Brave New World

(they always said that sex would change you)

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What, wut, a trannie update?
wraith WOW

So for those of you who may be unaware, I am back in the states -- moved back in with my parents for the stated purpose of staying there "until I found my feet" or "until I figured out what I wanted to do next."

Hahaha. Yeah, still working on that.

In any case, since neither one of those was forthcoming and indecision paralysis was looming its head, I decided, FUCK IT -- YOUR PRIORITY IS TOP SURGERY. Concentrate on saving up for that, I told myself. You don't have to worry about anything else until that's done.

I got a job. (At a used bookstore; initially I was trying to get a real job, translation work on the west coast, but after a while I took what I could get. For a retail job, it's aces.) I lived at home. I packed my lunches. (I went South Beach Diet! It's a little more expensive to eat all fresh food, but by god, I have bangin' body these days.) I ran a lot and read a lot, because those are the cheapest hobbies you can have. (And also because I seem to have the most proactive response to getting dumped: MUST GET HOTTER. MUST GET SMARTER. >:|

...Even though the reason I got dumped wasn't for lack of hots or smarts. That was a learning experience, oh yes it was. Educational, even. Most of 2011 was educational, in the "builds character" sense of the word.)

And I also picked a surgeon, which is harder than it sounds. I'm fortunate enough to be living in the age of the internet, and there are a handful of (nomadic, disappearing and reappearing) websites for trannies that archive the post-op photos of sex-change surgeries, so that you can compare the results for different procedures, and moreover, different doctors. Only, the first time you open an immediate post-op photo, and you see the the particolored bruising and the bleeding nipples and the frankenstein-stitching and tubes oozing pus you think


and hit the back button as fast as you can, going cannot-unsee-cannot-unsee-DO-NOT-WANT-cannot-unsee.

Only... you do want. Because you're a trannie. And that's the only way up.

So a few weeks later you're back, and this time you know what to expect. You find you can stomach a dozen or so pictures before giving up in despair. Despair, in part, because on one side you've got the roadkill photos, and on the other side you have the price -- getting your tits off starts at $6000 and only goes up.

I'm paying you HOW MUCH to do WHAT to me? Half a year's pay for the privilege of getting vivisected?

But after a while you get used to the gruesome pictures of the immediate post-op results, and start to focus on what it will look like once the bleeding stops and the scars start to heal. What you're going to be living with once it's all over. You look at the pictures that people have taken six months, a year, two years down the line -- and it's still depressing. Massive crescent-shaped scars under each former tit like a big fugly underwire. Chests that are flat, yes, but don't look natural, don't look male. Tags of excess skin under the armpits. Nipples that are too dark, too big, too close together, too far apart, that are crooked.

I'm paying you $6000 for crooked fucking nipples?

In the end, though, you begin to see that some results are ones you could live with. There are people who've healed up so well that the scars are all but invisible, sometimes within as short a span as one year. Some doctors are better at shaping chests so they look masculine, are better at placing nipples, seem to have better results with the scars healing. The two names that consistently appear in conjunction with good results are Dr. Brownstein in San Francisco and Dr. Garramone in Florida.

But whatever, you say. I don't have the money for it yet anyway. It's a moot point.


Eventually I sent an email overture to Dr. Brownstein, expressing my interest in top surgery and asking about the costs. He had me fill out a medical questionnaire and send frontal and lateral photos of my chest so he could gauge how much tissue he'd have to be removing. (In internet-speak: A/S/L, SHOW ME PICS OF UR TITS) He sent me back a breakdown of the expenses, which in total came out to... over nine-thousand.

Dude, what do you take me for? I have the internet. I know how much this is supposed to cost.

For the record, the going rate seems to be $5000-$7000. Some doctors charge more if you have more chest to get rid of (which I do not, so I don't know what Brownstein's deal was), but in general the pricing seems really arbitrary, because the other surgeon I'd been looking at, Dr. Garramone posts his price upfront on his website -- a flat $5900 for any chest size, which includes all medical, hospital, surgical, anesthesiological fees, you name it.

I called his office around January 6th, and was scheduled a day for a phone consult: stay by the phone on the 23rd, and he'll call you sometime. I wasn't much a fan of the delay or of being tethered to phone all day, but it worked out well enough in the end. Both Dr. Garramone and his assistant were very friendly. He asked me a few of the standard questions, how long I'd been living as man, whether my family was supportive of my transition, whether I had a partner and whether they were supportive. (I blanked on that question for a moment, because I couldn't think of an appropriate way to explain that the people I had sex with weren't so invested in me that my gender identity affected them. I think I went with something along the lines of "Uhm, not a regular partner, no...")

And then when I had no further questions he transferred me back to his secretary.

Brigitt: Okay, so I'm going to send you the package with the information about all of the things you'll need to do before surgery, what sort of medical release you need from your doctor and so on. When would you like to schedule the surgery for?
Me: ...As soon as possible? [Thinking: I had to wait three weeks just to get this guy on the phone for ten minutes, how many years before he's got enough time to do my surgery?]
Brigitt: How soon is soon? :) Because we can get you started right away.
Me: Within the next couple months... March or April?
Brigitt: Okay, he's free March 23rd and 30th, and then every Tuesday or Thursday in April.
Me: ....
Me: ...................

