After both having double mastectomies, Xanthe Zeitstück and friend Rowan Janiszewski were nervous about going topless for the first time in public.
But together they decided to embrace their scars during a day at the beach with their shared boyfriend Seran Janiszewski and they captured the moment in a series of pictures.
Xanthe shared the photo on social media, where it received more than 6,250 likes, shares and comments.
Xanthe, who lives in Savannah, Georgia in the US, wrote: ‘Here I am, at the beach, shirtless, with the equally non-binary friend that helped me through my top surgery while recovering from theirs, while we watch our boyfriend frolicking in the waves.
‘This is the world conservatives warned you about.’
The concierge claims they found the ‘liberating’ experience ‘completely natural’ and hopes it encourages other people in the LGBT+ community to bare all.
Xanthe said: ‘It’s three people enjoying a day at the beach with people that they love. When you take away a lot of the politics it’s a perfectly normal situation.
‘But some conservatives did react like it was horrifying, like it was something criminal. It was just a day at the beach and more bigoted people are really up in arms.
‘I felt great about being in public. Honestly it felt very natural.
‘I am thrilled to share the pictures. I didn’t expect that much positive feedback from the picture.’
Xanthe said it was the first time they had been able to go to the beach since they had the operation.
‘It was a special moment and I just wanted to share it with people and maybe give a jab to the conservatives a little bit too which is what I did in my caption.
‘My friend Rowan was a little bit more nervous than I was but we went ahead anyway and endeavoured to make sure we would stay by each other and also be shirtless.
‘That was Rowan’s first time being shirtless at the beach too. No one said anything.
‘We may have gotten a couple of weird looks but I think most people just assumed it was none of their business, which was great.
‘It was definitely was a moment I wanted to broadcast. I was so excited about it. It’s definitely one of the more interesting pictures in the family photo album.
‘I don’t regret posting it at all. I’m really glad I did.
‘Other people have gotten in touch saying they were really glad I did too because they’ve been nervous about going to the beach or saying they’re non-binary than a binary entity.
‘It’s cool for people to actually have some representation.’
Rowan ‘dropped everything’ to help to care for Xanthe after their surgery despite still recovering from their own surgery just weeks before.
Xanthe said: ‘Rowan is a very good friend to me. It was really nice to hang out with the both of them.
‘Seran was very proud of us on the beach. He said “I am so glad that both my partners could take their shirts off on the beach and I couldn’t be prouder of both of them”.
‘It was definitely was a moment I wanted to broadcast. I was so excited about it. It’s definitely one of the more interesting pictures in the family photo album later on in the year.’
Xanthe claims they had always known they did not identify as their birth gender but did not identify as male.
It was only after they turned 20 and met their first non-binary person that they realised they could identify as neither male nor female.
After undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT), they paid $6,000 – or nearly £5,000 – to have their breasts and nipples removed.
Xanthe, who also writes historical fantasy novels, said: ‘All throughout being a teenager and even a kid there were so many things I related to about transgender guys – but I wasn’t quite there.
‘I thought things like ‘I would love to have top surgery but I’m not a man’ so it just wasn’t connecting.
‘When I was 20 I finally met my first other non-binary person and realised that there was a word for it.
‘I discovered that there was a way to transition without having to do everything to change myself.
‘A couple of years ago I decided to get HRT which definitely helped. I got top surgery. And I’m satisfied with myself.
‘It’s been a journey to get here and it’s a relief to not be constantly uncomfortable and not constantly try to hide certain aspects of myself.’
Commenters from all over the world offered ‘overwhelming’ support in praise of the photo.
But Xanthe claims that they have received backlash from some ‘bigots’ sharing the posts.
Xanthe, who is originally from Ohio in the US, said: ‘It has been almost funny to see some of the more ignorant comments because it gets to the point where, if they’re ignorant enough, they don’t even bother you because they’re so funny.
‘I had one comment which was ‘so they transitioned from female but they’re still keeping their boyfriend?’ and I thought, ‘yeah, we didn’t throw him out with the breast binders’.
‘I’ve seen some negative comments but the cool thing is when people are sharing it with ill intent a lot of people who I don’t even know and who aren’t in the LGBT+ community will go ahead and just be like ‘why are you so mad about these people enjoying themselves, calm down’.
‘It’s cool because I get to see people [commenting] and using gendered pronouns for only one person and then being corrected to use non-binary.
‘Both Rowan and I opted out of nipple grafts so other people are just saying ‘oh wow, I didn’t know you could get top surgery without that’ and others pointing out that it’s rather common.
‘I think awareness, visibility and knowing someone who identifies differently than they were assigned at birth really helps.
‘I’ve gotten really good messages from people in Australia, California, even in other countries. People tell me that I’ve helped them take off their shirts in public too.
‘It gets people learning more, which I’m always down for.’
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