I love the summer. Everyone's delighted at the fact that the warmer weather is coming in, or as the Scottish call it, 'Taps aff' weather.
On an especially sunny day, my Dad got home a little earlier from work so we decided to go a trip on his motorbike. I was ecstatic, running upstairs to get the leather gear on. I put the thick leather jacket on; the material groaning a little. The thing with protective motorbike leathers is they have to be tight to your skin to reduce the drag from the wind as you're hurtling down the road. That was the only thing about wearing the leathers I didn't like; my chest, which stuck out a little.
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I'm a pre-surgery transgender guy who won't have a completely flat chest until I eventually do get surgery through the NHS. This will take a while as I'll have to be on testosterone hormone treatment for a year to meet the criteria and then wait for months between consultation appointments and eventually get 'top surgery'. It's really a long waiting game.
So what surgery do female-to-male transgender people get on their chest you wonder? Well, it's different depending on your physique. Someone with a larger chest such as myself will need something called a double incision surgery. The skin on the chest is opened along two horizontal incisions, one at the top and bottom of the pectoral muscle, essentially cutting away the breast. This is then stitched together and the nipple is then reformed and grafted onto the chest. The double incision leaves you with two scars, one running under each pectoral.
For smaller chested people, the surgery isn't so extreme. People with an A cup or smaller will be able to get what is called peri-areolar incision. An incision is made around the areola; the entire circumference around the nipple which is left attached a little to keep sensation and may be resized depending on the person. The breast tissue is then cut out with a scalpel and excess skin is cut away, pulling the skin taught as it's stitched back onto the nipple.
For even smaller chests, they can get keyhole surgery where they make a small incision in the areola, having minimal scarring.
I'm excited and nervous about this in the future. It's not a small surgery and will take months to heal and a year until I can go topless in the sun. The scars will take a long time to fade. But it's worth it.
I have what you call body dysmorphic disorder, also known as dysphoria. Because my brain is male and my body is female, it refers to the discomfort caused by the inconsistency between the gender in my head and my physical sex. I'll pretty much feel uncomfortable in my own body until I go for surgery which will ease it.
Not everyone knows the great lengths that many, but not all, transgender people go to in order to feel comfortable in their own bodies, or even understand the great disgust we feel 24/7/365 having to live in them before surgery.
It's hard being transgender and the ignorance the general public who don't know about us and even those who do show is sometimes belittling, the slurred terms hurtful, the wrong pronouns painful.
But this is who I am and I'm strong enough and proud enough to keep my head held high, ignoring the snide remarks about my appearance and strangers calling me 'hen' or using the wrong pronouns. It'll pass. This awkward part of my life is just a stage until I become who I'm meant to be.
After I'm done with surgery I'll be going on a lot more motorbike rides.
Just like I did with my Dad; hurtling down the motorway at seventy miles an hour. You don't realise just how fast you're going in a car, but on a bike the wind pushes you back as you zim down the smooth tarmac, feeling ever turn and minute movement. I might just get my own once I feel a bit more comfortable in tight leathers.
Hell, I might even look pretty good.