My body, my choice. Right?
I was missing school from extreme period pain since the age of 10. It took 4 years for a doctor to take it seriously, and all they did was put me on birth control to stop periods altogether. Nobody told me I might grow breasts because of those hormones, (even after puberty I was naturally flat) and as a closeted trans nonbinary person I was devastated. Nobody bothered to check if I wasn’t cis. I tried to express my new chest dysphoria and was told to be happy I was “prettier” with breasts, as if that’s my value, and it doesn’t matter how I feel about my body, only that I’m attractive to boys. That period pain is part of womanhood and I shouldn’t complain. It made me feel like my body didn’t belong to me, and my appearance was more important than my experience.
Fast forward 10 years, I’m on a waitlist for endo surgery, and begging for a hysterectomy. I can barely hold down a part time job because my period is so extreme, and ongoing. I also have PMDD meaning my mental health plummets with my cycle and it’s torture. My friends and family plan for it, and I feel like a burden. Hysterectomy requires psyche assessments which I’m bound to fail BECAUSE my period makes me insane which is exactly why I need the hysterectomy! It’s a doomed system! I’m lucky if I have 4 days a month without bleeding, pain so bad I’ve blacked out, or curled up in a ball in the middle of the street, or even just enough hormonal stability to meet my real personality.
I just want the whole thing out of me. I want peace. I’ve never wanted pregnancy, I can’t imagine anything more horrific than growing something inside me, shredding my genitals to get it out, and then never sleeping again because I have to raise a child. I don’t want that. I’ve spent a quarter of a century at the whim of this disease, is that not long enough? I want to be free. I have dreams you know, and I’m terrified I’m running out of time to pursue them when I spend the majority of my time incapacitated from my endo. Hysterectomy might not be guaranteed to fix everything but it sure would help.
But everytime I try and get a referral for even just a discussion of surgical options, I encounter homophobia-flavoured misogyny. This isn’t one bad apple either, this is a pattern. Doctors have told me for years, including in 2023, that I’ll change my mind about my sexuality, that it’s a woman’s purpose to bear children for men, therefore female homosexuality isn’t real, that even though pregnancy is my NIGHTMARE that I can’t decide for myself that I don’t want it. I have to keep living in this agony JUST IN CASE I want a baby later. My quality of life right now should be more important than the negligible chance I’ll randomly decide I want a biological child in the future. I’ve been SUICIDAL over this condition. Isn’t my life more important than a hypothetical foetus that I DO NOT WANT and have no intention of creating? My life already exists! This baby they want to force me to have hasn’t even been conceived, I desperately don’t want it to be, and yet my life is already being valued as lesser? I’d rather die than go through childbirth but they still try and tell me I have to want to do it. Am I really just an incubator in the eyes of doctors? It honestly feels threatening to be told over and over again that I have to want something that horrifies me, that there’s something wrong with me for wanting a different type of life. Anyone should have the right to choose a medical procedure they require, even if it makes them infertile, because it’s their body, but they insist I’m denying something of my future partner by removing my uterus. That a man needs to sign off on whether losing my ability to carry a pregnancy is better than condemning me to a life of disability.
I’ve told doctors we don’t even need to worry about this hypothetical future husband’s wishes anyway because he doesn’t exist, I want to marry a woman. It shouldn't matter because men do not own women’s bodies ANYWAY, but in my desperation to get this surgery I’ve tried to explain there’s no man who can ever sign off on this, so you’ll just have to let me! I’ve had multiple doctors obsess over whether I identify as gay or bisexual, insisting if I’m bi then I need to forget surgery incase a man wants a baby. My body is not the property of men, nor should I have to perfectly articulate my queerness to any medical professional, it’s my personal journey, it’s nuanced, it’s not their business, but they see my clothes and hair and start asking invasive questions. I’ve felt even more ashamed of exploring my sexuality because of comments from doctors left on my medical notes insisting I’ll “change my mind” and “claiming to be gay”. I’ve felt I can’t access sexual health services in case any curiosity I have about gender nonconforming people like myself, would get weaponised to insist I could be made straight. Being nonbinary and existing in shades of grey is a beautiful place to see the world from, but incredibly frustrating to try and articulate to doctors. I just shouldn’t have to. I need the surgery to stop the pain. Simple. I don’t want to reproduce, end of story. Homophobia biphobia misogyny transphobia - I just want my endo gone. I don’t know what perfect label fits me, I shouldn’t have to. Even appointments about sexual health turn into appointments about reproductive health. They don’t care if the pain is ruining my sex life, as long as my eggs are still working. I DON’T WANT to use my uterus, I want to use my CLITORIS. I have constant irritation from the extreme heavy bleeding, it’s ruined dating for me, even selflove is painful. I didn’t ask for fertility. I want love, pleasure, and the freedom to explore that like anyone else. My endo prevents that. I deserve sexual health. But over and over again, doctors bring the conversation back to one day, a man will want a baby from you, as if that’s my responsibility.
I’ve been refused referrals to specialists unless I agree to consider pregnancy and dating men, told I was difficult, confused, and headstrong for insisting that’s not my path. I feel like my whole life, my pain, pleasure, dreams, desires, and quality of life have always been dismissed and secondary to the potential that a hypothetical man might want use of my uterus one day. I want to live my life, have a job, hobbies, friends, and relationships, without spending 3 weeks a month in agony, unable to move, despising myself. I want to date women, I don’t want children. It’s my body, my life, and I’m being refused healthcare because of a misogynistic heteronormative system that disallows bodily autonomy to particular demographics. I just want to be free of this suffering so I can pursue my happiness. They call me depressed and tell me to try yoga - how about access to healthcare to end chronic pain? I’m not depressed, I’m in prison, with no autonomy, watching my life go by without me. Terrified my whole experience of earth will be in bed with a heatpack. Of course I despair. Withholding physical healthcare causes depression.
Women’s healthcare, trans healthcare, it’s all about bodily autonomy. If I want this surgery I should be able to get it. I shouldn’t have to live in chronic pain, suffering, wasting my life, because I was born with an organ I don’t want to use. You can’t force me. I’m not a uterus inconveniently attached to a human, I’m a human being. It’s MY uterus to do with what I will. It’s ruining my past, present, and future, and I need it gone. In my most extreme pain, I’ve fantasised cutting it out myself. That’s how much pain I’m in. But I can’t even get a referral unless I pretend I’m going to give heterosexuality a chance? It’s my body, my life.
Sometimes in dark moments I question if maybe I am just an object, having delusions about being a person.
Life is beautiful, but I’m watching from the outside and it’s torture. I don’t want to just exist. I want to live.