As most of you know I had top surgery on August 18th by Dr. Kimberly Marble at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire. I wrote a piece on August 30th about some of the reactions I had received regarding my choice to go ahead with this surgery. In the month since that post I have noticed that I have gotten quite a large number of emails and messages from other Butch identified lesbians and transguys concerning my surgery, my experience and asking many great questions. It’s something that there are dozens ways to look at, but every experience has it’s uniqueness. Because I see this as an opportunity to educate some and re-educate others I will take the entire subject up here disected into digestible pieces.
How long did it take from the time you made your decision until you got your surgery?
I decided in February 2014 that I would pursue top surgery. I discussed the possibility with my primary care doctor, got a referral to a plastic surgeon and made a therapy appointment all in the same day in February. But, while I was pursing this I did keep it pretty much under wraps for family reasons, until mid-July when I finally told my family shortly before my second surgeon interview. Needless to say they were less than pleased, my parents anyways, my sisters were actually more supportive as both had had reductions in the past – just not as drastically as I have done. I don’t think that they still even know what to say or how to act. I know they are wondering if I am Trans* as well. I am just not in the frame of mind that I need to have this conversation with my aging parents at this point.
Why did you decide to do this now?
I think that any type of body modification – from surgery to tattoos – is a very personal decision. I was tired of the body dysphoria that I had experienced since I was about 13 and started to develop as a girl. You live with something for so long and then something just clicks and you move to do something about it, I believe. I had researched, watched friends undergo the procedure, seen hundreds of videos and knew what I was wanting and getting into. Thankfully I have a strong sense of self, because once I made this change there was no going back – hell, why they hell would I want to? I always hated my body with boobs, it’s much nicer without them! I am 52 and not getting any younger. I didn’t do this when I was 32 because I was in a LTR and the procedures were not as refined as they are now. Plus I never thought I could get it covered by insurance.
For years I bound like most every other Butch does, and I got really tired of that. The summer heat and a binder just don’t go together well. And with my back problems, it just made things worse. Actually since the surgery my back is alot better – because I am not binding and because of the change of body structure relieving the disks in my neck.
How did you find a surgeon in Maine?
I actually had my surgery done in New Hampshire, about 20 miles from where I live in southern Maine. Finding a good surgeon is a hard process for anyone. Allowing someone to modify your body like this, doing a major surgery, isn’t to be taken lightly at all. I contacted four different surgeons. Two were well known in the Boston area, but neither took my insurances. Then I had an appointment with the one I was referred to first by my PC doctor. I met him at the beginning of June, and it wasn’t good right from the get go. He turned out to be quite homo/transphobic and we didn’t get along one bit. Thankfully I decided as I drove out of his parking lot that he would not be touching my body with a scalpel. No way, his attitude sucked, his mannerism sucked and the type of surgery he was suggesting would have looked awful. So on to find a surgeon I went.
I found Dr. Kimberly Marble soon after that appointment. I studied her work, researched her online and checked her credentials thoroughly before calling to schedule an interview / consultation appointment (after obtaining the proper referral from my primary care doctor of course). When I met her on July 24th she and I got along great right from the start. She was kind, personable and funny – and I like humor doncha know – and very professional. She listened to me explain to her that I am a stone Butch lesbian and just didn’t want to live with the boobs anymore. As well as the fact that my neck disks were herniated and my shoulders both had problems – hey never hurts to have medical back up for surgery! She qualified me for surgery pretty much on the spot and we set a date before I left the office that day – August 18, 2014.
What did your partner think of you doing the surgery?
I didn’t really have to deal with any partner issues on my own surgery. I wasn’t really seeing anyone when I was going through the appointments or leading up to the procedure. I was dating someone in February, and she was very supportive of me doing it as she knew how much the dysphoria bothered me, and knew I’d be a happier person living in body that I was more comfortable with and could relate to easier. But by June we had split and I was on my own pretty much through the surgery. I had a buddy who came and stayed with me during my recovery for three days, but I found I was pretty capable and very mobile.
