Top Surgery is Not Just for FTMs

EDIT: see the comments at the end of the post.

I found a link to a guy’s blog, and he doesn’t allow comments, so here’s my comment. The author points out that some of the descriptions of top surgery (aka FTM Chest Masculinization) cases on a Dr.’s website list the patient as she and her. And the author is very pissed at this. And this in turn bothered me very much. Why?

I personally know someone who got top surgery with this doctor (other than me) who at the time of their surgery, and later on at the time I met them, identified as female. Before my surgery, I received an email from another patient of this doctor, and the name was a female name, so I suspect this person might also be female identified. I certainly never told the doctor that I was male identified, because I’m not. Frankly it was great that he didn’t mind, as it allowed me to go forth with the surgery without jumping through hoops to “prove” my need or desire for it.

It’s not about defending this doctor, although I am very pleased with his work. It’s about jumping to conclusions. Not all people who get top surgery are FTMs, or even male identified.

So please, consider how upset you get when people make assumptions about you, and stop getting upset over the incorrect assumptions you make.

10 responses to “Top Surgery is Not Just for FTMs

  1. So true! A few months ago I was telling a new friend about my top surgery experience. I was out to them as genderqueer, but had never shared a pronoun preference. I was saying how I was really pleased that my surgeon was totally fine with working with openly genderqueer patients. She asked me if I was called “he” while I was there, and when I said yes, she looked very disapproving. But at the time, my pronoun preference was “he”, and when I told her this, it changed her whole reaction. Assumptions can definitely lead to entirely unnecessary upset.

    • on the other hand, though, I don’t actually know how the surgeon would have handled it if that wasn’t my pronoun preference. So, while a totally legitimate concern, if just wasn’t a negative thing for me, as was being assumed…

  2. This is incredible how people just make assumptions of other people. One would think that people that are not within the hetero-normative standards would automatically be more open-minded, sensible, accepting, etc, etc.

    Sad enough that is one assumption I am making I should stop making. So the real message is just stop assuming, if you do not understand ask, if it doesn’t make sense for you, ASK. Really just ASK.

  3. Thanks so much for posting this! This is an assumption I’ve run into with other people far too often. I will have to direct people to this post in the future.

  4. As queers/allies we are probably much more sensitive of people pigeonholing us, and it’s natural to get upset when we aren’t respected for who we are, and when others automatically label us as something we are not.

    I guess we are all guilty of making assumptions and generalizations. The key is to keep an open mind, and remember that what you think you see isn’t always so.

    Thanks for the positive responses guys!

  5. I wrote the blog in question. Thank you for your response.

    First I’ll point out that I know FTMs are not the only ones who get top surgery. That is, in fact, an incorrect assumption about me. One of the listings on this site explains that the patient preferred female pronouns. No problem.

    But you know what? Female pronouns are the -only- pronouns that are used in that section at all. Some of them list the patient’s gender as “male” and then use female pronouns. Absolutely none of them that I have found are referred to using male pronouns, it’s either female pronouns or no pronouns. And to think that none of these patients identify as male is extremely far-fetched. It suggests to me that he is playing pronoun games and I do not think that’s appropriate.

    I’m sorry if you’re uncomfortable with it, but I feel I have every right to be upset about that.

    • Hi Jackson,
      Thanks for stopping by. I went back and re-read the descriptions, and did find one where it said Patient Gender: Male and the pronouns were female, so I apologize for that. Although all others either don’t have a blurb or just say Patient Gender: Male – I remember because my dad was very confused about this! This shows that we do have a long way to go in terms of educating others.
      Having had surgery with this doctor, I can assure you this doesn’t really reflect how he treats his patients (most likely the secretary wrote this up, and to be honest they can be kind of clueless). I really recommend that you keep an open mind when shopping for surgeons, and focus on the results. As a sidenote, I’ve heard horror stories from people trying to get their gender letters from doctors, and I wasn’t even 24hrs out of surgery with my gender letter in hand, no questions asked, as I don’t even identify as male. Some can talk the talk, but keeping pronouns in order does not mean they will do a good job on the operating table, or will make the process any easier.

      • I am posting here again because, to be honest, this post is a big source of traffic at my blog. And this part isn’t your fault specifically, but I’ve always been really bothered by that because I feel like the comments represent me as some unenlightened transsexual who makes snap judgments about things. I’m trying really hard not to be cranky about it, but how would it make you feel?

        I have an update on the situation. I recently met two trans men who went to this doctor who were referred to as “she” on the website and in the notes about their surgeries. It was not their pronoun choice. They were very unhappy and offended by it. One actually regretted going to him because he felt humiliated by the whole thing.

        Please realize that that “not making assumptions” thing applies to you, too.

        And because you said something about it, I’d like to mention that although it may not be so important to you (and I don’t believe that’s a bad thing), for a lot of us being represented with the right pronouns is actually really important. I am a trans man, but I’m still a man. I’m not a “she,” and if a doctor is going to write me in as “she” in his notes, I can’t deal with that. You don’t have to understand it, but recognize that it’s important to some people.

        • Jackson,

          I apologize if any of this has caused you trouble. I guess at the moment I was upset, more at the general situation than at you, and it happened that your particular post exemplified in some way what I was trying to point out. (It also happened that I couldn’t comment directly on your blog, which gave me a chance to take it to my own platform.)

          You’re right that pronouns are probably crucial for some people, while my priorities lie more in just obtaining access to surgery. Different battles, both equally important, but probably to different people, and hence the blindness to the other’s issue.

          I’m glad that you’ve brought to my attention more instances of this doctor using the wrong pronouns. I’ve included an update at the top of the post so people view the comments related to it.

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