[discussion of surgery, graphic imagery]
I first learned that top surgery was an actual thing that existed about ten years ago, when I was 18 and just exploring the possibility that I may be transgender. At first, the idea of slicing open my chest seemed gruesome and excessive, something I could never bring myself to do.
But after 18 years of feeling out of place in my own body, it didn’t take much for me to realize that the only way for me to feel comfortable with my body was to fix what was wrong with it, even if that meant doing this terrifying thing.
me in 2005, age 17
Unfortunately, as I looked into top surgery, I quickly discovered that it was virtually impossible for me to afford any time soon. The prices that other transgender guys were quoting were anywhere from $6,000 to $9,000, more money than I even made in a year at the time.
Ten years later, I’ve lived as genuinely as possible, taking testosterone injections, changing my name, practicing my “dude posture”, all in an attempt to be the person I know I was supposed to be for my entire life. I’d put the idea of top surgery out of my mind for years, always assuming that my medical and student debt would always prevent me from being able to afford it.
me in 2016, age 28, almost 4 years on testosterone
In August of 2015, I started working a full-time job as a copywriter for a major web design company. This was a huge deal for me, because my physical and mental health problems had prevented me from being able to hold even a part-time retail job for more than a year. This new job was different in that it was the first time I was offered healthcare coverage that I could actually afford.
In January of 2016, I met a fellow trans man who lived near me and had gotten top surgery in a nearby city, using the same insurance company who provides my own healthcare. Not expecting much, I called this surgeon and scheduled a consultation. He told me he could do the surgery, but it would cost $5,700 if insurance didn’t cover it.
Still refusing to get my hopes up, I gave my information to the insurance coordinator, who called me a day later with the news. Insurance will cover it. Because my insurance will cover it, I’m able to pay whatever I can up front, and then set up a payment plan for the balance.
My surgery is scheduled for April 14th, 2016, and I still can’t believe it at times. It’s going to be difficult, and money is going to be an issue during my recovery and afterwards, but I’ve been waiting for ten years for this, and I’m ready. Finally.