Best in Category - Student Design 2023

Ver - Post-op Recovery for Transgender Individuals

Lily Geyle / Swinburne University of Technology

Ver- a multi sized dilator for those who have undergone gender affirmation surgery!

Ver is a multi-sized dilator aiming to facilitate the medical purpose of a dilator during post-op recovery for people who have undertaken MtF gender affirmation surgery.

Design Brief:

100% of people who go through MtF GAS must use a dilator during recovery. This involves using different sized dilators at different stages, all unique to each individual. However, current products on the market come in bulky, uninviting, uncomfortable sets, many of which jump significantly in size making it difficult for individuals to progress in their recovery. The challenge is to create a product which allows users to feel comfortable, calm and safe while having piece of mind knowing the product is fulfilling its medical purpose, to maintain the structure of their new vagina.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

The design process was loooong and it started with a problem. How can dilation become less painful and more user friendly for individuals? This question was the start of many hours of ideation and iterations, literature reviews and subject deep dives, as well as surveys and interviews with surgeons, sex educators and transgender individuals themselves. After every interview or survey was completed, it was back to interating and ensuring that all the feedback and informative results I received were translated into features of the design.

The design is finished and has been professionally executed to the best of my ability with the university resources I had at my fingertips. In honesty, the design could always be improved, with further product testing and user interactions there will always be ways to maximise the designs function and user experience but it has the potential to change lives.

I have met and exceeded the design brief. It would be easy enough to create a bulky product that mechanically ticks all the boxes but a focus on user experience and ergonomics meant that this design is the most user friendly. I have plans to create seperate handles which can attach and will make it even easier for those with motor impairment to also use the product.

Design Excellence

Ver will enable individuals to purchase a single product to use throughout all stages of recovery. It uses a pump system to expand and deflate with internal structure to ensure even expansion. Its specific structure is vital to enable the vagina and pelvic floor muscles to strengthen appropriately over time while the soft medical grade silicone will provide a level of cushioning and comfort which will allow people to dilate safely knowing Ver is fulfilling its medical purpose. The pastel colours chosen for the design were selected to promote calm without create a medical looking aesthetic. The final handle on the side also aids in pulling out the dilator after use. As a soft silicone handle it enables extra leverage but it also caters for those who struggle with motor functions such as grip. As mentioned below, I also spent hours ensuring the internal casing was made from the least amount of parts possible all designed for efficient injection moulding (recycled plastic too).

As you can tell, I made sure to look into every level of design. Through my studies at Swinburne I didn’t focus on one part of design, I put my fingers in every pie!! For a design to be good it must excel in all criteria for people and planet. My design thinking and the design process undertaken was thorough but also allowed for mistakes and set back. If something wasn’t quiet right I went back and tried again. There is no point creating a product in this day and age that does not fill all criteria.

I created this final product in uni with the hopes to start my career off strong. There is something to be said about community and learning from other professional designer, I hope to start my career with real change makers!

Design Innovation

100% of people who undergo MtF gender affirmation surgery must use a dilator and while surgeons advise purchasing the dilator sets rather than dildos and vibrators that could potentially be used for the same purpose, transgender individuals have time and time again opted for these more aesthetically pleasing, luxurious, comfortable looking products which unfortunately are not designed for the specific tasks of recovery for these individuals and their new vaginas. This is a problem as transgender individuals have spent between $5000 and $15000 on surgery, time off work and psychology appointments etc. and by using products that are not suited, the vaginal wall will not maintain its structure and the potential for a reduction in width and depth and potential a total loss all together is a very real possibility.

Further points of purpose include the use of a single product which will reduce the impact of dilation products on the environment as the product can be used throughout the entirety of recovery and beyond. Along with further circular economy business plans, this product has the potential to not only better transgender individuals and the greater community but also the environment.

Ver uses a technology some other other products but never before seen in a dilator! A mini pump system. The product uses a mini pump and coil in order to push air in and out of the dilator. The holes in the the phallus have been strategically placed and the silicone has been theoretically and physically tested to ensure it is the appropriate thickness in order to expand evenly to create the desired width and length. With the integrated control system, the dilators external silicone casing can expand incrementally and deflate to its originally size within seconds.

Design Impact

From research and observation, many people who have undergone the surgery and are in later stages of recovery enquire at local sex toy shops to find something far more comfortable, modern and aesthetically pleasing than the ugly sets that are available to date. This product starts conversations. It is a product which will ensure transgender people have the support they need after enduring such an emotional, financial and physical whirl wind to get to this point, to finally present the way they always felt and knew they were.

This design will have a huge impact on transgender individuals around the country let alone internationally. It is, without a doubt, going to start conversations within the LGBTQIA+ community and perhaps even enlighten those outside of the community to help understand the struggles of such a minority group.

It is a bold move, it is an alternative way of think big, it is empathetic, it is accepting, it’s is truely a representation of culture and people in Melbourne, north of the Yarra and with time and patience, the rest of Victoria!

Lastly, the manufacturing and design of this product was seriously considered and altered in order to comply with sustainbility and circular economy goals. I made many interactions to create a product with the most efficient use of material as possible using recycled plastics and silicone (naturally medical grade). If the product was ever to go in market there would be a recycling scheme.

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