'The first surgical procedure is key moment in a trans male's life'

Romario Wanliss

You may remember Romario Wanliss from Transgender: Back to Jamaica by Newsbeat and Radio 1 Stories.

He travelled to one of the most homophobic countries in the world to reveal himself as a man to his dad.

Although the meeting was a challenge, Romario's transitional journey still continues as he has his first surgical procedure.

Top surgery involves the removal of the breast tissue to create a masculine chest.

Romario describes the operation as a "key moment in any trans male's life".

**Warning: This article shows before and after images of chest surgery**

Over the last couple of weeks he's been documenting the moments before and after his surgery in an audio and photo diary for Newsbeat.

Before surgery

"It's important for me to have my top surgery because aesthetically, I think it will help my confidence," he explains.

"I'll be able to wear a shirt! My dream has always been to wear a nice dress shirt that just lays flat or a traditional African print shirt. I think it will help to carry off my muscles.

"In all seriousness top surgery is a key moment in any trans male's life because I'll have an opportunity to feel like the average male. For example if I want to go to the changing rooms and change my top, I'm not there hiding my chest.

Romario Wanliss

"Naturally the body map in my mind does not always coincide with what I visually see, but after top surgery it will start to align and feel real and it's like, 'Yeah this is me.'

"Having surgery is not a question about validity for me, in terms of whether people now see that I'm a man or take me as a man.

"Having surgery for me is really more of an aesthetic thing if I'm really honest. It's a vanity."


"I could lose my nipples, the scars could not heal very well and you're just depressed because you didn't heal well and your chest is unrecognisable. That's my biggest fear," he says.

"It is in the back of my mind, that as I go into surgery, [I wonder] what am I going to look like after and am I going to be happy with it?"

Ideal outcome

Romario Wanliss' chest with surgical tape on

"My ideal end result for surgery would be, I wake up, the bandages are removed and I have some pec muscles there, like they were just waiting for me."

"Like under all of that there was an X-Men chest, that would be amazing. I'd be like, 'Look, I've got muscles!'

"I feel like you'll never know whether you'll have regrets until the procedure is done, because anything could happen."

After surgery

"It's 10 days since I had my surgery and today I get to see my chest for the first time."

"My biggest worry is that my nipples are not going to be in line with each other."

Doctor examining Romario

Later he explains: "I just came from my appointment with the surgeon to take my stitches out and it was so painful.

"I actually feel traumatised. Everything looks so gruesome."

Romario Wanliss

Two weeks after his surgery, Romario tells Newsbeat what it is like to put on his favourite shirt for the first time post op.

"I've always wanted this shirt to fit perfectly.

"Now, it looks so different."

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