Mercedes Allen

Trans Woman Is Finalist in Breast Augmentation Contest

Filed By Mercedes Allen | July 11, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: breast augmentation, Breast Summer Ever, Calgary, radio contest, transsexual

Last month 90.3 AMP Radio in Calgary launched their breast-summer-ever.jpg"The Breast Summer Ever" contest -- and although not the first to hold a contest in which breast augmentation was the prize, the contest immediately caused controversy in the Canadian media and online.

Complaints weren't entirely unfounded, considering the message that it potentially sends about the "perfect" body image, and the objectification of womens' bodies. But not everyone took an immediately negative stance:

Marketing professional Laura Horne, 29, said the contest is a stroke of publicity genius for the station.

... The station could harness that attention for a good purpose, such as giving the procedure to a breast-cancer patient seeking reconstructive surgery, she suggested.

"Clearly it is a marketing stunt," Horne said. "The negative backlash is a little bit unfair. It could be used in the end for something good."

Which ultimately may be the case. Finalists were announced on Thursday, and among them is musician Avery Mitchell, who is also transsexual.

Something that often gets forgotten when looking at transsexual-related medical procedures of any type is how they are - yes - technically cosmetic, but at the same time combine to facilitate participation in society and life in ways that cissexual people never experience. In the better-known case of Genital Reconstruction Surgery (GRS), this often (though not always) can include the ability to change legal documentation to reflect one's sex appropriately - life-changing in ways that no other "cosmetic" surgery could hope to achieve. But even breast augmentation can be a clear and major step toward becoming the person we know we're supposed to be. It's a step toward Square One, in a way... but without it, sometimes just getting to the point where we can live our lives seems almost unattainable.

Avery is one of ten finalists in the contest, where supporters can vote once every 24 hours, and describes her hopes by saying that the surgery would help complete her as a person. She will find out on July 20th if listeners support her quest.

(Crossposted at DentedBlueMercedes)


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I'll be voting daily for Avery. As a fellow transwoman who wants a BA I understand the willingness to do anything to get it.

Om Kalthoum | July 11, 2011 7:27 PM

News Flash! Many women are naturally flat-chested. Women have all sized breasts. The fatter you are, the bigger they get; the thinner you are, the smaller they are. Many women with mastectomies choose NOT to get fake ones afterwards.

What a disgusting, discouraging, patriarchal promotion. "Breast Summer Ever"?? I've got another idea for a promotion: "The Lorena Bobbitt Summer" Step right up, whichever dickhead came up with this idea.

Certainly. But cumulatively speaking, the more visual reasons there are to question a person's sex, the greater the likelihood that one will be disrespected, invalidated and othered.

For me, this brings up the issue of "passing privilege." Now, 13 years after my transition, no one would question my femaleness from looking at me or talking to me, but it wasn't that way 13 years ago. My voice was deep, my hair was relatively short, hormones had not yet taken effect, and I didn't really know how to dress or put on makeup very well. (I'm still a lousy dresser, but so are lots of women.) When I saw the video of Avery, my internalized transphobia reared its ugly head, and I had to hit it pretty hard to put it back in its cage. The truth is that these things take time. While I never needed breast augmentation because of fortunate genetics, and they grew of their own accord, I would have taken advantage of it if necessary. The only caution I would have is that hormones take between 1-3 years to reach full effect, and having breast augmentation surgery too early can be problematic, as the breast tissue shifts as hormonal growth occurs. That can result in the breast implant being off center, requiring further surgical correction.

I agree. Also, individual biology makes it even more random. I was sure I would want augmentation because I was still quite flat after six years on hormones. Then I suddenly jumped a cup size in one month for no apparent reason. I'm very glad I hadn't gotten work done before then.

A birthday present was offered and accepted a few years back that in my case resulted in what I felt where personally acceptable, given my body image, breasts. I had no reason to expect particularly decent development, and found the impact of the breasts on my personal, daily life to be of incalculable benefit in terms of personal esteem, confidence, and dysphoria reduction, as well as assisting in the area of meeting other people's expectations for physical appearance of a woman.

And then I grew a bit more than a cup size, leaving me with what I personally feel are a bit larger than I would like. Life works that way -- and while I'm not exactly getting any complaints, it does have some challenges.

I fully understand the desire, however, and being guilty myself of more than the occasional lookist thought, I can understand your reaction, Jillian. It can be a bit jarring and it challenges many of the notions we have, both those we hold for ourselves and those we tend to hold of others.

The cure for that is more exposure, but that's a challenge to achieve with the demands of daily life and the rarity of us in so many circles (since most of us move in circles where we are the only trans people people know, and we only have contact through effort beyond what would normally be our circle).

