On “Passing”
August 19, 2011
Paris Dupree RIP
August 24, 2011

Pumping-Beauty Now, Pay Dearly For It Later

One of the issues I don’t talk about enough is the prevalence of pumping amongst POC transwomen.   It’s a subject that is guaranteed to start a vigorous discussion amongst us because the trans women who have resorted to it get defensive about pumping when we talk about the people who weren’t so lucky.

Talking about the risks of pumping is not by extension those of us broaching the subject  engaging in making moral judgments about their choice to do whatever they wish with their bodies.

While its a major issue amongst POC transwomen, our cis sisters are also getting pumped too and paying the price.

In February 20 year old college student Claudia Aderotimi flew across the Pond from London along with two friends to Philadelphia to get butt enhancement via silicone injections.   She and her friends had done some treatments before with no complications but on this trip something went horribly wrong.  Twelve hours after being injected on February 7 at a Philly hotel near the airport, Aderotimi  was complaining of chest pains, struggling to breathe and died in a local hospital.

The case got even more ironic because transwoman Padge Victoria Windslowe, a music artist who goes by the name of Black Madam, is considered a person of interest in this case.  She is accused of being the person who administered the fatal injections and is facing 10 years in prison if arrested, proven guilty, and sentenced for involuntary manslaughter..

The Aderotimi case is similar to what happened in 2001 to Vera Lawrence in Miami, another ciswoman who died after a silicone pumping injection gone wrong.

What’s making me ponder this subject again is a recent New York Times article that chronicled the story of  transwoman Zaira Quispe who is now dealing with the medical consequences due to the pumping she did from 1989-2000 to make herself look femme and curvy.

It also interviewed ‘S’, a transwoman who is making a nice living as one of the people doing the pumping.

Whatever your opinions about pumping be they pro or con, pumping is basically the fast, low cost route to a feminine body that gives you the quick feminization results now.  Some people who have pumped claimed they have done so with no ill effects, but I’d like to check back in with those same people when they reach AARP membership card age and see if they’re saying the same thing they’re espousing right now..

The one certainty about silicone pumping is that you will pay dearly for it either sooner or later.  Some people have paid the ultimate price like Claudia by forfeiting their lives because a pumping procedure went horribly wrong. Others find out later that the pumping shot they shared with one of their homegirls resulted in them contracting HIV.

Silicone also has a tendency to migrate from the place it was initially placed, and if the pumpers used the industrial type that’s used for caulking your bathtub instead of the medical grade, the industrial type contains ammonia and other chemicals that wreak havoc on body tissue and will cause you medical issues as you age.

I understand why people do it.  Trans women want to look as femme as possible, and in many cases they impatiently wanted it yesterday after being stuck in a body they didn’t feel comfortable in.

I’ve felt their pain because I was just as impatient in the early stages as well.   But my overriding concern was to do it safely, so I chilled out and let my hormone regimen work its magic.

Many transwomen of color don’t have the finances to be able to afford plastic surgery work that can cost upwards of $70-100K.  We transwomen also have it in the back of our minds that blending in as seamlessly as possible with the cis femme population equals less drama in our lives and ratchets down the level of violence we face for being who we are.

We have it in the back of our minds that it’s either look femme or die  None of us wants to be on that depressingly long list of names read at the next TDOR ceremony and will do whatever it takes to ensure that when it comes to looking the part, we are as close to indistinguishable from our cis sisters as possible..

But think for a moment about your mom, sisters, aunts, cis female friends, cis females you admire and other female relatives you are surrounded with in your life.

When they started morphing into their adult bodies it was approximately a decade long process.  It wasn’t akin to one morning they were in their prepubescent phase and the next day they had their adult feminine curves.  It took time for them to get adjusted to their body and the changes and remember they had the encouragement of society and their families while doing so.

I have to agree with what Cydne Kimbrough said in a discussion we were having on my FB page concerning the New York Timesarticle:

“When will we learn that transitioning is a slow and beautiful process when you allow your body the chance to mature into it.”

Amen sis.   Some of our sisters are aware of that, some aren’t.  We transwomen will have to learn and accept the fact that our transitions at the start are in a sense a second puberty that begins our slow and beautiful evolution into womanhood.

But the impatience of youth, desperation and other factors take them down the pumping road for the quick fix beauty now that they’ll pay dearly for later..

cross-posted from Transgriot 

  • It is literally change or die and if they wait a decade they will be dead anyway.

    No Amber, the comment above is what I perceived as short sighted and defeatist talk and I’m not backing down from what I said.

    You call it harsh, I call it a reality check.

    It is never a good idea to inject industrial silicone into your body, but if you’re that desperate to feminize your body and trade short term beauty for long term pain, a risk of contracting the HIV/AIDS virus or death, then that’s on you.

  • Amberl

    Alas it is not so easy. For some the need to change is simply to strong to resist. It is literally change or die and if they wait a decade they will be dead anyway.

    • TransGriot

      And who is to say that ten years from now that person isn’t residing in a pine box?   That’s short sighted and defeatist thinking and setting yourself up for death or debilitating pain, illness and the
      possibility of contracting HIV by injecting loose industrial silicone in your body for the sake of beauty is not the smart

      I understand the need to transition, the socioeconomic reasons behind it, and the desire to make oneself look and feel better about their bodies.    The peeps who pump have the right and free will to do so and will have to live with the consequences of that decision.   

      I’d like to see trans medical care covered in insurance policies so that we can put a serious dent in the practice, but that’s wishful thinking for now.

      • Amber

        Its a little harsh to render the extreme pain brough about by GID and simply call the sometimes overwhelming need to transition as simply short sighted and defeatist. Trans women come in different varieties and sometimes we have a feminine ideal programmed into us. For those who dont care so much it may seem like a choice, but the reality is different.

        Transitioning is different one person to the other. For the fortunate ones they have the genetics and/or the funds to attain the feminine image that exists in their mind. For others that feminine image is, well, not so feminine and therefor more easily acheived. This Is simply an observation not a judgement.

        Now having said that I never stated I was in favor of people injecting industrial grade silicone into their bodies. Medical grade silicone, properly injected though? Im not so sure. In any case its not for me or you to tell other people what to do with their bodies. That is a very scary position, most especially for a trans person. How many trans women self medicate or take doses of hormones well over what any doctor would recommend? Probably not the safest thing to do, but hardly uncommon.

        In the end we all have to live with the consequences of our own decisions, decisions which are made within our own personal context as to what is acceptable for ourselves and what is not. No one has the right to make that choice for someone else. A decade for you may be an eternity for another person. It certainly is for me. I dont ask anyone to agree with my choices, but I do ask people support my right to make them.

        • Valerie Solanas

          A core belief of mine; that anyone can do whatever they want with their body. True, education can influence people’s choices, espc knowing the risks; informed consent. If some transitioning costs were borne out by the govt, then perhaps lives could be saved and health maintained. Unfortunately, Raymond and her acolytes got there first.