And I honestly can't put words in my mouth, because I can't remember what I said. The essence of it was: I have spent years wanting this, but it was impossible, and seemed like it always would be impossible, that it would never actually happen, and now you're inviting to pick a date. Just like that.

And she laughed, kindly, and said that a lot of people had my reaction. She told me that if I needed time to decide I could get back to her, and I took her up on that.

The next day I spoke with my manager about it, to make sure that I would still have a job after taking three weeks off for a surgery that would likely leave me hobbled for another two months after that. (Two months of working nothing but the cash register, wheee.) He'd already known that I was, quote, "legally female" because I had to fill out health insurance paperwork when I was hired, but the man has a stone pokerface and when I'd told him that he only blinked and asked if my appearance was going to be changing while I was working for them...? and I said no, I would continue to look the way I did. (He is not the first, on finding out that I'm a trannie, to assume that I want to become a woman rather than the other way around. I think that means I'm winning.)

There was some stickiness at first because FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) protects employees from being sacked for taking medical leave, but it only applies if they've been working at the company for over a year. I told him that if he needed to hire someone else for my job, then I wouldn't be happy about it, but I would understand. Three weeks is a long time in retail-land, and we're already short-staffed. But he called around to HR, and it turned out I can have my surgery and my job, because my company goes above and beyond what the law requires, and won't sack anyone for taking medical leave, no matter how new they are.

The other hitch was that the assistant store manager is going on paternity leave, starting in March, and will be out until the middle of May -- in short, the least I could do was put off my surgery until he got back. Which, loath as I am to delay any further (I just know that every day from March 23rd onward I'm going to be thinking, YOU COULD HAVE BEEN DONE BY NOW, YOUR TITS COULD HAVE BEEN GONE BY NOW), will probably work out better in terms of money anyway. In being so excited about having finally saved up the money for surgery, I'd forgotten to take into account the other appurtenances of the trip, re: transportation and lodgings, and probably food as well.

Internet research indicates that it will cost --

Medical everything: $5900
Round-trip airfare: $400
A week of Holiday Inn: $1117
Total: $7417

Minus my bank account, that comes out to $1755 -- roughly three and a half (bi-weekly) paychecks. Assuming I spend nothing.


So I'm not sure if/how I'm going to come out to my coworkers. Obviously they're going to notice when I'm MIA for three weeks, and then unable to lift my arms over my head for another month or two. By this point I wouldn't even mind if they knew, since their opinions of me are about as solid as they're going to get, and I doubt that finding out I used to be a chick is going to put much of a dent in that. I just don't know how to disseminate that information, since it's rare that we're all in the same place at the same time, and nowhere in the workplace lends itself to Serious Confidings, since we're usually on the sales floor. So how do I tell them? Write it in the employee memo book? Corner them individually on their lunch breaks? Drop it into smalltalk while I'm at the buy counter? Have my manager call everyone together for a Very Special Announcement?

Although as far as conversation goes, I rather like this approach:

Coworker: So what are you getting surgery for?
Me: I'm going to Thailand, for a sex change.
Me: LOL, just kidding.
Me: I'm going to Florida.

We shall see. Tomorrow I'm calling Dr. Garramone's office again and scheduling a date, and then THINGS WILL BE IN MOTION. Airline tickets will be bought. Hotel reservations will be booked. Non-refundable down payment on surgery will be made. Very exciting, and can't come soon enough.


Also I got my junk pierced and shagged a 22-year-old art student. Unrelated, but in that order.

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*shudders at the piercing*

when my mom had her breast removed (cancer, hemi-mastectomy), she had trouble with the lifting not because of the removed breast itself, but because of the lymph nodes they'd taken out, you might be overestimating the time you'll need.

for the scars I can recommend baby oil once the wounds have closed up properly and you're not running risk of smear-infection anymore. it'll help keep the tissue smooth and not pucker up so much, also I've found that scars whiten out faster when the stuff is applied.

The piercing is fun! Makes it easier to drive down there.

And yeah, I'm probably over-estimating the time I need to be careful of lifting, but that's intentional -- pulling open half-healed scar tissue is one of the primary factors that makes scarring worse, and I am TOO VAIN for ugly scars. (If they don't heal up right, I'll get tattoos over my torso and shoulder to distract from them. :D)

There are a number of silicon-based products that reduce scarring, but it seems like the best thing you can do for it is just be healthy. Clean living helps you heal up faster.

Also I got my junk pierced and shagged a 22-year-old art student. Unrelated, but in that order.

XDDDDDDDD ♥ Never change (your personality). XDDDDDDDDDD

Good luck, and thank god your boss is awesome. Yes, waiting until the assistant mgr is back from paternity will be helpful and awesome, and wow you're actually taking the plunge--GOOD LUCK.

♥ Never change (your personality)

I doubt I could even if I wanted to. :P

Awesome isn't the word I would use for my boss (for one, he never said so outright, but he made me wonder whether he'd have sacked me if corporate policy hadn't backed me up). He has handled the trannie thing well though, by making zero fuss about it and -- to my knowledge -- not telling anyone else. In fact, he even asked for my permission to disclose the exact nature of my surgery to HR before he called them asking about sick leave.

