Top Surgery, part 2

(Because anything good always has seconds)

Speaking of Seconds…

A mere 7 days to go, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes, 604,800 seconds* (*approximations only) before I board a plane to my long-awaited destination. And as each day passes, the second-thoughts thoughts mellow. For second thoughts I have had more than just two.

Among my ever pestering conundrums are: am I doing the right thing? should I go forth and have this surgery? will I ever regret it? why am I doing it if I don’t need to do this? do I need to do this? is it fair to my parents and my significant other to put them through potentially awkward situations? is it fair to me to go through potentially awkward situations? will there be any awkward situations? does it even matter if there will be any awkward situations? will it be painful? is it worth it?

It all sarted binding

sccccrrrrrr, goes the velcro on my binder each morning. sccccrrrrrr goes my brain as I put it on, desperately wishing I didn’t have to wear it, feeling the uncomfortable, yet comforting, tightness as it flattens my silhouette. I have to wear it because I’d feel naked without it, I’d be so self-conscious to the point that the feeling of everyone staring at my chest would consume my thoughts. So I put it on, everyday, just I’ve been doing for a year and a half now. A binder is that, binding – like a contractual agreement between you and your chest. You’ve made it look good once, you can’t ever go back. The confidence I exude when wearing it, is just as easily is deflated when not. It allows me to walk out the door, and no longer look down at my chest wondering if anyone is noticing that (dare I say it) something is there.

However, the most ironic part of all is… no one really notices. Anything. Nope, strangers don’t care, acquaintances struggle enough to just remember my name, let alone anything else. People who knew me before didn’t suddenly look down and point out – hey, something’s different, it’s like you’re chest is suddenly flat. It’s as if binding didn’t make any difference at all.

Except it does. Ever since I started binding, I like what I see in the mirror. Finally I say (sometimes) “wow, I look awesome, I’m awesome!” and this used to be a very, very rare ocurrence. I like myself more. After many many years, I can geniuenly say, I like myself. Of course, this is not to say I’ve ceased to engage in frequent self-deprecation (you cannot be a perfectionist without this fault, which is why perfectionists never achieve perfection); this is only to say that now I also engage in occasional self-congratulation. And it’s not like by magically putting on a binder I’m suddenly transformed into a sea of confidence, oozing out oodles of self-assurance and grandiosity. Putting on a binder just made me more comfortable to be myself by showing me what myself really was comfortable in.

However healing a binder might seem, it is actually quite painful. It’s painful to wear – as I sit it clenches my ribs, since it knows not to only compress my chest, it compresses chest, back, sides, everything. The more I wear it the more it hurts. That ever-present backache will follow me around as long as I wear a binder. And the long term effects of this are plain obvious. Note that I’m not saying it’s excrutiatingly agonizing – I’ve always maintained comfort over looks – but wearing a binder is not a walk in the park. It’s not something you put on and forget about. It’s a constant reminder that I’m not free. That from now on I am forever bound to it. It’s a constant reminder of why I wear a binder in the first place – bluntly, to get a flat looking chest.

Then the terrained flattened

Therefore, the conclusion that follows is that, the ideal solution would be to get a flat looking chest, permanently. Once I figured this out, I experienced the same joy I get when solving a mathematical problem – the elation at being so clever, the sensation of having disentagled the complexities, and the frustration plus relief at knowing that the solution was always there, I just couldn’t see it before!

I’ve always wanted a flat chest. When I had one, I cherished it, as I knew it was to be a temporal joy. When I came close to losing it, my chest pounded with the impending doom. Then it grew, and all hope was lost. How could I have known ten years ago that people actually went and got rid of these things, for no other reason than that they never wanted them?

No matter how many times I have reservations about my motivations, I know that this is something I really, truly want, and have always wanted. No other reason than just wanting a flat chest should already be a compelling enough argument to get top surgery.

And we arrived at the Gender Thing

Ah yes, then there’s the whole gender thing. Because as we know, getting a breast enhancement does not require a letter from a gender therapist, but getting a breast removal, or “FTM top surgery” usually does. [Though in my case my doctor is sane enough to recognize that these surgeries are indeed equivalent, and that as an adult, I have the right to make this choice just like any other, and I most wholeheartedly agree with this line of thinking.]

