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Love, sex, and a transgender woman: surgery details revealed

Last Updated Dec 1, 2016 at 12:24 pm EDT

CityNews reporter Cynthia Mulligan travelled to Thailand to cover the story of Danica Rain, a Ontario transgender woman who underwent gender reassignment surgery at a clinic in Bangkok. CityNews had world-exclusive access inside the operating room as Ontario funded the surgery, for the first time, as it’s not available in this province.

“First I remove the testicles.”

I can’t say I have ever started a story with that sentence before. I am with Danica Rain in Thailand in her surgeon’s office. Dr. Kamol is explaining how he is going to create her new female genitalia and give her the body she always believed she should have been born with. He quickly draws little illustrations of various body parts, a labia, clitoris, penis, scrotum, telling her how he will transform male into female.

“And use the skin from the penis to make the labia.”

Note: The videos within this piece contain explicit language.

Dr. Kamol is part of a small group of elite surgeons, he tells me there are only 10 to 20 in the world who can do the surgery at his level. He has performed male-to-female gender confirmation more than 3,000 times. His staff have prepared him for our interview, he even had a makeup artist touch him up before my camera started rolling.

He is friendly but matter-of-fact, clinical, as he describes a surgery that Danica hopes will save her from a life of being stigmatized and ridiculed. It is fascinating.

Dr. Kamol’s staff tell me he has his own unique way of performing the surgery.

“What makes you different?,” I ask him. He tells me he learned from his patients and made his technique better over time.

“When patient come, complain, I try to make it better so I can improve myself,” he explains.

One of the first known gender confirmation surgeries was done in Germany in 1930. It was experimental and the patient was Danish artist Lili Elbe.

A movie was made about her last year, “The Danish Girl,” starring Eddie Redmayne. Elbe died after her fourth surgery in 1931 after her doctor attempted a uterine transplant which her body rejected.

It has come a long way since then. Dr. Kamol believes the surgery can and will still improve over the next few years. He can give his patients sensation and it is possible for them to climax, but he acknowledges even he can’t totally recreate nature.

“Human can not make it the same as from God,” he says.

Note: The videos within this piece contain explicit language.

Danica leaves Dr. Kamol’s office, confident in his abilities but a little concerned he wouldn’t guarantee she could climax. She tells me later she can accept that, although she is visibly relieved when another patient, Miss Trans Australia, Andrea Jaca-Smith who had the surgery just over three months ago, tells her everything works just fine.

“No sugar coating, it’s very functional.”

Note: The videos within this piece contain explicit language.

I think what Danica really wants to know is if she’s been able to be intimate and how that feels.

“Honestly yes I have been intimate with my partner my husband and it feels good … I would say no issues. You needed to hear that didn’t you?,” Miss. Trans Australia asks Danica.

“Yes,” Danica replies.

It is now just two days before her surgery.

On Thursday, I will take you into the operating room.