Non-Binary Top Surgery
This content covers the fundamentals of gender identity and surgical techniques used with non-binary identifying patients. It’s a broad introduction, but important to read prior to exploring the technicalities of each procedure type.
What Does Non-Binary Mean?
In order to understand what non-binary is let’s start with basic, most commonly accepted definitions and distinguishing factors between assigned sex and gender identity:
- Assigned Sex: When an infant is born the physician will look at the genitals and determine the infant ‘male’, ‘female’ or intersex
- Gender Identity: Gender is not the same as assigned sex. Gender identity is an introspective experience and way of naming the gender one identifies with. This could be male, female, non-binary, genderqueer, genderless etc
- Cisgender: Means you identify with the sex you were assigned at birth
- Transgender: Means that you don’t identify with the sex you were assigned at birth
- Gender Binary: This is essentially a societal system that splits people into one of two set of gender roles, gender identities and physical attributes as either ‘male’ or ‘female’
- Non-Binary: Non-binary gender identity is any gender identity that does not fall exclusively within the binary of male or female
It is important to note that non-binary gender identities are not ‘new identities’ or new concepts and have been recognised throughout the world for a very long time. Those who identify as non-binary may use pronouns outside of the binary such as they/them. However, there are many other gender-neutral pronouns and pronoun combinations (such as he/they, she/they) that people use so it’s always best to ask what someone’s pronouns are when initiating a conversation for the first time. Cosmedicare adopt this approach from our first contact with you.
Transitioning/aligning as a non-binary person can be medical (taking hormones, getting surgery) or non-medical (using different pronouns, binding, changing hair or clothing style). You may or may not already be engaged in medical transitioning.
Since gender is a spectrum someone who identifies as non-binary, genderqueer, agender etc. may express their gender neutrally, masculine, feminine, a combination of all or some of these.
What does a non-binary surgical result look like?
Technically all aspects of anatomy are non-binary if someone identifies as such. What we’re exploring is finding congruence between one’s non-binary identity and a physical presentation to the world through a gender affirming surgery, essentially helping you match how you feel on the inside with how you look on the outside. There’s no one answer to this question, which is why a full consult is required as this can provide opportunity to discuss available surgical options. Most commonly a second consult is offered prior to any surgery. This way you can make an informed decision on what surgical options may fit your needs.
You can think of gender-neutral top surgery results like we think of non-binary. There are a huge number of valid expressions of gender which fall within the broad category of non-binary. Similarly, there are a number of top surgery features where the result could be modified to a patient’s liking so they hold the results toward whatever it is that they personally consider to be non-binary.
It can get a bit confusing to think about all the different things in a top surgery result which can be modified and what it means to have a particular result look more male or more gender-neutral. Due to this the best way of discussing gender neutral results is to start with what might be considered the ‘ideal binary male’ top surgery result.
From there we can discuss its binary features and then how those features could be modified to an individual’s preference to express a more non-binary appearance.
Incisions and Chest Contours as well as Nipple and Areola Options content is a great starting place in learning more about non-binary top surgery.
While exploring non-binary and gender-neutral content it’s important to keep in mind the following:
- Gender neutrality is usually (and unfortunately) limited by social constructs that are binary (male or female). What feels and looks like a non-binary surgical result to you may still be seen as ‘male’ or ‘female’ to others
- Surgical results that are more representative of a gender-neutral appearance will ideally allow for more flexibility and adaptation within our binary society which may help alleviate symptoms associated with gender dysphoria
- Although some chose surgery as a method of finding congruence in their gender identity, others do not which is a completely valid decision