If I knew then what I know now

O'Shea, Saoirse Caitlin (2022). If I knew then what I know now. Gender, Work and Organization, 29(2) pp. 626–638.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12761


In this essay, I present an autoethnographic account of my gender affirmation surgery and subsequent recovery. Surgery is considered as the benchmark for people like me but remains little discussed. In the organizational literature the focus is on those who may transition and those who have transitioned, not on the surgery itself. It is glossed over in popular accounts to leave the impression that one goes to sleep one day and wakes fully formed the next. These accounts pay little heed to the somatic, embodied nature of surgery and issues of body dysphoria, euphoria, transition, potential detransition, and retransition. Such accounts affirm a binarized gender narrative where surgery normalizes bodies to meet the expectations of a cis-normative society. Moreover such accounts do little justice as to what happens next since surgery is seen as the outcome of transition rather than part of the process.

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