Jace’s Top Surgery Journey – Pt. 1 Life Before Top Surgery

By HER Team |
Photo of Jace by Studio XIII Photography

This is a six part series highlighting Jace Every and his journey through top surgery.  He has written this series from his perspective of life before, during and after top surgery.  His words, his journey in a completely honest and vulnerable take.  Here is Jace.

My name is Jace Every, I am 27 years old and I identify as Female to Male (FTM) Transgender and QTPOC (Queer Trans person of color). When HER approached me about this blog series to openly discuss my top surgery journey I was both honored and moved. I am on a journey that many members of my community are still waiting for or may never get the opportunity to experience. So the fact that I am not only blessed enough to experience this for myself but also that I have a platform to educate the public and raise awareness is just so mind blowing and amazing to me. But enough about me! Well I mean I suppose all of this is about me, whoa I have to get use to that. Oh also I’d like to take this time to say that anything I speak about in this blog series is based on MY PERSONAL experience. No two journeys are the same. This journey is just me taking you along with me as I undergo one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I am not a writer, just a simple southern boy who wants to do his part in spreading love and knowledge about a community he takes great pride in. I hope you enjoy reading! So let’s start by addressing where top surgery originates from, chest and gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria is defined as “the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex.” Top or chest dysphoria “is a term most often used to describe someone’s discomfort with their chest and upper body, such as trans masculine people feeling top dysphoria because of their breasts being too big, their shoulders being too slender or trans feminine people feeling top dysphoria at their lack of breasts or masculine shoulders.” I myself identifying as trans masculine started experiencing this pretty long ago. For as long as I can remember I’ve hated the way I feel disconnected from my body and chest, it is my biggest physical insecurity. I’m a big analogy guy, to me it’s the best way to get someone to understand. Plus they’re usually funny to picture. So let’s try one that I’m going to keep referencing throughout the series, stick with me here this is going to be a good one! Ok picture it! Sicily! 1866….tehe I watch Golden Girls to go to sleep every night. Ok focus Jace! Imagine having this creature attached to your body that never leaves you, say he looks like a gremlin. If you don’t know what a gremlin is, google a photo, they are hideous. I mean they’re cute and cuddly at first but then you feed them junk food and they turn into these awful hideous things, kind of like feeding your kid too much sugar and you being like “ holy crap who are you and what have you done with my child??” Okay so you have this creature attached to you and you’ve tried everything to get it off but nothing is working. You get up in the morning do your routine and there it is, you’re trying to ignore its existence,but it talks to you too mind you,so that’s pretty hard. You put clothes over him to cover him which is great because you can’t see him but you can still hear him reminding you of his existence. Plus you can’t cover him forever with clothes because you need to shower at some point or change your clothes. Even worse is the paranoia when you’re out in public. You’re walking down the sidewalk, you’re at work, you’re out with friends and you can feel everyone’s eyes on you, even though in reality no one is looking at you.But you’re paranoid, “do they know he’s here?” Or “are they looking at me because they can see him?” Forget having a love or sex life. You don’t want to get intimate with anyone for fear that they’ll see him and be instantly repulsed. So you make excuses not to remove your shirt. You don’t swim or go to the beach. He controls so many aspects of your day, how you function, what you can and can’t wear. That would drive you absolutely insane right!? Welcome to our world! Ok so no we don’t have actual living, talking and breathing gremlins living on our chest but that’s certainly what it feels like! Feeling like I was born in the wrong body has been something I’ve experienced for as long as I can remember and this feeling about my chest has been here since it developed when I was a pre teen. So how do I deal? Because you’d want this gremlin gone right? Well what if you found out he can be removed? Oh happy day right?? Can you imagine you can be rid of this thing!? There’s a specialist that handles this sort of thing on others just like you. So don’t hesitate right? You pick up the phone, you call him up and he says “oh yeah I can remove him no problem but it’s going to cost you around $10,000 and your insurance most likely won’t cover this expense!” HA! What average person in our generation has that kind of money in cash just lying around??? So the doctor says “if you’re looking for a temporary and low cost fix just to get by right now there’s thing you can do called binding……”

Chest binding is a wonderful temporary experience to help with chest dysphoria. It’s the act of using various materials and articles of compression clothing to make the chest appear flat. The amount of binding variations that are out there are overwhelming at times but in a good way. Everyone’s experience with these various brands vary to be completely honest. I have tried so many versions myself over the years. I have only recently found the right combo of things to make me feel confident when I walk out of the house. I could go on and on about binding education but I’ll just focus on my evolution of binding. When I started binding I just started with something from amazon by underworx that my girlfriend at the time purchased for me. It was a full body tank compression shirt. It was great but oh my god that thing was almost impossible to get into. It took at least 5 minutes and both of us to get me in and out of it. Due to finances though I was stuck with that one for awhile and it became stretched over time. I can’t remember exactly in what order I’ve tried things. I had a swimming one that was full body and zipped in the front, I would wear tanks over that one to get in water. I avoided half binders because they made me feel like I was wearing a sports bra which highly defeats the purpose of binding in the first place. However I got my first half binder from my current partner and it was pretty great. That one was so much easier because it detached on the side with velcro so I didn’t have to struggle with getting it over my head daily. It was great for awhile until the velcro started to wear off. Then after hearing about this brand for ages, I finally gave them a shot, gc2b changed my life! A trans man had developed a binder for us by us and it is absolutely amazing. It is easy to get in and out of, they come in half and full tank tops, colors that match all skin tones, and they’re affordable.  I own two right now and they are just game changers. SO these days I alternate between those and taping. Speaking taping let’s brush that surface just a little. With taping I attempted KT Tape, that worked for a minute but wasn’t the best for me I found. My partner located this brand on amazon called Spartan Tape but I would sweat right through that. Let me tell you being out at the gym and having your tape pop loose is not the most gender affirming moment. Then I came across another huge game changer for me called Trans Tape. Here we have another trans man making a mind blowing product for us by us! This tape is amazing! It comes in various colors and sizes to accommodate all chest sizes. The best thing about this brand is that it can be left on for up to 3 days, I can shower in it, swim in it (which I don’t do because I hate water and swimming, but if I did swim I’m sure it would be amazing) workout in it and so much more. It’s comfortable, I can breath and best of all I feel amazingly confident in it. So these days between gc2b and Trans Tape I am living more comfortably then I ever have. Now I have only scratched the surface about binding but a little birdie told me that HER is working on a binder education video that a few recognizable faces took part in and that’s coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled, but also shhh it’s a secret.

I’d love to say that binding cures everything and you’ll never have a bad day again. I cannot and do not lie to people though. It fixes nothing and you’re still going to have bad days. But it smooths things out in the meantime. In the meantime of what you may ask? Well in the meantime of top surgery of course! Now my journey for top surgery started in 2015 when I found out that my gremlin was……hey wait a second I can’t give away the whole story already, then what would you have to come back for? Oh well guess you’ll have to wait until my next part to find out what happens. Stay Tuned!