“So I don’t want to be rude or make you uncomfortable and you totally don’t have to answer I mean seriously I don’t want to offend you but I’m just really curious I’ve never been able to ask anyone this I just really want to know *inhales deeply* how does this all….work?”
That’s basically the exact run-on sentence that flies out of everyone’s mouth when they want to ask me exactly how it is that I physically transitioned from a female to a transman. This moment, this continuous and repetitive conversation, always leads to me leaning ever so slightly toward the person with a welcoming and comforting smile and my own question: “Well, first, do you REALLY want to know?” This seems like an odd immediate answer, but what I’ve realized is that there’s a disconnect between the idea of “reshaping a body” and the actual process of “cutting open someone’s breast tissue and scooping out the insides.”
Did you flinch? Good. Are you still reading? Even better. Go you, I like you.
Let’s be frank, y’all. Transitioning physically is NOT pretty. It’s not fun. It’s not cute. It’s hormonal. It’s painful. It’s LONG. But it’s life or death. And I personally believe that it is necessary for people to be aware of the physical sacrifices some Trans* people make when they take the steps to align themselves with their souls. I LOVE to talk about how the human body can change with various gender assignment processes, and I think that being Trans* gives me the opportunity to express my love of biology and its connection to society and human interaction.
I have been taking weekly, self-administered injections of testosterone for a bit over three years, my first shot being November 1st, 2013. I also underwent a double subcutaneous mastectomy on May 27th, 2015. My physical transition is over; I am not interested in having any genital reassignment surgery.
I am simply one blip in the sliding scale that is the Trans* experience. I have written before about the myriad of ways that Trans* people choose to express their bodies. I personally love my vagina. It works, it’s neat, it’s tidy, and I can’t accidentally get an embarrassing boner during math class. Also, I don’t have to think about where to put it when I ride a bicycle. For many transmen, it’s absolute mental anguish every time they catch a glimpse of their genitals or have to interact with them in any way, so I never once take for granted the fact that I can feel positively about mine. I did choose to remove my breasts because they gave me that mental pain. I could barely look at them in the mirror, and wearing a bra – even a sports bra that squashed the fuckers down- felt like a straitjacket.
Hormones were the first physical step in my transition. When I started taking testosterone, I was a fairly decent bra size (34B for any of you who are up to date on your bra lingo), but one of the quickest changes that T imposes on your body is the re-distribution of fat along with a severe increase in metabolism. Basically, men carry fat in their gut and women carry it on their hips and in their breasts. So my T emptied out The Tetas and The Bubble Butt and I lost a whole bunch of weight. I went from boobs to empty balloons. Yick.
One of the other changes that I experienced almost immediately was an increase in the size of my clitoris. Oh, I guess this is the point in the conversation where I’m supposed to warn you about TMI, etc…but let’s be adults, yea? It’s biology and anatomy and the only way to improve society is to act like we are civilized and intelligent creatures. Good to continue? Ok. So almost immediately I began to notice sensitivity and growth in The Nether Regions. It was odd and a little frightening, but now I’m very happy with how I look. Every transman who takes T ends up with various degrees of growth (yes sometimes we pull out the measuring tape, too!) and it’s almost always the first change to happen.
T makes you go through a second puberty, so I had a grand old time for about eight months where my voice started to squeak and crack like a scared little Altar Boy. I broke out in acne all over my face, back and shoulders – which I didn’t have during girl puberty – and my already Italian body hair started to increase. I developed the scraggly teenager mustache. Also, the shape of my face changed: my brow ridge hardened and my jawline sharpened and squared off more. I also lost about half the hair on my head, completely changing my hairline and the texture of my hair.
Along with the wimpy mustache and the acne, I also developed the stereotypical attributes of Walking Erection and Eating Machine. I finally understood what all those 80’s teen movie boys were talking about and I finally got why teen boys acted the way they do: I WANTED TO BANG EVERYTHING. It wasn’t even that I was aroused, really, it was just this constant need to have sex and eat and then have sex again. For anyone who has not experienced male puberty, you just simply won’t understand it. I literally couldn’t think about anything else for about a year. I was also constantly hungry and experiencing mood swings like I had never imagined. I was ready to punch a hole in the wall at the drop of a hat. I was a pubescent boy dealing with adult problems, like going to college and having two jobs.
So, the next time someone tries to talk to you about Transgenderism being a choice, ask them if they would like to choose to go through puberty again.
The final step in my journey was to have my breasts removed.
I chose the esteemed Dr. Christine McGinn to be my surgeon, and I was incredibly lucky to have lived so close to her practice, The Papillon Center in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I opted for a double subcutaneous mastectomy because it had the best chances of ensuring that all the breast tissue would be removed and of achieving long-term aesthetics. In a DSCM, an incision is made along the crease under the breast, the mammary tissue is removed, the actual exterior breast is cut away, and the skin is pulled downward from the upper chest to the initial incision. I chose to have my nipples grafted onto my new chest, so they were removed from the piece of breast that was cut away, then resized to be smaller (like a typical man’s) and sewn on. It works much the same way as a skin graft for a burn victim: the two sides of exposed skin cells stitch together.
I spent about two months recovering, during which I spent each day and every night in a recliner in my living room. It was awful. I was practically immobile and helpless because I was unable to use my arms in any capacity. My incredible, patient, wonderful, angelic girlfriend did everything for me from feeding me to helping me use the bathroom to washing me. She will tell you it was nothing, but for me it was more than everything.
But…here I am, three years later. I am 24 years old and I am finished. I am happy. My beard filled in, my tetas are no more, I learned how to Manscape, and my libido finally evened off. I also don’t eat myself out of house and home anymore. My body and my mind feel at east with one another. The past three years have been emotionally and physically difficult…even painful at times. But it is all worth it. I am worth it.
Here are photos in chronological order, showing you the ways T has changed me: