Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
But really, Boobs, it’s long past time.
I’m finally ending our relationship and saying goodbye. It’s not you, it’s me. If you were on anyone else, I would have (consentually) been all over you, but you weren’t. From the moment you came into my life, I was dubious, but that’s not your fault. You didn’t sign up for the job, it was assigned. At birth, as they say.
After spending my teenage years first pretending you didn’t exist and then hating you, I became resigned to our union. I tried to love you, I really did. I knew you looked “good”, so I showed you off because I thought I was supposed to but that ended up feeling really wrong, so I started making you look smaller. I made you look smaller and smaller until I became so disconnected from you that I barely knew you were there. If anyone touched you, I shut down. Eventually I started hiding you so effectively that it didn’t even look like you were there, which was exhilarating.
But that can only last so long, I couldn’t squash you every second of the day. I’d wake up in the morning and look down, painfully reminded of how much I knew we just didn’t belong together. Our relationship has been dysfunctional for long enough and I need to move on. The life that I’m creating for myself doesn’t include you, and I’m sorry.
This might all sound like I regret that we were even a thing, but surprisingly enough, I don’t. This relationship that I never wanted has actually taught me so much, good and bad, about what it means to be in this world. I was socialized in a certain way, treated a certain way, expected to act a certain way. Our relationship, in a sense, made me who I am, and I genuinely love that person.
So while our time together is thankfully drawing to a close, part of you will always be with me.
Okay, now let’s get real.
I’m having top surgery in like a second, y’all, and we need to talk about it.
Jesse, what the hell is top surgery?
Friends, this is transitional surgery. In female to male (FtM) transitions, top surgery is essentially a double mastectomy. However, it goes a little bit beyond that. They don’t just remove your breasts (Omg, have I told you how much that word skeeves me out? Talk about hangups…) They masculinize your chest. This includes removing the breasts (ugh) in such a way that the resulting scars are more angular and masculine, and shrinking and replacing the nipple in a location that’s more masculine looking.
Just as an aside, do you know what the main difference between male and female nips is? A smaller areola. That’s it. That’s what errbody freaks out over.
It’s very important that we talk about transitional surgeries for a moment.
I’m telling you about my surgery (and experience as a trans person) because I want to, but don’t expect every trans person to want to do that. If you don’t know a person well enough to talk about their bits, either top or bottom, don’t ask them about surgery, it’s rude. Don’t ever refer to someone as “pre-op” or “post-op”, as that is also rude.
If you happened to ask me about surgery and now you’re second guessing that as you’re reading this – don’t worry. I’m very open about it (and you wouldn’t be reading this blog if I weren’t) provided it’s asked in a respectful way. If I didn’t want to tell you, I wouldn’t have.
My point is that not every trans person wants to (or needs to) be open about their experience, and that’s okay. Not every trans person gets surgery. Some can’t afford it. Some don’t want it. There’s no right way to do the thing.
I will say that in the world of FtMs, top surgery is a lot more common than bottom surgery. Bottom surgery is when they change your V to a P. The proper term is phalloplasty and do yourself a favor and never google image search it. There was a time when I was a little curious about bottom surgery, but I’ve decided, at least for now, that I don’t want it.
Jesse, dude, you said you’re male. Now you’re telling me that you don’t want a dick?
I can be male and not have a penis. Believe me. My masculinity doesn’t hinge upon having a penis. I don’t have bottom dysphoria (meaning I don’t hate my vag and wish that I had a penis instead) and that doesn’t make me any less transgender. I feel like the bits I have work just fine so why go through the seven or so surgeries, removal of skin from other parts of my body (forearm or thigh are usual) and so much recovery and pain only to end up with something that they haven’t figured out how to make work right? I feel for trans guys with bottom dysphoria, I really do. Top dysphoria is an easier one to solve. Bottom, not so much. Don’t take that as a knock on people who do get bottom surgery. Dysphoria is awful and I think everyone should take care of it in a way that’s best for them. If that includes bottom surgery, then here I am, cheering them on. It’s just not what I want for myself. That’s a personal thing and not a wider judgement.
My point is that there’s no telling what someone wants or has gotten, so don’t assume!
I feel like at this point I should delve into a conversation about chest binders, which is how I’ve been making myself look less booby prior to surgery, but I’m not sure I have the spoons for a full-on binder conversation right now.
A half-on conversation it is then!
Where a bra lifts and supports your boobs, a binder mashes them flat. There are lots of ways that people have done this in the past – tape, ace bandages, etc. If you’re a trans guy binding with tape or ace bandages pleeeeeeeease don’t do it, those are super dangerous methods and you can really hurt yourself. A legit binder is the way to go, and they’re not necessarily outrageously expensive.
Gc2b has some good ones that I wear as my work binders because they’re a little looser and easier to move in.
My “goin’ out” binder is the Tri-top binder from Underworks, and if you type “binder” into the search, you’ll find all of their binder options. Some of them are really economical as well. This one definitely flattens the best. Interestingly enough, I got it from Gazebo, the bra store in Northampton. They were super nice, had a bunch of binders to try, staff to help fit and offered free alterations. I highly recommend checking them out if you’re in the area.
And also, if you’re super hard up for cash and we are the same size, email me, because I’m about to have a bunch of binders that I don’t need anymore.
The sad reality of binders is that even if you have a “comfortable” one, it’s never really comfortable. It is, by its very nature, squishing your chest. The comfort, I’ve found, comes mostly from how you look when wearing one, how your clothes fit. That kind of comfort is enough to make me squeeze myself into uncomfortable pieces of clothing.
To be clear, there’s regular discomfort of a correctly-sized binder and the discomfort of an incorrectly-sized binder. It shouldn’t be painful. Pay attention to the sizing charts on these websites, listen to your body (even when you’re completely frustrated with it and want it to be a certain way).
I can’t tell you how excited I am to not need a binder any more.
But really, I’m talking in circles because I’m anxious about my own procedure.
Because it’s like major surgery yo!
And I haven’t really had major surgery. Some oral surgeries and the removal of a cyst from my jaw when I was a kid, but that’s it. Nothing this intense. I don’t actually know what it will be like, which is partially where my anxiety comes from, so let’s talk about what I do know.
I do know that I’ll be arriving at the hospital at 6:30 am. At 7:30 am, they knock me out and do the slice n’ dice. I’d like to imagine that they make my nip noops the proper size with a pair of scissors (sharp ones, hopefully, not like the crap ones that I seem to grab out of the junk drawer every time I’m looking for the good scissors) and then super glue them in the right place.
STOP CRINGING! Morbid humor is how I’m dealing with my anxiety, okay? Don’t judge.
In all seriousness, I’m at least 97.6% certain that’s not how it will go down.
I’ll be home in all of my post-anesthesia glory by the afternoon and then I get the next six weeks to sit on my ass. No really. I’ll be home for at least a week, but after that, I can’t lift anything over 10 lbs or do any repetitive upper body motions for six weeks, and even then, I have heard other guys say that it took them longer to be able to be active again. You don’t want to stretch your scars too much, lest they get bigger and more noticeable.
So do your best right now to imagine me sitting down for 6 weeks. Imagine me not doing any chores. Imagine me not cooking. Imagine me not going to the gym. Imagine me not making any art or doing any projects. FOR SIX WEEKS. This is like a horror film, right?
What you probably can imagine me doing is playing a lot of video games, so consider this an experiment to see how many consecutive hours I can play video games before going batshit insane.
I’m sure I’ll tell you about it.