*Note: this blog contains a post-surgery photo*
Let me take this opportunity to introduce myself. I’m 21 years old and a peer support worker in the mental health sector. There is no career that I want to do other than to be a psychologist. I find mental health interesting and I want to do all that I can to help others. I’m also a male who was born female bodied. Since starting testosterone a couple of years ago, people I meet would never guess that I wasn’t born male bodied.
I was awarded a Pinnacle scholarship in late 2011. It couldn’t have come at a better time. At that point in my life, I was saving every bit of money that I could for my chest corrective surgery. I dreaded puberty since I first heard about what was going to happen to my body. I cringed at the thought of bleeding monthly and was terrified that my chest would grow into something that wasn’t me. I convinced myself that it wouldn’t happen because it wasn’t supposed to. But unfortunately my body betrayed me.
I used to wear 3 t shirts, a jumper and a jacket to hide my chest. I was so ashamed of it. Then when I heard about binders (which are garments that compress the chest really tight), I got one. It made my chest flat and I was less ashamed of it. But when I started taking testosterone, my voice broke and I started growing lots of body hair. It felt even more like my chest didn’t belong even when binding. Binding was very painful and I felt jealous that I couldn’t take my shirt off at the beach like every other guy could.
It all built up on me and I needed to have my chest corrected. I looked at my options. I didn’t have $7,000 to pay for the surgery and I didn’t have a job or any family support. My only option was to get health insurance, wait the compulsory year on it which I thought would be enough time to save up a few thousand dollars to pay for the surgery. The wait and having no money was unbearable. I become very depressed but I pushed through because I kept imagining how great it would feel to have the right chest. It ended up costing a total of $4,140. I realised that I wouldn’t be able to come up with the money in time for payment so I held a fundraiser and I ended coming up with the money through that and donations from friends.
The surgery was a complete success and the surgeon said it couldn’t have gone better. It was such a relief to hear that all the time I spent in the gym preparing my body for it and all the time I spent broke worked out. When I saw my chest for the first time, I hadn’t smiled that big in a long time.