A woman who underwent a double mastectomy while living as a trans man is now planning to have surgery to restore her breasts.
Alia Ismail, now 28, came out as a transgender man when she was 18 and began a medical transition that led to her taking hormones and having her breasts removed in her 20s.
But in February 2021, Alia, a barber from Detroit, Michigan, decided to detransition after realizing that her new identity as a trans man did not represent who she was.
“Now, at 28, I finally feel like a woman,” she said. ‘I feel very empowered by the struggles I have gone through as a woman. Being a woman is difficult and you have to be resilient and strong. I’m strong.’
“The best advice I can give you about detransitioning is to really listen to yourself and follow your intuition, your heart and your instincts,” Alia said, pictured after stopping testosterone.
A 28-year-old woman who came out as a transgender man at 18 has revealed she is now “detransitioning” back to a woman. She is depicted as a transgender man (left) and then she became a woman again (right)
Alia Ismail, of Detroit, was born a biological woman. When she was 18, she announced that she was transgender and began transitioning to a man. She appears in the photo after she transitions.
Reflecting on why she decided to transition, Alia, who suffered significant trauma when she was young, said: ‘I thought being a man was better. I felt safe for a while. I no longer had to worry so much about other men tormenting me so much.
The 28-year-old shared her advice for anyone considering gender-affirming surgery like a double mastectomy.
She said: ‘Looking back, I wish I had waited longer before the surgery, but then I felt comfortable in my body.
‘I would advise anyone considering this to remember that it’s okay not to be so rigid and stereotype what it means to have a certain gender identity and how to express yourself.
“I transitioned over 10 years ago and at the time I wasn’t sure if gender could be a little more fluid.”
After detransitioning, Alia said she “started to feel more uncomfortable without breasts.”
‘It was just a series of moments of frustration about not being able to wear certain clothes and just not liking how my body looked. The procedure is to get to my original shape in my body.’
His first step in his detransition journey was stop taking testosterone. She made the decision to live as a breastless woman, but two years later, she decided to undergo a fat graft transfer to create breasts after feeling “frustrated” by her body.
After six years of taking hormones, she decided she wasn’t happy and wanted to be a woman again, so she began “detransitioning.” She appears in the photo after ‘detransitioning’.
Alia said she was a ‘tomboy’ until she was 12. During her teenage years, she said she became ‘hyperfeminine.’ She is depicted when she was a teenager, before coming out as a trans man.
He took testosterone for six years and completely transformed his appearance. Her breasts were also surgically removed. She appears in the photo during her transition.
A 2022 study found that the number of gender reassignment surgeries performed on American children has increased 13-fold in the last decade.
Researchers from a major California health system found that children as young as 12 were offered irreversible operations between 2013 and 2020.
And as gender-affirming care becomes more popular among children, a growing number of patients who regret undergoing the irreversible procedure have come forward and claim they were not challenged enough as children.
Meanwhile, a wave of gender-affirming restrictions on access to health care are being implemented in red states.
A total of 19 states have laws that restrict gender-affirming care to those under 18 years of age. Some of the laws can even punish health professionals who provide gender-affirming care to minors with prison sentences.
Alia is waiting to see if her insurance company will cover the procedure, in which fat will be removed from her abdomen or thighs and injected to create breasts.
She says she also plans to use a breast enhancement device to tighten the skin and have more blood flow to the breasts, which may be beneficial for surgery.
Alia explained: ‘Fat grafting is the least invasive option. I didn’t want to put anything into my body that wasn’t the most natural process. There are many health problems with implants.
She recalled feeling instant “relief” when she decided to stop testosterone and said she knew she had to “listen to herself.” She is depicted as a transgender man.
“Fat transfer is where they take fat from another part of your body, such as your abdomen or thighs, and then inject it into the breasts or any area of your choice.”
Alia said that she finally feels like a woman on social media and explained that when she decides to do something she always gives it 100 percent and her medical transition to a trans man was no exception.
She said she has movements when she wishes she had never had her double mastectomy.
‘I’m here now and all I can do is figure out how to move forward. It was part of my path,” she said.
‘I feel hopeful about my upcoming surgery. It’s something I’ve thought deeply about over the past two and a half years and have come to accept that this is the best option for me.
‘I’ve also accepted that if it doesn’t work then I’m fine with my breasts as they are, but I’m confident this will be successful.
Alia previously said that she doesn’t regret her transition overall because it made her the person she is today.
She said: “It was a key moment in my life of self-discovery of the person I am today.”
Breast restoration surgery is usually performed on cancer patients after a mastectomy.
But it can also be done with transitional people who decide to reverse their mastectomy.
Ideally, this is done long after the mastectomy incisions have healed, usually months or even years after the original breast removal surgery.
There are different techniques for breast reconstruction surgery.
One includes extracting fat from other areas of the body and injecting it into the chest.
Implants can also be used in conjunction with fat grafts or alone.
The surgeon will make incisions in the chest and place silicone or saline implants under the breast tissue.