Packer, FtM and beyond: how it all started
I am Gabriele Dario Belli, CEO and founder of Pymander, the first Italian company in the production and distribution of penile prostheses aimed at FtM transgender people.
My transition path
I began my journey of gender affirmation in 2007. At hat time, given the absence of widespread social platforms on a large scale, there wasn't the immediate communication of these days.
The Female to Male transgender community was not organized and cohesive at a national level, if not for the few associations scattered around Italy, and it was therefore difficult to confront quickly.
I was lucky, living in Milan, because I was able to to meet other guys in the Association who had already started my path and I was able to compare myself in a "protected" place, reflecting myself with them and thinking together about what could be the useful tools to make the gestures of a daily male easier and more liveable.
We were awake and full of ideas, but we were few and our collective experience was too young to have the awareness necessary to formulate a specific request that went beyond surgical reassignment.
Unfortunately, now as then in that sense things have not improved, and phalloplasty still represents a sore point for those of us who feel the need for such a radical modification of the body.
But we'll talk more about it shortly in another post.
The creation of my first penile prosthesis
I was just back from one of those meetings that I realized that in our stories of first unknown explorations of our "feeling" and redefining ourselves, one of the most intimate gestures, simple, I would dare to say childish but necessary was... to urinate standing up.
So I began to look for a solution that would make this utopian projection of a search for integrity and meaning concrete, but there was still nothing on the market.
The only clinic that offered something interesting was in Australia, it was about a realistic packer for transgender FtM that could be worn daily and used for sexual intercourse, but it was really prohibitively expensive, around 1800 usd.
An enthusiastic friend of mine made the effort to buy it anyway, and after two months of waiting, when he finally arrived and also had to pay customs fees, the disappointment was immense: it was simply a sex toy, certainly the most refined and realistic we had.
Never seen before, but of exaggerated dimensions and above all of a weight that is absolutely not wearable.
The mechanism that folded it down was also decidedly unreal, ultimately a useless object.
Unfortunately, after many years still today this is a peculiarity of many companies: passing off as realistic very heavy packers that have non-functional and adaptable mechanisms for our body.
They pretend to respond to the needs of a growing community of young neo-men, rightly inexperienced, by bragging about transformative technologies that are really just money-grabbing gimmicks.
This too will be the subject of a post to which I will devote a lot of care, precisely to explain what is true and possible in wearing a prosthesis.
The social somatic prosthesis: words are important
In that moment, therefore, I realized that something had to be done and the innate curiosity of a transgender man prompted me to follow an idea: to find the solution not to buy, but to create it from scratch.
I was looking for the possibility of having a penile prosthesis, which would allow me to urinate standing up.
This had to be the first step: a SOCIAL, non-sexual prosthesis, which would help me free myself from the fear of possible looks in a locker room in the gym, in the swimming pool, in a public bathroom.
So it was that in 2008 I came into contact with a technician expert in the use of resin and silicones who, in a few hours, created in front of my eyes and following the image I had in my head, the first Pee and Go stp packer.
It suited my needs.
It had been a great satisfaction and for the moment I was so happy, it was enough for me to be able to give it to my friends, and I had no idea that in a couple of years it would become such a popular object.
The turning point came the following year with an almost unexpected proposal to participate in a well-known reality show, I was excited and doubtful, but determined to react and respond to the fear of facing a huge challenge without having the right means: appear on television, live the constant confrontation, frustration, a sense of inferiority compared to the cisgender men present in the house of Big Brother 10, as well as the seven million spectators who followed my every gesture from home.