Living Each Day With Gynecomastia
Dear Mr. Yost,
I am a 22-year-old survivor of 48DD gynecomastia, which I still have. I have been through much, as I developed this condition in the 7th grade. I would be very interested in helping others cope with this devastating condition, and I will soon write and send my complete story to you. I am extremely interested in participating in any online forum on the psychological side of gynecomastia, to discuss options, lean on one another, or any other thing that you would find helpful for others.
Now a little bit more about me. I am a religious person who is presently enrolled as a junior in a Southern California college, trying to become a high school earth science teacher. I am a heterosexual virgin, and am currently seeking my “bride-to-be” (in this day and age you practically have to be religious to stay a virgin!). I now control my appearance somewhat by using a sports bra. I am considering getting a minimizer, but I am cautious to proceed in that direction.
This e-mail will also contain a letter I wrote to myself and for posterity last Saturday night. It came due to what I term as an “emotional thunderstorm.” As you read in the first few lines, I was not feeling too well as I wrote it.
If you have any questions about me, or any advice, e-mail me!
Thank You Very Much.
Letter to Self
If someone is reading this, then you must know that I am writing this in a time of great pain. My heart hurts so much that I feel like the cut of cold steel would be a welcome change. Not to kill myself, but just to feel my skin be broken. Now that I can imagine that pain my heart is distracted, and the pain somewhat subsides. I do all this fearing that I will be caught in this moment of pain and that that person will demand to know more. When I feel like this I don’t want to be interrogated, but just loved. I want someone, who could be my eternal companion, to hold me and help me to sift through the pain.
It’s strange how this works. The pain is caused, or at least I believe at this time that it is caused, by the conflict of two ideas in my heart. One is the idea that I should fully embrace my physical appearance, namely my breasts, and support and uplift them. The idea goes on to say that if I do that, then I should become more like a woman. I should no longer fear allowing them to be seen. I should be pleased to wear a good support bra and feel no anxiety over what others think. If I feel feminine, or masculine for that matter, I should be free to express that in any way I choose, so long as I do not hurt myself or others, either physically, mentally, or spiritually.
But others seriously influence me, and I have a great desire to please my Heavenly Father and my eldest brother, Jesus Christ. To this end, I am brought to think about the eternal scheme of things. Man and Woman were created to be together for all eternity. I am a man. Besides my breasts and an apparent lack of ‘male’ hair (beard, mustache, chest, etc., for which I am grateful to be bare), I have all the correct biological and anatomical features of a man.
On the spiritual side, I also am a holder of the Holy Priesthood, in the office of an Elder. I hold the same authority from God that has been bestowed on each of his worthy male servants. By all this, I should reject this desire to become like a woman and attempt to leave these things to my future eternal companion. I should then accept my masculine nature, and proceed forth as a man of the Priesthood, and shun this perversion like the plague.
And yet in all of this there must lie an answer. There must be a mid-ground where the breasts that God has given me and His gospel can exist in harmony. The problem is that I feel this pain every time someone thinks badly of me because of my breasts. This difference has become a prison to me. I live in fear and paranoia that someone will exploit this “flaw” in my body. That’s why part of me wants to end the pain by leaving nothing for them to exploit, thus donning a bra and almost flaunting it and my breasts. The only other way that I am driven is by hiding my differences, through clothing, binding, or withdrawal from society, so that I may end my paranoia that I will be exploited.
I would like to talk about this exploitation that I fear. In high school, many times, especially in the gym, others would grab my breasts, make jokes, deny my masculinity, and suggest, sometimes in all honesty and seriousness, that I use a bra. I was exposed to this for years, and it took its toll. Many times I have been mistaken for a woman, as ‘gentlemen’ (complete strangers) have opened doors for me, said “Allow me, madam”, and then continue on their way as if all was perfectly normal. No looking to see my reaction. No laughing, indicating a joke. Just honest mistakes that felt like fiery spears piercing my heart. Now that I am older, if anyone decides to fondle me, or joke around with my sexuality, as it were, I now know that I have legal recourses that can take, as these things are sexual harassment.
But as for the honest mistakes, I feel I can only either hide from the pain or allow myself to be completely open to it, taking the punches all in good stride. The second would require that my mind be in such a state that I would be at ease with my appearance. I feel that a true bra would assist me with that. That feeling may be a cry to fit in with all the others in this world who have breasts (one of which I want to marry), or just a response to the brainwashing I received as a teen in high school and that my brain helped to perpetuate.
It has been the conflict between these two ideas in my heart that has driven me from deep suicidal depressions to my almost leaving the church. The funny thing is that in the end, I do not want to lose my breasts. I feel that Heavenly Father has given them to me for a purpose, and that removing them would be almost the same as any woman removing hers just because they did not suit her. I feel that this would be a sin, as it is unnecessary cosmetic surgery for the purpose of vanity. Besides, I don’t have the money, and I believe it would be appalling if tithing or fast offering money, intended for the growth of the church and the sustaining of the poor, was used for such a vain purpose. There are others who need financial assistance much more than me.
All this ‘talking’ has helped me to feel better about the situation. I hope that I can show this to others to gain help, and find some woman to become a love, a confidant, and a best friend to me. I no longer feel the urge to hurt myself, but the feeling of need for someone to talk to has grown.
And it is time to grow, myself.