Relinquishing boobs is no gravy train

I bring forth this cheeky and lighthearted title to mask my immense disappointment.

If I may, I’d like to talk about my top surgery consultation from this afternoon. I’m mostly writing this because I am having a hard time articulating what went wrong exactly. A friend even went with me and I wonder if she saw anything go wrong. What I do know is that I felt like shit after this appointment. It seems rather hopeless, even though it probably isn’t.

I will start with one thing I’ve figured out so far. The surgeon was not gentle when it came to my body and my body image. When it came to physical examination, she didn’t really tell or ask me if she could touch my chest–she just kind of did. And then she went on and on about how I really need to lose weight or she will have to leave a bunch of breast tissue so I don’t look “dented.” She explained the process and it makes logical sense but there was nothing kind or gentle about it. It felt judged for being fat.

And like, I have gained weight. My driver’s license says one thing and the scale says another. She was pinching the slight fat rolls that have accumulated near the front of my arm pit and she said, “You’ll want to get as close to your goal weight as possible so I have something to work with.” And it was just devastating. Maybe everything she said was true but I felt like a walrus. She went on and on about it. I felt disgusting. She was going back and forth about how she could do the equivalent of a tummy tuck for certain parts of my chest while she’s doing the breast removal–something I never asked for. It’s hard enough being vulnerable with an open medical gown and having a stranger touch your unwanted breast tissue, poking it, pinching it, squeezing it. That’s bad enough. But then receiving a bunch of evidence that you are indeed fat and you need to get your life together–well, my heart can’t take it.

So that was the first thing I can articulate.

Secondly, I have some advice for anyone who’s seeking top surgery: do not break up with your therapist the day before your top surgery consultation. You need a letter from a therapist saying you indeed should proceed with top surgery because being transgender has become medicalized to be a disorder and you apparently need ~proof~ from NOT ONLY a doctor BUT ALSO a therapist.

I see a number of things that are problematic about this, one of which is that not every trans person needs to see a therapist. I, for example, see a therapist because I’m depressed. We do talk about gender, but hardly more than anyone else? It’s not like an irrelevant part of my life, but it’s by no means the focal point. Why do people need a letter from a therapist AND a doctor?

And this process is not this particular surgeon’s fault, it’s just the way it works to get covered by insurance. I should be over the moon that it’s even possible. I feel like I should be grateful it’s something I can move forward with. But I do not feel that way right now.

The surgeon did talk about how removal of breast tissue is a very important decision, how it’s very rare but some people do change their minds, how this [problematic] process is in place to protect me because what if I want boobs again someday?

Hella barf. I’m sorry, but I would not have dragged my ass to that plastic surgeon office if I didn’t know this was good for me. People can do all sorts of plastic surgery without needing permission from two health providers. But because it’s boobs, a highly sexualized body part, we gotta protect them and make it harder.

Absolute bullshit.

Also the first words this surgeon said to me when she walked into the exam room were “You didn’t bring your paperwork!” Like, nice to meet you too? Jesus Christ. It wasn’t a good start and I felt pretty much increasingly worse as the appointment went on. Even the nurse ahead of time asked me, “So when did you start ~going as male~?” To someone not particularly well-versed in queer careful language, this may seem innocent. But really it implies that I’m not male, and I’m just putting on a costume each morning and playing a boy all day.

I am sorry this post is so negative. But I’m truly disappointed. I was nervous for the appointment but I thought it would go WELL. I thought it would generate hope. Now it just feels like this process is way too hard and maybe I just shouldn’t do it. I’m apparently too fat to get good results anyway.

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New Chest’s Eve

Tomorrow is the day I meet with a plastic surgeon to have my first consultation for top surgery. This is a meeting I’ve canceled before, in part because of insurance uncertainties and in part because of cold feet.

I rescheduled a month or more ago, and now it’s tomorrow. It’s kind of surreal. I feel shy.

Because most of you had something to do with the ability to pursue this (many of you gave money to my GoFundMe or you shared my post or you looked me in the eyes and said you were excited for me), I want to keep you posted on how it’s going. I feel like it’s the least I can do.

Tonight I feel kind of nervous, like tomorrow I’m going to a job interview and I have to choose what I should wear. Do I need to impress her? Do I need to prove how badly I want this? How can I prove the tissue closest to my heart needs to go?

Here’s a poem from my latest chapbook. I don’t have a lot of words right now, but maybe this will do:

Chest

the first time you suggested we shower together
I placed a hand over my chest
bound to my lungs with spandex.
you undressed in front of me
smiling and kissing me between
each garment.