As much as it pains me (and others) to recognize, breasts are gendered, just as you are gendered, and I am gendered. And removing them (voluntarily) alters your gender.

This is another of my motivations behind surgery, albeit a fuzzy one. I know my gender, but what I haven’t mapped out yet is how to express it.The easiest way to express gender is through clothing, a part of me which I’ve been actively tweaking and modifying for a few years, until I feel I’ve finally reached a stable footing there. Then there’s hair, and hair gel, as well as your name, of which you are presented with an infinite variety of choices, and choice is not my forte. Maybe voice if you try hard enough, probably speech patterns, and even gait patterns, though now we’re getting to more obstinate parts, as these are hard coded and so engrained through a lifetime of training that they’re hard enough to even detect, let alone change.

But these are all modifyable, malleable, reversible. Something doctors stress very much is that this surgery is not reversible. There’s no going back, no refunds, no I’m sorries, no regrets, no nothing. It’s set in stone, final, done. So you have to be extra extra sure. And, to recount, making decisions is not something that comes easy to me. Before making a choice, everything must go through a gruelling evaluation process where I lay out the most minute details, what-ifs, trailing commas, pro’s, con’s, non’s, everything in between, until I finally, maybe, hesitantly choose.

Yet my main tribulations of surgery do not come from the fact that it’s an irreversible decision. It’s that it opens up a huge pile of new decisions I should make now. It’s not the surgery itself, or the physical results, that surface my doubts, it’s what comes after. I’ve been so busy planning this, carrying this out, and soon it’s going to be over. My mind will now have to turn and face the rest of the journey.

I do look forward to altering my gender through surgery – it’s probably the only part of the process that I’m absolutely, positively solidly sure on. Q.E.D.

Countdown on 7…

sccccrrrrrr, goes the velcro on my binder each morning. sccccrrrrrr goes my brain as I put it on, desperately wishing I didn’t have to wear it, feeling the uncomfortable, yet comforting, tightness as it flattens my silhouette. But now… sccccrrrrrr… 2 months, and it’s finally going to happen. sccccrrrrrr… only 2 weeks to go, I say, and I feel elated. sccccrrrrrr… wow, just 10 days…. I can count them on my fingers. sccccrrrrrr… just 7 days, one for each day of the week, and as I glance at the mirror, I don’t see my binder, I only see the smile on my face. I put on my shirt, and think “damn I look good!” And then I think, “wow, I’m going to look great!”

And then I remember why I’m getting this surgery: because it’s going to make me happy. It already has!

8 thoughts on “Top Surgery, part 2

  1. “And then I remember why I’m getting this surgery: because it’s going to make me happy. It already has!”

    And it is the moment when you feel comfortable in your skin that you irradiate that happiness. And people notice you look great, not because your contour has changed but because of the change within yourself!

  2. “A binder is that, binding – like a contractual agreement between you and your chest. You’ve made it look good once, you can’t ever go back.”

    Wow. Yeah, I’m there now. I started binding at the end of summer 2011 and didn’t find the right binder for me until January 2012. But now that I’ve found a pretty comfortable binder, I feel so self-conscious going without it that I feel BOUND to continue every day. It’s now absolutely unthinkable to me to go to work with my old sports bra on instead of my binder. I feel happy that I found it but at the same time a little trapped – like I can no longer psychologically tolerate going in public without it.

    Another disturbing thing is that up until January I’d bind for short periods, then go back to my old Walmart special sports bra. It didn’t bind well but I found it comfortable. Now I’m suddenly finding I can’t stand to wear it because I’m acutely aware of the elastic band around my ribs – the thing I hate most about sports bras and the thing I’m grateful NOT to have in my binders. I feel a little like I’ve painted myself into a corner here. But the light at the end of the tunnel is TOP SURGERY! Can’t wait!

    1. Wow, reading an old post is like entering a mind warp.

      Yeah, I think there is a big psychological component in binding. It’s not the binding itself, it’s that initial shift that your mind makes to really thinking about your gender, at the very least at a subconscious level.

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