how to have a voluntary hysterectomy in melbourne part 1: finding a surgeon

The first thing you have to know is that you can’t escape the round abstract torsos of gynaecological graphic design. Those voluptuous femmes will follow you everywhere. All the information sheets will refer to you as a woman, all internet advice will start with “hey ladies”, and if you google questions you will be recommended a site called “hyster sisters”.

A hysterectomy seems to be a sad occasion for a lot of people. The fact sheets the hospital gave me has a pretty solemn tone. It feels a bit weird to feel ecstatic about something that makes other people miserable. But I’ve been wanting to be sterilised since I could pronounce it. And I’ve been asking doctors about it since I was a teenager: half my life. The first doctor was emphatic that no one would sterilise me ’til I was 30. Another doctor said the same. So I waited until I was 30, and pretty soon after my birthday I asked about it. That doctor told me that sterilisation doesn’t happen in Australia, that the only semipermanent contraception I could get was an IUD, and refused to refer me to anyone. I got that IUD and it was hellish, one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced. Went into shock and had to get an IV drip. The next doctor I asked was really supportive! And referred me to a gynaecologist who didn’t exist. r/childfree suggested the name of a gynaecologist, but I couldn’t find a number or any information for her. Life was a bit hectic then, so I just left it.

This year I got a bit of spare time and a bit more tired of bullshit so I became serious about finding a doctor and a surgeon. I googled around and emailed five gynaecological surgeons. I told them I was nonbinary and 35 and looking to be sterilised. Three replied: Dr Melissa Cameron said they couldn’t discuss details outside of consultations (which cost $250), Dr Alex Ades replied with yeah we sure do sterilisation come on over, and another replied with hell yeah nonbinary come get snipped we got two bricks with your name on it. That was Dr Latika Cilly, so I made the earliest appointment I could (about two months) and in the meantime got my GP to write a referral.

Ultros came with me for moral support and memorying. I was anticipating a lot of questions and resistance. I was expecting her to judge my quite conventional femme appearance and quiz me about whether I was really nonbinary, and give me a lecture about regrets, and tell me it would cost $10,000, because that’s been my actual experience so far. But Dr Cilly was great. She was wonderful. She didn’t quiz or lecture me, she was like “you’re obviously old and certain, let’s get you chopped up”. She looked at me hard and said “permanent” and I said “yes great perfect” and then she gave me a very quick but still pretty uncomfortable vaginal exam and then she gave me a very rough quote and booked me in for surgery in 6 weeks’ time. I asked her whether removing a cervix makes your vag shorter but she said it didn’t.

I couldn’t really take it in. It didn’t feel real. It seemed way too good to be true. Even now, with 5 days to go, I am absolutely certain something’s going to happen that’ll mean it has to be cancelled. I did hit a snag – I’m uninsured so it looks like it’ll cost around $3500 all up, if the surgery all goes smoothly. It’s $2000 for the surgery itself, around $1000 for the overnight hospital stay, and around $400 for the anaesthesia, though I won’t know the exact amounts until they actually present me with the bills. I don’t know if Medicare will give me any back. I don’t know how much it would cost with private health insurance. I’d pay anything really, and I have the savings, and all dollar amounts over $100 are just incomprehensibly large to me, and $3500 turns out to be just $175 per year of longing, so I’m going ahead with it.

I’m excited to get the snip. I’m thrilled to be the end of my line. I’m really psyched about being incapable of producing an heir. I’m really looking forward to never passing on my legacy. Even in a post-climate-apocalypse scenario, I won’t be forced to repopulate the human race!

If I tell people in an enthusiastic tone, people usually respond in kind. But a few people have been a bit odd. One person seemed really flustered and said “Well I suppose you can have a meaningful life without kids” (I suppose so!) A lot of people have asked what my boyfriend thinks.

The hospital fact sheet says that I’ll be off work for a month. It says I can’t drive for 3 weeks, lift anything heavier than two kilograms for 4 weeks and or have sex for 6 weeks. I’m supposed to do stretching and breathing exercises so I don’t get blood clots. They also give me special stockings to wear for two weeks, very cool. It did say I should be able to have a shower and walk around the house, but whether that’s the minimum or maximum I don’t know. It also says that during the surgery everything in your lower half gets a bit scrambled and the loo can get dicey for a while.

part 1: finding a surgeon
part 2: the boring details of surgery
part 3: advice
part 4: money
part 5: gender feelings (mine and others)