When You’re a Woman—But You Don’t Want Boobs

In the most recent episode of Sex.Right.Now., we met up with Reed, a non-binary person who’s eager to shed their breasts. For Reed, breasts are an uncomfortable reminder of the way their body doesn’t exactly line up with their gender. But not every person who’s interested in breast removal is trans or non-binary. EJ, a 37-year-old woman based in Atlanta, is perfectly happy as a woman. She just doesn’t want breasts.

EJ has always had a tortured relationship with her breasts. From the early days of training bras—which she found mortifying, she tells me—to the 36I cups she sported during pregnancy, her breasts have always felt like a bit of a nuisance. They get in the way of being active and athletic. They make shopping for clothes difficult. And at work, she feels stuck between the choice of looking inappropriately sexual or “like a sack of potatoes.”

Even getting pregnant and breastfeeding—an experience EJ felt sure would finally redeem her breasts—didn’t pan out quite as she expected. Breastfeeding her twin sons was a painful, difficult experience. Her milk took days to come in, her nipples wound up chewed through and raw, and after an episode of mastitis landed her in urgent care, she says, “It felt like my boob was trying to kill me…after all I had done to try, this was how it repaid me?”

Now, EJ is considering fulfilling her lifetime fantasy of getting rid of her breasts. It’s not a reduction she’s after, but a full-on removal—smaller boobs still feel like too much boob as far as she’s concerned. But she finds herself feeling somewhat isolated and alone.

In her search for other cis women who don’t want boobs, EJ’s browsed Reddit boards where other well-endowed women discuss breast reduction surgery. Though these women are technically in the same boat as EJ, they seem to be more invested in having breasts—and often, relatively big breasts—a concept EJ finds baffling.

“They only want to go to, like, a D,” she says of some of the posters, noting that she frequently sees women who worry they may have taken their reductions too far. “I read these posts and I think, ‘What?’ I remember being a D, that was still a pretty big boob.”

Although EJ will likely seek out a reduction in the near future—it’s the procedure most likely to be covered by her insurance—what she really wants is a procedure somewhere in between breast reduction and trans top surgery. “I want a neutral chest. But we’re so binary in [ideas of gender]. If you don’t look like a woman, you must look like a man. And vice versa.”

Even as she struggles to find a place for herself in the societal conversation of breasts, EJ remains unwavering in her feelings about her own boobs. “They don’t serve me in any possible way,” EJ says. “If I could completely have them removed, I would be very happy to do so.”

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