So after years of grappling with indecision and gender/body dysphoria, I have come to a point of confidence and determination in knowing that this will be the year that I do what I need to do to finally feel at home in my body. I'm determined to get Top Surgery in 2018 !!!!
To give a little background on myself, my name is Cameron, I'm a 27 year old queer, trans* non binary, AFAB person living upstate in the Hudson Valley of NY. I use they/them pronouns, but have recently started to be okay with he/him pronouns as well to make my (for some) complicated, hard to understand, journey easier on the people in my life. Growing up, I never fully identified as a girl, and although I didn't have the language to understand it at the time, I almost always pushed back against the gender norms that were pushed onto me. From the time I was 5 years old I didn't understand why I couldn't walk around topless or wear boys clothes, and I went from identifying as a tom boy to a dyke to a 'kid', and then at 25 on the brink of adulthood realized that I never had, and never would identify as a woman. Simultaneously, I've never felt like a man or felt comfortable in exclusively male/masculine spaces. Born a Libra, I have always been cursed with constant indecision, and felt incredible shame for not feeling completely at home within the labels and categories that I was placed in, and at times the ones that I placed myself in.
During this brink of adulthood, I came to a place of self-empowerment, realizing that maybe I don't fit into the boxes that have been laid out for us, and that maybe that is more than okay, and actually something beautiful. At this time was when it clicked for me that Non-Binary/Gender Non Conforming in itself is an identity, and that I had that autonomy to claim that label for myself. I am a sometimes genderless, sometimes genderful, both masculine and feminine person and this is something that I am learning more and more everyday through my community, my family, my work, and my own personal work is beautiful!!!
However, at this point in my journey, I realized how painful it felt to be read by the world around me as a woman. Though I still hold my adolescense as a teenage girl close to me, and will probably always feel more comfortable in women's spaces than men's, I spent 25 years of my life treated in a way that never felt completely comfortable. I was diagnosed with clinical Depression and Anxiety at 12 years old, and tried to end my life at 13. Mental health and stability have always been a battle for me, but the past 5 years, especially prior to making any big changes, were the tipping point.
I grappled with my life on a daily basis. I struggled severely with Depression, Agoraphobia, Dysphoria, Addiction, Suicidal Ideation, and completely isolated myself from the people in my life. After making the decision to start therapy and anti-depressants, I became more stable and clear-headed, ready to make the big life changing decisions that I needed to make in order to stay alive. I changed my pronouns, then my name, and then decided to start Testosterone. I have never felt more like myself and more stable than I have since changing my name and starting Testosterone. After 25 years of severe body dysmorphia and depression, making these life altering decisions has felt like a new lease on life.
Since starting the process of finding my voice and finally taking ownership over a life, identity and body that never fully felt like my own, and now having spent more than two years becoming public and vocal about who I am and how I would like to be seen, it is excrutiating to have those preferences ignored and disregarded. Being gender non conforming in this very binaried world is very isolating and hard! In most situations, there is no space or acknowledgement for anyone outside of men or women, and gender non conforming folks are frequently forced to adjust our own comforts in order to make our existances more convenient for the people around us. I am not a man, but being read by the world as a man is significantly less painful to me than being read as a woman, as I didn't spend 25 years battling with my mind and heart about whether or not I was a man while being told that I was one. Since starting Testosterone in May 2017, I have already experienced significant changes in the ways that I move through the world, the new privileges that I hold tied to the perception of me, and more than anything, how much of a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders (not chest yet!!! ;) in feeling confident that I'm not going to be called "ma'am" or 'Miss' or grouped as a 'lady' in public spaces. I am blessed with a support system of people who give me the validation that I need, and for the first time in my life I know that I am seen exactly the way that I feel. To me, this is a major facet of what makes my life worth living.
But alas, my size D (probably bigger at this point) chest is something that has always weighed me down. Before ever having the knowledge or understanding of trans* identities, I've always hated my chest and worn baggy clothes to conceal it. Even with a compressive binder that I have utilized for the last 3 years, my chest is still never completely flat, and as a result, my body has become accustomed to permanently hunching forward to make shirts baggier, giving the appearance of a flatter chest. This has given me terrible posture, constantly aching shoulders and neck, and most recently, a completely debilitating thrown out back that had me immobile and bound to the floor or limping with extreme pain and utilization of a cane for over 10 days. Chronic back pain runs in my family, and due to my chest, binding, and my posture, the symptoms have already begun for me. Multiple doctors and people have recently suggested, "Why don't you just stop binding if it hurts your chest so badly?" To which my only response is, would you feel comfortable moving through the world and public spaces with facial hair and large breasts? If so, I have incredible respect and admiration for you because in my experience, it is extremely mentally and emotionally taxing, and unfortunately not a reality that I can live with. I am trans, I am nonbinary, and I don't want to be another devistating suicide statistic of a person who could no longer handle the pain, isolation, and marginalization that can come along with being trans/gender nonconfroming. I want to live a long, happy, authentic life, and I know that top surgery is a vital element to that journey.
please help me make this a reality!!
Here are the logistics.
Top Surgery is not the same procedure as a double mastectomy utilized by folks with breast cancer.
The technical name for the procedure I am determined to get is a Bilateral Mastectomy/Mastopexy, with Chest Reconstruction and Nipple Grafts, all of which ultimately create the appearence of a "male" chest. A larger chest typically calls for a Double Incision procedure, which has larger scars than the other common Keyhole procedure.
My insurance only covers in-network doctors, which is very limited where I am. There are a few doctors that I am familiar with nearby who accept insurance, but to be completely transparent, the bigger the body and chest, the bigger opportunity for error. Bigger chests have higher chances of botched surgeries, aesthetic mistakes, thicker/unnatural looking scars, awkwardly placed nipples, and "dog ears," which are a common aftermath of top surgery. As a technically overweight person with an objectively large chest, I do not want to take a risk here. This is a major surgery, and if I'm going to do it I want to go to someone who I know will do the best job possible.
I have chosen Dr. Daniel Medalie in Cleveland, OH, who's prices are pretty standard as far as out of pocket top surgery rates go. I have submitted my medical history and photos to his office, and am waiting to hear back on a cost estimate. However, his website states that surgery is typically between $7,000 and $8,000 depending on the chest size. As my chest is larger, I'm assuming the cost will be toward the higher end.
My goal is to schedule surgery for October 2018. Surgery requires that I would stay in the Cleveland area for roughly one week.
My incredible and supportive girlfriend has offered to come with me to Cleveland for the week for support and to essentially be my caretaker during the recovery week, so I'm using $9,700 as a rough estimate to include:
-$8,000 surgery cost
-$900 for both of our flights round trip from NY to OH
-$300 - $800 for hotel costs for one week in Cleveland (depending on dates and availability)
I am rounding up here to ensure that everything is covered, and I will update over time as I have more exact costs.
Any and all donations, as small as $1 would mean more to me than I can possibly explain. I just want to be seen the way that I feel, and be able to go outside without the physical pain of binding my chest. Please help me make this a reality in 2018!
If you don't have any means to donate, sharing this link would be so so appreciated!!!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this,
I'm so grateful for you!!!!!
All of the love that my little heart can muster,
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