Attack of the Phantom Penis

We’ve all heard of phantom limbs, amputees suffering pain, itching and other sensations that feel like they’re emanating from removed appendages. Less well-known is the occurrence of phantom genitalia in those who have recently undergone gender-reassignment surgeries.

About one-half to one-third of cisgender women who have undergone mastectomies report feeling sensations from their phantom breasts, but among FTM transsexuals who have undergone the same procedure, phantom breasts are only reported about 10% of the time. Cisgender men who have lost their penises due to accident or illness report experiencing phantom penis in around 60% of the cases while only 30% of post-operative MTF transsexuals report feeling sensations and erections from their now-absent members.

Interestingly, over 60% of those who were born female and later became male reported feeling their phantom penises prior to having the surgeries that would make their male genitalia tangible. While the psychological state of those who were surveyed certainly could play a significant role, comparing those who lost their treasured physical characteristics with those who got rid of a hated and unwanted appendage, it does give credence to the notion that the those in the transgender and transsexual community really are “in the wrong body.” Rather than merely being a metaphor, their internal neurological body map literally does not match their outward physical manifestation of gender.

The good news for those who undergo male-to-female gender reassignment surgery and experience phantom penis sensations, is that these perturbing sensations usually pass as the brain and nervous system adjust to your new configuration. In MTF transitions it is exceedingly rare for it to go on for more than a month or two, and on the other side of recovery is your new life as a woman, freed from possessing a penis, real or of the ghostly variety.

Also read: Transgender Support Forums and Resource Sites

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