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mom

teenager top surgery jitters?

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mom

My 15 year old is a non binary child.  They are living at a boarding school in Chicago (we are from CA) to deal with issues of anger and depression.  We have been planning top surgery for about a year.  It was due to happen on June 19th.  A couple of days ago they called us in tears that they had changed their minds.  They said they were feeling more feminine and decided to not have it.  We canceled with the surgeon (we are paying cash because insurance won't cover).  Well, this morning, during our therapy session, they tell us they want the surgery after all.  When we said we had cancelled and it may be months until a new day opens up, they went nuts.  I could tell they were in a lot of pain and hating themselves for having had the doubts.  I feel in my gut that this is something they will not regret, but at the same time, since they had one day of doubt I feel the need to proceed from extreme caution.

 

Questions for the forum?

Do you have a child who had second thoughts on surgery?  Do have any recommendations on how to proceed?

Thank you!

 

Mariana

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KeiraC

I would say surgery is non reversable so they need to be sure what they want, I presume they are on blockers which should at least halt the progress until they are sure about what they want.

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mom

Yes.  They are on a blocker and really just an A cup, but it's enough to cause a lot of dysphoria.

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KeiraC

Oh, well I guess they need to talk to a therpist again and maybe cool off on any surgery until they are sure,

 

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Susan

i couldn't agree with more keirac. 

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Annie

This is something I'm worried about for the future. I've talked about surgery with my son and he seems to think he's going to want top surgery at some point, but does not want to be on blockers because his little sister is on blockers to stop her early puberty (she started at 7!) and he's seen the follow up pain and is terrified of needles. These are really difficult decisions. I'm also proceeding with caution and think you're wise to do the same. I know the dysphoria is real, but my feeling is that the child should be all-in before proceeding because I understand that the recovery from the surgery is pretty awful. It seems like that pain could also contribute to anger towards their body if they are not very sure this is what they want. Of course, just like most, I don't know if this is right - just guessing. But the anger and despair of my child can be so all-consuming that my impulse is to try to do anything I can to make him feel better. Then I remind myself I have to step out and be the rational actor here because he is not capable of that yet.

 

The other thing I keep reminding myself is that we are treading on new territory here and can't possibly know what the "right" answer is, but only what seems best for our child. I kind of think you were rescued by bureaucracy here. You appropriately responded to his second thoughts, which bought all of you more time to think it through and prepare. Now, it's not you saying no, but just the way the medical system works. You've shown you're supportive (being willing and able to pay out of pocket is huge!) and now you get to spend more time talking about it. His saying he feels more feminine now would be a point of pause for me. I work with someone who identifies as female, but has dysphoria and had top surgery, but she was in her thirties when she was finally able to make that decision. So I don't think feeling feminine is necessarily a reason not to do it, but it does seem to make it more complicated.

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Jani

As far as needles and all, we all must weight the question "what pain is worse?"    

 

To Mom (the original poster), your child may not regret having surgery but I do believe they should be all in without reservations before embarking down this path.  It is permanent and recovery can be tough, but it can always be done later.  Your decision to proceed with caution is a wise move.   I wish I could tell you more but I think you're doing the right thing. 

 

Jani

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mom

Thank  you all for your responses.   Because we don't live in the same city, for now, (they are receiving great treatment for mental health issues at the residential school in Chicago), it is hard to know what to do.  When I heard the pain in their voice saying,  "I do want surgery, I made a mistake, I got scared, please don't make me wait." It is true that all you want to do is make their pain go away.  Caution feels like the right thing for me, in my rational mind, and then I talk to Andrew and I want to help them out of their misery.  There is not right or wrong, but talking (writing) about it helps, so thank you!

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