A brave Massachusetts transgender teen has allowed National Geographic cameras to film her gender confirmation surgery in an attempt to “demystify” the public about the operation.
18-year-old Emmie Smith, who is taking a gap year to help transition before starting college, allowed the magazine to film a “close-up and unflinching” video of the procedure.
“It’s not science fiction or mythology,” Emmie explained. “It’s what happens to women just trying to be at peace with themselves and their bodies.”
“I think people are fascinated by gender reassignment surgery. They’re insatiably curious about it – but they also don’t know how to have a conversation about it.”
Emmie first came out as trans in a public post on Facebook 18 months before her surgery.
“Being closeted was one of the worst parts of my life. Being out, it’s not so much a personal change, it’s a social change,” Emmie tells the camera.
“The thing I really remember about coming out, was I was in a play. I went to rehearsal, and they were getting my pronouns right, they were using my name.
“It was just a totally different world. It was incredible.
“If I was not out, I’m not sure I’d be alive right now,” she adds.
“I kind of taking pride in being one of the few identical twin pairs that are boy and girl,” says her brother Caleb.
Emmie’s mother Kate Malin told National Geographic that the initial news that her child is transgender was “frightening” because she didn’t know anything about it. Kate says that she was “honoured” to be part of Emmie’s journey.
“What my husband and I keep remarking on to each other is this just feels so right, it’s so her, it’s so the child we’ve always known and loved, even thought a few years ago we wouldn’t have necessarily anticipated this step,” Kate explains.
The film delves deep into the steps involved in her gender confirmation surgery.
“The glans penis becomes the clitoris, the skin of the penis becomes the labia minora and part of the opening of the vagina,” Dr Christine McGinn says in the video.
“The scrotal skin is taken off and used as a skin graft, it’s rolled up into a tube, and that’s placed in a space that we make at the base of the scrotum… and that’s going to be the lining of the vagina.”
Watch a clip below: