Lara Rae untangles the complicated world of bras

My breast growth seemed to start quite quickly after beginning hormone therapy six months ago, as part of my gender transition. So I headed off to my local mall and got a fitting from an pro.

Finding the right support is an important part of gender transition

As part of her gender transition, comedian Lara Rae has been shopping for a new bra. (Leif Norman)

My breast growth seemed to start quite quickly after beginning hormone therapy six months ago, as part of my gender transition.

At age 52, having avoided the gym for a while, and having been exposed (certainly accidently) to estrogen-raising compounds like THC, I did start my gender journey with a small amount of breast and fat tissue under the nipple — a common syndrome in men and boys known as gynecomastia.

Measuring up

Within a few months of starting estrogen, and with the help of a YouTube tutorial and a tape measure, I began to chart my breast growth.

By my last measure — on New Year's Day — I was a 34-36 band, with a cup at the border of A and B.

Now that the growth is more rapid, I'm thinking of standing sideways flush to the wall and marking with a pencil the horizontal growth. But I'm not sure my landlord would approve.

Recently, due to the front my breasts being very sore from fluctuating hormones and the fact my breasts are further apart than most women because of my different skeletal structure, the bras I wear were getting terribly uncomfortable. I figured that I, like upwards half of all women, was wearing the wrong-sized bra.

A visit to the lingerie store

So I headed off to my local mall and got a fitting from an pro. 

The first nice thing I learned is that the bra I'm wearing isn't that bad. The second bit of good news was that my home measuring was pretty darn accurate, although I also learned that not all breasts are shaped equal.

I noticed as I tried on a succession of gorgeous, super-comfortable, very expensive bras that there wasn't an A cup in the bunch.  And one bra I owned was clearly too small. I bought a AA cup, thinking it was bigger than an A but it's actually smaller.  

But now I'm trying on B cups. Like a character in a Judy Blume novel, I tentatively tested the waters — and sure enough, the helpful lady at the lingerie shop confirmed I'm not an A cup.

Prone to problems

Of course, breasts are lovely and they make me feel normal. But they are an organ, which means they are prone to problems.

My chances of contracting breast cancer are only slightly higher than men, and much lower than natal women. 

And like most of what we get in life, genetics play a role. A general rule is that I will likely finish my growth about one cup size lower than the average of women in my family, although it is almost impossible for an average-sized transwoman of my age to grow a breast beyond a small C.

So given the C and D average of my family, I am likely to finish this journey like I finished high school with a decent, but unremarkable, B average.

Lara Rae is charting her journey in a new radio column, airing Mondays on CBC Radio One. 


Lara Rae


Lara Rae is a stand-up comic, comedy writer and the former artistic director of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.


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