When I first came out to myself as a transgender woman, there had already been a lot of research about hormones, surgeries, and boobs. I had been lurking on the Ask Transgender subreddit where I read about so many other trans sister’s stories. Their tales of success, heartbreak, new awkward social situations, coming out, being accepted, being evicted, made me feel less alone as much as it made me cry and cheer for them. But it also gave me insight into several possible paths my transition (or non-transition) might take. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is highly regarded as a major milestone for transition, and towards becoming who you want to be. I’m not against HRT, but you should know that if you can’t or don’t want to begin HRT – you don’t have to do it. You are not any less of a woman if you choose not to or can’t for whatever reason take HRT, present female, or have surgeries. You own your body. You are a woman, and no one can tell you otherwise.
I knew between gate-keeping and financial costs, HRT was a long way off (and I still want to do it). Among my first priorities for handling how I felt about my body being AMAB (assigned male at birth), were body hair management and my body shape. When I closed my eyes and try to picture who I am on the inside, it wasn’t always a lady. But when I looked in the mirror, I’ve always known something was wrong. I never believed I was beautiful or even moderately attractive. I always assumed people liked me because sometimes I was funny or charming. It wasn’t until my wife that I felt like someone found me physically attractive, so it was tough when I was ready to tell her that I wanted to change my body. But I knew she’d love me and find me attractive no matter what – so I was confident coming out to her.
One of the things that has plagued me growing up is a good bit of gynecomastia – which is the medical term for enlarged non-cancerous cellulose growth in AMAB breast tissue. I don’t like terms like “Man boobs” (or its plentiful variations that were used to tease me while simultaneously boosting the idea that women = bad and anything woman-related should not be a feature of a man). On the other hand, its great for cleavage. If you don’t have much to work with, that’s OK. I know I have some, and I grow more attached to it everyday. My own “pre-boobs” even before HRT.
When I first started presenting female, I didn’t own anything feminine and borrowed literally everything until I was gifted some items I still use. My first bra was my wife’s with extenders because I needed something with a large band size. It also had sizeable cups (DD) that needed filling. I had seen enough teen movies to know that socks might work, but I’d have to be careful so as to not make my new faux boobies all lumpy (it happened more than once). The other problem with socks is that with anything revealing, while my boobs might look good, there’s a good chance a sock might slip into view (it happened more than once). Expect to be embarrassed in general from time to time at the awkwardness that is learning to present female. Guess what, everyone’s adolescence was awkward and embarrassing, because their bodies were new to them as they changed. It’s OK. You will recover, you will learn what works best for you. Don’t beat yourself up too much, OK?
Finding A Bra That Fits You
I’m not going to rehash all the steps for measuring yourself for a bra, but another amazingly helpful subreddit /r/ABraThatFits has the very useful Bra Size Calculator, which has been recently updated for AMAB people! As for folks not on HRT like myself, this is useful for seeing where your breasts are at currently, but if you’re going to be enhancing the ladies anyway, we’re mostly interested in what band size is comfortable. That’s typically a measurement of the complete material that’s going to surround your torso horizontally. Cup size is going to be down to your preference and body frame shape. Although if you’ve got a little to work with like me, you also have to account for how much of you is going to be occupying that cup, too.
I Want Busty Cleavage, Dammit
I had never really thought about the logistics of bras and the boobs that go in them before I decided I wanted a set of both. In my inner imaginings of what I’d look like had I been born a cis woman, my frame lends itself towards larger tits. Its my own preference. You can look gorgeous no matter what size you prefer on yourself. But sometimes, I want busty cleavage and to have people look and go “Oh daaaaamn.”
One of the first upgrades I made from socks was a cheap pair of Wal-mart brand bra inserts. I’m not going to link to them here because they’re nothing special. I think they cost me about $5 and they were labeled C/D. They didn’t really do much, it was just a pair of cup-shaped cloth pouches filled with a silicon gel.
