Whit's Chest Surgery Fund
I never fit in with the other girls I grew up with, and I was always aware of this. I never felt comfortable in the women’s locker room, but assumed it was because I had feelings for girls like I was supposed to have for boys. I wanted to play football with the boys at recess, but eventually that was deemed inappropriate. I did all the things a girl was supposed to do: I dated boys (up until I accepted that I in fact liked girls, and decided to live truthfully when I was 16); I played all the sports the girls did (volleyball, softball); I wore a dress and make-up to my 8th grade promotion.
When people called me pretty, I cringed. When people said I was beautiful and attractive, I completely and utterly disagreed. When I was 16, I decided to live honestly and I decided to play a little more with my appearance. I cut my hair off, and started to wear clothing made for men. My father didn’t like that I was not dressing femininely, but I liked the freedom I felt. At the time, I thought it would be great if I could be a man, but I thought that it was only because I could then date the people I really wanted to date. I assumed gender was what was between my legs. This was long before social media really came about in a real and visceral way. When I was a sophomore in high school, I dressed one time in drag, and IT WAS AWESOME. I thought I looked amazing, and I felt so free and just at home. I decided that doing drag was the best way for me to express myself, but unfortunately, I didn’t have any outlets for that in my small coastal town.
My first introduction to transgenderism was when I was a freshman in high school (maybe a sophomore), when I discovered the movie “Boys Don’t Cry”, but it still didn’t “click” that that could be my story. I was afraid for that to be my story, because Brandon Teena was killed. I didn’t think I really wanted a penis, so I didn’t think that was really my story.
I finally tired of being constantly told that people thought I was a boy, as if it were a bad thing, and I got tired of being noticed. My sister had died in a car accident when I was 15, and I was suffering greatly from it. By the end of my junior year, I’d had enough with people’s comments about the way I looked; it was not seen as a positive thing that I felt comfortable expressing myself and, though I didn’t know it at the time, my gender. I decided that I just wanted to be like “everyone else”; I grew out my hair, bought some women’s clothing, and started to become more involved in school leadership. One thing that always interested me, though, was the fact that no matter the length of my hair or the section of the store I bought my clothes in, I still was taken for a man. fascinating. I made the choice to dress the way everyone felt comfortable with me dressing. I decided to push down the part of me that wanted to be masculine and make my life “easier”. But it wasn’t easier; it was eating away at me from the inside.
When I got to college, I tried REALLY HARD to be a woman, since I truly did not think there was any other choice. My gender, as I said before, was what was between my legs, and was not what my brain said. It was my chromosomes. Period. I joined a sorority (I was the only lesbian there) and I tried REALLY HARD to be “one of the girls”. I never felt like I belonged there, though. Thanksgiving break of my first year of college, I cut all my hair off again, and it was SUPER LIBERATING! And by the end of my first year of college, I was wearing men’s clothing again, and yet again, I felt great! But being in a sorority, there were times when I was required to dress femininely, and eventually it became too much. My life became too overwhelming in Oregon, and I decided to move to San Diego and enroll in the school where my stepfather taught, since I was able to attend tuition-free.
When I was at university of Oregon, during my sophomore year, I attended the “Creating Change” (for LGBTQI education and advocacy) conference in Oakland, Ca. There, I met many people who were transgender and I learned about gender as a spectrum. Gender isn’t what is between your legs, it’s what is in your mind. I decided that being “genderqueer”, not really identifying with any gender, was for me. I also made the decision when I was 19 that I wanted to have my breasts removed. They didn’t fit me, and I truly and completely hated them. They were something that I didn’t identify with. At that time I started to consciously disassociate from my physical form, and started to dream of a body that felt comfortable and felt like home. I started to see that it might be possible to fit in to the world, and not just exist in it, away from everyone and everything.
When I moved to California in 2006, I started dating someone who, for the first time ever, actually asked me if I identified as a man. It was the first time someone asked me that as a real question about my identity and myself rather than as a way of telling me that I was expressing myself incorrectly. I think I said no, but at the time, I was truly struggling with it. We broke up eventually, and I continued to express a masculine gender identity. Around September of 2007, I started to have some intense emotional mood swings. I had a complete emotional breakdown. I finally admitted to myself what I had been trying to hide for so long. The one thing that I couldn’t admit to myself since I was a child. I identified as a man.
I started binding my chest with a male corset-type garment called a “binder” shortly after that. From the time I was 19, before I started using the binder, I had been wearing doubled-up sports bras in order to attain as flat a chest as I could, but using the binder worked SO MUCH BETTER since they were made for men who had male breast tissue (gynecomastia). We were married in November of 2007.
