This month, I celebrated my two-year anniversary of top surgery, and my one year anniversary of my nipple revision. My chest is not perfect, but it is perfect enough for me. It is a little uneven. I have a small dog ear under my armpit on the left side (that I somehow didn’t notice because I was worrying about the size and height of my nipples). The scars are visible across my chest. I look like I had surgery.
If I took testosterone it might not look as wonky when I’m shirtless. I’d have more muscles, a little less curvature, and maybe some chest hair to normalize it. Since I’m not planning on sunbathing or going topless in public, it will do. It looks great (I look great) with a T-shirt on. Even a thin light-colored T-shirt. I’m happy with it. Every day. It is a miracle.
I’m relaxed about my chest, except when I’m in a locker room, or when I’m getting an EKG from someone who doesn’t know my medical history. When I’m dressed, I completely forget about it until I find someone staring at me trying to figure it out. Face, chest, face, chest, face, question mark. It feels natural to me. It doesn’t always look natural to them.
Donna was concerned that my post top surgery euphoria would be short-lived. That my dysphoria would resurface and I’d focus on my face or on my bottom, that I would be restless and dissatisfied until I completed a binary transition. Even though I did not experience bottom dysphoria, and I never considered phalloplasty, I shared her fear.
Throughout my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood my dysphoria was triggered, and still is triggered, by anything that made me look girly/feminine/female. A bad haircut, the wrong glasses, clothing that was clearly designed for girls/women, lace, pointy shoes or sneakers, tights, anything in pink, and anything that accentuated my curves. Including my breasts. It was all about clothes and my silhouette. Not about my private parts.
The only time I am conscious of my vulva is when I am naked or wearing a women’s swimsuit. To keep dysphoria at bay, I swim in board shorts or loose trunks, and I wear a rash guard on top. I just stopped using the (women’s) locker room. I have no desire to pack, or wear an STP (stand-to-pee). I might feel differently if I was trying to use the men’s locker room or restroom.
My genitalia do not define my gender, and I can’t quite imagine what they’d look like if they did. Maybe I’m in denial. Maybe I’m only avoiding situations that induce dysphoria. I’m tip-toeing around it at the gym.
I work out in Brooks men’s 2-in-1 running shorts (boxer brief liners). They are mid-thigh, loose, and no-show. I feel like myself in them. Now that I’m wearing my gear to the gym, to avoid the locker room, I’m noticing how many people, men and women, work out in tights/leggings. Tights/leggings that show the whole package, that leave little to the imagination. I won’t wear anything that clings to my hips or gives me camel toe. Plus, leggings (even men’s leggings) are too girly for me. I prefer a little ambiguity.
I have two requests for additional Hanukkah miracles. First, I’d like a pair of stretchy, but loose, warm track pants that I can wear over my shorts. Short inseam (27″), with zippers at the ankles so I don’t have to take my sneakers off and on. Side and back zipper pockets. In black, charcoal, or navy. Inconspicuous logo or no logo. Machine washable, durable, with no pilling. I’d also like a swift end to the Trump/Pence Presidency.
Notes: l haven’t had to deal with my period in over 10 years, thanks to a hysterectomy. I’d probably have some bottom dysphoria if I still menstruated. This piece “Saying Goodbye To My Period” is about one trans man’s experience of getting cramps after he fully transitioned.
This week’s photo is from George Brown College in Toronto, Canada. It was part of a project called “Free To Pee@GBC“.