Jacob Moscovitch

“I’ve always been Sasha, but I didn’t always know what that meant," he said. 

Sasha Koch was misgendered 13 times when he checked in for his top surgery. Each time the word “she” slipped from the nurse’s mouth, his eyes squeezed tighter and his body flinched. “He is a man,” his boyfriend cried. Still, the nurse continued. “I anticipate being misgendered everywhere I go, but no matter how much I expect it and prepare for it, it’s a jolt every time,” Sasha said. Over the previous six months, the pandemic had created financial and logistic complications for the operation that would remove his breasts. But on what he called one of the most important days of his life, nothing would stop the gender-affirming procedure. “I’m so ready,” Sasha said. “I’m ready to be me.”

Noah Doolady hand-drew a calendar that notes surgery-payment due dates, a blood test, a COVID-19 test, and the couple’s five-month anniversary.

The couple met on an app called Grindr that LGBTQ+ people use to hook up and date. 

“I’m feeling panicked,” Sasha said  while shopping for groceries with Noah. “My excitement is overshadowed by fear as the date gets closer.”

“I did not feel good about that,” Sasha said as he left a blood test in preparation for the surgery. “All of my life, my experiences with hospitals and doctors have been especially bad.”

“I usually fall asleep around two or three in the morning and wake up at five or six,” said Sasha who suffers from insomnia. “The night before the surgery I got an hour of sleep — if that.” 

Due to COVID-19, none of Sasha's loved ones were allowed into the surgery room or recovery room. Here, Noah and Sasha’s mother hold Sasha to prevent him from shaking before checking in for the procedure at sunrise

“When I woke up there was some pretty bad pain immediately,” Sasha said after the three-hour operation with an ice pack on his chest. “I felt surprisingly lucid but I was extremely exhausted.”

“Noah has been a saint,” Sasha said. “He calls me at 5 a.m. for my medication dose.” Noah designed a physical schedule to help Sasha keep track of his medication.

“I don’t even know what would be 100 percent me,” Sasha said. “I don’t have that strong sense of identity I guess.” 

“Loving something or someone involves wanting to look at every inch of it and examine it and memorize it,” Sasha said of his artwork of Noah.

“My surgeon explicitly warned me that if I smoked real cigarettes before my nipples were healed, they would fall off,” Sasha said while smoking an herbal cigarette. “I’ve been fantasizing about smoking cigarettes.”

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