The process for trans people to go through with surgeries and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is not a short one. For many, it can take months or years before they can even get in to see a doctor, longer to go through with and heal from procedures, and a lifetime of taking medications. With biased opinions of doctors, plastic surgeons, and therapists, sometimes trans people will be downright rejected the possibility of hormones and surgery. It's unfair, but this country has a tendency of keeping trans people from basic human rights to be comfortable in their own bodies. Thankfully, surgery and meds aren't the only ways to modify ones body.
The adrenaline rush from being in the tattoo parlour is enough to make anyone squeamish run out of there screaming, but it's not uncommon to meet a queer person that is covered in tattoos and piercings. That rush is exciting once you get used to it, and once you're out of there with your shiny new modification you're already planning what you'll do next. It's the thrill of being able to control your own body at last.
My gender and sexuality have always been one big question mark. When it came to my gender, I was that "weird" kid that would say I would have been better off being born a gay man. Little did middle school me know, I would come out as trans a few years later. While I have had trouble figuring out if I want to go on hormones or have any kind of surgery, I do know that I can edit my body in other ways to feel more comfortable in it.
I got my first tattoo with my suitemate. We sat in the waiting room, both of us buzzing and sweating from nerves. We didn't know what it would feel like, neither of us had gotten tattoos before. One hour later we rushed out of there, bright smiles on our faces and saniderm around her arm and my collarbones. We had done it! A few months later I sat in another lobby of a tattoo place, waiting for a woman named Lilith that would soon give me my septum piercing. Again, I left happier than ever and to this day I am so proud of myself for my piercing and tattoo.
Trans people and other queers will do the same thing. While, in my case, I don't know if I want to make more intense changes to my body. I know people that do want to go through those surgeries but can't for a long time so until then they make up for it. For others that have had surgeries, it's not always enough so they want more tattoos and piercings to feel even more comfortable with themselves. These body modifications are art across one's skin, each one unique in their own way, even if it's pulled from a Google image. They mean more than just ink or metal or plastic under one's skin. As trans woman of color and writer, Princess Harmony said, it is a way to "reclaim power over my body and the way that other people see me."