Becoming Male (part 1)

Hunter campFor FtM trans guys, one of the things that is high up on the list of wishes is to have a masculine chest. This means a “boob-free” upper anatomy. Guys who are born anatomically male get to swim without a shirt on. They get to shower without having to hide their chest. They get to see a body that matches their identity.

Trans guys who are pre-op not only have to swim with their shirt on but with a chest/compression binder as well. Not only do these guys have to endure the binder to hide their breasts, but now they are wearing two layers of wet stuff clinging to their upper half.

As a parent of a trans teen we are facing the reality of our son undergoing surgery. No parent wants their child to have major surgery — for any reason. In this situation, however, surgery will make a difference in the way Hunter is viewed, the way he views himself and how he feels as a human being.

Hunter recently turned 16 and is dreaming of a time when he can swim without a shirt or be a camp counselor  and not worry about showering or having to cover up his upper half. Top surgery for Hunter will be life changing. Planning for college and what kind of housing he will have access to will be made simpler if his body is beginning to match up to his gender identity.

When Hunter first came out to us he was in a hurry to get started with hormone therapy. This, in his mind, was what he needed to begin his journey to manhood. We understood that he had been researching for quite some time and trying to find just the right time to come out to us. And, even though our goal from the beginning was to support his transition, we needed time to process, research and understand before we could give the green light to any eventual steps.

Planning for top surgery is one of those steps. As a woman, it is difficult for me to understand. As a parent, I can barely stand to think about it. However, for Hunter, having breasts is an undesirable by-product of being born with female parts while identifying as male. Having “boobs and a vagina” (as he puts it) causes a significant amount of body dysphoria. He has good days and bad days. I am thankful for the good days and concerned for the bad.

While we are not rushing this process, we are starting to talk about it. Michigan is not one of the states that covers this surgery. Some private insurance plans offer coverage for transgender services. We are not so fortunate. It is costly and definitely not something we planned for.

For those who are unfamiliar with FtM “top surgery,” the procedure not only removes the breasts but shapes the chest to look masculine. This man-sculpting is an art-form that trans guys can only achieve through an expert surgical procedure. Trans guys are willing to have difficult, often painful surgeries so they can emotionally feel more like the gender in which they identify.

Hunter recently said that “looking in the mirror is always a surprise.” In his mind, he is male and is often shocked by the image looking back.


4 thoughts on “Becoming Male (part 1)

  1. Kris would also like to have top surgery some day. He used to be more impatient than he is now. He will be transferring to a school, sharing housing with a guy. He has already done this when he was in the Disney College Program and lived with many guys. It wasn’t easy- always being covered, watching what he wore and all that but it was do-able. I wish it didn’t have to be this way but for now it does.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I just realized I replied in an email, not on the comment section. DUH!

    Anyway, my son is 26. Too old to be on our insurance, not that it was covered anyway. He’s only considered part time at his job, so no insurance there. He tried to sign up tor coverage through the marketplace and the only thing he qualifies for is Medicaid. Our state doesn’t have a set policy on trans coverage, so we may have some hope.

    I want so much to do this for him.


  3. Hi everyone, it has been a while. My son came out as FTM over 2 years ago and our family fully supports him. In that timeframe we have legally changed his name and then anything associated with his name starting with his high school. I feel so lucky his high school was accepting of him and he wasn’t bullied. He did great in school and was captain of the Percussion group for his last 2 years. Here’s the clincher: we live in northern Utah. Utah is not known for being accepting of any LGBTQ folks because of the dominant religion here which I don’t think I need to even mention. You can figure it out. Luckily there are doctors and counselors that work specifically with the LGBTQ community here and the list is growing. My son had his top surgery almost 6 weeks ago by a surgeon who has done hundreds of these surgeries on FTMs and has great bed side manner with her patients as well as her staff. People travel here to have her do their surgery. My son saved his money and he paid half and we paid the other half. No insurance to cover it. He has healed beautifully and we wouldn’t let him lift or do anything strenuous for the past month and a half. So worth it just to see his spirits lifting and him presenting the way he feels on the inside. He is going back into counseling though. He still suffers from some depression and anxiety but I would think any person going through this would for a long time and even after transitioning. I couldn’t imagine myself being inside of the wrong body. I’ve tried. It must cause a lot of anxiety and depression for these folks that others just can’t begin to understand. We have slowly told outside family members. My husband is a lot braver than I am and has told some people at work. I just can’t bring myself to tell anyone at work. They all knew I had 2 daughters when I started working there but I really have 1 son and 1 daughter now. It is hard when someone asks me how my daughters are doing. Does anyone else deal with this? I want to be open about it but something stops me. I’m happy my son is getting to live authentically. He’s 18 and just graduated from high school and is planning on getting a job soon and start college next year. We are giving him the time he needs to heal, and figure out what he wants to do with his life. He is a good kid and we are very proud! And to Hunter’s mom, I did grieve and go through a major depression when I lost my daughter but am very happy I have my son now!


    • Congrats on the too surgery! That’s a huge step. As far as telling your co-workers I would say to think about why you don’t want to say anything. In many cases it’s less stressful to come clean than to hold it in. Can you invite a couple of close work friends to lunch and share with them? Find even one person you can confide in. It will get easier from there.


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