The Surgeon Haunts My Dreams

By Susan Stryker


I'd rather lift my hips to meet His knife as it enters me than lie there unconscious with my legs apart. I'd rather Him see in my open eyes that nothing other than my desire brings Him here. I know it will not be that way, and it scares me to have a need so fierce that I will let myself become completely powerless in the hands of someone I do not completely trust.


I can do nothing about the fact that He is a man, and that I must deal with Him. There are no women who do sex-reassignment surgery, not one in all the world. There are no transsexuals who do it, either.


Every now and then I slip off into the fantasy of some pussy-loving amazon of a surgeon, a bulldyke doctor who'll turn me outside-in with a welcoming smile.

"It won't be long now, dear," she'll say to me as she drops my balls into the biohazard bin. "Next, let's flay that awkward little dick of yours and whittle the erectile tissue down to a reasonable size. We'll tuck it neatly into this new crevice here and dress it in this darling little hood. Your scrotal skin folds up quite delicately, and I've arranged it into such exquisite labia that I'm almost tempted to go down on you myself."

But this woman doesn't exist anywhere other than in my mind -- and He is all too real. I know His name, where He works. And I know, too, that He thinks more about how deep and fuckable He can make my cunt than He does about whether I'll be able to feel anything when I rub myself against a slick, wet thigh.


This small dark woman's vagina fits around my fist almost as tightly as the latex glove that comes between her flesh and mine. We've drawn a circle of admirers around the waterbed at the party, who watch her writhe gracefully at the end of my dancing forearm. It's the first day of her period and she's bleeding so dramatically. Her blood runs down my forearm and drips onto the plastic sheet; I should have worn latex up to my elbow, and not just to my wrist.

The thought occurs to me that I'll bleed just once -- for Him -- and then no more. Will He squander the sight of it?


The coals in the fireplace at the end of my lover's bed glow red in the warm darkness. Before we lie naked together for the rest of the night, I pause for a moment in shy self-consciousness to push my genitals away behind me, back between my legs. When I wrap my arms around her and snuggle close I want the curve of her ass to caresses my bush -- and nothing else.

The deep purple cane marks across her butt cheeks seem to radiate as much heat to the surface of my skin as the fireplace across the room does. My tits are still so tender from her clamps that it's almost too much sensation to bear when the tiniest rotation of shoulders or hips drags my nipple against the edge of a whip-welt on her back.

Her breathing is regular and relaxed now. I open my eyes and look past her to see Him watching us through the window. He scribbles His observations in a notebook, then looks in the mirror behind me to see my penis lying soft and warm against the back of my thigh. I smile at Him and He smiles back. We both know I'll give my penis to no one else but Him.


I listen to the click of my heels on the sidewalk, feel the hem of the short tight dress and the stockings on my freshly shaved legs, smell the delicate scent of my perfume. I usually wear jeans and T-shirts, but today I'm dressing for Him. On the way to His office I stop and look at my reflection in a store window. I look at the make-up. I look at the hair. No, I confess, this isn't all for Him. Femme can be fun when you feel like it, sexy when it catches a woman's attention, subversive when it turns back the straight gaze, powerful when it gets you what you want.

I sit in the chair in front of His desk and pretend to listen as He moves His lips. I cross and uncross my legs. I smile at Him. If He thinks I'm the girl He wants me to be, I'm sure I'll get what I want. He tells me once more how much it will cost, and I give Him the cashiers' check. We make a date.

"Just remember," He says with a wink, "I get to use it first."

I laugh politely before I leave. How come I feel like I just turned a trick when He's the one who kept the money?


I'm alone in the bathtub, fucking my asshole with the two middle fingers of my left hand. My left thumb circles the spot I think of as my clit. While I work that bit of gristle against my pubic bone, my breasts sway gently in water set in motion by the movement of my hand.

For the first time since becoming a woman I feel the stirrings of an erection. The hormones make this almost impossible, but here alone, where my body does not have to be a social body, I coax the sensation along. It feels uncanny, deeply familiar and utterly strange all at the same time. I'd like to be able to touch myself anywhere and find a special pleasure there, but that ability eludes me here at this conflicted site. I don't know what to do with this thing that rises up to vex me. How can I love that which defies my ability to define myself?

I take the matter firmly in hand and struggle with it, vainly invoking different names to change its shape, but it resists all transformation. Materiality always resists the symbolic frame. I beg it, then, to throw all language off and become ungendered flesh, but language clenches this meat between its teeth in a death-grip. Words and things together taunt me. Though each downward stroke of my right hand tries to push them apart, they refuse to be unjoined. I know that I will find my pleasure in the pursuit of their estrangement, or I will not find it anywhere at all.

Finally, in my need, I call out for Him to help me. The bolted bathroom door slams open and He looks down upon me.

"You shouldn't have to think so much," He says. There is more cruelty in His voice than I have noticed before; there is a trace of threatened malice when He says "Just lie there with your legs apart and I'll straighten out this mess."

He scares me, but I'm ready. I've been waiting for Him so long now. As He falls upon me I see the knife glinting in His hand, and I know this water will soon be turning red. When I lift my hips to meet Him as He enters me, He will surely see that nothing other than my desire brings Him here.

("The Surgeon Haunts My Dreams" was originally performed at The Illustrated Woman: The Second Annual Conference on Feminist Activism in the Arts, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, in February 1994. It was first published in Transsexual News Telegraph #6, Spring 1996, under the title "Pre-Operative.")

"The Surgeon Haunts My Dreams" © 1994 by Susan Stryker; used by permission.