The Positive Aspects of Medical Transition:

A guest page written for Transfigurations by Mr. Cake – a trans guy

Mr. Cake - a trans man's transition storyBeing physically flat chested is fantastic. Prior to chest surgery I liked to be “topless”.  I imagined I was flat chested and put a lot of thought into trying to avoid the reality that I had a pair of jugs. Following surgery last October, the moment my dressings were taken off was probably one of the happiest days of my life.  What I have now might not be front cover of Mens’ Health magazine material but its fantastic compared to having had to try and ignore and hide a pair of tits for 30 years. They really aren’t there anymore. When I look in the mirror, I smile, in fact sometimes I jump up and down with sheer joy, they’ve gone at last. I was worried that I might be swapping one bag of negativity for another by having surgery. On one level I was absolutely terrified that the scarring might be just as visually disturbing as a pair of knockers but I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. I tell a lie, there is one regret, why didn’t I do this sooner? Why did I see myself in shop windows, mirrors, photographs and feel repulsed, then angry, then confused, then frustrated, then depressed and so on and so on for so many years?  Fear. Mr Davies cut most of that fear away last October and left me with many feelings:- euphoria, shock (it’s real, I finally did it!) Happiness I never knew possible, or maybe I did but I’d forgotten what it was like. The bit of fear that’s left lies in thought processes and habits that are changing as time goes on.

After the healing period of surgery you get the string of “firsts” which can go on for as long as you like. My first bath with flat chest, first bike ride, first hug, first shower, first car journey, first time you turn the compost with a flat chest and no floppy unmentionables getting in the way. I know there’s the downside, the first birthday without a card from an aunt or a brother or a parent or a friend but there’s the string of new people who come into your life and meet you with less baggage, this brings with it opportunities to develop into a stronger self. Your auntie can send her knitted cardies to the local charity shop for someone who might like jade green and let’s be honest do we really miss the birthday card with a kitten or a bunch of flowers saying “to my special niece”?

It’s brilliant when you tidy your underwear drawer and it’s just socks and boxers all neatly waiting for you. Not that I was ever a big user of fancy Lingerie (I can’t even say it) but there were a couple of bras. When I came to getting rid of my collection of scruffy, stretched, baggy tit slings I realised that over the years I must have developed some kind of attachment because I couldn’t quite part with all of them. I kept one in case I one day want to make a mixed-media garden ornament.

By accepting myself for what I am I have begun to like myself more. Of course people and things still piss me off but I seem to deal with it better than I ever did. As my body changes and I’m more relaxed with myself I’m not carrying as much frustration. Years of confusion and hiding from myself wasn’t good. I’ve had quite a lot of crap thrown at me in the past, abuse in the street etc. Half term holidays were often a nightmare. Where I live there are fantastic parks with sophisticated playgrounds, wooden pirate ships, climbing walls, elaborate swings, curly wurly slides which make me long for childhood again just so I can have a go (actually I have had  go when it was dark and empty).  Come the half term holidays and parents forget about these places and its’ “right kids we’re off to Asda!”. One mother and an army of dwarves, all high on additives blocking the aisle with game boys, scooters and mobiles. I’d be struggling along with my trolley and it’s awkward wheel brimming with bulk buy get one free “Felix as good as it looks” to the sound of “Mam is that a man or a woman?”.  I haven’t heard that in ages. There’s no more lingering looks at my chest region where people are trying to suss out what I am. Thankfully I just blend in.

Prior to hormones and surgery I didn’t appear as male or female. I’d be seen as one or the other. People would say “he” then at some point correct themselves and say “she” and I felt a deep sadness. I couldn’t ever tweak my appearance to try and make myself look feminine, I would have felt a fraud and a bit sick. Christmas trips to the pantomime and what I wore were carefully planned so my friends’ kids didn’t think I was one of the cast! My appearance and presence upset people and that sometimes attracted abuse. In the past I used to really take it to heart and because I didn’t like myself this  somehow magnified the insults and I felt it even more. I hid away for what felt like a life time. How can bricks coming though your window accompanied by “queer bastard” not hit a nerve? It joins the previous pile of insults and you start to believe it. I wouldn’t have minded if the insults were true or even close. A few months after beginning hormone therapy someone called me a Puff and I could have shook his hand and thanked him profusely. Such a welcome change from the collection of Lesbian terms I’ve acquired over the years.

As you begin to appear more masculine, more people take you as male. You see the scars from the surgery soften as your shoulders square up. For me this is amazing. The outside slowly changing to match what you always felt on the inside. People call me sir! I still have to stop myself grinning and thanking them. At Christmas I bought some weights and the shop keeper said  ”Thank you very much young man”. It was like buy one get one free.  “Male” and “young” together! What a great bloke, I made a mental note not to shoplift in there again.

Buying a razor was an event in itself. Three weeks after beginning “T” I found a 4.5 mm spike protruding from my chin. I realised my beard was on the way. Thankfully it wasn’t half term so I dropped everything and headed for Superdrug. My confidence was growing but I wasn’t ready to be Santa Clause. It was years since I bought a razor. There used to be a choice of two, Gillette or Bic. I decided I would opt for a Gillette because it would be blue and I like blue. I was very excited, male shaving was imminent. Over the years I’d ached for this opportunity, it wasn’t far away. I burst into Superdrug almost foaming at the mouth while visualising my reflection in the bathroom mirror with my frothy face. Then I was thrown into a state of near panic when I found a whole aisle given over to razors, blades, after shave, balms, male grooming kits, electric shavers, some of which were so expensive I expected to be able to send a text message on them. I was stunned, I studied all this memorabilia for about 4 minutes. The colours, style, names, were bombarding me with neon plastic promises that I could look like David Beckham or have the clean shaven jaw of a racing driver. Damn this was difficult.  It would be easier to buy a car. Did I need to go to the library and study razors on the internet? Eventually I took a deep breath, calmed myself down, focused and then ran away.  Boots was up the road, good old Boots would be easier. With it’s pleasant white jacketed Ladies and wider aisles. Oh dear, more confusion,” buy two get the cheapest free”. For heaven sake I want to shave not sit a mental arithmetic exam. Why couldn’t I have been a cat, they just drop their hair as an when they want and let someone else worry about it. There was a flash of Electric Blue, decision overload. I escaped from Boots. I sat outside in the sun and relaxed, I remembered what this moment was all about, I was going to buy something for I’d always wanted, a razor, not for legs or pits, for my chin which in recent days had begun to square up. Desperate Dan eat your heart out. I fought the sadness that I couldn’t reach for my father or my brother for guidance and took some deep breaths. Somewhere inside I felt ten feet tall. This was my moment, mine alone, no one else could spoil it. I would go back to Boots and buy the Electric Blue Razor which came with a sucker attachment and two spare blades. It would look good in my bathroom with turquoise mosaic tiles and kingfisher blue towels and sod it if I end up like Colin and Justin!

An important part of transition is finding other trans people. It’s an amazing feeling to realise “you’re not the only one”. To meet people who are coping and are happy and leading successful lives is empowering. Through my transition I’m becoming complete. I think I stopped myself growing up because I couldn’t become a “woman” I was “boyish” or an “it” or a “number 3”. The hormones are doing there work, I can grow up now. The fear that I felt in the past can remain there. I hope that as I grow, so does the confidence and the strength so I can be proud because ultimately we all deserve these feelings and they would not be there if it weren’t for the opportunity to transition.

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