Today, April 23, 2022, is World Book and Copyright Day. It is a day to celebrate the joy of books and reading. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Book Day theme for 2022 is “Read…so that you never feel alone.”
Earlier this week when Sheila and I went to Twin Peaks Counseling to meet with Dayne Bachmann, LCSW, neither of us expected to leave with a book that begins this way: “I used to have breasts that didn’t belong to me.”
We connected with Dayne once before at a Pride Event, but it was a superficial interaction. I grabbed a business card and it sat on the counter in my bathroom for the better part of a year before I finally reached out. Not because I needed a therapist, but because BOSOMii needed perspective and his name came up again like the universe telling me that making a connection was overdue.
Our newest initiative is to provide postoperative care packages to individuals who are undergoing gender affirming top surgery. When we approached Dayne with our intentions, he was excited to meet up and discuss what the experience was like for him and what we might include in these care packages based on his insight.
The founders of BOSOMii have always maintained that you should not need to have breast cancer to talk about breast health; furthermore, you don’t even need to be female to talk about breast health and wellness. We failed to consider how painful that might actually be for some people. You may then think it cruel of me to want to talk about that more, not because I want to salt the wounds of others; no, it is because I need to try to understand that perspective. WE need to try to understand that perspective. At the very least, we need to be compassionate to that perspective. Being able to read Dayne’s words, coupled with the conversation we had earlier this week has helped me begin to lovingly understand, moreover it has inspired some introspecting and research.
She, He, Me is one individual’s story of transition to his most authentic self. We see how Dawn overcomes the traumas of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood and is reborn into Dayne. Whether it’s the spiritual injustice of the church not permitting young girls to be altar boys or the palpable tension of unsupportive family dynamics, we feel deeply for our hero on his journey. There are times when I read and felt so viscerally for this person that I wept. Mind you, this is not a long read.
For all of us who are lucky enough to have grown up surrounded by our genetic families (for better or for worse) we can all probably relate to the pressures placed upon us by our elders, the weight of their expectations and the desire to belong. Each of us has a different experience, different levels of frustration and through our lived adventures, we cobble together a lens through which we view the world. I will never be able to comprehend what it was to walk in Dawn’s shoes or Dayne’s, but I am so grateful that I was able to read about it, empathize with the author and through pensive consideration I hope that I can be a better person, healthcare worker, and ally.
Dawn had a very different relationship with breasts than the one I have, so getting acquainted with that perspective is invaluable for me. I talk about boobs all the time, so much so that it is my profession and my side hobby. Dawn was busy wrestling on chest binders and hoping for breast cancer as an excuse to get them lobbed off and bringing attention to them was only a source of unease and pain.
The entire archetypical hero’s journey is outlined in She, He, Me. We meet Dawn as a girl, watch her grow, overcome trauma, explore a lesbian lifestyle, recant it and get married understanding fully that that marriage is not going to work. When the New Dawn is introduced our hero gets a loving companion and partner who helps transcend “the norm,” break downs barriers and accompanies him through the labyrinthine trails of life. Once the plan gets underway, we watch as our hero crosses over the threshold of transition and is reborn Dayne. The culmination of this adventure is his writing of this book, sharing with clients and teaching others how to reduce bias for the LGBTQ+ community.
I devoured this book, finished it in one day, read it again and as I write this am skimming through it still. Somehow, our author fits 40 some years of personal journey into fewer than 100 pages – the story is rich, raw and one of resilience. Beyond the prose are some very valuable resources and definitions. So on this World Book Day, I recommend that you grab a copy of this book and “read…so that you never feel alone.”