It is a truth universally acknowledged that a group of two or more trans women with the slightest degree of privacy will eventually start talking about their boobs.

My boobs are not the most important part of my transition. For one, I’m at a 40A. But more importantly, the things I get out of transition are intangible and unique. I’ve made a beautiful friend who’s more my equal than anyone I’ve ever met. I feel more comfortable seeing myself as a lesbian than I ever did as a straight dude. I could drop the dissonance between my solidarity with women and my sense that, as a man, I should not speak on feminism. I’ve found a sense of calling and purpose in supporting my trans family. I live with more ease and connection as a woman. I’m happy as a woman.

I really let the TERFs get to me. “You can wear the clothes,” they said, “but don’t expect me to let you in the women’s room.” I became very comfortable buying and wearing things for women, because it felt right. I insisted that I would never try to pass. I didn’t let anyone tell me what it meant to be a man, because the whole thing felt like an act. “Gimme your man card,” said the bullies of my youth. “If that’s all that being a man is,” said grown-up me, “take it.”

I mark the day I wore a dress at work as one of the happiest of my life. It was the end of wearing boy clothes I never liked. It was the beginning of a period where I could chase my happiness. I got breastforms, but I never wore them out, and it made me a little sad that I could feel them in my hand but not on my chest. I got pretty good at picking out dresses that I could pull off given my body, though it made me sad how much I had to limit myself. I grew out my hair to see if I liked it, and I did, though the hairline bothered me. I loved girly things, but I was an island. To be a nonconformist is not to have a community.

But now I’m trans. Not all transfeminine people want boobs, and some will go to significant lengths to prevent them. For most of us, though, they’re the one physical signifier that we can all compare, touch, identify with. We share in wanting boobs, and boobs become synechdoche for the bright new world of transition.