Tiger Howard Devore: "Growing up in the Surgical Maelstrom"

Tiger Howard Devore, PhDI spent many years in surgery whose purpose was to make me pee at the end of my penis ['Hypospadias Repair']. I’ve had sixteen surgeries on my genitals, and they performed ten operations by age ten, pretty regularly once a year. If they had just left my urinary meatus [pee-hole] where it was, at the base of my penis right by the scrotum, I could have avoided at least twelve of those surgeries.

My childhood was filled with pain, surgery, skin grafts, and isolation. I remember when school vacation came, the other kids went somewhere fun. I went to the hospital during vacation, so I wouldn’t miss too much school. When vacation was over, I would return to school, often not yet healed from the latest surgery. Sometimes I went back to school with tubes coming out of me, and stitches and scars, and I couldn’t walk well.

Each year they performed surgery on me, and I watched and felt how rapidly the surgery would break down each time. They couldn’t have missed it, either—there’s no reason for some of the work that they did on me outside of arrogance or incompetence.

The tube that most men pee through is not made of skin, it’s made of a special kind of tissue that can handle contact with urine, and be continuously moist and warm without breaking down or becoming infected. The tubes that they made for me out of skin from other parts of my body broke down over and over, and I regularly get bladder infections. And I still have to sit to pee. I have never been without fistulae [holes in the penis where the surgery has broken down], and I’ve had the entire tube replaced twice, with large skin grafts. If they had just let me pee sitting down, neither I nor my family would have had to suffer all of that—the expense, the pain, the repeated surgeries, the drugs, the repeated tissue breakdowns and urine leaks. It would have been just fine to have a penis that peed out of the bottom instead of the top, and didn’t have the feeling damaged.

>>> Full Text:Tiger Howard Devore: "Growing up in the Surgical Maelstrom" (ISNA) 
• In: Hanny Lightfoot-Klein: Children's Genitals Under the Knife, p 172-175
• In: A. Dreger (Ed): Intersex in the Age of Ethics, p 79-82