This past Monday I received approval from a psychiatrist (in training) to get top surgery. It was the last hurdle. Now, I have to wait for that approval to work its way through the hospital’s computer system to reach my plastic surgeon (that could take two weeks, maybe four), then for her to call me to get on her calendar (that could be up to three months out last I heard). The young woman sitting across from me replied, “I don’t see why you shouldn’t get the surgery you want.” My thoughts exactly. I could fill volumes about what I think of the medical system in the US, especially concerning the process of approval for transgender surgeries. But it would get preachy and tend to run on a bit and no one needs that. Instead, I want to talk about my relationship with my chest over the years and why I’m suddenly feeling nostalgic for something I never wanted in the first place and was resentful of when I received it, sort of like the obligatory gift from a distant relative at Christmas who doesn’t really know you but felt like they had to get you something anyway, then you’re stuck thanking them for an ugly sweater or a toy you grew out of three years ago. I never wanted them, never asked for them, yet here they are.
To clarify, when I say nostalgic, I don’t mean in the sense that I will miss them or that I’m having regrets. I only mean that I’m remembering different things, some of which I’ll talk about here, but I’ve forgotten one of the very basic things that people who develop breasts usually remember, when I first got them and going for the first bra shopping. I think my brain has decided that that’s just something I really don’t want to remember anyway, so it’s obliged me by forgetting it. I believe, however, that I first began to develop them around the age of ten. I was a chubby kid, so they came in earlier for me than they would have non chubby kids. I don’t remember the shopping at all, but I do remember the bra had a little blue ribbon bottom center and that adjustable bra straps and hooks in the back were the worse thing ever. My main problem was that I don’t really have shoulders. I just have arms attached to my body with no room left over to hold straps of any kind. Even carrying a backpack on one shoulder was always a challenge. Bra straps were always prone to loosening the longer you wore them and would creep down my poor excuse for a shoulder and hang there, sort of a precursor to what the breast themselves would eventually do in front.
As I got older I was constantly told by female relatives, “You were blessed.” They would say this with a knowing, humorous smile. This expression always confused me. As if bigger breasts were a gift from God. When I was a teenager I understood them to be saying, though they never said it outright, that I would not be wanting for male attention because of my big breasts. I never wanted that either, though I couldn’t tell them that. Thankfully they were wrong about that, mostly. The chubbiness I had as a kid followed me into adulthood, so the amount of men looking at me wasn’t that many. Though, there were a few, and they were always older, creepy men who should have known better. There were several of those incidents, but those are stories for another day.
I suffered with those horrible adjustable strap bras until I was twenty-nine. The person I was dating at the time finally got tired of me complaining about them (and the female underwear, which I also hated) that he (not his pronoun at the time) said the most simplest thing: “Why don’t you change out the underwear for boxers and wear sports bras?” The boxers were a revelation in and of itself, but the sports bra thing was another matter. I honestly didn’t think I could find one in my size, but Wal-Mart to the rescue. It may not have been the best choice for them, but it was the right choice for me. Now no more wrestling with straps and hooks. Easier to get on and off, especially when getting naked quickly is important.
There is one funny story I can tell about them. I’ll try to be brief. My ex-husband (who was identified female at birth and should have known better) had a peculiar fascination with them. I used to tease him about being a boob man, which was true, if you look at his exes. That was fine and good, but there was one thing he would do that hurt like hell and it took a while for me to break him of the habit. He would lift one up, look at it fascinated, like a scientist, then abruptly drop it and it would fall like a dead weight. I should mention that I wear a size 44D. They are quite substantial. Dropping them like that caused me pain, and I told him so, yet he wouldn’t stop. One day he was watching me towel off after a shower and he had that look in his eye. I knew what he wanted to do. So, I tugged the towel around my waist, slowly walked over to the edge of the bed where he was sitting and coaxed him to come closer. Once he was closer to me I had him lean his face towards me and close his eyes. He did so. Then, I leaned in, put my hand under my left breast, lifted it a little, and then swung it like a bat and smacked him in the face with the full force my 44D. He reeled back, nearly doing a full head over heals tumble on the bed, holding his face and crying in pain. Then I said, “That hurt, didn’t it?” He whimpered “yes” after he sat back up. “I told you they were heavy. Now you’re not going to do that to me again, are you?” He said no. And he kept his word. Disclaimer: no boob fetishist ex husbands were hurt in this incident.
One of the things that have been on my mind lately is the bathroom thing. Because of my masculine presentation I sometimes get the second looks and occasional “helpful” tips about being in the wrong bathroom and where the correct one is, when I go into public bathrooms. Because of this, if I am wearing a coat or jacket I make sure to unzip it before I go in to make sure they can see that I have a female chest. This doesn’t always work but it usually does. Now, with a flat chest, I’m going to have a problem, I know this. In my every day I don’t go to a lot of places with gendered bathrooms. The coffee shops I go to are unisex and I often get my food to go at restaurants now because of covid. But I do like to travel and when traveling bathroom options are varied and often lack a family option. That’s something I know I’m going to have to figure out. To be clear, I don’t have a problem using the men’s bathroom if it comes to that, but how everyone else will feel about my bathroom choice, that’ll be the problem. A bridge I’ll have to cross at some point, but a bridge I definitely know is there.
One of the things that gave me pause for the longest time about getting this surgery was the consequence of losing nipple sensation. This was important to me. I’m sure I don’t have to explain why. If you’ve never looked into the surgery, whether for your own needs or because someone you know was having the surgery, here’s an insight: the nipple is briefly removed while they take off the excess tissue and reattached to a different location to give a more masculine appearance. This means the nerve endings are severed. Which means there goes sensation. It’s a tough one to give up for me but the thing that finally pushed me over the edge to accept this outcome was the fact that I can get turned on just as much from my partner’s reaction as I can anything being done to me. So, I reasoned, I think I can muddle through.
Since I’ve been given the green light for surgery I’ve been thinking of my chest like old friends. After all, they’ve been with me longer than anyone else. They are large, heavy, prone to getting heat rashes underneath them in the summer, make button up shirts fit weird, and were never wanted, but they’re mine, like it or not, and though I’ve never learned to love them and won’t miss them, I’m somewhat attached to them.
I’ll keep you all abreast of the situation as it develops.