Unlike most people, I believe ‘labels’ are crucial in the category of gender identity. To choose your own labels makes you superior to others who just have labels chosen for them. But in the bigger scheme of things, are having labels something that is important?
There's a book that I have begun to read which I recommend for people who are struggling with their own labels or identity. This book is written by a young lady called ‘Aimee Herman’. The book ‘Everything Grows’ teaches us about identity and how we can become someone who we’re comfortable with - which is so relevant in today's society.
Being comfortable with your own labels is very important! After all, we are the human species and we like to label - it’s in our DNA. However, if you’re not feeling comfortable with your own labels then I implore you to explore and become comfortable within yourself. Because without having an identity, how are you going to become ‘someone’?
Now don’t get me wrong, labels should not define you. You may be thinking ‘Hey Cody - you just said that labels are important’ but let me finish.
Knowing who you are and being labelled as something are two separate things. Let’s use me for an example, I’m a 19-year-old transgender guy who sees myself as a masculine person who has a very mixed sexual orientation. That’s how I see me, and they’re the only labels that I genuinely care about.
To me, I’m just a guy who enjoys the company of everybody but to others, I’m seen as several different things, ‘outgoing’, ‘funny’, ‘weird’, ‘kind’, ‘warm-hearted’, and from many ‘a walking meme’ but none of that genuinely matter, as much, to me. That's not my identity, that’s just my personality.
I hope you’re starting to understand that labels don’t define you - unless they are you. If not, you’re always welcome to add your own opinions to my statement.
I’d like to re emphasise that exploring your identity is so vital. As long as you are comfortable within yourself, that’s all that matters. They are the only labels that you will ever need or should ever want to have.
So when someone next asks you ‘who are you?’ what will you say?
Top surgery is an aesthetic procedure performed on the chest to remove breast tissue and achieve a masculine-looking chest; top surgery for transgender females is the aesthetic procedure that creates feminine breasts or increases their current breast size. Typically male chest reconstruction is performed on female to male patients but can be offered to non-binary people. Top surgery is one of the few forms of treatment for those diagnosed with 'gender dysphoria'. Other treatments include- bottom surgery (gender-confirming surgery) and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
If you're looking to get top surgery, you have several options to choose from, depending on your preferred gender.
Female to Male (FTM) & Female to Non-Binary (ftn);
Generally, breast augmentation is much cheaper than any FTM surgery as breast augmentation is a common surgery done at most aesthetic clinics. The patient won't require to go to a transgender specialist for this surgery. On the other hand, transgender-males must visit a transgender specialist clinic to get top surgery (in countries like America, this is different).
Average prices for each surgery:
Ftm top surgery; £8000 (depending on chest size)
Breast Augmentation; £6500
Depending on where you live in the world, you might be able to get your surgery covered by your health insurance or via the National Health Service (NHS). It's worth checking with your insurance whether they'll cover the costs for surgery before booking your first appointment.
Even though I live in the United Kingdom, I personally did not receive care under the NHS. At the time, I waited for three years for my first appointment, so I decided to go private. Mr Inglefield, who works under the London Transgender Clinic (LTC), performed surgery on my chest at Queen Anne's medical hospital. I would 100% recommend the LTC for their exceptional services and aftercare that I received post-surgery.
Preparation for your surgery is essential! Post-appointment, the surgeon may require you to; stop taking your testosterone; have a breast x-ray; have a breast examination; eat healthily; stop taking ANY recreational drug, alcohol or cigarettes. Though do not panic if you don't want to stop your hormone treatment, generally you don't have to stop taking your HRT as it has no medical evidence of hindering your chest healing. Be aware that you may have drains coming from your chest post-surgery; these can become annoying if you don't wear an oversized t-shirt (try not to wear a shirt that goes over your head - you will not be able to raise your arms).
You may be required to stay overnight for your surgery; if you're having surgery under the NHS, then you will be there over three days. Ensure that you pack enough clothes for an overnight stay, even if you're not planning to stay it's always good to pack an extra pair of clothes if you want to wear a more oversized shirt after surgery.
You should expect to be in pain after your surgery, and you will be given strong pain medications to ease this pain for the first two weeks. I was given co-codamol four times a day; do not take any strong medications without consulting your GP first as you may become addicted to the medication. Shooting pains will happen for at least three months after surgery, you shouldn't have to take any medications for this, but paracetamol is more than enough to ease these pains. You may be uncomfortable from the drains, it's uncommon for the drains to hurt but from my own experience, they irritated my skin so much that it began to hurt. However, I did have my drains on for an extra week due to excessive bleeding. Drains are important because they prevent your chest from building up blood which could require another surgery.
