Dennis, the transgender Lieutenant on the AMC reality show Small Town Security, made two notable changes this season. First, he dropped the surname "Croft," a vestige from his marriage, and replaced it with "Starr." "Dennis Croft doesn't exist for me anymore," said Dennis Starr in an interview to discuss the other big change: a double mastectomy, the final removal of breasts he never should have, and a surgery shown on last night's season two finale.
Yet for all the buildup and anticipation of this moment -- years after identifying as a man and years of binding his bosom -- Starr admits he almost didn't go through with it. The hesitation came at the Atlanta-based doctor's office, during what Starr described the "oxymoronic" examine to see if breasts are healthy enough to cut off.
"It was healthy tissue," he said. "I thought, 'I am destroying healthy tissue,' and I had to reflect on that point: I'm harming something, I'm destroying something. Even though it wasn't me, I had to take a step back and think, 'Do I really need to do this?"
Clearly he decided he did, and "I'm normal now," said Starr. "I can relax."
Well, almost: For the purposes of television drama, Starr had to keep his surgery secret from everyone except his immediate family, the crew at JJK Security. The one person he did tell was a local surgeon who called and offered to give the surgery for free. But Starr had already shelled out $9,000 to have the deed done. While saving that money of course would have been wonderful, Starr agreed $9K is a small price to pay for this freedom. "It's a huge burden lifted."
One would think that after years of wearing not one but two cumbersome chest bindings, Starr would hold a bra burning. "Man Burns Own Bra" would make a great headline. But Starr held a different type of ritual: He passed it down to a new member of the JJK team, another transgender man whose journey we'll hopefully get to see on a new season of Small Town Security, should AMC renew it.
In an age of opaque television dramas and over-the-top and shallow reality shows, watching Starr's continued growth this season and seeing him debut in his re-tailored dress blues on last night's finale have been particularly fulfilling for viewers. There's a sense of completion, not cliffhanger. But this is in no way an end. Starr indeed plans on going on to phrase two and three of his transition, getting a hysterectomy and then getting the ultimate reward: a penis.
In the meantime, he's doing something he couldn't have done before: walk around shirtless. "I think everyone should walk around shirtless. I think women should go topless too. It's so refreshing." He paused, only briefly, then continued: "People should just get over the tits."