I know a lot of people have a complicated relationship with their breasts, so content warning: this post is about boobs, puberty, and gender dysphoria. This post is also written from the perspective of a woman, so apologies to any male or non-binary readers.

Rewind the clock to when you were a pre-teen, on the verge of pubescence, say ten or eleven years old or whenever it was for you. Remember being excited for the start of puberty? Anxiously awaiting your first period and the first signs of breast growth? This isn’t a universal experience, I know, but I think most girls can relate. Then it finally started, the first twinges of growing pains in your chest, the hyper sensitive nipples, the excitement that you were finally turning into an adult.

Now imagine that it didn’t actually come. You waited and waited, you saw all the other girls around you start to develop, but for you it never happened. Instead, your voice got deeper, your face squared off, and you started getting facial hair. Instead of your hips growing larger, your waist vanished and your belly extended. Then, far too late, you did start to get boobs, but they weren’t right; they were the wrong shape, flat and flabby instead of round and bouncy. These aren’t the breasts of a woman, they’re the moobs of an obese man. You become ashamed of these appendages, not just for the fat stigma of having them, but because you know it was foolish to have ever wanted breasts to begin with. You walk around middle school with your arms across your chest, trying to hide these failures of your body, hoping none of the bullies notice them and make fun of you for it.

Eventually as you grow older the shame fades, overshadowed by all the other body dysphoria’s that male puberty has cursed you with, but the sense of loss remains. As you grow larger the gynecomastia halts and proportionally the breast tissue becomes less obvious, but this just further cements the pain. For decades you look down and know that something is missing, that this isn’t what you should see.

Fourteen days after I started hormone therapy I had a day where I was just completely exhausted. We drove to my in-laws house to see family that was visiting from out of state, and I struggled to stay awake the entire drive up. When we got there I passed out on the couch, and when we left I had to have Katharine drive us home because I just could not keep my eyes open. That evening my nipples started chafing against my shirt, the usually soft fabric felt like sandpaper against my skin, and my entire chest was hot to the touch. Shortly after my breasts started to hurt… it had finally come. At the age of 36 I had finally started the correct puberty.

Two weeks ago I had my doctor double my Progesterone dosage, trying to bring my levels closer to cis female normal ranges. Yesterday I had breast pain on a level that I haven’t had in probably six months, and when I went to bed I could tell something had changed. I woke up this morning and discovered I now have standing cleavage, without any support or squishing. A growth spurt in the upper tissue has given me a surge of added shape, and I cannot express just how happy this has made me this morning.