I started talking to a woman just before the surgery who I am still involved with now. She never saw me in person until after my surgery was over, and she was aware I was having it done from the beginning of our talking. Funny, I never asked her if it bothered her, because it doesn’t seem to make a difference I know a lot of Femmes who date FtM’s or Butches who they would love to be able to help through top surgery just because they, of all people, know and understand in unique ways what we go through psychologically as masculine presenting people trying to live in female bodies. I can’t imagine that my girl would have been anything less than supportive had she been in the picture back then.
The post op period could be one for ‘buyers regret’ for some people. Not for you apparently.
How do we know? I’ll be getting rid of a whole lot of physical, social and attitudinal baggage when I do this
Also will there will be people in the LGBT community who will assume that because I’ve had top surgery, I’m transitioning? (JM)
No, I had no “buyers regret” only a the most joyful wake up in history of my life when I woke up in that post-op room! And since then it’s just gotten better by the day throughout the healing process. Now I am fully healed and just treating the scars to fade them as much as possible. I suppose if you have any attachment to your breasts or breast sensation during sex that you might have a little buyers remorse. But to me my chest is actually more sensitive to touch than before. And I had the nipples done so that I would maintain full sensation – we’ll see how that turns out when I pierce one of them soon.
My previous article about Disappearing Butches discusses the initial issues I have had with some inside the LGBT world concerning my choice to have top surgery as a stone Butch lesbian. I knew there would be questions about me being Trans* and I was ready for that. It didn’t change the fact that I wanted it done, doesn’t change the fact that it was the BEST thing I ever did for myself and that I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I had to. I highly recommend top surgery for anyone who is chest dysphoric and who can get it covered by insurance. Screw the nay-sayers. Just because I wanted a flat, male profile chest doesn’t mean I am any less of a lesbian…and hell, it’s alot more comfortable for me to take my shirt off now even. I’m sure as the scars fade I’ll become even less self-conscious about it and eventually it will just be completely normal feeling to me. I know it’s already changed my attitude a whopping amount.
I hear the scoffers…”I like Butch breasts”…etc…but you have to be comfortable in your own body. I love breasts, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t want my own. And luckily I didn’t have to keep them! 🙂
Do you take Testosterone too? Are you Transitioning? (AP)
First, no I am not transitioning into anyone other than a little more authentic me. The things I am doing are just minor adjustments to my masculine personality that make me more comfortable and enhance my life in my opinion.
Secondly, yes I do take a LOW DOSE testosterone. I have been for about 2 years now. I do not take a transitioning dose. The low dose is something that I discussed with my doctor to counteract the negative side-effects of being on a raft of other medications that would kill my sex drive – nothing is sadder or more unhappy than MainelyButch not wanting SEX daily – and would also lower my overall energy level. The low dose Androgel 1% has done wonders for both sex drive and energy. They will have to pry the script from my cold dead hand to take it away from me now! It’s an easy application, I spread the gel on my stomach every morning after my morning shower…the only minor side-effect has been that I have a fuzzy belly now (which could be clipped pretty easily if I get around to it one of these days) and slightly more facial hair growth. But remember, I am also 52, I have been through menopause (at 47) already so my body grows hair easily anyways. And I don’t have to fight the estrogen much anymore because I am naturally producing far less of it than I would be prior to menopause. I don’t mind any of it, I just run a razor over my face every couple of days. I’m a bit crazy about my facial / head hair; you all know I’m a vain SOB and I go to the barber every 2 weeks for an edge out, and my eyebrows have to be done monthly, so shaving is just a given now…but the T does cause more hair growth, it’s just a fact, and one I will gladly live with. At least I am not going bald! Ha!
If anyone has any other questions that I haven’t answered here, or comments feel free to leave them below in the comment section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org