Sitting and watching the minutes tick away until it is 8 hours to my surgery (or at least, the start time they’ve given me), when I’m no longer allowed to eat. I am wondering how much I’ll be able to sleep tonight, given my level of anxious anticipation of the event.
A brief aside, though, I installed a fancy new bidet toilet seat today, which will be of great help to me while I am unable to use my arms. It will also be of great help to me in life, because bidets are rad and I have wanted one for a long time. This is as good of an excuse as any! Those of you who are coming over to help, visit, or drop off a meal will be welcome to try it, or at least marvel at it, or ignore it, idk, you do what you want!
I’m certainly scared. The level of certainty around this that came after the pre-op appointment has melted a little bit in the last few hours and all those questions I posted about previously are back in my head. I kind of anticipated this, and also was hoping to avoid it.
As the time creeps slowly onward and I get closer and closer to surgery time, my thoughts are thinking of aesthetics. At the Community Queerituality meeting I attended this evening we discussed a lot of things, including queer aesthetics. Some of the things cited by the facilitator as queer aesthetics were brightly colored hair, piercings, and an undercut, all of which I sport on the daily. My response to this had me contemplating aloud the ways those aspects of my appearance had been constants over the last sixteen plus years and came from other countercultures I have been part of, not initially markings (to me) of my queerness, but certainly of some kind of alternative social affiliation. I also shared about my strong desire for many years to be seen as queer while I was trying really hard to be cis. Definitely these aspects of my appearance are markers of difference, but not inherently (to me) of queerness.
In typical post-sharing-in-a-group anxiety, my brain is going over the things I said in that context and the responses I got. Another participant, not long after I spoke, mentioned disliking the idea that queerness had any particular aesthetic, and I’m not sure if it’s my anxiety that is telling me they were addressing what I had said directly, meaning I hadn’t quite explained what I was trying to say adequately, or if they were riffing off of the topic itself. I agree with them, ultimately, but this is part of the basis for what is coming up in me tonight. The hook that the transphobia is able to get in through, maybe.
The questions swimming around my brain are about aesthetics. This is a procedure that is designed to change my aesthetics, designed to change my outward physical appearance. It is different than a purely aesthetic surgery, however, because it is a trans surgery, because it is about gender confirmation, and yet it is still about aesthetics in the sense it is about what we can perceive and about beauty and reality. It is about what other people will see when they look at me, and what I will see and feel when I am with myself. It is about sensation and senses and perception and we may talk about these things as being superficial, but they really aren’t, they’re about how we experience the world and manifest reality.
Writing this out has been useful for those thoughts so freely floating around. I have never disliked having a large chest, exactly, though it hasn’t felt like mine or part of me in a while. Certainly it has been both inconvenient and wonderful at times. When I was younger and striving/trying/pretending to be cis, I placed a lot of emphasis on my chest and the way it looked in clothing. I was proud of my fat hourglass figure. I hung a lot of my own self-worth and self-esteem on being sexually desirable, and my chest was always a part of that. It was rarely for me, but as a symbol or indicator of something. It took me a long time to unpack that for myself, part of those two plus years of talking and thinking and feeling into this surgery as an option for me was really investigating where my desires were coming from. I’ve said for a long time that my ideal form is as a shapeshifter, being able to play with my form however I like. I’m sure most of us would choose that, if given the option, but not all of us would play with the same aspects of our form.
There is a declaration in this action as well. I am claiming ownership of my body and my ability to declare who I am. I have had other body mods that have functioned as me claiming my body as my own, both in the form of piercings and tattoos, and in some ways this is the same, but in other ways it is completely different. I don’t entirely understand gender, honestly. I don’t think anyone does. My experience of it is something innate, something sacred, something that can also be fluid and changeable. I have been worried that my desire for this has more to do with expectations of what being trans looks like in an AFAB body, or because of the trans narrative that says this is what I should want. I am afraid of a lot of things, but that is a big one.
The more I think about it, write about it right now, and really feel into my body, the more I know my body is done with having this large chest. That’s kind of as much as I can know right now. I am supposed to have this experience, for whatever reason, maybe including because it is part of the dominant trans narrative. But this is not for superficial reasons. This is not for fitting in reasons. I think this is the important part, what was bugging me about the exchange earlier. My appearance has never been intended to fit into any particular sub- or counter-culture, even if it does or has. I am always, before anything else, wearing what I want to wear and looking how I want to look. This is, of course, influenced by cultures of various kinds, but it has to do with what aesthetics please me the most. I am forever trying to figure out how I can be comfortable with the person staring back at me in the mirror. That is the most important factor in all of this for me. The change that surgery marks is both big and not big in this sense. It will change everything and nothing all at once.