Areas of Advice

  • No categories

The Advice Archive

Unigrrl’s Transition

Transition page for Unigrrl.

I’m going to run down what happens regarding trachea shaves, without pitch alteration, from referral to surgery (at Charing Cross in London, UK).


A few things happen first, there’s a little form asking about health problems, and a meeting with the surgeon, who’ll talk to you about the procedure and what they’ll do, what can be expected, and it’s your first chance to ask some questions, and find out more information.

All goes well and you’ll get offered a date, usually by telephone, then you’re sent out a form to fill in, and requested to confirm again that you’ll be there and you want the operation. The form is pretty simple, just some details, next of kin or other important persons. You need this form with you when you go for your operation.

On the day

On the day of your operation, if it’s in the afternoon you’ll be asked not to eat or drink after 7am. If it’s a morning surgery they’ll ask you not eat or drink from 2am. They will ask you to get in touch if you on various types of medication, better safe than sorry.

If you have a long way to travel they will generally offer to keep you overnight, but always double check. They prefer to release you into the care of a friend or relative, who’ll drive you home, or that you use a taxi with same said person. If this is not possible for you they can keep you overnight and let you get public transport the next day alone, but they will not be happy about it generally.

Day of the operation you need to shower and get yourself clean, I strongly advise comfortable, warm loose fitting clothing, you’ll need something that buttons or zips and the front, or something that is loose or it will be very hard/painful to put on after the operation. (I ended up cutting the neck of my nighty to make it comfortable.)

Don’t wear nail varnish, make-up or jewellery, it’ll all need to come off anyway, and might compromise your surgery.

You turn up at the hospital and are taken in as a group, assigned temporary beds, and lockers, you get into your gown and then bung your stuff in your locker, a nurse will take the key off you, don’t worry, it’ll get taken to your room/ward when you get out of recovery. (this step can take a few hours, ask if it seems to be taking a long time, but it’s normal for it to take some time)

Someone will be through to take more details off you, and a brief medical history, allergies, and so on, and weigh you. Then the surgeon will come through, talk about the procedure and ask you pretty much the same questions, then the anaesthesiologist will come though and ask you the same questions again (a great time to explain about any fear of needles/anaesthesia).

Be aware that it can be some time from arriving and getting into the gown ’til your operation, several hours in some cases, be aware and be prepared to wait. You’ll get seen and sorted.


When it’s time for you, you’ll be either wheeled or walked into a small room, the anaesthesiologist will sit a feed into your off hand, a nurse will apply pads to various locations on your body, and you’ll be covered up, just follow their instructions it’s nice and easy, and relax. You’ll get injected with several things, and a mask will be placed over your nose and mouth.

At this point you’ll likely be knocked out with general anaesthetic and the next thing you’ll know is waking up in recovery.


I found I had a very dry and sore throat, and was being given oxygen, there wasn’t much pain from the surgical site itself, but that’s because they usually dose you up with painkillers. There will be pain from the surgical site later, not too much usually, just take the painkillers they offer.

When you are awake enough they’ll wheel you out of recovery to your room/ward (if you are staying overnight, sadly I don’t know what happens if you are leaving the same day) and you’ll be allowed to doze off, make phone calls (usually) and so on, you’ll feel the after effects of the anaesthetic and muscle relaxant for quite a while, so be prepared to feel physically weak.

You’ll see the surgeon, and the anaesthesiologist again, and have nurses checking on you regularly, even through the night, grab what sleep you can, when you can. You’ll be offered food, which is pretty nice usually. Make sure to drink small sips of water at first, big gulps will be painful!

In summary

It’s pretty standard fare, you’ll eventually be seen and discharged, along with letters and painkillers/medication, make sure you’re lift is there or that you have somewhere to go afterwards, the ward is warmer and more comfortable than the waiting rooms.

It’s not a scary process, it doesn’t take too long, and isn’t all the painful (although I might not be a good source on how painful things are).

And now you know the basic process, and what to expect.

(All information is based on my memories of events, and is typed whilst still slightly under the affects of the GA, accuracy is not assured, and procedures might differ or change with time.)

OK, I’ve just got home, and I can barely speak. Being hoarse is a common side effect of this type of surgery, and I was advised to avoid speaking if possible for the next few days, and not to sing for the next few weeks.

See also