from decision-making to completion, from the perspective of one transgender man.
Phalloplasty is the construction of a penis, Finlay explains: “And when referring to trans surgery, we tend to use the term gender confirmation surgery.
“The book came about because of a lack of information. When I came out as transgender and began my gender transition in 2011, there was little information available about lower surgery options for trans men.
“The only information I could find painted lower surgery in an extremely negative light and I resigned myself to never having it.
“However, in 2015, my lower dysphoria increased, and I knew lower surgery had to be a possibility for me. By this time, there were a few more first-hand experiences, and they showed me that lower surgery could be successful. I realised that a lot of the negativity surrounding lower surgery was due to myths and misinformation.
“In beginning my surgical journey for phalloplasty, I decided that I would share the process. This was to help other trans men exploring and going through surgery and to help combat the negativity surrounding the surgery. I shared my progress through the various stages of lower surgery on my blog and on my YouTube channel.
“It was not easy to be open about something so personal, but the appreciation from trans people who had struggled with the lack of information as I had, reassured me that my vulnerability was worthwhile.
“Midway through my surgical journey, I decided to turn this sharing into a book.
“Phalloplasty was proving to be a profound and multi-layered journey.
“I wanted to share deeply, not just about the surgery, but also about the lived experience of adapting to a changing body, exploring sex and sexuality and coming out as a gay transgender man.
“I was very much inspired by all the transgender people before me who had bravely shared their stories. We desperately need more first-hand accounts of trans experience.
“Books are one of the ways that we find and understand ourselves. There are still very few trans books, especially from a trans masculine perspective. Therefore I wanted to add my narrative to the collection.
“There is especially a lack of first-hand accounts of lower surgery.
“There are a couple of memoirs which briefly mention surgery. There are also a couple of books which have a collection of short stories about lower surgery. What was lacking for me was a complete story of the entire phalloplasty journey. I wanted then to add to these and fill in the missing gaps. This was a huge motivation for writing Top to Bottom.
“Initially, I planned to self-publish. I worried that, because of the nature of the book, in the wrong hands it might be sensationalised. It needed a sensitive hand, and I felt the only way to guarantee that would be to have complete control myself.
“However, Andrew James from Jessica Kingsley Publishers reached out to me on Twitter to discuss what I was writing. JKP are experts with gender literature and transgender stories, I knew Top to Bottom would be safe in their hands, so I submitted a proposal, and the book was accepted!
“Most of the book was already written in a rough draft. Using my blog posts and YouTube videos, during the first lockdown I set to work expanding on what I had written and getting the book ready for publication.
Finlay, who is 47 years old, added: “I enjoy writing. I find it very cathartic, and I found it useful to have a focus during the pandemic. It was a lot of demanding work, and a lot of self-reflection had to take place to decide what to include and what to leave out.
“Top to Bottom was initially part of my larger trans memoir before I decided that my phalloplasty journey needed a book of its own. Therefore, I still have a rough draft of my ‘coming out as transgender’ memoir. I plan to finish that this year and look to publish it. I have a complex history of mental ill health and addiction, and I have plans to write about this as well. I also love writing fictional stories, and I would like to write a fictional novel at some point. We need more transgender characters in books so it would be wonderful to help contribute to that.”
The book is available in book shops and online.