It’s been three weeks since I had top-surgery. I look so natural to myself in the mirror that it is impossible to believe that I used to be a 38C. I’m not exactly flat chested; my breast bone is prominent, and even as the bruising goes down, I look like I’ve got pecs. Euphoria.
I also have scars, scabs, stitches, and a little flaking and chafing. It isn’t pretty. I’ve got three more weeks to go before I can walk around without compression. I’m sleeping by myself (i.e. with Gracie) because I have to sleep on my back and I snore like Daffy Duck in this clip. Every morning I climb into the other bed, lie on my back, and cuddle with Donna.
Donna still hasn’t seen me shirtless, but she has seen me in shirts. She isn’t ready to look at my scars. I don’t blame her.
Two years ago, Donna was shocked and upset that I started binding. In retrospect, it was the only trans action I took without prepping her beforehand or waiting for her to get used to the idea. To keep the peace, I agreed not to spring anything else on her and to include her in my decision-making. A year ago, Donna was talking about top surgery as self-mutilation and a form of misogyny. Yesterday, while were on the bus, she said that I look like myself only more so. She said my chest fits me. I had to ask her to repeat it.
When we got home I took out some shirts I was ambivalent about. Shirts I would wear as an under layer, but not solo. Shirts that were close-fitting or thin enough that you could see the outline of my binder under the fabric. I tried them on. Imagine my surprise to see that they looked much, much, better on me post surgery. It wasn’t the shirt that was the problem (they don’t “look” like women’s shirts) it was my breasts. My silhouette. Even in a binder.
I also tried on my remaining women’s flannel and chamois shirts (no darts-no princess seams). They are a little baggy, but they lay flat and don’t “blouse out” – I lost track of which ones buttoned right or left until I put them on. They’ve been defanged. They are suitably butch and transmasculine. My chest fits me.
After years of wearing loose shirts and layering to minimize my chest it is a relief to throw on a shirt and have it lay flat. Which brings me back to one of my original problems: I am 5’4″. American clothing manufacturers are convinced that I am a size 10 petite, and they do not make men’s or boy’s off-the-rack shirts that fit me properly, with breasts or with a chest.
I don’t mind splurging on custom shirts. However, every T-shirt I’ve tried on recently seems to be cut for a guy who is 6’2″. Consequently, I will start another cycle of researching which brands run short in T-shirts and which brands run wide at the hips instead of tapered. My goal is to find one that looks right on me, and I don’t think I’ll find it in the women’s sportswear department.
Notes: While I was Googling “clothes for short guys” I found The Modest Man. The blog is run by a 5’6″ cis guy named Brock, and he has some interesting links and advice on dressing sharp while short.
The photograph is of Harry Houdini (5’6″), bound in chains, ready to make his escape. I know just how he feels.