Trans teen crowdfunding life-changing surgery to stop painful chest binding

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Phoenix Howard, 18, of North East Lincolnshire, is crowdfunding for a mastectomy in the first part of his journey towards feeing happy in his own skin

Phoenix Howard, 18, hopes to have a double mastectomy
Phoenix Howard, 18, hopes to have a double mastectomy

A brave transgender man is taking his first steps towards feeling happy in his own body after years of emotional struggles over his identity.

Phoenix Howard, 18, hopes to begin his transition process with a double mastectomy.

He told how he currently binds or compresses his chest at every possible opportunity, to the point of feeling discomfort or even causing himself physical pain.

Surgery to remove both breasts will cost at least £10,000 and Phoenix has launched a crowdfunder to help make it a reality, reports Grimsby Live.

The student, of Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, said: “My chest is responsible for a large amount of distress on a 24 hour basis.

“This is due to my outward appearance not matching who I am on the inside.

Phoenix is seeking help to feel complete in his body
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Image:

Phoenix Howard / MEN Media)

He struggled with gender identity from a very early age
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Image:

Phoenix Howard / MEN Media)

“Binding is detrimental to my overall health as it puts strain on my lungs, ribs and back.

“As someone prone to respiratory issues and joint pain, this makes the surgery especially important if I wish to preserve my physical and mental well-being.”

Phoenix suffers from gender dysphoria, realised he was a boy at the age of eight.

He said: “I didn’t accept that the label of female was relevant to how I was perceived socially.

“I expressed confusion about not being able to do things with my friends at the time, who were mostly boys, could.”

The teenager recalled how he felt comfortable “acting and dressing like a boy” and would refuse to wear skirts and dresses.

“I watched males around me go through their puberty and I found myself subconsciously waiting for something like that to happen to me,” he continued.

“As a result in my late teens I felt incomplete, unfinished, and like my adulthood wasn’t ever really going to begin.”

He continued: “I cut off my hair in secret one morning because I was so distanced from my appearance that I wanted to do something about it.

“And then I told people at school I wanted to look like a boy. I got comments from neighbours that I looked like a boy and I took them as compliments.

“Puberty was also an uneasy experience because it didn’t feel right. My female peers were developing around me and I felt uneasy about that.

“I put it down to envy and exclusion when in hindsight it was anxiety because I knew that those changes were inevitable.”

Having a double mastectomy will allow Phoenix to achieve the first step towards a masculine appearance.

But first he needs to raise between £6,000 and £10,000 to cover the cost of consultations and surgery.

“It’s a daunting financial obstacle but I have witnessed the fundraisers of other trans people flourish and I am not in despair,” he said.

“It’s definitely achievable but I need all the support I can get.

“It would mean that I would be free of the discomfort that comes with daily chest binding.

“More importantly, the distress of having a foreign and unavoidable reminder of who I am not attached to me all the time would be gone.

“The surgery would complete me in my physical form, and relieve me of a huge emotional burden.

“A lot of anxiety and frustration stems from the knowledge that my body directly opposes the fact of who I am and I put a great deal of energy into hiding it from the world.

“To live a life without that weight is not just a dream but a necessity.

“I can’t wait to feel that freedom for the first time and for the rest of my life after that.”

To support Phoenix, click here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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