Here is part of a blog interview I did on my experience with breasts and transitioning. The interview never went public, so I’m putting it here!
Prior to transitioning, how did you feel about your secondary sex characteristics (ie. Boobs?) What was your experience with bras? Do you remember your first experience wearing a bra? Did you love ’em, hate ’em, feel totally neutral about ’em?
I was one of the last in my middle school to wear a bra, and it wasn’t because I was small-chested by any means. When we had to dress out in the locker room for gym, classmates would tell me how I really ought to be wearing a bra, especially considering the extent of my development. It wasn’t my body that I hated as much as the expectations of how girls were supposed to manage their bodies with certain clothes and products. In fact, I rather enjoyed my body and liked being shirtless as often as possible.
Can you tell me a bit about what options are out there for trans men, as far as dealing with boobs is concerned?
It really depends on how each individual feels about them. For me, dealing with boobs meant lopping them off. For someone else, they might be tolerated, strapped down, disguised, displayed, celebrated, ignored… It’s difficult to speak for other trans men since the way one feels about one’s own chest is so personal and individual.
Your comic recently gave me some insight into top surgery here: http://whatsnormalanyway.net/?p=858
What else should we all know about top surgery?
That question is best saved for medical professionals, but but I can speak from personal experience that having someone to take care of you before and after the procedure is crucial. Find a friend who makes you feel safe and stress-free. If you know someone who will help you deal with those gross surgical drains that stay attached to your chest for a few days, all the better!
How did you, personally, manage that part of your transition? You’ve brought up binders several times during the course of your webcomic so far, starting near the very beginning of Mel’s existence here: http://whatsnormalanyway.net/?p=100
Does this reflect your experiences? Did you really have to get a binder all the way from Taiwan? Have you tried any other methods?
The comic does stay fairly close to reality here, but I hardly ever ended up wearing my binder. Doing so in hot, humid Florida was simply too unbearable, so I planned on getting the surgery as soon as possible. I looked very female before hormones, so binding would not have done much to make me feel more comfortable in terms of masculine appearance anyway.
I did get my binder from Taiwan, though. There are other products in North America that flatten chests, but finding a company that catered specifically to the trans community was important to me. Sadly, there aren’t too many of those yet.
You say in the “About” section of your site that the main character of your comic, Mel, resembles you in some ways, but the comic isn’t autobiographical. Can you tell me a bit more about your transition, and how it diverges from Mel’s?
One reason why I started What’s Normal Anyway was to process my own transition, but at a distance. Journaling about my direct experience was too difficult for whatever reason– too scary, too slippery– but writing jokes about it in a “fictional” comic took the pressure off of communicating the vulnerability of my raw experience. When you look at the emotions behind the jokes, you get a lot closer to an autobiographical story.
Where do you stand now, in your transitioning process? What has become part of your routine to maintain and continue your life as a man?
My goal in transitioning from female to male was to get to a point where I could be comfortable wearing a dress. The logic behind this goal was that most men were perceived as men regardless of what they wore, but whenever I wore a dress pre-transition, my gender identity would be invisible.
Now, I am glad to say that I would be comfortable wearing a dress. The funny thing is, if I did I might be perceived as a woman because I still get ma’amed now and then even after two years of testosterone and wearing masculine clothing. However, I would not mind. What I think is going on here is that I finally got to the “other side” of transitioning, but it wasn’t like crossing a border from Girl Land to Boy Land. Instead, I arrived at a place where I now feel whole in my own skin, regardless of how others perceive or judge me. It’s a lovely place to be.
As far as maintaining that wholeness, continuing testosterone shots and not having a pendulous chest is crucial for me. I cannot say why, but I can say that I know it is so because I know what it feels like to be a female “woman,” and it does not feel right to me at all. Likewise, I know what it feels like to have no boobies and to be a man, and that feels a whole lot better.
If you could go back in time for a brief moment to give your pre-transitioning self one piece of advice, what would you say?
I’d say “Hey, younger Morgan, know that you will come out of this process with far more gains than losses. There is plenty that you will have to relearn in your new gender, like when you went to Japan as a high school exchange student and had to learn a whole new culture outside of the U.S. Not knowing how to behave and interact with people will be uncomfortable in the beginning, but you will find your groove and come into your own in time. When you do, you’ll feel more like yourself than ever, and you’ll have plenty of awesome people in your life who love you and can see who you are!”