I sat on the toilet lid fully clothed
while water plummeted your nakedness
behind a curtain.
I don’t know if you saw me
but I got up several times,
pulled an arm through the sleeve,
put it back out,
sat back down,
put my head in my hands
combed my hair back with my fingers
pulled–

you told me I didn’t have to join
but after standing up several times
just to sit back,
I walked out of the bathroom
let the steam go.

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2017 New Year’s Resolutions

The Trump Administration of our future makes me want to aim low. Maybe if I can just survive this year and the following three, that’s good enough. Can ‘Not Die of Depression’ qualify as a New Year’s Resolution?

Some background for those of you who’ve known me fewer than 12 months–I take resolutions seriously. I work on them all year. But 2016 is a bad example. Every year I make three resolutions and I hit all of them in some way or another. This year I didn’t quite get it done. Here they were:

  1. Write something other than poetry or blogs

  2. Submit work to be published [by someone else]

  3. Sing karaoke

I only did #3, and I waited until December to do it. Some people I’ve talked to about this have argued that in some way I did #s 1 and 2 because I have technically written stuff for work, written articles, etc. But that’s not what I meant when I wrote that resolution. I wanted to write creative nonfiction or fiction or SOMETHING like a play or whatever–some creative piece of writing that was outside of my comfort zone. I wrote little drafts of very brief dialogue but I don’t really think that counts. I didn’t spend a good enough amount of time on this one.

For the publishing one, I published my OWN work, and some may argue that’s maybe even cooler than submitting my work to someone else. I am compelled to agree with that, but I think part of why I keep self-publishing is that I’m afraid of rejection, and I wanted to address that; I didn’t.

I think part of why #s 1 and 2 were unsuccessful is that I didn’t really think they were that important to me. In fact, when people asked me about my resolutions, I often couldn’t remember what one or the other was. I could remember karaoke, and consequently that was the only one I did.

Here are some things that happened to me in 2016. For a lot of people, this was a hard year, and I agree. But also some really tremendous and wonderful changes happened to me too:

  1. Got a new, better, delightful, income-stabilizing job

  2. Met and developed a relationship with my brilliant and beautiful girlfriend

  3. Got the truck of my dreams 🙂

  4. Came out of my shell a little bit

  5. Learned to cook

  6. Overcame some trauma and anxiety things

  7. Survived my own mind countless times

  8. Bowled my best score ever

  9. Made a top surgery consultation appointment, canceled it, scheduled a new one

  10. Went to a dog wedding

  11. Got better about taking my T consistently (and my other meds too)

  12. Grew a few more beard hairs

For my 2017 resolutions, I’ve had a hard time thinking about what I want to do. The challenge of course is to address something I’ve been avoiding or push myself to grow or invite new experiences into my life. I also want to pick something I have the means to accomplish (so setting the New Year’s resolution of traveling to London when I made an income less than the poverty line would have been a waste of time) and that I have a genuine drive to accomplish. So if I truly don’t want to write anything other than poems (perhaps something I learned this year), then why should I push myself to write fiction? I’m only 24–I have plenty of time to push myself to do that.

Here are three things I want to do this year:

  1. Get top surgery (omg)

  2. Give my savings account a comma

  3. Write thank you notes, not suicide notes

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Getting top surgery when you are used to having something on your chest

My consultation appointment is a month from tomorrow.

The last time I made a consultation appointment, I canceled the day before. In someways it was bad timing with my new insurance kicking in and stuff–there was logistical reasoning behind it. But let’s be real, too. I was totally freaked out.

I understand now why people who get married get “cold feet” on their wedding day. It’s exciting, exhilarating, a life-changing decision. But it’s also forever in an uncontrollable way. It’s admitting you deserve better. Sometimes I wonder if I can do that.

But I gotta. I feel like there are some things I really want to do for myself, and my boobs are binding me to my old self. I can’t imagine life with a free chest. Will it be easier to breathe? Will I grow more chest hairs because I won’t be wearing a tight binder all the time? Will I feel more open? Less hot in the summer? Like a man I can be proud of? Will I know what to do with myself? Will I be able to wear a shirt without wondering if my boobs are showing? Will I be able to wear cute boy tanks? Will I ever love my body?

It was almost easier when I didn’t have insurance that covered it. I could lean on that–yeah, I don’t have the money 😦 so I can’t get it :(. But I’ve had the good insurance for a couple of months. I’ve had knowledge of the upcoming good insurance for even longer. I could have made steps sooner. What’s my excuse now?

It doesn’t matter. I really want it to matter, but it doesn’t. Top surgery is about taking care of myself. I need to also take care of my process.

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