Photographs of me in physical transition, by Tracy Edser (www.trasethis.com). Tracy has captured the rite of passage of my physical transition over the span of 6 years, capturing my journey to fully inhabit my body, allowing me to play, without restrictions and more authentically, with the physicality of an identity in flux.
(The Letters from Selves Pas(t)sed series is drawn from writing created over 10 years ago. I've decided to include them as they create context for my journey. Keeping in mind where I come from helps me measure where I am and where I'm going.)
Pre-op - October 2010 #lettersfromselvespas(t)sed
I have been lucky in terms of the logistics of a breast reduction. When many medical aids do not cover the R50 000 operation because they view it as cosmetic, rather than medical surgery, I have been in the lucky position of not being able to afford medical aid. In a country where having medical aid is often the difference between life and death, how can I possibly consider myself lucky?
I’m lucky because I’ve never had to explain to some doctor, some pencil-pushing medical aid representative, that a breast reduction would be far from cosmetic for me. I have never had to explain that for me, a breast reduction would free me from a burden under which I haven’t been able to be my true self.
My journey with the logistical side of breast reduction began in 2007. I was referred to the Johannesburg General Hospital (now the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital) by the head psychiatric nurse at Tara. This referral meant that the breast reduction was immediately seen as a medical and psychiatric necessity, rather than a superficial or cosmetic surgery.
The doctors at the Jhb Gen were sensitive to my case, and sympathetic. In fact, their medical opinion that I had completely disproportionate, and chronically large and pendulous breasts, was an unexpected affirmation of something I’d known since puberty. The fact that they had medical terms for the scarring on my shoulders, for the severity of the largeness of the breasts themselves, was a wonderfully affirming experience. Despite my belief that there ‘was something wrong with me’, it took this doctor’s visit to confirm that indeed there was, but that I didn’t have to suffer from it anymore.