When I was just weeks shy of three years old, I was hanging
around the house with my mom doing the stuff that toddlers do, I guess. It was
mid-morning on a warm spring day and I was bored and tired of playing with
whatever age acceptable toys had been placed in front of me. My mom must have
been focused on my sisters at the time – one was older and the other younger
than I – because she didn’t notice at first that I’d made an all-important
decision to find something else to do. I’d always preferred to be with my dad
and that day was no different. Dads always did the cool stuff and I wanted to
do cool stuff with my dad instead of the usual toddler stuff. I knew he was at
work and lucky for me, his work was right next door. So I decided I was going
to go to work.
So, let’s talk about surgery. I had known for many years –
decades actually – that I wanted to have top surgery. I had no clue that was
what it was called, though, due to my lack of knowledge around transitioning. I
did know the definition of mastectomy and knew that having one would be key to
me feeling more “male.” Despite knowing this, I spent many years not even
knowing that I could have a surgery for this reason. I’d only heard about women
having mastectomies for cancer or whatever medical reason made it necessary. As
much as I wanted to have surgery, I didn’t know you could just do it because
you wanted to do it. I’d never heard of top surgery or gender affirmation
surgery or even the word transgender.
trans boys want the same things as any other boys growing up. I was no
different. I liked being outside and getting dirty and I wouldn’t be surprised
if I’d have broken records for wearing through the knees of my jeans. I’m
pretty sure I mastered that challenge with a record time of less than two weeks
to wear holes in at least one of the knees. Oh, and the patches that my mom
sewed on them usually “fell off” in even less time than that! Everyone knows
that cowboys do not wear patches on their jeans!
This TEDx talk by Dr. Sarah Garwood, co-director of the Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, was part of the TEDxRitenour program this past January. Take a few minutes to watch this important and moving presentation.