Trans men share powerful stories of how penis surgery changed their lives: ‘More than I dreamed’

A photo of YoutTuber Finlay Games showing his skin graft, photoshopped into a trans flag made of smoke.

Trans men have hit back at so-called “gender critical” pundits trying to use scaremongering tactics over their phalloplasty, or penis surgery, scars.

Phalloplasty is the artificial construction or reconstruction of a penis for trans men – or cis men who have been through a serious injury.

It requires a skin graft, often taken from the forearm, but can also be taken from the thigh or back, and can be an incredibly big step for trans men – and it can change lives.

“The increase in self-confidence and love has been more than I dreamed. I am still amazed at how it feels sometimes,” Felix tells PinkNews.

“I’m able to feel more safe in situations I didn’t before, like locker rooms at the gym. I don’t hate my scars, they each tell a story of a time in my life I made it through a hardship.”

‘I definitely was very nervous. Who wouldn’t be?’

In January 2023, a “gender critical” Twitter user shared a picture of a recent phalloplasty skin graft to scare people into condemning the surgery, saying: “Is this liberation?”

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Other “gender critical” users spoke of their disgust at the surgical procedure while using several anti-trans dogwhistles in the process.

For many, the wave of bigotry screamed not just transphobia, but ableism too, with many LGBTQ+ activists pointing out that scars are simply the result of surgery.

It has also jumpstarted a conversation in which trans people who have undergone the process have shared their own skin graft scars, as well as their story of undergoing phalloplasty.

On 30 January 2023, a weet from trans man Colby Gordon showing off his skin graft scars prompted other people who had similar grafts to share their own stories.

Felix, an artist, described his graft as a sign of “euphoria and connection,” tells PinkNews he was nervous going into the surgery, but the support he received helped him take the step that changed his life.

“I definitely was very nervous. Who wouldn’t be? Fortunately, I had a big support system at home who had put time aside to help me recover.

“I had also done a lot of research on the surgical team and listened to the experience of other trans people who went to the same surgeon, so I knew I was in good hands.”

As with any procedure, there are inherent risks of infection or complications. Studies have shown that there can be anywhere between a 24 to 51 per cent urethral complication rate.

But post-op recovery is usually closely monitored by medical professionals and, as with Felix, these complications do not often impact the desired result.

“I did have a few small complications,” he said. “I had some places that healed slower than others [and] some that healed with hypertrophic scarring.

“Also, having a catheter in for a month wasn’t too comfortable either, but I like to joke it was easier to have movie marathons because I didn’t need as many bathroom breaks.”

“If you were to ask anyone in my life if transitioning helped me, it would be a resounding ‘yes’. Transitioning saved my life, sincerely, and it makes me so sad that so many people aren’t able to receive the care they need.

“I am incredibly privileged to have the experience I did with the amount of support I did.”

Trans groups condemn the ‘stigma’ around trans healthcare

Back in 2023, trans groups and figureheads condemned the blatant attempt at scaremongering by “gender-critical” users who claimed those who had the procedure were “indocrinated”.

LGBTQ+ advocacy group Gendered Intelligence says the bigotry shows the “true heart of the anti-gender movement”, adding that the procedure is “not something to be ashamed of”.

“Trans healthcare is already stigmatised, and scaremongering around phalloplasty only makes this worse,” a spokesperson tells PinkNews.

“There is a great deal of misinformation and anxiety around trans health care that is irresponsibly fueled by these kinds of bad faith actors.

“Phalloplasty is a safe practice before which patients are extensively consulted to ensure they are aware of risks involved, including scarring from graft sites.”

A split image of Finlay Games during his recovery from phalloplasty.
A before and after picture of Finlay Games during the recovery of his skin graft. (FInlay Games)

The sentiment was echoed by trans YouTuber Finlay Games, who has made several videos documenting his recovery after having phalloplasty.

“I think trying to change [gender critical] minds is like banging your head against a brick wall,” he said. “I’ve given up trying to change their minds and instead focus on helping trans people.

“Allies are where it’s at. I have loads of great allies on my channel, and the work I do, sharing the truth of transition, the way it has positively impacted my life – that changes allies’ minds and steers them away from the toxic misinformation spread by gender-critical.”

Games had the surgery in 2015 and has been ecstatic with the results ever since, saying it “helped me put myself together”.

“My life has been changed beyond all recognition, for the better, because of this incredible surgery. I’ve changed in ways I didn’t even expect,” he said.

“I wanted a body part I deeply felt was missing and in the process of that part being created, I’ve discovered myself and so much more.”