Sunday Stories: “It Will Not Be the Same”

Tooth shapes

It Will Not Be the Same
(Or: If the Government Asks, I’m a Cis Woman)
by Madison LaTurner

This will not be like that time I got my wisdom teeth out. Before I even knew about the trope of gay people being worried they would accidentally out themselves to their parents while under the influence of the anesthetics and pain meds, I was worried about accidentally outing myself to my parents while under the influence of the anesthetics and pain meds. I was worried about telling my mom that I had begun to think of her as a monster, that I have begun telling my friends that something is wrong but I can’t quite put my finger on it, that the moment she lets me off leash I will run and then keep running. No—it will not be like that. This surgery is gay itself. I will meet my match. 

This will not be like the time I got my wisdom teeth out because I have spent months begging for this. I have had to convince all the doctors that yes, the myths are true, that I am just one of those mentally ill transgenders they saw on Fox News and the only way to end my eternal, agonizing suffering is to chop my beautiful, milk-producing tits off. The doctors treat this gravely; the secretary cancels an appointment I have waited months for while letting me know that “never in my seventeen years working in health care!” has she ever allowed someone to make an appointment for the reasons you have. It is entirely possible that this is the first time they have ever talked to a trans person let alone treated one. This is nothing more than a mere breast reduction with less scarring, a reverse boob job, equally as “gender affirming” as both though never has any cis person had to work for this as hard as I have. The doctor describes all the risks to me: Your nipples could fall off! You could have slight numbness in your chest! Your chance of breast cancer drops significantly! I sit and nod and smile and fume and wonder if she can hear what she’s saying. I don’t even want nipples.

This will not be like the time I get my wisdom teeth out because this time, I am permanently marking my body in a way that makes me undeniably queer—undeniable unless I feel like lying to and gaslighting the shit out of cis people. I will lie to the old man who sees my scars and calls me a faggot by telling him I had breast cancer, actually, which my short hair will help to sell, the goal being he will feel bad enough that he will never make any comment about any person’s body again, though especially trans people. I will tell the woman in the bathroom who tells me I do not belong that I’ve got bigger boobs and a bigger dick than her, despite having neither. I will revel in poker faces and clear lies.

It will not be like the time I got my wisdom teeth out because back then, I did not make tooth-shaped cookies and invite friends over to celebrate the removal of my teeth, but this time, I pledge to make nipple cookies—in different skin tones, as to avoid the question of whether I have recreated my own areolas in frosting and dough. I do not think I could eat a cookie if it made me think about what it would be like to eat my own nipples.

It will not be like the time I got my wisdom teeth out because I know, at some point, some dumbass frat boy is going to tell me I have a flat chest as if it were not on purpose, as if this chest were not designer, as if that is an insult, and still, irrationally I will be insulted because damn it I grew a great pair of fucking tits and as a lesbian I would have loved them on anyone but me. I know that what I will feel is some kind of unholy offspring between compulsory heterosexuality or internalized misogyny or whatever the fuck because even if I am not designed to be beautiful for men I will feel the consequences of not being so all the same. 

This will not be like that time I got my wisdom teeth out because this will happen the day before the two-year anniversary of when I stopped talking to my parents, and afterward, I know that it will be final, that they will not take me back even if I wanted that. This is not reversible, and it will mark me, permanently, as my ancestors’ worst nightmare, as an abomination to the generations of Mormons that came before me, a terror for the mothers before me who believed viciously in breastfeeding their large litter of children. As a kid, I was taught that I would have to be the villain—that the world would try to tear down all the good Christians, and that the good fight is, paradoxically, in obedience to The Lord, and who knows what war I might be asked to wage—but now that I am the bad guy, it is not as fun as I imagined. My ancestors will frown down on me from Mormon heaven in their weird ass white undergarments with the weird ass symbols over the nipples and the navel while I crawl around in the dark, patting my surroundings in an attempt to figure out where I am going now.

I did not enter my slut era after getting my wisdom teeth removed. The amount of outfit options that open up not only after I have made my body a more comfortable place to live but also after I have no breasts or even nipples to account for is astonishing. I have been shopping for deep V-neck dresses that would show my scars for a year now. I reconsider V-neck shirts and the color white and scarves, which do not show off my boobs but make them look bigger in my own eyes. Ironically, I have bought three fun bras, not the kind that will support anything but the kind I can treat like crop tops but really are bras for a breastless chest. I have considered wearing pasties with realistic-looking nipple designs on them just to make a point about nipples. Everything is on the table again.

It will not be like the time I got my wisdom teeth out because now I cannot move to Tennessee. I cannot move to Florida or Oklahoma or Missouri or Kansas or Nebraska or Montana or Wyoming or Arizona or Arkansas or Louisiana or Mississippi or Alabama or Georgia or South Carolina or Kentucky or Indiana or North Carolina or West Virginia or Wisconsin or Iowa or Alaska or North Dakota. And Pennsylvania? You’re cutting it close. I cannot move back to Utah or Idaho and I will be driven out of Ohio. Now, while applying to jobs and looking into apartments and vacations and whatever else, I must consider where my body might soon be illegal. All the drag bans will be applied to my visibly queer body even if I have not worn makeup in years and even if the straightest part about me is how I dress—truly, I have the style sense of a cishet man. I must debate how much danger I am in with every breath I take and every move I make and bond I make (etc., etc.) because the police will fuck me at every chance they get. This time, when they finally decide to get rid of all the trans people, there will be no hiding. 

