My Trip to Thailand for SRS
Last Modified On 16/03/2006
Following my enforced resignation from Ricardo Consulting Engineers Ltd in Shoreham in June 1999 I spent a few months unemployed as I embarked on my transition. In the October I gained work as a relief care worker working with physically disabled people with learning difficulties. However by April 2000 the hours available to me had dwindled to only twenty in that month. That same month though I managed at last to get my former employers to an Industrial Tribunal. This was spread over two days and was covered by the local press as well as hitting the national tabloids. The day after I won the case I was asked to an interview at BOC Edwards and offered a position as a production line fitter. The money was good and I started the day before my 42nd birthday on May 10th.
The Raw Material
With a steady income behind me and the prospect of nearly £14,000 in damages to come, I turned my attention to matters of real importance. How best to utilise this money to achieve what I needed. SRS in this country (the UK) is about £10,000 or an interminable wait whilst you are thoroughly abused by NHS psychiatrists on a power trip.
I could go the private route in this country but I wanted some FFS too and couldn’t eke out my budget that far. Tricia was going to San Francisco in May 2000 to see Dr Ousterhout for FFS and this was costing £18,000! I had only half the funds required to go this route. There HAD to be another way! Then we were looking through a message board one day and saw a posting saying “poor man’s Dr O?” This was the first reference we had seen to a Thai surgeon by the name of Dr Suporn.
Who was this guy? We posted messages asking for information but no one seemed to know anything about him. Eventually we came across a contact address; it was a Dr Kim at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. I e-mailed him with a list of questions. Over the following weeks I came to feel that Dr Suporn was the guy for me. He offered extensive FFS and SRS all at very reasonable prices.
Around this time too I was given a phone number that had originated with Rosemary at the Gendertrust. It was the number of a TV production company looking for people who were travelling abroad to do interesting things. Well they hadn’t got in touch with the Gendertrust to find a professional camel racer had they? I phoned and this call set in motion the wheels of a documentary following my trip to Chonburi, Thailand to see Dr Suporn for SRS and FFS.
As time went by things were firmed up. By August I had about half of the damages and this was sufficient to do what I needed. I was going to have SRS, Brow Ridge Reduction, Scalp Advancement (to achieve a female hairline), Rhinoplasty (to correct amateur attempts incurred in a wild and often drunken youth) and Thyroid Chondroplasty (tracheal shave to get rid of a big Adam’s Apple). The total cost of this would be £6,400. Add to this a return flight to Bangkok with Aeroflot on a two year old Boeing 777 at a mere £348 including tax. Hotel accommodation at about £11 a day plus food for two and a half weeks. I reckoned on a grand total of £7,000 with the flight put onto my credit card.
My Passport Photo - July 2000
The date for surgery was to be September 6th 2000 and the flight departure was September 4th arriving on the 5th at about teatime. I had applied for a new passport as a female and the passport office dealt with this very efficiently and courteously.
Next was the currency. I had considered taking travellers cheques but this is ‘rip-off Britain’ and at 1% for British currency and 2% for US$ I decided not to. I wasn’t going to pay £140 for a few hours insurance of my money whilst on a plane! No, I withdrew £7,000 in used twenties taped them into a brick and stuffed them into my handbag! The only concern I had was a five-hour stopover in Moscow. That however proved to be merely boring and no problem at all.
During all of this things had gone on a pace with Dr Suporn and the TV company Chapter One. Arrangements were being negotiated with hospitals etc. A lot of people were investing time and effort into this and all because of me. I however had a worry that I was refusing to confront. If I proved positive in an HIV test at the hospital I wouldn’t get surgery. I was scared that I might prove positive but kept putting off a test over here. At last I phoned up the TV company and told them about it. They understood and asked if I would mind them filming me going for the test. Hell NO! I needed all the moral support I could get.
