She Transitioned at 19. Now: 'I Wasn't Old Enough' for That Choice

Corinna Cohn on what 'I wish I had known' before gender affirmation surgery
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2022 10:10 AM CDT
She Transitioned as 19-Year-Old Virgin, Has Some Regrets
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/cagkansayin)

(Newser) – Corinna Cohn underwent gender-confirmation surgery as a virgin at age 19. Now "closer to 50," the officer with the Gender Care Consumer Advocacy Network has some regrets, as she writes in a Washington Post op-ed urging caution to those considering a similar path. There are things "I wish I had known" when committing "to a lifetime set apart from my peers," including that she'll be a medical patient for life, Cohn writes. "I must choose between the risks of taking exogenous estrogen, which include venous thromboembolism and stroke, or the risks of taking nothing, which includes degeneration of bone health. In either case, my risk of dementia is higher, a side effect of eschewing testosterone."

"Others might feel differently about their choices, but I know now that I wasn't old enough to make that decision," Cohn continues. Indeed, "the sacrifices I made seemed irrelevant to the teenager I was." She says she ultimately gave up pleasurable sex, the ability to reproduce, and potentially, a long-term partner. "Intercourse never became pleasurable," which is a problem as "sex is essential in healthy relationships," Cohn writes. Yet "I chose an irreversible change before I'd even begun to understand my sexuality." She adds she was initially "repelled by the thought of having biological children." But that changed somewhat, too, as Cohn describes "the pangs I felt as my friends and younger sister started families of their own."

As for finding love, "in high school, when I experienced crushes on my male classmates, I believed that the only way those feelings could be requited was if I altered my body," she writes. But now, "I have resigned myself to never finding a partner," as "few straight men are interested in having a physical relationship with a person who was born the same sex as them." While she's not certain she would have made a different decision given more time, she urges others considering gender affirmation surgery to "slow down" and consider the repercussions. "If you explore the world by inhabiting your body as it is, perhaps you'll find that you love it more than you thought possible," she writes. Read the full piece here. (Read more gender reassignment surgery stories.)

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