Back last April, I wrote a blog post about my experience and uncomfortable feelings around having to get a permission letter from my primary care physician to put on file with my surgeon before I could have top surgery. A few months later, I decided I was going to go with a different surgeon. Guess what? I had to get another letter!
This letter made me even more uncomfortable — and this time, very very angry.
There’s a fair arsenal of gear out there trans men can acquire to emphasize and de-emphasize parts of their bodies — STPs, packers, strap ons, binders, etc. Of course, there’s also supportive gear that comes along with all of that, such as harnesses. For some reason I had always been clear in my mind as to what portion of that arsenal I “needed”, what portion I “wanted”, and what I definitely did not need in order to make me feel comfortable.
I need a binder. I want to have a strap on handy. I don’t need an STP. And I don’t need a packer. All of this was very utilitarian in nature for me and designed to minimize what I had to do to perform on a daily basis.
So, what possessed me to go out of my way to go into Babeland and grab a packer?
So, I’ve been wearing a chest binder nearly every single day for almost 2 years now. I’ve only ever used one kind – because it seems to work well enough and is relatively affordable. I wear the Double Panel Compression Shirt from Underworks, always opting for the white color. This style and color are supposed to look like an undershirt — it’s not perfect, but it comes closest to this effect.
I wear my binders hard. Meaning, I wear one day after day until it wears out, rarely washing the thing because I always have it on (except when working out & sleeping). This results in my binders losing compression strength and getting dingy very, very quickly. I decided to check my bank account records to see how long it took from my last binder purchase to the time I started feeling like it wasn’t working well enough anymore. 2 months! In just 2 months I wore my binder out. In 2 months of constant use I had gotten my binder to the point wear I often felt self-conscious about my chest because I wasn’t getting enough compression.
Well, one of my brothers came up with an experiment to try out.
I am currently in the process of coordinating top surgery for next spring. I am starting way in advance, just to make sure I have the funds & there are no surprises when I get there. The first step I took was to budget for surgery. Next, I called the office and asked what sort of timeline this process had, when I should start getting things ready. I was told to start with my consultation 6 – 8 months before I plan for surgery.
So, it’s a little pre-mature, but I already had a doctor’s appointment planned here in New York; I decided to get one piece of the process out of th way. I had taken a look at the Requirements for surgery (I’m planning on going with Dr. Garramone in Florida) and I was a bit disappointed to see that:
All transgender patients are required to have a letter from their Gender Therapist, Psychiatrist, Primary Care Physician, or Psychologist stating “Transgender Surgery is the next step in their treatment for Gender Identity Disorder or Gender Transition”, and “they are psychologically ready for this next step in their therapy”. This is a WPATH guideline for standards of care. Be careful of surgeons not requiring a letter within the WPATH guidelines.
Seriously? I’m paying you out of my ass for surgery that is extremely important to me..and I have to get my doctor’s permission. So, I literally handed my doctor that quote & asked her to type that out.
I’ve been avoiding seeing my extended family for quite some time now. Me being trans is not the reason, so much as it is yet another reason. I grew up not seeing them at all — my mom and her siblings had been at odds since I can remember and I had predominantly only heard negative things about them. I assumed they were judgemental, insensitive, unapproving, conservative. I came out as gay when I was 16 and so did both of my siblings. My sister told the one member of my extended family I’m close to — my grandmother — that we had all come out. My nana showed me the unconditional love I’d always admired her for and said ‘I don’t understand, but know that I love you’. And, from that time, was always open to meeting our partners. I heard word from her that the rest of the family didn’t really approve. It felt like there was yet another reason for my little family, just me & my 2 siblings & my mom, to be the black sheep of our clan. And it added to my suspicions that the rest of my family was not a group I wanted to know and they probably didn’t want to know me either.