I had prepared myself for this, or so I thought.

I knew after my first phone call with Drake that an FTM transition was a distinct possibility, and I was OK with that. More than OK. I wanted (and still do want) Drake to be fully expressed and feel congruently embodied in this lifetime. In my life, I’ve been attracted to both feminine and masculine energy and physicality, whether it was showing up in a male or female body, so I knew my attraction to Drake would remain intact, in a more masculine form, or even in a more feminine form for that matter. Life is full of surprises, and people can change over time. I needed to know this in my bones because I was going to make a commitment for life to Drake. For better or worse, sickness or health, masculine or feminine, male or female, or anything else in between. My head and my heart and my spirit were prepared.

We married. And then the time came, and it became clear, that Drake would have top surgery.

I wasn’t fully prepared for the range of my emotional reactions. I was excited, moved, scared, and, uh oh… what was that feeling? Deeply sad? Grieving? I realized I had some surprisingly intense heartache coming up, and I didn’t know exactly what to do with these feelings, or where to process them. Drake and I share most everything about what’s going on with us, and we’re each other’s confidants, best friends, and sounding boards. I was confident that I was on an emotional journey that would land me right back into the camp of full support for Drake’s decision to have top surgery. And I was pretty sure I didn’t need to take Drake with me every bump and derailment of that journey. There was already enough mental, emotional, and spiritual preparation ahead for Drake to get ready for the procedure. I wanted to show support and enthusiasm and help Drake prepare for surgery, but part of me needed to have a good cry.

I love breasts. There’s something super hot about butches with female bodies and uber masculine energy. Intense sexual energy can be transmitted through them. Breasts are maternal, sexual, feminine, life giving, nurturing, comforting, soft, deeply pleasurable. A few of the nights leading up to surgery, I put my head on Drake’s chest just to feel all that before it changed.

I knew I needed to explore and air these feelings and thoughts as they swirled and morphed. This was a big change for all three of us – me, Drake, and our relationship.

I did tell Drake that I was having some feelings, and some grief, and some mixed emotions. We talked about the tricky piece around the misogyny question. I wanted to be transparent to some extent, but I didn’t want to belabor it. This was my process and I wanted to find support around it, this time, outside of our relationship.

I did some research on the internet. Found some helpful tidbits, reached out to friends. What I really wanted was someone simpatico who had gone through it before me who would be open to understanding my grief, process and ultimately full support. Someone to whom I could whisper my taboo questions, air my doubts and fears, pass me a tissue when I wept. I knew I needed to express these feelings, explore them, and pass through them to the other side into steadfast supporter, unflinching nurse, family chauffeur, short-order cook, enthusiastic cheerleader, and overall caretaker for my brave and beloved spouse who was about to go under the knife.

I gave myself permission to explore the complexities of my feelings around the surgery. At the same time, Drake and I got to work preparing for procedure and afterwards. I scoured the internet for any info I could get on post-op care-taking and what to expect. We prepared our home and made arrangements for Drake’s optimal recovery.

In the hospital after they wheeled Drake away, I said a silent prayer for my spouse’s well-being and waited. I still wonder where those breasts went after they were removed. In a dumpster? Incinerator? Lab? I felt they deserved an honorable burial.

For the two hours Drake was in surgery, I prayed and paced and prayed some more. Then they called me to bring the car around and wheeled Drake out to the sidewalk drugged, pale, and bandaged, clutching a bag of ice to their chest. It was time to nurse my handsome and courageous guy back to health and over the threshold of this profound change.

It’s been almost a year now, and I am continuing to notice and appreciate the deep and subtle shifts Drake’s surgery has had on our relationship. It’s been a joy to witness my spouse experiencing the deep satisfaction of gender congruence. And, Drake’s new chest is hot. I love touching it and experiencing how we feel, curves to flat top. I am realizing that I’m coming out all over again – at work, with family and friends – and our sense of ourselves as a couple seems to be organically expanding from butch-femme to more broadly queer. Maybe. It’s a work in progress. Mostly, it seems we’re moving away from labels and definitions, and I’m once again exploring my own complicated relationship to gender. Our journey together has taken a new turn, and continues to unfold in front of us.

If you’re a partner someone who is going through a gender transition, I hope you have supportive people you can talk to.  If this post resonates with you, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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Top Surgery:  Unbound – An Insider’s Guide to Chest Masculinization Surgery 

Drake Cameron Sterling

Now available on Amazon