How much does a chest weigh?

When I weighed myself after surgery, it was kind of hard to tell what was what. I was genuinely surprised that my weight wasn’t that different, but there were plenty of other variables–I had been laying around for two weeks, I was still kinda swollen, and it isn’t just a matter of chopping them off; it was about reshaping what was there, too.

My surgery was SIX MONTHS AGO on Tuesday. Half a year.

A lot of people asked me before and after the procedure: Aren’t you just like so excited???? And it’s like, yeah, but also that’s not the first thing I’d list when it comes to reactions. It was more like a combo of relief and peace. My chest today is something I’m a little shy about still–I have two thick scars snuggling my pecs-to-be, and I’m shy about my weight, and also when you’re told your whole life to never be shirtless unless you’re about to bang, it takes a second to remind yourself it’s socially acceptable now.

I’ve wanted to post photos but I can’t bring myself to do it. When I started testosterone I posted comparison pictures literally every week (and you kindly played along to validate how much change had(n’t) occurred since the week prior), but now I’m like, am I allowed? Are the pics gonna leak and be distributed to every employer in the tri-state area? Maybe that’s assuming I’m hot enough for Nudes-level-of-interest content.

My last phase of top surgery has two pieces: I want to feel good about my pecs. I am working out much, much more than ever before (a thing that is possible because of my surgery), and a lot of the reason why is because the surgeon sculpted me but if I even have a LITTLE definition, it will dramatically improve the look. The second piece is to wear a bro tank.

Wear a bro tank? can’t that be done by anyone, at any time? Sure can! But I have this vision of wearing a bro tank and I have a pretty specific idea of how I want to look in one. Stay tuned. I’m hoping I can meet my bro tank phase this summer! (my girlfriend bought me two bro tanks as a surgery present and it was the cutest, sweetest thing in the universe).

There are pros and cons to having gender dysphoria be a medical diagnosis. In some ways, it’s like, I’m not sick!! There’s nothing WRONG with me. And since gender is up in the brain, it’s almost like it’s considered a mental illness, which we know isn’t something we respect in society.

(Tangent: then some white guy shoots up a school and then everyones like ‘wow we need to do something about the mental illness in this country,’ as if the only way someone can shoot someone is if they’re mentally ill. that couldn’t be further from the truth, but we are unable to believe that people can be mentally well but outright evil. we are all capable of evil regardless of our PTSD, depression or any other mental illness. That’s why banning AR-15s might be a good idea just sayin)

On the other hand, having transgender stuff be a medical condition helps protect me. My health insurance covered my surgery. It was doctor-ordered, even though I wanted it. If that makes sense.

And it was doctor-ordered because of the way we feel after we get it. I can’t measure it–it’s not like my blood pressure is down or my x-ray looks a little less fractured. It’s related to my anxiety and depression but it’s not. It’s its own thing. And I still have really bad days but I can also consistently get up in the morning and know I’m more in alignment. Being trans isn’t ~who I am~, but it’s one of the scales of my life. I need to be balanced, and if my trans scale isn’t, there is more weight on me again.

In the end, I’d say my chest was 7 pounds. But I think we both know it’s a bit more sPECial than that.

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How to write a 2017 Christmas letter when you aren’t into glossy paint

I used to be very proud of my Christmas letters. My sister, step-mom and dad and I would each have a paragraph dedicated to us with an enthusiastic summary of how our year went. It was something I loved, an assignment. And I got like a strange amount of positive feedback about these letters, just saying it was very well written and engaging. I recall a time in July (read: 7 months later) when an extended family member brought up the prior December’s letter. What the hell. “They aren’t THAT amazing,” I’d say, privately beaming.

But I haven’t written a single Christmas letter since I flew from the parents’ nest. Who has time/energy to pretend they aren’t kept down with debilitating depression, write this letter, gather some addresses, afford the stamps to send them, AND do all this during finals week? Yeah. No.

And maybe one might argue they wouldn’t have to pretend to not be depressed. I hope not. I dunno about you, but when I picture someone reading a Christmas letter, I imagine huge smiles, maybe the whole family gathered around in their Christmas sweaters by the fireplace, laughing a lot or something, reading a Christmas letter from a family who’s doing AMAZING and had SUCH a FABULOUS year, and everyone is happy, tis the season, etc.

Maybe that’s a bit of a narrative that’s my fault. What else is new.

So anyway, I decided this year I’d take the plunge. If anything, it sounds like a good writing exercise, which I clearly need more of based on the fact 2017 was the least prolific year I’ve had in my life since I started writing (12 years). Three poems and hardly any blog posts. Nothing else.¬† So then I opened my lil Google Doc, cracked my knuckles, and everything is bad. How many letters do I have to write before I can squeeze somethin’ good?

And you know, when I was 15 and I was writing a Christmas letter about my fam, I was excited and honored that my family let me write on behalf of them. (Did I force myself into that role? idk maybe I can’t remember. so probably.) It felt like a noble¬†duty to write a year summary, almost like doing a mini-feature on each member of the family. (It is no surprise that writing features at work is like my fave kind of writing).

So how do I, now almost 25, navigate the fact that I’m writing on behalf of just me, that some cool shit happened this year but overall I’m very scared for the future, and it’s not even 100% driven by my depression and PTSD this time? How do I churn out a Christmas letter that doesn’t make people feel like they need to drink some wine to forget about it later? Maybe I could put a disclaimer:

DON’T READ IF JOLLY.

I think I’ll figure it out. Maybe I could write a fictional Christmas letter from the perspective of someone else, and it’s a game, where people have to guess who it is??? Then I can avoid talking about my concerns about the future of people I love, my true year overview. OR! I could write one version on the front and one on the back, upside down.

Thank you. You’ve helped #inspire me.

Btw let me know if you want one. It’s sure to be a winner, clearly.

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