A few weeks ago I had a consult for top surgery. The consult itself went pretty much as expected–I learned only one new thing, which is that the reason for losing sensation in the nipples is due to the severing of a nerve in the chest, not necessarily to the detachment of the nipple itself.
In researching options, I chose Dr Bartlett in Brookline, MA for two reasons. First, the results are really nice. They have good contouring, nice, tight nipples, minimal scarring. Second, it’s close to my parents’ home. I’ve not been impressed with the results of the doctors practicing close to DC and wanted to look elsewhere. Doing it near my childhood home means I have a place for R&R and emotional support on hand in addition to my partner. This is really important because we have a small child who will need caretaking and occupation at the same time I will. The office staff was incredibly nice and well informed. Two transmasculine patients wandered through the office while I was waiting. Dr Bartlett himself had very kind and knowledgable bedside manner. I picked up on a little sensitivity around the billing questions–but I had to understand the structure. He described in detail what goes into the procedure and recovery and waited patiently as I reviewed the two notebook pages of handwritten questions I had prepared. I was impressed.
Even with insurance, I will pay a couple thousand dollars out of pocket as a “cosmetic fee.” I question the ethics of the practice’s billing structure, but ultimately, this doctor has excellent results and that’s the most important thing to me.
Surgery won’t happen until fall at the earliest. My feelings of chest dysphoria, meanwhile, have increased. In part this is due to being summer, wearing more revealing tops, and suffering in the heat under two binders.
I struggle daily with the ma’ams, shes, ladies, and uses of my former name. For me, these slip ups are a barometer for my passing (one that very clearly reads “does not pass”). Top surgery won’t harden my baby face, won’t thicken my facial hair, won’t lower my voice, but it might remove a tiebreaker for people I interact with that now leans in favor of female gendering.
Meanwhile, my partner and therapist have suggested not to be so hung up on the idea of passing–that there may in fact never be a day when I really pass. And the important thing is that I’m living authentically. It feels like a both reasonable and lofty goal. I can strive for that–but here’s the kicker about being transgender–it often feels beyond the realm of self-acceptance. If I could accept myself as is, regardless of my gender presentation, why would there be a need to transition in the first place?
Now it’s a matter of booking my top surgery, including working out any issues from insurance. In the meantime, I hope I discover the key to patience.