I had the test and waited a week for the results terrified. At work I had a panic attack, a friend talked me down and the rest of the week dragged uneventfully by. Chapter One negotiated with the health authority to film me getting the results and we stood outside the clinic swapping release contracts and fitting microphones. Inside we had to hide all the equipment so we didn’t frighten all the other patients. We got the VIP treatment and were called in to see the consultant. I was OK!!! That was it the last obstacle to my getting SRS was cleared.
The day of the flight arrived and Tricia drove me to the airport. Apart from a minor scare at arriving in Delhi only to find out it was a scheduled refuelling stop the flight was uneventful and as pleasant as these things can be. Shelley the director, Fiona the psychologist, Kie, Mr T a driver and all around 'fixer' and Dr Suporn’s brother-in-law met me. I changed my 350 £20 notes for 412 Baht 1000 notes. This seemed to make everyone gasp. “You travelled with £7,000 in cash in your handbag?!” “Yeah, why?” (Please note the airport change bureaux will no longer change that kind of amount at Bangkok) Then it was off to Chonburi in Mr T’s minibus to have dinner with Dr Suporn. I chatted with Fiona along the way while everyone else dozed. Traffic was heavy and the plans changed. We ate at a Pizza Hut in Chonburi and met Dr S at the Eastern Seaboard Hospital on the edge of town. This was also an unexpected change. I had expected to go to the Aikchol Hospital in town but due to concerns over the filming it was switched at the last moment.
My consultation with Dr Suporn was quite a hectic affair with a roomful of people whilst we hammered out details of the cosmetic requirements. Sketches of noses passed back and forth. Then everyone was asked to leave the room while the genital examination took place. I was still sweaty from the trip and been in the same clothes for twenty-four hours. This was embarrassing. Dr Suporn made some comment about lack of material but said he would see tomorrow in surgery. I was not really aware of what he meant at this time. My genitalia were of normal proportions and I didn’t realise what the problem was.
Outside the room I concluded the financial aspects of the arrangement with Aoi and handed over 377,000 Baht in cash whilst Shelley filmed me waving it around. From this point on I was made to sit in a wheelchair feeling like a right fool as they wheeled me to my room.
Nurses came in and did things to me in preparation for the following day’s surgery. I was told I would be woken at six in the morning to get ready for surgery at eight. At about eleven or so they had finally finished what they had to do and Shelley and I were alone together. We had to get to know each other and get down to producing a film. There were various things we had to get done before the morning and we set about it. At one point Shelley asked me to pose naked for the camera. For those of you who are pre-op TS you will realise what a thing this is. For those of you wondering what I am on about? It is this: We generally feel extremely ashamed of our genitalia and hide them away from everybody including ourselves and here was I being asked to pose naked for a camera that would be exposed to millions of people! I freaked! Shelley calmly explained that I could veto it’s use later if I felt like it but that if I didn’t do it tonight there would never be another chance. Wow! It was true there would never be another chance because tomorrow I would be physiologically female!
I stripped off and strutted my stuff for the camera. We got to bed about two in the morning.
At six I awoke feeling bright and happy. The nurses once more busied themselves with my preparation and then I was transferred onto a trolley and was on my way to the theatre. I happily watched the ceiling passing by above me and marvelled at my lack of nerves. I was going to either die or come out female; it was as simple as that and nothing to worry about one way or the other. In the theatre I was once more transferred. This time onto the operating table. People dressed in ‘surgical greens’ came in and introduced themselves to me. My arms were taped down outstretched on supports as I noticed a clock above the door. It was eight O’clock. A guy in pink ‘greens’ introduced himself as the anaesthetist and put a needle into the back of my left hand as he told me it was the anaesthetic. I felt it creeping up my arm and then something big and soft hit my head from the left, I grunted….