Going back to everyday life after surgery can take some time, the clinic will provide you with a time ratio of when you can ease into certain activities again, but you will be required to take between 4-6 weeks off work.
It's important to remember that in some countries, such as the U.K, you will need to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria and have a psychiatrist note to have top surgery as this is a major operation.
Depression is a ‘scary’ term that everyone avoids talking about but it is important to enhance people's knowledge on the topic. Depression is a mental illness that a lot of people struggle with and is well known in today's day and age.
After many years of researching mental health, I can say confidently that depression changes people and not always for the better. I am a prime example of this. Let’s just establish that Depression isn’t something that people should always look at negatively, it's just a way for your brain to cope with certain situations. You need to take time to let yourself comprehend trauma or other situations if not, you’re at risk of becoming depressed. This topic is one that I struggle to open up about but I’ve decided to finally speak about it to enlighten others on the fact that depression isn’t the same with everyone.
In my experience depression affects me the most when I forget to take my tablets. This sounds dumb but it’s so easy to forget the small things, I’m certain that I’m not the only one who forgets to take their tablets. But when I do forget, things always seem to take a turn for the worst. Without my tablets I begin to feel like I’m someone else, like an outcast in my own body - I usually become rather hostile towards people and push them away which certainly doesn’t help my situation. But don’t get me wrong, tablets aren’t some magic potion that takes away depressive thoughts. The tablets that I take (mirtazapine, which is a sertraline drug) balances the chemicals in your brain which allows you to start the day without feeling horrible and groggy. Though, you do still have to work really hard to have a positive mindset.
When my GP suggested doing more exercise to help my mental health I didn’t really understand. How on earth can exercise help me not feel crappy? But to my surprise, it really does help, it distracts me from my own thoughts and allows me to think clearer. This next one is going to sound strange but drinking water helps too! Every atom in your body thrives when you drink water, it’s the little things that can contribute towards the bigger picture. My personal favourite way to help my mental health is to keep busy! Since lockdown, my depression and anxiety have plummeted but I’m usually a very busy guy. In normal circumstances, I go to college at 8am and return home from work at 9-10pm. Now, this might seem like overkill but I really do enjoy going to work and keeping myself busy, in fact, I think keeping busy is the one thing that keeps me going. If you feel like you’re depressed or feeling sad try and find different ways to help yourself, after all, you are the only person who can make yourself truly happy.
Cast your mind back to my previous paragraph where I spoke about my own experience with depression. It seems strange but I’ve never met anyone who has the same type of depression that I do. I often find it hard to control my feelings and I don’t really have anyone to go to about it because no one fully understands what I’m going through. But since I’ve joined TWE, things have been looking up! I’ve gained so many new friends, people appreciate me and I get the support I need constantly. TWE has taught me that people don’t need to understand what you’re going through for you to be able to speak about your problems, as long as someone is there for you, that’s all that matters. Every member of TWE is compassionate and accepting, they’ve all helped me grow as a person and now I’m able to see light at the end of the tunnel. Just to put it into perspective for you, I’ve only joined TWE within the last few months and everyone here is already feeling like my second family.
So if you’re even thinking about joining us, do! There are so many roles here and I guarantee you’ll find one that sticks out for you. Until then, have a good one.
COVID-19 is a new illness that affects your respiratory system, this illness comes from a type of virus called Coronavirus. The virus has driven millions of people across the globe to isolate or shield themselves from the outside world. But what does this entail for the civilians and how is this affecting you?
Viruses are a large cause of death each year, especially influenza, which is why protecting yourself from COVID-19 is so essential. Maintaining your mental health is also crucial to keeping you protected from the Coronavirus. As odd as that sounds being mentally stable helps you defend yourself from the new virus, why is that? When your mental health is stable you’re more likely to practise self-care which is necessary to keep healthy! Isn’t it just so much easier to have a relaxing bath when you’re feeling elevated?
At TWE we know it can be hard to maintain your mental health so here are a few ways to begin that journey;
Now, you may be thinking ‘Cody! How on earth is this going to help my mental health?’. Well friends, taking your mind away from itself can boost morale (ironic, I know)! But imagine if you actually started to understand that anime you’ve watched 16 times or were able to speak to your Italian friend in their native tongue - It feels so empowering to learn a new language, you’d feel great!
I’d just like to remind you all to wash your hands for 20 seconds after you’ve been outside or touched objects that people outside your household have touched, this way we can work together in keeping everyone safe from the Coronavirus.
Have a good one!