It was about a year ago I walked in to your surgery and asked you to remove my breasts. You were shocked – you saw me as a healthy young woman with no reason to have a double mastectomy, but I was not and am not a woman and this extra tissue did not belong on my body. It had taken years to come to understand myself, years of self-hatred and torture. Years of starvation and exercise regimes trying to defeminise my body. That is not to say that I always knew I wanted a double mastectomy, I wanted smaller breasts. I wanted to be able to hide them easily, but I wore dresses and low cut tops, I tried to embrace my femininity as the women around me did. There is this dangerous idea that trans people always knew they were trans and therefore have always hated their bodies completely, that is not always the case. I knew I was uncomfortable but that could be put down to bad skin, to self-image, to chronic illness and a body that didn’t function how I wanted it to. I didn’t relate the feelings to gender at all – because I simply did not have the understanding or vocabulary to express that, not even to myself.
To some on the outside it may have looked like overnight I became a different person, but in truth it was months if not years of internal dialogue and arguments with myself that brought me in to your office and I thank you every day that you took me seriously. Each morning I wake up feeling more content with myself and my body. Simple things like getting dressed or having a shower are easier without feeling disgusted or “wrong”. There are days when I am disappointed, though that is with the world and not my body or the surgery you did. I am disappointed that the world doesn’t see the me that I can now see and I still get constantly misgendered. I am disappointed that what I saw as the most female part of me is gone, yet I am still seen as female.
These are not things you could change though, you did your job. You cut away the parts of me that I had long wished were gone and though you may have been confused or may have not understood entirely, you always made me feel comfortable. After that first meeting you saw through the body and recognised me. You made me feel comfortable and enacted changes to make sure my identity was respected throughout my stay – changing the pronouns you used and the title on my paperwork. It may not seem like a lot, it’s not, but it is more than other healthcare places have done and it made the process so much easier for me.
I cannot put to words how much I wish to thank you for my new body, for my life and my freedom. I cannot describe the joy I have running my hands over my flat chest while I rub sun cream in and sunbathe topless with friends. I cannot tell you how my life has changed, I will always remember you and thank you for believing me, for believing in me and for doing the surgery.