I awoke feeling groggy and weak. Someone was holding my hand and I could hear the bustle of others around me. ‘Why had they woken me up? Something has gone wrong.’ These were my thoughts on waking. I had expected packing in my nose and there was none. They hadn’t operated for some reason. I tried to pull my hand from the grip of this other hand. At first the other hand held tighter. I tried again and this time managed to free my hand. I put it up to my head to check myself out and felt a bandage! They must have done some of the surgery! About then a voice told me to take a deep breath. I did this and immediately regretted it as I felt a wave of nausea wash over me. I hadn’t opened my eyes at this point and had no idea whether I was in my room or the operating room. I tried to get up as I realised I was going to be sick but hadn’t the strength. All I could do was turn my head to the left and let go. Someone informed me that I had a rather large scar on my tummy. Was this all right? I told them it was fine, I couldn’t really give a damn at that precise moment. I dozed. Having seen the finished documentary it is strange how the scene in the room is unlike how I imagined it at the time.
At some point I awoke again to be told that I had had a skin graft taken from my tummy to create a vaginal sheath as there was insufficient material to give me more than an inch of depth without it. I was told that I had to lay still and not move so that the graft had the best chance to take. My back ached and I could not get comfortable. I fell back on an old military technique I had been taught as an apprentice in the RAF. It was used to stop yourself fainting whilst standing to attention for hours during route linings. It involved minute changes in position and balance by slowly swaying and was enough to allow blood to keep circulating. I improvised my own version in the bed to try to ease my aching back.
The days passed in a haze of sleep and I gradually became stronger. Aoi visited me bearing gifts most days. Little delicacies from the local markets or traditional dishes that her mother had made. One morning she turned up with a huge Winnie the Pooh bear just like the small one I had brought with me. This was a present from Tricia. I call her Pooh Bear and as she couldn’t come with me she gave me this instead so I would have a Pooh bear to cuddle while I was away. Everyone had seemed fascinated with this little Teddy Bear and my fierce attachment to it. Pooh Bear even became a focal point of the TV filming. Aoi told me that Dr Suporn was angry with her for getting me this giant bear. He says you should travel as light as possible to avoid damaging the newly created vagina. He thought this bear would make my journey home almost impossible but Aoi got it anyway. When Dr Suporn arrived a few minutes later it was obvious that he was trying to pretend to look angry with Aoi but struggling to suppress a broad grin of pleasure!
Eventually the day came when the packing was removed and we could see what the results were. I dilated under Dr Suporn’s guidance and had a depth of 6 ½ inches. I was told that I must dilate twice every day for the next six months, an hour each time. He also said that if I missed dilation for two successive days I could lose up to two inches of depth! As I write this in early February 2001 I am happy to report that I generally have about seven inches of depth. It varies depending on my emotional state. After a good night’s sleep dilation is easy whereas after a hard day’s work it is difficult and I find I must spend some time relaxing prior to it.
On leaving hospital I was taken to Pattaya and checked in to an hotel. This hotel was really nice and at £11 per day for a twin room with on suite bathroom, a balcony and air conditioning was a real bargain. The staff were pleasant and helpful. I was not allowed out of my room for the first week and lived on room service and little treats that Nat brought me.
Nat is the star of the Simon Cabaret in Pattaya. She is also the nursing aid for Dr Suporn’s patients when they arrive in Pattaya. She shows you how to dilate and clean yourself up afterwards and runs errands for you. She is a real character and went through SRS at the age of sixteen. I have a real soft spot for Nat.
At the end of the first week in the hotel Shelley, myself and Amanda (another SRS patient) and her son were all invited to dinner with Dr Suporn and his entire team at the Pattaya Park Hotel in North Pattaya. This included Fiona and Kie who were staying in the next room to me. They had both been through some surgical procedures too. Kie had had breast augmentation along with tracheal shave and Fiona had had dermabrasion on the cheeks.
