Rebecca Adams Photographed by Tim Soter. This story was originally published on July 1st, , and we're bringing it to your attention again in honor of Transgender Day Of Visibility. Sal Steiner can remember the first time he knew he was a man. As a shy 6-year-old, he would watch kids on the playground, noticing the typical heteronormative dynamic between boys and girls. He didn't get his period until he was 17 and his vagina never bothered him, but once he started developing breasts in his late teens, he started to feel a real disconnect with his body.
Advertisement "I remember, like all of a sudden, I was curling my shoulders in, so that my breasts weren't as prominent," he said. They felt like they were outside myself. He's now living in San Francisco and working as a roastery manager. He considers himself very fortunate to be surrounded by both an open-minded, supportive community and a loving family.
In , Steiner finally got top surgery, a gender-confirming procedure to remove his breasts. We spent a day with him in New York City recently to learn more about his story and his path to transitioning.
The photos, taken by Tim Soter, capture many of the daily routines Steiner has incorporated into his life post-transition and they depict a man who is finally at peace with his body and how the outside world views it. Steiner's journey, of course, is unique to him. But sharing stories like his will help put faces to the hundreds of thousands of trans people and counting in the U. Ahead, Steiner opens up about letting go of societal judgment, the realities of testosterone injections, and how his life changed after getting top surgery.
When I look at them, I'm like, Wow, I got cut there. At first, I was like, I'll get tattoos and cover up the scars, but now, I think scars are cool. I was dealing with that before, but people saw me as like a dyke, a lesbian, or a really masculine woman. In America, there are very definite genders. I therapize myself a lot about how the outside world is affecting who I am and who I want to be perceived as. At first, I was super into it and then I was like, Ugh, I'm not into this.
I just want to be a human, you know? Not all guys are like that, of course, but the mainstream dudes, they're just I think the best thing about being part of the guy's club is it allows me to actually stand up for women more. I mean, there are a few things that I think about [that make me insecure].
I'm like, I need to get more buff and be like this ripped guy on the cover of Men's Health. It's usually mixed with some sort of oil. Different people decide how much [testosterone] they are going to take, depending on if they're gonna take it every week or every two weeks. I have a lot of tattoos, but I'm not really into sticking myself with stuff every week. It feels weird to me. So, it's still pretty new. And then, my surgeon said, 'You should start taking T before you have the surgery, so you can develop your pecs,' and all this jazz.
Then, I felt so much better. I immediately started to feel more comfortable in my body. And she told me to switch over to a different hip [each time]. When I do it, I get hungry about 10 minutes after. I have a kind of regimen now, since if I know I'm going to inject it, I'm going to have to eat something right away.
And every now and again, I'm like, Is this making me feel different? When I first started, the first few years, I really could feel a difference. Now, it's very slight, but I always wonder if it's, psychologically speaking, just my psyche saying, I feel different. On his chest tattoo: I know it's a really popular lucky number, but I wouldn't say it's my lucky number. I would say it's a very important number to me. And I'm not sure why, but I kind of get nerdy when it comes to signs or symbolism.
And I was like, Oh, 81 — eight minus one is seven, so there's another seven. And then I looked at my mom, my dad, and my brother.
My dad was born on the seventh, my mom was born on the 29th, and my brother was born on the 18th, and all of those are sevens or they subtract to seven.
There's several places that make things that you can pee into, like if you go camping. Especially for women, it always sucks pulling your pants down. So, I've used those a couple of times, but never in a urinal setting or anything.
So, I found Peecock and I ordered the size that I wanted, the color that I wanted, and there's like an insert that you can put in there that makes it erect and moves it around. When I got it, I was like, Whoa, now I have a detachable penis. I'm not really that shy when it comes to that stuff. As you get older, you kind of say, 'You know what?
Some days, I'm like, This feels good. Other days, I'm like, Wow, people have to deal with something down there all the time? I go back and forth. I'm learning now when to wear it and when not to wear it. On how he discovered the concept of being trans: I know a few people [like that]. It's very fluid, you know, the gender possibilities.
And I was like, What? I was like, Wow, this is a big thing. So, I continued to research it and I thought about it for a good solid six years before I took the plunge. But at the same time, I view life as that. Like, I feel like we all need to transition at one point or another, or many points during our lives.
So, I'm just the same as everyone else. I'm just doing different things.