He's gay, for whatever that's worth. And while plenty of gay men are fail on trans issues, it does make them more likely than straight men to deal with it well.

Well, okay, I give him props for empathy and understanding anyway.

I loved reading all this. =)

A couple of things, although please be aware that this will apply to general surgery, since i currently still have my breasts (and they're actively lactating for the baby...):

1. You can't go alone. You will DEFINITELY need someone for the time you're in the Holiday Inn.
2. On that note, you will be wiped out physically more than you can believe--you're having major surgery, after all.
3. It's great that you're doing this.

Oh aye. In fact the surgeon's office requires that you bring someone with you, both for emotional support and for helping you get around. And even if they didn't, it's been understood for a long time that Shelley's going to go with me. (Purchasing plane tickets for the two of us tomorrow~!)

I also can't claim to know what top surgery looks like, but the scar from my c-section healed up pretty clean. It's sorta purple-brown though, and may never change. You'll also probably have weird nerve sensations for awhile; part of me is still numb and other parts in my abdomen are slowly regaining feeling, and I'm 6 months out from the surgery now.

lol, well there are many pictures on that site I linked, if you're curious enough. As for losing sensation, post-op FTMs have reported all kinds of weirdness, but odds are high that I'll lose all sensation in my nipples, possibly permanently. Which, since they're not an especially erogenous zone for me, isn't as much of a loss as it might be to other people. (One guy said that post-op, the erogenous sensation of one of his nipples had migrated about six inches left, so he now had an erogenous zone under his armpit.)

*nod nod*

Just be forewarned that it will feel weird. You're not used to having no sensation at all in certain places, even if you're cold or hot or clothes are brushing against you--I'd say it makes you feel paralyzed, but that's not the truth, more like it gives you a lot of major empathy for what a paralyzed person must be going through for the rest of their life.

Oh man, good luck with that. Best wishes. You're already hot, and now you can get closer to the hot ideal in your mind.

y thank you. :D

But I am a lot happier with my body these days -- partly due to actual, physical changes (at long last, all those push-ups are paying off), where my hips are slimming and my shoulders are broadening and I've achieved man-shape, and partly due to having had a boyfriend for a while, which helped me finally get over most of my body insecurity issues. That would be the aforementioned dude-who-dumped-me, but it was awesome while it lasted -- there is nothing better for the self-esteem than someone smoking hot who thinks you're smoking hot too.

So glad to see the update and how things are going! I have to admit, I wish you and Shelley could road trip up to Atlanta, because seriously I MISS BOTH OF YOU!!!!

Congrats on moving forward. And honestly, I'm still in the "what do I want to do now?" phase. I don't think anyone ever grows out of it. Ever.


I can vouch, you do have a bangin' body these days.

Love the internet-speak version of Dr. Brownstein's request. I can understand that he takes pride in his work, and has good reason to maximize profit by keeping the procedure very customized and only giving out prices when speaking one on one with a likely patient. But not only does public pricing vastly help the customers, I think it actually makes the whole market much more sane and rational, and winds up benefiting the sellers too. Car and house buying are similar, and even the food market used to be until the Quakers fixed it. ( )

I think your gender identity does affect the people you have sex with. Fortunately, I think you always make sure, in a pleasant, friendly, upfront, honest way, to filter out any potential partners who wouldn't support your transition.

Hope it's not too weird or personal a question, but I think I remember you talking once some time ago about having your uterus and ovaries removed, even if you don't plan on a phalloplasty; has that been dropped from the list due to cost, pain, and lack of benefit?

Good idea about covering up scars with tattoos if they don't heal the way you want. One of the few times I'd wholeheartedly endorse a tattoo.

y thank you! And you would know, I suppose, as you've seen a lot of it recently. >:)

I think your gender identity does affect the people you have sex with.

True -- I'm sure if I'd had any exclusively straight friends-with-benefits they would have gotten weirded out and stopped having sex with me by now, but it's not like I'm married/with the love of my life and risking losing them by transitioning, which is more what that question is about. Even partners who think they're okay with it often find that they really, really aren't, or that it just changes too much and it's not the same relationship when they're done.

Eh, I'm sure I'll get a hysterectomy eventually, the same way I'll get my wisdom teeth out, eventually. It's just further toward the back of the queue because that surgery, or lack thereof, doesn't affect my day-to-day life much.

Yeah, I probably wouldn't bother with tattoos either, if not to cover scars. (Or not cover, because reputable tattoo artists don't like to work in scar tissue, but distract the eye from.) You have to invest a lot of energy in getting them JUST RIGHT, seeing as they're going to be on your body forever, and if there wasn't any pressing need for them I'd probably never get around to it. But compared to massive ugly surgical scars, even a tattoo that I eventually grew un-enamored with would be the lesser of two evils.

Edited at 2012-01-31 01:09 pm (UTC)

Ah, cool, cool. That all makes sense, especially about the real point of the question about how your SO, if any, is taking it.

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