It has now been five years since my top surgery (chest reconstruction as part of my gender transition). I missed the specific day go past this year, but that doesn’t mean I ever take my chest for granted. Something frequently happens that causes me pause and reflect on just how blessed I am and how free I feel.
The most recent moment of reflection has been during last week’s holiday to the beautiful island of Fuerteventura. The weather was glorious, and it was heaven to be shirtless and feel the sun’s rays on my chest. However, the most poignant moment occurred on a night out.
On our last night on holiday, My partner Chris and I wandered down to Piero’s Café in Caleta De Fuste, to watch Diva Chanel’s comedy drag act. Because we arrived late, the front seats were the only ones left. Choosing these seats meant I became a prime target for what was to follow later.
Midway through the show, Diva dragged me up onto the stage along with two other guys. Diva told us to follow her manager backstage, where we would be taught a dance move. Behind the stage curtain, her manager then asked if we would be happy to dance to the song ‘YMCA’, taking our tops off and wearing a builders hat, a captain’s hat and a cowboy hat.
At the thought of this, the panic began to rise. However, the fear was not just due to social anxiety. As open as I am about being trans, and about having my top off, the thought of doing so in this setting, on a stage in a bar in a room of strangers was utterly terrifying. What if the audience noticed my top surgery scars and then realised I am trans? Would they laugh at me? Heckle me?
I reminded myself I wasn’t alone; my ever supportive and adoring partner was right at the front of the stage. It was also unlikely anyone would actually notice my scars. Furthermore, I knew I would feel more embarrassed if I refused to do it and sat back down. I took a deep breath, whipped off my T-shirt, grabbed the canary yellow builders’ hat, and strutted on stage to the tune of YMCA.
I am so glad I did because it was incredibly liberating. The crowd cheered when I danced, and on receiving the loudest cheer I was voted the winner! I’m a wibbly wobbly forty-something and despite the occasional annoyance at my inability to stop eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream enough to slim down, I am pretty confident in my body, flab, scars and all. However, I do still worry about other peoples view of my body and my gender identity. Therefore to hear the crowd cheering and to win a prize was one of those incredible affirming moments of acceptance.
Its flabbergasting to think that five years ago, before top surgery, I couldn’t bear to look at my body. Whenever I looked at or touched my body, I became swamped with crippling dysphoria and stomach-churning nausea. Now, twice the size I was five years ago, I love my body so much that I can brave showing it to other people.
My surgeon, the talented Mr Andrew Yelland, gave me the greatest gift in the world, the gift of freedom. This gift keeps on giving, and I am grateful for it every day.
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