I shall vote for Avery, in the hopes that she gains as much from the experience as I did, but without the stuff I'd rather not have had.

In the better-known case of Genital Reconstruction Surgery (GRS), this often (though not always) can include the ability to change legal documentation to reflect one's sex appropriately - life-changing in ways that no other "cosmetic" surgery could hope to achieve.

I've just about given up hope, here, but SRS, "GRS", whatever you want to call it . . . "cosmetic"? I don't see how. I read about genital surgeries before I had mine done. I have read an awful lot about genital surgery, all kinds. I was supposed to have sex assignment reinforcing surgery when I was an adolescent. It would have been intended to have very far reaching results that go way beyond fertility. No, flatly, no, genital surgeries are not simply cosmetic, even if intersex genital mutilation is intended that way, usually clitordectomies! Genital surgeries can be constructive or destructive as with fgm but they always yield far reaching results. We never hear an end to "you can't see what's between your legs." "Cosmetic"? How? How can you compare genital surgery to breast augmentation? It has been understood since the beginning of time how genital surgery changes the nature of just about any mammal.

Try reading some Steinach. Ranchers used to feed their cattle DES use and devices such as the "elasticator' to cause changes in muscle tone and behavior but they never had a need to give their bulls breast augmentation. A good vaginoplasty makes a person a lot more than a eunuch, however. Humans are mammals but not cattle. A vagina and clitoris, whether neo or not, performs a function. It's a sex organ, not a slab of flesh with no sensation.

Avery is attractive. Obviously, gender is learned. It doesn't seem innate, does it? Not everyone is conditioned the same way. A lot of transsexual and intersex people are traumatized by their upbringing, sometimes by people who believe their intentions are good. Yes, give her time. People have bodies, though. Breast augmentation is the personal business of the woman who has it done but silicone and saline are not nerve bearing flesh. Believe me, women don't go blabbing about their B A's but there is a lot of pressure put on women because of body stereotypes and a lot of women have them. Breast augmentation is controversial. Many of the most attractive women I've known have been very small breasted.

Breast augmentation is not something I am terribly concerned with one way or another. I would not have said anything if it weren't for the comment about SRS being "cosmetic". Such dismissiveness shortchanges people who have had SRS in a very big way. It isn't right.

You wrote:

""cosmetic"? I don't see how."

That was actually the point I was trying to make. GRS is often dismissed because it is performed by a cosmetic surgeon and thus characterized as unnecessary, superficial and inconsequential. And yet these procedures can affect our citizenship, and enfranchisement in society -- not merely acceptance. Sometimes it's worth making the comparison, since then one realizes how meaningful it can be.

I suppose I should have taken closer look at the scare quotes. I have to agree with Drew Cordes about over estimating and under estimating the significance of surgery. I have intersex friends and acquaintances who try to hold a tolerant view of SRS. They give themselves away, however, when they repeatedly refer to SRS as being cosmetic. In a way, I can't blame some of them who have had horrible experiences. Still, such dismissiveness has many harmful implications for people who have found a need and made a commitment. I had my surgery at an advanced age. I recognize how hollow this may ring to some but it is how I feel. Sorry, if I took you the wrong way, though.

I do want to add a few more thoughts on this. I think it is probably common among SRS surgeons and probably required but mine had to work with a urologist, which I have reason to believe was important to me for reasons not totally transsexual. He also taught anatomy at a top tier medical school. Anyway, I found this here :

http://www.emaxhealth.com/2/57/26332/difference-between-reconstructive-cosmetic-plastic-surgery.html

Reconstructive Plastic Surgery is performed to re-shape or reconstitute bodily tissues in order to restore form and function, and make the patient whole again. In many cases, the surgery is covered by insurance and is frequently done in a hospital setting. Cosmetic Plastic Surgery is an elective procedure performed when the patient has a desire to improve his or her appearance

I think there is a difference between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery. I know there are some who object to referring to SRS as "reconstructive". I think in most cases the term, SRS, makes good sense. There are some cases involving intersex people, however, where the notion of having to have a surgery to correct a previous one in order to be properly assigned a sex is as oppressive as it is inaccurate. The questions surrounding sex are very complex. I don't want to get into what I truly feel about that. I have tried to throw out a few hints but I feel like it comes across like Plan 9 from Outer Space. I've never seen the film but what I did do is delete a long paragraph about Gillies and McIndoe because it probably went way off topic. Sorry. I should maybe add that I don't have any illusions about Steinach. He made some important discoveries but he probably has done a lot to create tension between transsexual people and gay and lesbian people because of his theories about homosexuality. I think it just emphasizes the difference between the two phenomenon inspite of the similarities and various causes we might have in common.


Breasts make the woman.
OF COURSE.

