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Top Surgery Was Worth It



Have you ever made a decision that changed your life in a positive way, only to be doubted by everyone around you? This is what many trans people experience in their day-to-day lives.

Whether it is the decision to come out, to go on hormones, or to have a gender-affirming surgery, everyone seems to think that it is “just a phase” or we didn’t think it through and will regret it later. For myself and many others, top surgery was an important step to living our best lives.


What Is Top Surgery?

Top surgery is a gender-affirming surgical procedure that can be pursued by AFAB transgender and nonbinary individuals who wish to achieve a more "masculine" chest appearance. This surgery involves the removal of breast tissue to create a flatter chest.


The specific details of the surgery can vary depending on the individual's goals, body anatomy, and the surgical technique used. There are different surgical approaches, including double incision mastectomy, periareolar mastectomy, and keyhole or minimal incision mastectomy. The choice of technique depends on factors such as the size of the chest, skin elasticity, and the amount of breast tissue. Due to my size, my surgeon performed double incision masectomy for my surgery.


While I have chosen both to take hormones and get top surgery, it's important to note that physical changes to your body are not required to express your gender identity. Everyone's trans journey is different, whether due to what they feel they need or what resources they have available to them.


You deserve to be respected no matter how you choose to express your gender identity.





Why I Needed Top Surgery

I phrase it as a need because trans healthcare is important. For those who feel we need them, gender-affirming medical procedures are not just an aesthetic choice. They are a source of gender affirmation that positively affects our lives and health.


I sought top surgery due to the gender dysphoria that I felt regarding my breasts. Gender dysphoria describes a sense of uneasiness that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity. This dissatisfaction can lead to mental health struggles or other negative impacts on daily life.


Even before I identified as trans, I was always uncomfortable with my breasts. I wore bras constantly, the tighter the better, to ensure that they were locked in place. I avoided exercises like running which resulted in me feeling them bounce around, and was self-conscious when swimming due to how prominent my nipples looked in most swimsuits. I also didn't enjoy having a partner interact with them sexually, though I allowed it due to feeling like it was required of me as an AFAB person.


Having large breasts, I was often complimented for them and told that I should be grateful, but I generally hated the way they looked and felt on my body.


Now that my chest has healed I am very happy with the result. Having a flatter chest has given me gender euphoria, which describes a joyful feeling of rightness in one’s gender/sex through external, internal or social experiences. I love properly seeing my pecs when I flex them and not having to wear a bra to feel unencumbered. I can't wait to finish my tattoo, half of which was removed during the surgery. I love that I get fewer catcalls and am viewed as a man by strangers more often. While I am still restructuring my wardrobe to be more masculine, it will be the first time in years I am excited to buy clothes.




But Don't You Regret It?!

I've gotten this question from family, friends, dates, bold coworkers, and even strangers making small talk. The answer for the classroom: no I don't, please stop asking.


This is very reductive and lies in the assumption that trans people don't know what we need for our bodies or that being trans is "just a phase".


Other common questions I get from cis people:


Are you going to do "the other" surgery now?

I don't plan on getting any form of FTM bottom surgery, because it is not something I feel I need. This question is based on the binary portrayal of trans people in many forms of media, on social media, and in the public eye, where you have to get all of the possible medical procedures and be physically changed from a woman to a man or vice versa. This invalidates the feelings of nonbinary people or people who are happy with certain parts of their bodies and don't feel the need to change them as part of their trans journey. Your body does not need to change to "count" as being the gender that you feel you are, and you don't need to prove it to others.

Why would you do that to yourself?

I have many family members who don't understand or support my trans-masculine identity, and one family member completely cut off our relationship after I got top surgery. This did not reduce my enjoyment of my new body. Gender-affirming medical procedures are done with the guidance of one or more medical professionals, and take thought and investment. They are not self harm. You don't need to justify to others why you made the decision.

You were lucky to have such big boobs, I can't believe you got rid of them.

I get this not just from cis people, but from some trans femme people. What everyone wants and needs for their body is different, and no body part is good or bad. If I was unhappy with my breasts, then I was not "lucky" to have them.


Questions like these are microaggressions which, whether intentionally or unintentionally, show discrimination towards the person receiving the comment. Don't be afraid to call people out for intrusive or disrespectful questions, or to simply give some version of "none of your business" as an answer.


Summary

Everyone's trans journey is different, and medical procedures are not necessary if you do not feel the need for them. I was excited to get top surgery and have not regretted it, despite it affecting some of the relationships in my life. At the end of the day, gender-affirming procedures are for yourself and no one else.






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