Two weeks ago, I underwent surgery to remove my breasts, and to shape my chest into a more masculine profile. Psychologically, the effect of this has been profound. On a superficial level, the smile has barely left my face this last two weeks. On a deeper level, the changes have been surprising.

When you consider breasts in the cold light of day, they are nothing special. Two extensions of the chest, incorporating a bunch of mammary glands, and intended, to the best of my biological knowledge, to provide sustenance to a newborn child. Nevertheless, breasts have taken on a sexual significance which has catapulted them far from providing food, to indicating or enhancing how sexy a woman is. Both succour and sex have meant that breasts have become part of female identity at a very deep level. Which at least partly explains the problems that transmen have identifying with their breasts.

I was aware of all of this when planning my surgery, and longed to lose such potent symbols of femininity in order to allow my true masculinity to show. Bits of flesh they may just be, but to Society, and most of all, to me, they were a constant link to woman-as-mother and woman-as-sex-object. And that’s not even counting the physical discomfort and inconvenience that is caused by having breasts whilst living and identifying as male.

Now they are gone, I feel very odd indeed. I don’t miss them, not one iota. I do not regret the path I have taken. It’s just that I don’t quite believe it’s actually happened. I know I no longer have breasts…but can’t stop THINKING like I have breasts. For years and years I have tried to avoid drawing attention to my chest, using my generally bad posture to minimise the impact of my breasts. Even after a reduction from FF to D, I still needed to hide them away where I could. Imagine going from that instinctive, ingrained thinking to suddenly having nothing to hide.

So far, I’m not doing very well. Despite there being no physical need, I still hunch my shoulders forward and curl over a little, to hide my invisible breasts. And that’s no longer being caused by the discomfort of the surgery. I keep trying to roll my shoulders back and stick my chest out, but there’s a really big demon in my head screaming that if I do that, people will look at me, and dismiss me as just a woman. And please, women, that’s not an indication of how I feel about you, it’s the product of years of misery based around my gender identity.

Despite my surgery, at this point in time, I still have breasts. Although I look at my beautiful new chest and recognise it for what it is, I’m still holding onto the belief that the breasts are still there, and I feel them still. The power of the mind is a scary thing.

I know I have to re-learn my body, to try and reconcile what I can actually see and feel with what my head tells me is true. Every fibre of my body still believes it is a certain shape, and I acknowledge that there is a huge amount of denial going on at a deep level of self. Don’t get me wrong – I couldn’t be happier with my new body, but it’s going to take parts of my mind and body a long time to catch up. It’s going to take a long time to stop my body feeling ‘wrong’, but time I have, combined with the hormones that are working away at changing me slowly but surely. I need to concentrate on accepting myself in a way I’ve not been able to in the past. How do you re-learn your own body?

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