Danny Scully reflects on the growth, acceptance and support he received coming out and during his gender-affirming care and surgery.
I started to wrestle with my gender identity when I was a young kid. “I don’t feel like a girl,” was a thought that I didn’t quite know what to do with. When you don’t know what your options are – or that you even have any – you tend to suppress these feelings. I didn’t know what it meant to be transgender – that there were more than just the gender binary “male” and “female.” Instead, I tried to adhere to the stereotypical “tomboy” rules as best as I could.
I still didn’t fit.
Now, nearly five years later, it’s incredible to reflect on the amount of growth, acceptance and support I’ve experienced. Accessible, affirming health care and providers I could trust gave me my life back.
Coming Out and Finding Gender-Affirming Care
I first confided in my older sister, Kathryn. I knew that I wanted to identify as male. She helped me make a list of names and research my options. Her guidance in working through the details, all while never making me feel less loved, gave me the confidence I needed.
I was admittedly terrified to come out to the rest of my family, but it went surprisingly well. I think we see so many different reactions when people come out; it can be difficult to know what to expect.
The support of my loved ones and friends was invaluable, but to truly become the person I wanted to be, I also needed LGBTQ+ health resources. I called around to multiple offices, most of which waitlisted me for months. I was considering testosterone therapy – a common gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) – but some offices didn’t offer it or even know what it was.
It was through Jefferson Health’s Haddonfield Primary & Specialty Care practice that I finally found easy access to exactly what I was looking for.
My First Year on Testosterone
I didn’t start testosterone right away. There were clearances I had to meet for my insurance to approve it. However, the Haddonfield office staff made the process so seamless, that within a month, I received the call to schedule my first appointment.
I was excited beyond belief, but I was also afraid of needles. Would it hurt? Could something go wrong? My nurse practitioner Marina Khazan administered it for the first time, and showed me how to do it myself, at home. I didn’t feel a single thing.
How it works: Once a week, I inject my belly fat with testosterone. Like any other prescription, you take a dosage that works best for you and what your individual goals are.
My changes: My voice grew significantly deeper within the first two to three months. Because I documented it, I know that it didn’t only change in tone, but more importantly, in expression. I sound so much happier now.
Within six to seven months, my jawline became more defined. I have a more pronounced chin, rather than a round face. Within two to three months, I also started having acne-breakouts. It’s sort of secondary puberty, but it’s manageable. I can’t pinpoint exactly when, but over time, my body scent has also changed.
One thing I wish trans people knew about GAHT is that it’s not as bad as you might think. There are risks, but they’re not the norm. I was worried about drastic mood changes, but they never came. It’s important to remember that everyone’s body reacts differently to hormones, things take time, and you can always work with your provider to alter your regimen.
Editor’s Note: Danny Scully kept voice memos to document the changes in his pitch and tone throughout the first year and a half of being on testosterone. Listen to his shared voice notes:
Putting Away My Binders
I often felt miserable in my own body growing up. A key offender? My chest. For years, I wore binders to help; these are compression undergarments that some trans people use to flatten their chest. When you’re bigger-chested, like myself, it’s hard to pass. I was misgendered a lot.
The more I worked with my Jefferson care team, the more I realized that top surgery was a beneficial option for me. I underwent surgery roughly a year after I went on testosterone. Now, I can finally donate by binders.
Breast surgeon Dr. Susanna Nazarian and reconstruction surgeon Dr. Andrew Newman helped me understand all the benefits and risks of surgery, and we collaboratively discussed my physical goals. I honestly had so many questions, but each one I asked – big and small – they answered confidently.
The first couple weeks of recovery were naturally a little stressful and uncomfortable because of the stitches and drains, which help prevent fluid build-up and infection. Thankfully, they were removed within one week.
I’m really happy with the results. I’ve been able to move around without any problems. I can go outside and wear a shirt – or not wear a shirt – and feel comfortable. It sounds simple, but it feels amazing. I have a pool, so I’m looking forward to swimming all summer long now that I’m healed.
A Newfound Outlook on Life
People in the LGBTQ+ community haven’t had an easy run at things. I had suicidal thoughts. I know I wasn’t alone in this. The struggle you feel when you can’t express yourself – the way that everyone else seems to be able to – can drive you mad. I’m happy to say I can finally be myself with the ones I love.
If you’re considering gender-affirming care, know that there are providers out there to support you. My health providers have changed my life and connected me with specialty providers who can support all aspects of my health. Remember, sometimes you don’t know until you try.