Gender reassignment is one of the most deeply personal, important decisions a person can make, and that’s without all of the trappings society puts out there to make the decision to live as the gender you feel inside making that decision that much harder. On top of that, the process itself can be really complicated once you actually manage to navigate all of the hurdles a trans person has to jump through in order to even have gender reassignment surgery. This is why more education on the subject of gender reassignment is imperative, and why the documentary Emmie Smith made on the step by step process of gender reassignment is really important to be aware of. Emmie is a teenage girl who wanted to show the world what gender reassignment really looks like, and her partnership with National Geographic, who did the filming, allowed her to do that. Here’s everything you need to know about Emmie Smith and how she documented her personal process towards aligning her body with the gender of her brain.
1. Emmie Smith is a normal teenage girl. Before her gender reassignment surgery, she really hadn’t spent much time in the hospital, only going to get stitches as a little girl. However, on August 30th, 2016, she went to the hospital to prepare for surgery.
2. However, she wasn’t alone in the operating room. She was there with National Geographic photographer Lynn Johnson. Their goal was to use Emmie’s personal experience to demystify gender reassignment surgery.
3. Emmie recalled it being a bit stressful. “It was stressful and scary at times, but it almost created a mission other than just recovery,” Emmie says. “We were making something together.” Considering her gender reassignment surgery was filmed for anyone to watch, it’s hard to blame her.
4. Emmie came out a year and a half before her surgery. She came out on Facebook, and describes her coming out as a relief. “I’m not sure I could have taken another few years of being closeted,” she says.
5. While relief was a big part of how she was feeling, there were still more hurdles to jump. Emmie’s mom is a reverend, and a major figure in her town in Massachusetts, and her twin sons Caleb and Walker were a big part of her church. Now Walker wasn’t Walker anymore, she was Emmie.
6. A month after Emmie came out, her mom addressed the church. “As most of you know, Bruce and I have three children,” she began. “Caleb and Walker, who are 17, and 13-year-old Owen. Walker’s new name is Emerson, and she prefers Emmie or Em. She’s wearing feminine clothing and makeup and will likely continue to move in the direction of a more feminized body.”
7. Her mom ended up being supportive, and eventually, the town was too. “I feel broken much of the time,” she confessed. “I’ve wanted to run away, and I’ve prayed for this child that I would gladly die for, guilty for how much I miss the person I thought was Walker and everything I thought might be.” The church congregation was nothing but supportive of her.
8. It ended up being funny. The congregation ended up love-bombing Emmie and telling her words of support. However, the boy they thought was Emmie ended up being Caleb, Emmie’s cisgender, identical twin brother. After that, life resumed as normal, except Emmie was living her truth as a woman.
9. Emmie hadn’t originally considered surgery. However, once she spent a couple of months trying to tuck and tape everything in to make women’s clothes work for her body, she got a bit frustrated. The fall of her senior year of high school, she decided to get the surgery.
10. The video itself is really graphic. However, this really shouldn’t be surprising to you, because it’s a documentary showing a real surgery. Needless to say, the documentary itself isn’t safe for work.
11. Once Emmie received her anesthesia, Dr. Christine McGinn, her surgeon, started educating the viewers. She explained exactly how every body part is used to make something different. “The glans penis becomes the clitoris, the skin of the penis becomes the labia minora and part of the opening of the vagina,” she explained.
12. It doesn’t stop there. She went on to describe what would happen to Emmie’s scrotum. “The scrotal skin is taken off and used as a skin graft, it’s rolled up into a tube, and that’s placed in a space that we make at the base of the scrotum… and that’s going to be the lining of the vagina.”
13. That’s not all that happens. She continued by going on to describe what becomes of the rest of Emmie’s former body parts. “The testicles are removed, and the urethra is actually saved, and the flap of the urethra is used to make a hood for the clitoris.”
14. When Emmie woke up from the surgery, she looked genuinely scared. However, her future is particularly bright, in large part because she’s supported so much.
When people don’t do well, after their transition, it’s because they have absolutely no support system. Their support system is their families putting on a game face, but they’re scared as hell too… She’s got everything going for her,” Dr. McGinn said.
15. Now, Emmie is hallway through a gap year. She’s going for college theater programs at the end of that gap year. She’s aware that her future classmates might actually see the film and will know about one of the most deeply personal things that has ever happened to her. However, she’s okay with it because she knows her surgery will serve to educate others. “It’s not science fiction or mythology,” Emmie says. “It’s what happens to women just trying to be at peace with themselves and their bodies.”
Thanks to Rebel Circus