We all piled into a pick up truck taxi while Nat led the way on her motorcycle. Kie was nursing her new breasts as we flew over bumps and I was bracing myself in a corner still unable to sit comfortably. The restaurant is on the 52nd floor of the building and is a revolving one. We met up with Dr Suporn and his team members on the viewing balcony on the 56th floor. WOW! What a view. Then we noticed the aerial runway down to the ground. Dr Suporn wouldn’t let me try it then but I did a week later. Nat went down it with a style and panache that is typical of her. It was a fantastic evening and I shall remember that for the rest of my life. I was still very weak though and soon became very tired. Dr Suporn and Aoi gave us all a present. It was a wall hanging that is a speciality of the northern areas of Thailand. Hand embroidered with silk threads and sequins it depicts a scene with elephants and mountains. It evokes fond memories of my time in Thailand and the many friends I made.
Aoi took us out on a trip to Monkey Mountain and Mindah took us to the Tiger Zoo. I won’t say too much about these trips for reasons of space and relevance but their generosity and hospitality humbled me. I live a very basic and frugal existence over here and have a very stunted social life. To be treated this way was overpowering and I had difficulty in coming to terms with it to start with. I was constantly in floods of tears at such displays of friendship and love but found it was a real psychological tonic. I believe Mindah was the owner of the hand mentioned earlier when I first came round from the anaesthetic. She is from the Philippines and speaks exceptionally good English. As the main nursing contact to the patients she does a very good job of ensuring their needs are met.
All too soon it was time to fly home. I had been carefully monitored for my progress and every care was taken to ensure that nothing would present me with problems after my return.
Tigger and Pooh Alias me and Tricia - Oct 2000
Since my return to the UK I have had only one problem and that was an infection. My GP prescribed a course of antibiotics and that cleared it up. Everyone I know who has been through SRS has this problem and some have had recurrent problems. This is regardless of who your surgeon was and would appear to be a part of the body’s settling in process.
I have witnessed the results of surgeons in this country and the care given. How would I rate Dr Suporn in relation to this? Absolutely no contest, if I were to go through this again and the surgeons were all the same price I would still go to see Dr Suporn. He and his team are wonderful and their one and only concern is that you receive the best treatment possible and in the safest and most supportive environment. The Thai people are warm and loving and I returned to this country profoundly affected by their philosophy and spirituality. It is an effective buffer against the shallow materialistic indifference that day to day life in the UK consists of.
I am returning to see Dr Suporn in March for breast augmentation and this time Tricia is coming with me for SRS. She has been going through the NHS system at Stalag Charing X for three years. I don’t know of anyone who has the slightest doubt about her true femininity but she has been delayed and threatened and generally abused by the psychiatrists (and I use that term lightly) there. She was under Professor Green who in my opinion should be investigated by the GMC. I have never heard of anyone who has a good word for that antiquated phallocratic institute and it is about time it was razed and replaced by something with modern values and standards of care. We are humans and have basic rights. Many people go there because they are seeking help after a confusing existence. They are met by a totalitarian regime that appears to be designed to put people off going. I read a statistic that said that 50% of transsexuals die before the age of thirty, the majority by their own actions. I should imagine that a large proportion of those do so after the disillusionment of that outdated relic of antediluvian misogynistic medical practice.
After years of unhappiness, confusion, depression, breakdowns and generally wondering what the hell I am doing on this planet, I am now at peace with myself. I am starting to divert some of my energies towards constructive ventures and to realise that I am a talented and creative individual.
In June last year I underwent an IQ test for entry to Mensa. I exceeded the entry requirements by a long way. I am not only on the rim of the bell curve in terms of gender but also intelligence. I am the embodiment of complete marginalisation of humanity but I still make friends and attract people easily. I collaborated on the TV documentary to try to help change society’s attitudes and bring us in from the margins of society. I continue to take every opportunity that comes my way to do this. As of this writing (July 2002) it would seem that the documentary is destined to languish indefinitely in Channel 4's archives.
I went back to Thailand again. Click Here.
I have not included details of the how’s and who’s involved in the trip as they can be found on the following links and are dealt with superbly by Kie in her web page.
To see what is available and for how much from Dr Suporn check out:
To make enquiries:
©Ginny Bourne 2002