be the case. Danica is a perfect example. For her, matching her gender to her genitals was a very important part of the process. In Danica’s words, “I hate to say it, but it’s the icing on the cake!” Society at large is obsessed with trans people’s genitals. You are either male or female and nothing in-between. Tiana, like so many other trans people, keep proving society wrong and insist that gender, biological sex and sexuality are on a spectrum. Tiana loves her balls and penis, and quite rightly so as she considers herself a “top” (a person who engages in the penetrative role during sexual activity).
The world is not black and white but ever-changing shades of gray. The trans experience, is a diversity of experience. That is why we cannot pigeon-hole Tiana OR Danica. Though they refer to themselves as trans women, their individual stories are unique, powerful and ultimately transcend convenient labelling. Though Tiana has had some plastic surgery, she is not currently on (nor has she ever been on) hormone therapy. Unlike Danica, Tiana is unwilling to take large doses of estrogen and change the chemical makeup of her body. In her own words, “I want to save my liver.” There are many side effects to being on estrogen hormone therapy. These might include: deep vein thrombosis, the formation of a blood clot within a deep vein, pulmonary embolism, the blockage of an artery in the lungs, gallbladder disease and some forms of cancer.
Tiana’s natural body type (even before transitioning) is long and lean. For Tiana, being an ectomorph was a blessing in disguise. Through plastic surgery, she was interested in “feminizing” her face, but not her body. She continues to visit a cosmetic clinic for general upkeep with botox and facial fillers. “I view my body as feminine, even though I have balls. My balls are not on public display. Unless you are going to sleep with me, you really don’t know what’s going on down there”.
I am so impressed with Tiana’s honesty. It’s refreshing and inspiring. She is living her life the exact way she wants to live it. Who could ask for anything more than a life lived to its fullest?
Gender Reassignment vs Gender Confirmation
I recently had a conversation with my producing partner, Charlie David, about the use of words to empower minorities, particularly in the case of trans people. We discussed the importance of using a vocabulary that is positive, helpful and more accurate. Instead of saying gender reassignment surgery, perhaps we should instead say gender “confirmation” surgery. It is important to consider this etymology as it validates a person in gender transition. “Gender Reassignment” suggests that a person is making a choice to switch genders. It’s not about choice; it’s about using surgery as a therapeutic tool to help trans people to be more comfortable with their gendered, chosen self; to reaffirm and confirm their true self.
~Nico Stagias, director Balls documentary