I received the following email through the networks that I get queer and trans new updates from. Please read for your own info and continue below to my thoughts:
Fwd: Information regarding MSP approved FTM Chest Surgery:
If you know of anyone else who is MSP-approved for FtM chest surgery and has not had their surgery yet, would you please ask them to contact me? We will be actively seeking those who have not had their surgery, but if people approach me directly it helps the process.
Those who are transitioning from FtM and are approved for funding for mastectomy (via MSP) will be contacted at the end of this month, providing more details regarding where and when surgery will be done.
* Dr. Bowman has been given OR privileges in a public hospital to perform FtM chest surgery. This will be available to MSP-approved FtM transitioning men at NO cost to them (including any consults and male chest contouring).*
*This applies to ALL FtM transitioning men who have been MSP-approved and have not had their surgery*, including those who may have been on Dr.Musto's waitlist or on a waitlist at a private facility. This surgery will not be available to anyone who has not gone through the MSP approval process. Feel free to post this as necessary – hopefully it will control the rumour mill.
Carol Anne McNeill
I have been approved. I was not yet on a wait list as shortly after I got my approval I started having second thoughts. These thoughts were fueled by a number of things but I will try and break them down in a way that makes sense.
Firstly I was primarily responsible for the pre, during and post surgical care of one of my best friends/former lovers. The surgery was incredibly intense, and after a few days of helping empty drains and comfort my friend because the anaesthesia had backed up his digestive system I had to bail. As he dealt with the compound pain of A)just having had all his breast tissue removed, B) having the remaining skin and muscle pulled and sutured into a way that would look more "appropriately male" C) Having drain tubes coming out his sides for a week + D) AND the OMG I haven't shat in a week and I can feel everything i've eaten slowing backing up and threatening an exploded colon feeling. For him, that procedure was self motivated. He was getting the chest he wanted, could see himself with, dreamt of himself having and ultimately what he needed to survive. He bound so heavily everyday before surgery that he was developing back problems, but ultimately if he hadn't bound so tightly or been so stealth about being trans he wouldn't have survived his everyday work environment.
I do not live with that type of pressure. I do not bind. I haven't for a couple years, primarilly because I find that having asthma and pectus excavetum I already operate on limited oxygen. When I bind that puts me at a level where I am running on constant dizziness, increased fatigue and generally, I can't do my life in a way that feels safe or comfortable. Which should, ultimately be the point in binding, to make you more safe and comfortable in the world with the way that your body appears.
I am incredibly lucky, as the jobs that I have held and positions that I have had within institutions have allowed me a freedom wherein I can express my gender queerly, I can have a beard and visible breasts, I can be publicly trans. I don't know that that will be the case for ever. In some situations within my life do I dress in a baggier shirt and keep my lips sealed around issues of gender, this is a matter of self preservation. But I also think critically about my motivation within these circumstances. For example, if I was teaching a shop class of 15 year old boys, I would most likely be on the DL. WHY? Because 15 year old boys bodies are developing in a way that causes many of them to be incredibly self concious. They are receiving media messages and peer pressures that they SHOULDN'T have breasts. Breasts to teenagers become a dividing point. A sexualized feature present on girls (who in turn become sexualized) and a mark of "Freak" on anyone else. For a person, especially a skinny person, who appears to be male and has visible breasts, this stands out as "wrong". No one in our society is more tune to what our society deems as right and wrong body presentations as teenagers. This is compounded by their own self conscience. But being a model of the error in that right/wrong system also opens space for people to expand their perceptions and lesson the pressures that they have on their own bodies. I think that body positive movements will have a great impact on the ways that the media effects body image, creating space for self love in place of eating disorders and self harm. I just don't know how long I want my body to be the front lines of that battle.
I intend to have a child, from my own body, as I have written about here in the past. I want to ensure that my child has the best opportunities to nutrition and wellness and I believe that breast feeding would be a part of that. Luckily I have a partner with fully functional breasts, not discordant from her gender identity or presentation in any way, who is into sharing parenting responsibilities, in the best ways we can. She also feels that ensuring that our children can be breast fed is in every bodies best interest, but understands my feelings around maybe not keeping my breasts that long. Having that support makes the decision a little closer to easy, but it's still so far from anything decisive.
I discussed this with a friend who has a similar relationship to his gender, who had top surgery a few years back. He's said that for him, losing his breasts was a tough decision too, but that since surgery he's felt that much more able to play with his gender. I agree with this sentiment, as I have felt so much safer to fuck around with gender since being able to grow a beard. I am a fairy of a fag more than a butch or typical (if there is such a thing) transMAN.
I don't want to lose the opportunity of a free-ride surgery with one of the most experienced and talented surgeons in the country when it's been offered to me. I also don't know if I that is meant to be a part of my transition. I feel so in between. In between genders, in between transition options, in between defending difference and comfortably cutting my way into safe conformity, in between loving my body and hating the way it's looked at and treated by a world that doesn't have space for it.