This is a story about how I regretted top surgery and how this relates to my choice of underwear. Bear with me here.
I’ve talked before about how I was anxious for top surgery. After top surgery — or at least for the first 5 days — I was okay with things, because I honestly felt like I was just binding again, except for the ridiculous bruising and drains sticking out of my armpits. Then, five days after surgery, I got one drain taken out and the foam removed, revealing my post-operative chest in all its swollen, colorful glory. Spoiler alert: it was not pretty. I spent the entire 6 hour drive back home trying to dispel my rising fears and concerns, but by the next afternoon I couldn’t take it anymore.
So I had a heart to heart with my therapist. I verbally bitch-slapped my surgeon for his horrible bedside manner, for not checking with me before surgery to clarify that my anti-depressants cause excessive bruising, and other such minuscule concerns. We were able to share in my frustration that I was still healing, and would be for months to come. And I felt a lot better; I haven’t regretted surgery since. If anything, I only look in the mirror and feel an agitated sense of curiosity for how my chest will heal up and ultimately look.
Okay, so now let’s talk about my nether regions, or rather what I choose to wear over them. You see, as with, oh, everything about my transition, I did not make the choice to wear men’s underwear lightly. I did my research, which meant dragging my best gay friend out to Target, H&M, and MisterLady (mostly whilst in Germany) to help me understand the labyrinthine byways of men’s fashion. I bought my first (and only) package of boxers at Target my sophomore year of college, but they faded into my “I have no more clean underwear to wear” supply. In Germany I started wearing trunks and/or boxer briefs. This lead to a tortuous, anxiety-ridden ride on the Straβenbahn whereby I was trying to convince myself that no, the locals could not see that I was wearing men’s underwear.
In the end, I realized that just because I wear “men’s'” underwear, it doesn’t make me a man — just as wearing girl’s underwear never made me a girl (or at least, not much of a good one). By giving up one thing and adopting something new, I was better able to explore myself and my identity, which in turn made me better able to live my life. This is what top surgery did for me, and continues to do every day. Did I have my concerns? Of course I did; I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. Were (and are) the results still scary? Of course they are, and will probably look a little off for 2 more months at least.
But was it worth it? Without a doubt. As the next few months come and go I’m using this as an opportunity to truly get to know my body, because for so long my top half was obscured by the knowledge that my chest was not exactly as it should be. And don’t worry about the underwear — that’s a story for a different day.