When I first came out as transgender the first thing I wanted more than anything was a binder. No I don’t mean the plastic folders that have rings inside them that hold paper, I mean the item of clothing that compresses your chest to flatten it. I wanted to hide the 42 G monsters I had been cursed with. I knew that I needed to get rid of the very things that were causing me the biggest stress of them all. Getting my first binder was the most magical experience ever. Whilst my chest was still too big for me to “pass” 100%, I had more of a freedom to go out and be the authentic me, and not the person I had pretended to be for 25 years of my life. I got my very first binder in 2012 and in 2017 I had surgery that meant that I would never have to wear a binder again.
Now, I wished this was how my story ended and I wished I could tell you how I progressed to lower surgery and I live my life as a “passing cis male” but that’s not how my story ended. In fact it is where it started. It had turned out after all that time, the only thing that had been keeping my spine in place for several years was my binder.
When you wear a binder, as well as it compressing your chest, it can often compress other parts of your body, such as your rib cage and spine. For years I had been experiencing severe shortness of breath as well as a painful spine. I had chalked this down to wearing a binder, the size of my chest causing huge pressure and a horse riding accident I had when I was in my very early 20s, so I pushed forward for my top surgery and after lots of bullshit and funding drops I finally got it done. What we didn’t know until about a month after my surgery was that my spine was actually moving and the hypermobility I had in my knees, and arms had progressed to my back. During that year I also suffered a serious seizure due to one me being epileptic and two me drinking excessively because a friend had just died. I have had seizures for years but this was the first time it had really start to affect my nervous system. We don’t know if it was because of how much I drank, whether other illnesses had a factor into it, or whether my brain just gave up fighting so hard, but I became seriously unwell.
I’m now a wheelchair user. My transition had become a bittersweet pill, because now I was finally becoming the comfortable masculine person I had always wanted to be, but after years of torturing my body of drink, drugs and self hate, I had broken myself. It was the most drawn out joke but the punchline had just been so terrible no one laughed. I however do not pity myself for this though.
Whilst things have been shit, it gave me a second chance in life where this time I actually didn’t give a fuck anymore. I was able to finally start realising that I needed to look after myself and that I needed to focus myself on life and being happy. Being forced to recognise that I am actually broken and disabled was the greatest thing that could have happened and if I never recover or if I even die tomorrow I would have no regrets in my life because I had actually lived.
Not many people can say they have lived many different lives in one body and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.