The second upgrade I made was a strapless, backless, adhesive push-up bra that you can basically stick to each of your boobs and then pull them together and clasp them up front and it gives you a little cleavage automatically, even if you’re not working with much. The one I bought (again, at Wal-mart) ran about $10 and was cheap as hell. I literally broke the clasp within the first five minutes. That said, you can still use them as breast forms and even at the same time as the bra inserts. They’re small, discreet, and I also put them on without the bra inserts for swimming.
What you want is a higher quality item with good reviews from somewhere like Amazon:
There’s a pretty good tutorial video on YouTube for creating cleavage with the NuBra and it should work even if you don’t have much gynecomastia:
What About Duct Tape?
Taping in general works for a lot of cross-dressers and folks who are into drag, but please, for the love of all things boobs, DO NOT DUCT TAPE YOUR BARE CHEST! Even if you shave beforehand, extended use of duct tape is going to irritate your skin and hurt like a bitch when you take it off. I made this mistake once. ONCE. I had a sore chest and nipples for 3 days straight. Use some gauze, or better yet just get something like the above adhesive bra. It’s better for your body. I have not yet found a medical tape or similar less-abrasive tape that actually holds my tits together that doesn’t eventually give out.
Breast Forms: Probably the Closest Thing Short of Surgery
A common but not cheap option for simulating larger breasts is to use silicone forms that are typically adhesive or come with straps. They’re used by cross-dressers, drag queens, breast cancer survivors, and people who just want a little extra in their bra cups. Since breast forms have been largely too expensive for me to fit into my personal budget, I haven’t owned a pair of these yet. The closest I’ve come is the broken silicone strapless push-up. They operate similarly though, with a concave inner area for the form to fit over your existing breast tissue. I can’t recommend any since I haven’t tried them yet, but here are some I’ve been eyeing at a few different price ranges:
There are lots of different options out there that vary on price and quality. You can get forms that match your skin tone for easier blending with make-up, forms that feel realistic, forms with or without nipples, and some that come as part of an entire chest piece that goes up to your neck and shoulders (better for colder climates with warmer dress). Typically anything over a D cup is going to come with straps or will have to be worn in a pocketed or full-coverage bra due to the support requirements. Not every breast form is safe for swimming, and typically it’s not recommended that you leave them on for over 8 hours at a time. You should check the documentation for your product and make sure you are aware of it’s cleaning and care requirements.
Blending and Contouring With Makeup
If you’ve already started with make-up, chances are you’re already aware of how to contour your face and enhance or mitigate different features. With breast forms, it’s likely that if you wear anything with cleavage where the forms can be seen, you’ll want to contour and blend the edges of your breast forms to match your skin tone. This can be done pretty simply with some of your foundation and a slightly darker color for shadow. Apply the foundation to the edge of your breast forms once you have them on and a bra (optional). Then, even if you’re not using breast forms – with your darker shadow color, highlight the corners of your cleavage and draw it out some. It makes your cleavage look awesome!
This is another YouTuber who follows the nu-bra plus push-up / forms formula, so I skipped ahead to the make-up portion on contouring cleavage:
Dysphoria Versus Society
It was really hard for me to finally accept that I will not pass at first, and that passing is not the end-all of being a woman. Before you get wrapped up like I did in finding the perfect way to get awesome tits and catapult into womanhood, find a way to understand that you are real. You are valid. You do not need boobs to qualify. It helps some women with dysphoria, but not necessarily all women. I wrote this guide to help other AMAB people who might be just finding their way like me. You can also use these tips if you’ve already started HRT, or maybe you’re non-binary. This is really for any AMAB who just wants boobs.
A few handy tips:
- Massage your breast tissue in slow circles for 10-15 minutes several times a day.
- Be wary of herbal supplements and creams that claim to help encourage breast growth.
- Again, avoid duct tape
- Breast form manufacturers typically sell or endorse a medical grade adhesive for helping breast forms stay in place longer.
- If you get a strapless adhesive bra like the NuBra, make sure it is high quality and well-reviewed.
I’m pretty happy with my boob setup at the moment, though I’d like to try several kinds of breast forms and see how they work with the clothes I own. Tell me in the comments below about your “best breast” tips or products that have worked for you! Do you have a favorite bra that makes the girls look incredible that feels comfy to wear? Let me know!