**eye roll**
But I'm just a "cis" woman. WTF do I know???

You know how to dismiss the concerns of trans women with glib oversimplification, that's for sure.

"Glib"???

I am being "glib"?
THIS... is TBP post for "Vote 4 the TG BOOB JOB"

I'm embaressed for all of you.

If "VOTE 4 TG BOOB JOB" is all you got out of this article and the comments then yeah, glib may actually be too generous a word for it.

"Glib" is all I see in the comments here.

Arguments about whether or not the surgery is -needed- aside, she wants it. She has every right to compete and I hope she wins. :)

Damn right. She has my vote.

THIS is a radio contest.... THE BREAST SUMMER EVER.

How YOU or ANYONE commenting here do not see this as the LOWLIEST and misogynistic contest only to be listed w/2am video commercials for GIRLS GONE WILD is beyond me???

Just because "contestant #4" is transgendered... DOESN'T make it even palatable. Are you kidding me?

Some perspective:
If this was a radio contest for "BREAST TRANS SUMMER EVER"... "tell us about your A cup,how you feel inferior and be contestants for a bOOb job. Then we are going to SPLASH your story and titts online and billboards."

How popular and voting would TBP be w/that?
Give me a break... same old story, welcome to being a woman "contestant #4".

If you wanted to just discuss how the contest is misogynist (and I would agree that it is), why didn't you lead off with that? Instead you started out with a sarcastic comment about your cis status, when over 90% of the contestants are cis. You implied trans women think breasts make you a woman when no one here said that, and you ignored the multiple comments discussing how BA can be very important to trans women in a way it's not to most cis women. You had to chastise trans women for using the contest, but not the cis women doing the same. Thats why your argument comes off as glib and oversimplified.

First of all Sas... the OP is about a transgender woman and encouraging TPB to vote in this INANE "Breast Summer Ever" radio contest. NO ONE... who IDs as a woman in the comments previous to MY post even mentioned the misogyny involved in all of this.

Multiple comments were about breast size, hormones and "offers" to have breast assignment.

The conditioned response of.... "Women need bOObs" is a actually a statement of our society, culture and "glib" acceptance of this conditioning.

2nd... why do you believe that you should be instructing me in how to post/comment when you actually agree w/the misogyny involved in all this and that YOU then participated and voted on?

Conditioned misogyny isn't just for "cissys".

Right from the beginning, I'd acknowledged "the message that it potentially sends about the "perfect" body image, and the objectification of womens' bodies." That was never in question.

The question is whether a negative can be turned into a positive.

Or are you saying that any transsexual woman's quest to change her body to match what she understands should be there is misogynistic?

Whether you want acknowledge that you are encouraging Bilerico Projectors to participate in this radio contest for bOObs because "contestant No#4" is transgender, seems to be the bigger question??

I am calling out the GLARING misogyny of this radio contest.

All those who are participating in this "Breast Summer Ever" is the problem. "Cis" TG and TS... it is conditioned misogyny.

And again, the potential for (given that there was also potential for life improvement such as reduction) misogyny was never in question.

Am I encouraging people to take part? With the intent of turning a negative to a positive, perhaps. And on that note, I should probably disclose that while I don't know Avery personally, we do live in the same series and have messaged briefly as this was written (primarily to determine if she's prepared to be this "out").

But there is also the potential for newsworthiness here, and for discussion of an issue that we obviously don't talk about very often. There can be some pretty deep attitudes such as Raymondism ("men usurping womens' bodies") that can come out during discussions like this, and it's sometimes worth floating a story that can unearth them.

Interesting thing about that, YOU didn't mention misogyny until your fourth comment. Up until then it was just about chiding trans women for taking part in a sexist contest in which almost all the contestants are cis. Its even more grating given that theres a long-standing transphobic trope whereby trans women have their womanhood questioned for behaving the same way cis women do. If you only cared about the sexism, why did you need to drag your cis status into it? You could have just said, "no one should take part in this because it's sexist".

As for myself, I didn't feel the need to address the sexism because Mercedes already did in the article . If this contest is going to happen anyway, then hell yes I'm going to vote for the trans woman, because the prize might as well go to someone in need, to alleviate some of the burden she faces.

Sas... didja vote again yet? Remember... every 24hrs you can cast your vote.

Om Kalthoum | July 13, 2011 5:44 PM

How old are you?

There are clearly issues here, as pointed out by commenters, of misogyny, trans-misogyny and sexism. I love the discussion, and these points are really important. I would ask that, even though feelings run high, you refrain from taunting each other and recognize that we're all concerned about these issues, although we may have different takes on them based on our lives and experiences. Thanks for caring about these issues.

Sending an update, and may do a follow-up post depending on time availability and the press / public response.

Avery has won the contest, with over 75% of the vote.