Gender Reassignment

Gender Reassignment - Tiana

“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

Gender Confirmation

gender confirmation

For LGBTQ people, coming out is a huge step in the process towards self-love and validation.  For someone representing the T in that acronym, gender confirmation surgery may be the ultimate step in becoming their most authentic self.  Thankfully in many countries around the world this hurtle is becoming easier to overcome as our societies become more educated and less discriminatory.

However there are still too many stories of verbal and physical abuse, abandonment and stigma.  That’s why for me sharing stories is so important.  It’s a small step that can help educate and hopefully even trigger empathy.

When our hearts begin to empathize with people we previously considered strangers or incompatible with our own set of social constructs – that’s progress and it can be incredibly powerful.

Though I am a gay man, in my younger years I admit to not understanding how the T fit into the LGBT community.  For that matter I didn’t understand how a person would want to confirm or reassign their gender.

That’s because my perspective was limited and empathy hadn’t entered the equation.  At that point I had not met anyone who had transitioned genders or was considering it face to face.  My knowledge on the subject was limited and my capacity for empathy was also meager.  The opportunity for honest and direct communication is sometimes the most powerful motivation for changed behavior or attitudes.

I am cis male. I look and represent myself to the world in our society’s current and traditional construct of what a man is and/or should be.  I’m very comfortable in my maleness and my body.  I’m at home in jeans, t-shirts and a ball cap.  I’ve sported a beard for over two decades, simply because I’m most comfortable this way.  The fact that my physicality and way of interacting with the world is in alignment with the expectations of the gender I was born means that I operate in a position of privilege.  And as soon as we are able to recognize the unique positions of privilege we each have, it creates an opportunity to look outward and exercise our minds and hearts to be more empathetic.

Essentially I’m an urban bear or lumbersexual if you want to toss some loose labels on me though I prefer not to be packaged because I always find it becomes limiting and never fully represents who I am, my interests and most importantly who I may evolve to be and haven’t even imagined yet.

And that potential for evolution within a person is what I’d like for you to consider today.

In what ways have you changed in your existence thus far?

Have you had to come out to friends or family in one or more aspects of your life?

Is there another revelation you’d like to explore and share with the world?

How does your most authentic and best self look, behave and interact with the world?

Have you had a conversation with someone considering or who has had gender confirmation surgery?

With some of those thoughts in mind, I invite you to watch the latest video in our men’s health series, Balls.  This episode features Danica, a woman of incredible strength, love and resilience.  With Danica as our guide we take a very personal journey to discover gender confirmation.

We have two episodes with Danica within this series so be sure to sign up for my newsletter and subscribe to my YouTube channel so you won’t miss this incredible story.



If you’d like to start at the beginning of our exploration of men’s health, please check out these other articles and videos.

Balls Documentary – Director Discussion

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

Gender Reassignment 

You can watch the documentary in its entirety on Vimeo, Amazon, YouTube or right here.

Balls – avec le réalisateur Nico Stagias

Nico Stagias - Director of Photography

Nico Stagias est le réalisateur du BALLS.

I’m a StripperStudlebrity.  Bump!  Positive YouthI’m a PornstarBalls. Tous des titres de films auxquels Nico Stagias a contribué. Que ce soit en tant que réalisateur, monteur ou cinématographe, il est toujours dans son élément. Alliez ses vastes talents à ceux du tout autant talentueux Charlie David, et vous avez là toute une paire… jeu de mots inclus.


Nico Stagias raconte qu’il a une longue et belle histoire de travail avec Charlie David. Après s’être rencontrés sur le plateau de la série de voyage « Bump! », ils se sont tout de suite liés d’amitié avant de passer quatre saisons à filmer cette émission. « Une série de voyage est définitivement un bon indicateur de compatibilité sur un plateau. Nous aimons tous les deux voyager et découvrir le monde par nous-mêmes. »


« Balls », a été initialement pensé par Patrick Ware, le partenaire de vie de Charlie David, en 2014. Lorsque Charlie David a partagé l’idée avec Nico Stagias, ce dernier a tout de suite était conquis. « Nous travaillons habituellement à deux et partageons toutes les responsabilités (outre la caméra), de la pré- à la post-production. Nous faisons une excellente équipe. Pour ce qui est de « Balls », le père de Charlie est décédé subitement. Sans une once d’hésitation, il a pris le premier avion pour la Saskatchewan et y est resté un mois pour s’assurer que sa famille allait bien. C’est ce que j’adore de Charlie et la raison pour laquelle nous nous entendons si bien. Il a le sens des priorités.»


REGARD Balls ici:





Après la fin de Bump!, Nico Stagias et Charlie David savaient qu’ils souhaitaient continuer à voir le monde à travers leur vision commune. « Notre premier projet ensemble a été «Positive Youth », un documentaire sur les taux accrus d’infection au VIH chez les jeunes d’Amérique du Nord. Depuis, nous avons eu notre juste part de documentaires sur des strip-teaseurs, des beaux gosses et des vedettes du porno. »


Durant des études de langues et de littérature au collège Dawson, Nico Stagias a pris un cours complémentaire sur l’histoire du cinéma et a immédiatement su qu’il voulait faire partie de ce monde. « J’ai eu des tonnes de boulots liés aux films et aux vidéos, de coupeur de négatifs (du temps où les films étaient captés sur celluloïd) jusqu’à monter les nouvelles matinales pour Global Television. Mes premiers contrats de tournage, de montage et de réalisation étaient des collaborations avec le monde de la danse moderne. Il n’y a rien de tel que l’expérience de lier la forme d’art cinétique de la danse à la forme d’art du film. Jusqu’à ce jour, je garde un faible pour les vidéos de danse. »


Quand il s’agit du sujet de leurs projets de collaboration, les deux talents ont tendance à suivre leurs intérêts. « Puisque nous vendons nos documentaires à des chaînes de télévision, nous essayons de trouver la bonne combinaison pour la station à laquelle nous nous adressons. Bien souvent, nous trouvons preneur pour les titres plus accrocheurs et provocants. » Très motivé par la facette queer en tant que culture opprimée, Nico Stagias considère qu’il est important d’explorer les différentes voix de l’expérience queer. « Nous avons beau avoir le mariage gai au Canada depuis 16 ans, nous souffrons encore d’homophobie manifeste, surtout lorsqu’on parle de questions trans et de la stigmatisation liée au VIH, notamment chez les minorités queer visibles. »


Quand il vient en arrive à ses influences personnelles, il dit être est inspiré par les gens queer de son coin, récemment attiré par l’histoire d’Everett Klippert, un homme de la Saskatchewan qui, en 1965, a été condamné à la prison à vie parce qu’il était homosexuel. Le gouvernement libéral actuel essaie de faire des réparations aux hommes comme lui et à leurs familles. « C’est une partie importante et fascinante de notre histoire queer canadienne. »


Nico Stagias espère que le public appréciera les projections de « Balls » à Never Apart. Instructif et, à certains égards, un documentaire sérieux, la santé testiculaire n’est pas toujours matière à rire. « Il est important de ne pas oublier le côté léger de toutes choses. J’espère que l’audience en ressortira plus sensibilisée face aux testicules et que les testicules sont beaux, que vous en ayez, en aviez ou ne vous en serviez pas du tout. Aimez vos couilles et les couilles des autres. »


 Written by Mikela Jay for