Aunty Lauren’s All-Aussie Trans Adventures: Phantom Boobage

The first few months of transition, for me, was a simultaneously affirming and uncomfortable time in discovering new boundaries. There were certain behaviours of others and situations I just didn’t feel okay with anymore, even before I started taking estrogen and my body began changing.

Once I accepted my gender identity didn’t match up with my body, my brain thought of new and exciting ways to make me feel vulnerable in moments that might not have bothered me in those days I thought I was a cis-man (hah hah). One such moment that stays in my mind was a visit to the cardiologist’s office.

At the time of writing, my legal name change still hasn’t gone through, so when I made the appointment it was under some dude (hah hah) named ‘Michael.’ On the day of the appointment, someone must have realised that on my (lovely and wonderful) GP had noted my name was, despite appearances, Lauren, and that I hadn’t been assigned (and I hadn’t asked. Oops.) for a woman cardiologist.

Now, granted, I didn’t think of asking for a female doctor for a trip to a cardiologist, but as the male doctor called ‘Lauren’ into the waiting room, I could see a measure of apprehension on his quite handsome face. I think he knew this might be a sensitive situation, bless his heart. I didn’t really know what I was in for, so I didn’t think much of it as I walked in.

It seems obvious now, but when you go see a cardiologist for a test, you have to disrobe. How else are they gonna get those little sticky things on you to monitor your heart? When it became obvious to me I’d have to take off my own shirt I started to feel a twinge of discomfort I hadn’t ever felt before. I began to feel extremely vulnerable.

At the time I didn’t have boobies (they’re on their way now!) but something had switched in my brain over the previous months. I’ve experienced a phantom boobs situation in the past, and that feeling intensified in that small office. Suddenly I felt like I was exposing my phantom boobs to a male doctor and a male technician. The idea of taking my shirt off, running on the treadmill and being the topless centre of attention was inducing mild panic in me.

There was, fortunately, an extreme level of sensitivity and understanding from the doctor and technician. I was able to take off my shirt in privacy and wear a gown if I felt uncomfortable, options I’m sure are available to every visitor upon request, but the respect for my privacy and the thought that I may feel uncomfortable here had clearly been thought of.

This is one of the ways gender dysphoria can present. It is a pure example of the incongruence between body and mind. I felt as if I was exposing a part of my body that didn’t really exist yet. My mind was/is convinced it exists, my internal body map manifests the boobage on my chest, and I have a mild panic in a doctor’s office.

It is both an affirming and disturbing experience. While I obviously felt uncomfortable, I also felt stronger in my conviction that what I am doing for myself will be of huge benefit to my life. That’s how I choose to view my gender dysphoria these days; as further, irritating confirmation that I’m on the right path. Gender dysphoria can become something to dismantle instead of something to drag you down.


Lauren Butcher

(Read more of Lauren’s work here)

Image:- Danica Zuks