I graduated from college in June 2008, and started taking testosterone at that time. My wife and I moved to San Francisco, and I sacrificed a lot in order for us to be able to live there. I started attending a support group and made some great friends there. People I am still friends with to this day. I started to attend therapy for depression and PTSD related to my sister’s death when I was 15. I have become a healthy-minded individual who loves himself, the world, and everyone in it. I came out to my family as transgender when I was 24, and they have all accepted me as I am and how I identify (my father’s response: “well no shit! Duh!”). The last step for me is having a body that matches my brain. It truly hurts my heart that I don’t have that body and I feel like I’ve just been renting, or maybe just occupying this one my entire life. I am ready to make this body my own. I am ready for a body that is a home.
As many people in the transgender community can attest to, living in a body that does not match their personal identity can be like living in an uncomfortable and claustrophobic suit. Day in and day out, the image I present to the world is maintained with constrictive clothing. There are many reasons why this surgery has become an absolute necessity for me and has become a hindrance to living a full, complete life.
Safety: there are many people in this world who have an issue with transgender people, and having an obvious chest is a problem. There are some people that would accost, assault, or kill me simply for being transgender. Having a chest increases the likelihood that I am found out. It is a constant source of stress when I am out in the world, and I need to feel safe. I do not feel safe out in the world at the present time.
Health: this is a multi-layered issue and covers both mental/emotional health as well as physical health. We’ll start with the physical side effects of binding my upper torso for the past decade. This has left me with a few different issues. The first being that I am unable to take deep breathes. This may not sound like that big of a deal, but just imagine that you could never take a deep breath. Your lungs can never fill completely, and phlegm builds up on a regular basis. When my work does biometric screening, the nurse always asks me if I am sick that day. I have not been sick on any of those days, but my lungs operate as if I am. In addition to diminished lung capacity, I have also started to have physical pain in my ribs. There are some days where it actually hurts to breath, and on occasion, I have worried that I might be having a heart attack. It is painful and scary.
My emotional health suffers as a result of having a body that does not match my brain. I feel disconnected from the world at large and sometimes it takes a great deal of my strength to simply exist. I’m exhausted with existing. I want to live. Last year, I thought I would be able to afford this surgery because my wife and I were going to get a good amount of money back from the IRS because of the repeal of DOMA, but that money had to go toward fixing our car. I have been able to save a small amount, but not nearly enough to be able to afford this surgery. When I allow myself to believe that I may not have this surgery, it takes all my energy not to completely break into a thousand pieces. I need this surgery to be a complete person; to live in the world instead of existing apart from it.
The timing of this surgery is important for my future goals. I want to attend chiropractic school and plan to start either fall 2016 or January 2017. The nature of the program requires a large use of my body. I do not feel comfortable doing this program with a female chest. My only want in life is to help others, and the way I have found I would best be able to do that is by becoming a chiropractor. This surgery is necessary for me to achieve this goal. I want to help people, but first, I need help.
I am humbly asking for any help I can get, from anyone who is willing to give it.
Gender affirming surgeries are not required by law to be covered. My employer has made the choice not to cover gender related surgeries, and in fact officially states that being transgender is a choice. Gender related surgeries are a choice in the same way that using IVF to have a child is a choice, according to my employer.
I am currently taking steps to attempt to convince my employer to change this policy, however i am unable to wait for them to do this. Hopefully my actions will help others in the future, but right now, i need some help from you all.
Please share and pass along. I am a month and a half away from this surgery. It is all going on credit, and will end up costing me a lot more than the $6500 that i am trying to raise. Thank you for your help.
I've been overwhelmed with the generosity of everyone who has dinated to this cause and shared it with their friends. I am still working on other avenues for funding, but i am still in very real need of help via this crowd-funding site.
Like I've said before, any amount helps; any amount of sharing and getting the word out helps.
Thank you all so much for your generosity and help with this. I will be sure to keep you updated. Love you all!
thank you all again for your love and support. i look forward to hearing from you!
Just passed $400 mark this week and am OVERWHELMED with the generosity i have seen from people i havent talked to in years (or ever met!) what amazing people i am lucky to have in my life.
There is still a long way to go, though, so please continue to share with others. I am confident this surgery WILL happen. Any amount (even $1) helps. Any amount is greatly appreciated. $1 from 6000 people would get me to my goal, so please keep sharing.
Love and appreciate you all!