Gahtdamb, I’ve been away for a hot minute!
To be honest, ever since my last piece here, I’d felt the need for a massive withdrawal from being as social as I was previously. I left Facebook, stopped going out much, and decided to focus on spending time with friends one on one instead of in group settings. I traveled home to Nigeria for Christmas and then did two weeks of research in South Africa, returned for my final semester of graduate school, had top surgery, finished school, planned to relocate to Nigeria, scrapped that plan, moved apartments twice in two months, and now I’m on to the terrifying arena of looking for my first ‘real’ job.
Let’s backtrack to what was probably the most epic part of that whole run-down- I got my top surgery. To be honest, I still have mornings when I wake up and stare at the scars on my chest, and the overwhelming feeling is one of bursting gratitude. I fought to get this for a long time, and for someone who’s as much into instant gratification as I am, the wait was hell. The strain it put on my relationship with my family was hell. The amount of money I spent on it was a ridiculous circle of hell. It’s been almost six months since my surgery, and the space it placed me in has been an odd one to navigate. I still get messages through my Tumblr from non-binary trans folk who can’t find resources about getting top surgery when you don’t identify as FtM and don’t necessarily want those same results.
I opted for a drastic reduction instead of a double mastectomy, because I wanted an ambiguous chest. I recall having a conversation months beforehand, when I told a friend that I would most likely start presenting more femme after the surgery. It confused them because they assumed I was having the surgery to be more masculine- I was really having it to be less feminine, by my definitions. So now I’m inhabiting this femmeboi space that’s...interesting. Even labels like ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ aren’t working well for me anymore, probably because my genderqueer identity finally matches my outer body. For example, I’ll rock my ankara skirts because bless this summer heat that really rivals Lagos, but I’m not a femme in a skirt or a boi in a skirt. I’m both. My fingernails go through cycles of being long and red and vixen-y, to being clipped as short as possible, flaking off from work I’ve been doing around the apartment, and smudged with I don’t even know what. Yes, my gender gets expressed through my fingernails #whateven.
To most people, I probably pass as a small-chested, occasionally femme, and sometimes tomboyish girl, and that’s fine because it doesn’t erase the layers of gendered complexity that are going on beneath my exterior. I’m learning to just accept the various ways I feel like expressing my gender on any given day, without trying to analyze it and put it into a category, especially a category it used to fit it but doesn’t anymore. There’s a certain amusement in being misread by anyone who hasn’t taken the time to Google my life, I’m not sure if it counts as being stealth, but my gender now feels like this cuddly thing I carry inside me that I get to share with people who get to be close to me (or who decide to Google my life). It feels good. It feels as good as waking up in the morning to upside down T scars, never having to wear a bra again, showing off my sternum, forgetting what it felt like to have weights on my chest.
I’m really bloody grateful.