This is how I picture it: I’m at my favorite bar with my favorite people, the one with specialty shots with names like White Silk Panties and Sex With an Alligator, and we will be playing pool, which, though I am not particularly good, I will treat with an unearned confidence after two (2) drinks. I don’t remember if this bar plays music or not, but when two men head to toe in dark blue show up, it gets quieter. And me, the dumbass I am, will be wearing a mesh top with no bra underneath it because damn it I want everyone to see the horizontal pink scars on my chest. I want everyone to know that I am one of the scary transsexuals they were warned about, and I am here to play some pool and drink some Dirty Shirleys (and I am all out of Dirty Shirleys). There will be no hiding. When one of the cops looks at me, I will recognize him. I will remember him from the summer I worked at that food truck and he had his patrol car parked right outside, always. I know it’s the same guy because of his tattoo, a black-and-white “We the People” Constitution tattoo spanning from his wrist to his elbow, and by his hair, which is thin and wiry and looks like someone has jammed toothpicks into his spongy, sunburned head—I can see the indent his hair makes in his scalp from here. He used to say “good morning” and I would never say anything back, only give that awkward toothless white people greeting smile because I told myself I would never speak to a cop if I could help it. I’d sooner throw shot glasses or bricks or soup cans than exchange niceties, and I am within range of a healthy supply of shot glasses. I’m not a particularly violent person, nor am I typically homicidal, but when the revolution happens, I would happily man a guillotine. I would even get tiny guillotine earrings to match—the neon pink holographic ones I keep looking at on Etsy, because I’m dressing for the job I want and not the job I have.

Is this what casting my pearls before swine is? My scars will have a slight iridescent shine, which the cop’s flashlight catches on. He will look at me, and I will look at him, and I will say something like: “My eyes are up here, buddy.”

There is some part of myself that thinks I am invincible to all of this, that I am some kind of titless cockroach in a red nuclear apocalypse and I will remain impervious to and unbothered by the flames. I probably only believe this because I am rather certain I could flee to Canada or New Zealand before the real trouble started. I probably think this because I am white and I look like the stereotype of harmless and I have been able to sweet talk and cute face my way out of any trouble with cops—I have never gotten so much as a parking ticket. The only time I have even come close to trouble was that one time at that one protest when I was standing too close to a Black person when the police decided to open fire. I tell myself that, if we are all lined up in a bar and the cops are looking for trans people, I will step forward, smile, and ask: “You wanna see my tits?” Because I have always wanted an excuse to say something nasty to a cop. Because it’s easier to picture that than to picture the more realistic image of me quietly zipping up my jacket over my chest.

It will not be like that time I got my wisdom teeth out because we are in no way moving to get rid of all the people who have four less molars than assigned at birth.

It will not be like that time I got my wisdom teeth out because this time I get to choose what my body looks like. Queer childhood is strange, and trans adolescence is stranger, though rarely do any of us get to be young and knowingly queer at the same time. I was ten when I realized I was non-binary, but I was more than twice as old by the time I had the language for it. I did not really care about my wisdom teeth. I never wondered what I would look like without them, nor did I really even register that they existed—and anyway, it was the dentist’s idea to take them out in the first place. But this—this will be for me. My body is a pink ballet slipper that needs to be broken in not the way you think but in the way ballerinas know: take a knife to the toes and arches, sew parts on, cut parts off, step on them, slam then against the wall, take a hammer to them, all until the shoe is properly customized. When I was five, I wanted nothing more to be a ballerina; now, in my early twenties, I want to be the slipper. I know that, afterward, I will hear all about how I have mutilated my body, how I have destroyed what I have been given, how I elected to amputate healthy flesh from my body, but I am nothing but a pointe shoe: I am in my peak form.

Here’s how it will be: I will be driven to the hospital by my two best queers, who will be there the whole time I take a spicy nap and even afterward when I cannot pour my own water or put on a shirt. I will change into a gown and a little cap and I will complain about being hungry and I will slap my boobs around one last time. When I am wheeled into the operating room, the doctors will ask me to take my gown off and to spread my arms out wide and that is how they will strap me to the table, positioned like some kind of luxury Jesus—no nails or crown of thorns, only Velcro. This religion is far kinder. My tits, exposed to the surgeons and the nurses and the anesthesiologist and the whole fucking world, with nothing holding them in place, will breast boobily one last glorious time, wiggling like plates of Jell-O wheeled out on carts at an Old Country Buffet. Someone should get to see them one last time. And when they finally cut into me, the meat will fall right off the bone. I have been hungry for this for a long time.


Madison LaTurner (they/them) teaches literature at William & Mary College and hopes for a free Palestine in their lifetime. Their prose has appeared in Puerto Del Sol, The Argyle, Ghost Orchid Press, and elsewhere. Their play “Transfer” was produced by Love Creek Productions. You can find them across social media platforms @maddylaturner.

Image source: Colourblind Kevin/Unsplash

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