RyanMeetsRyan: New Air on New Skin

9 days post op with Blue beside me. Photo by Anna Ried

Ryan Chard Smith took more photos of me for our series, Ryan Meets Ryan to celebrate my body before top surgery and to visually say thank you to my old chest. 

I have more to say about all the things involved here:

I thought one of the requirements for wanting top surgery is that I needed to violently dislike myself. Wanting to have a surgeon cut into my flesh and release something inside of me means I need to hate the part of me being cut out, right? That there cannot be any joy or reverence in my body each day I am living my pre-op life?


I so fiercely oppose this singular narrative stamped onto my transgender life! I am not miserable! At the same time, I still choose to radiate empathy for my trans community that is suffering.

The performance of a tormented transgender person comes from decades of medical gatekeeping meant to keep trans people from having access to affordable surgeries and hormones (ie: The Real Life Test and Medical gatekeeping in the US). We quite literally have to perform misery in order to get access to our needs. Quite a lot of us are miserable because human beings are in a fishbowl soaked in transphobia and racism and patriarchy. It’s bouncing off the walls and then ricocheting into violence in our own communities. I believe we have been in desperate need to reevaluate the entire concept of health insurance and medicine because the way it currently operates is unhelpful at best, violent and oppressive at its worst. The resources we need to live shouldn’t be privatized!

But I did not choose to have this surgery because I am walking in agony; this was me advocating for myself to receive joy and connection with my body.

Images by Ryan Chard Smith

This was not an execution. My chest was reshaped and reborn into something new. That is the most human experience I can think of! The ability to shift!

It’s like leaves falling off a tree, ice melting into the lake, tears falling from your eyes. 

It’s a thank you and a goodbye.

New Air on New Skin learning to walk, breath, and talk all over again. I’m connected. I’m floating but not spiraling. It’s wet here. sticky from where I was melted. Now I’m standing in the parts that are meant to remain liquid. 

I am having a much more accurate relationship with myself.

It’s no longer flashes of lightning briefly showing what I am.

It’s the sun on my skin, freckles glowing on my shoulder. 

And the sound of my heart 

Doesn’t sound like the pounding of a wooden door- breaking and entering.

It sounds like the percussion section of a choir- Gospel.  

top surgery 11/11/21

9 days post op photo by Anna Ried

photos Anna Ried

more of Anna Reid

by Anna Ried

by Anna Ried

first time seeing my chest a week post op.

two ravens the day I saw my chest

2 months post op


Hi-Fi’s Honesty Interviews

My friend Faeth aka Hi-Fi is coming out with a new album called “The Moon Behind The Mountains, The Face Between The Trees”. Before her album drops, she created an interview series called Honesty Interviews to help us get ready to hear her new album.  Faeth was able to bring out my most authentic self in this interview because she brought an energy of authenticity and safety, it was a joy to talk with her.

Please enjoy and look out for her album,  “The Moon Behind The Mountains, The Face Between The Trees” which drops December 2021!

The Gaggle

a close-up of Ryan Baker's belly. His belly is pale, covered with dark hair, and has a bandaid covering the lower left side of his belly. The bandaid is covering his injection site. He is wearing earthy green high waisted pants

photo by Ryan Chard Smith

The Gaggle

What is it in a man that makes him keep secrets?

The secrets of his tenderness & his passion?

When I was convinced I was a girl, men had this layer glazed over on top of their eyes. The things I’m not supposed to know. The things they aren’t supposed to share.

But sometimes, the film from their eyes deteriorates. 

And they see that I am a man too.

A safe man.
Their wings melt in the sun when they fly too close. 

I grew mine myself.

I am a man to share the “I always loved him”s with. 

To be whispering and not know why

As if saying the truth too loud would mean that the echoes from our vocal cords would come back as ghosts to haunt us in our twilight hours. 

But once men get into a gaggle of 3 or more, the screen over their eyes comes back. Suddenly I’m not there. Suddenly I’m just a little boy among men. 

When just moments before, they were weeping in my arms. 

Isn’t it exhausting to be in a closet you built for yourself? 

Splintered wood poking at your skin. The smell of mothballs suffocating you. 

You don’t even wear the same clothes anymore!

Put them in boxes!  Clean up this space!  Even the termites can’t bite on this wood anymore

Demolish. Break. Flood the room with fabrics of the past.

It’s your room!

Go clean it up! 

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