I often feel slightly confused about the way my body is changing and my own new way of looking at myself. I’m unused to it and embarrassed about it. Not all the time, but often. I feel sad about what I’ve lost or given up, all the pieces of a female identity I ever had. Sometimes I feel misunderstood by some of the people who really matter to me. I’m afraid that I’m taking up to much of their time and energy with my transitional thoughts. I feel worried about where I’m going and the enormous effort it is costing me. Am I always to be a freak? Is it always going to be this hard? I haven’t even started on testosterone yet and probably won’t for at the least another year. Still the changes of my appearance is overwhelming me in my overly self-aware stage of transitioning. The burden of my choice and it’s consequences is weighing me down some days.
Transitioning makes me grow in all kinds of ways. Many of them makes me proud and happy and encourages me do silly things like pulling my shirt of and throw of my 20 first-ever pull-ups in the kitchen door opening at a party, in front of a massive cheering crowd only to prove my strength. (Yes, I know it sounds a bit tasteless, but I wasn’t completely topless and you should have been there, it was fun!)
It is monumentally weird to be genderd different than before. Most of it is not about the “Awesome, I’m getting ripped and now I can be true to who I really am”-sort of things. It makes more difference than I ever could have guessed and is sometimes about very unexpected stuff. For starters, it affects how old people think I am. It makes me look like a teenager, and sometimes I even feel like one. That in turn change what my relations look like, how I’m met by other people… I thought of it the last time I was kissing someone in my own age in public. People were looking.
I know I look sort of gay, especially when kissing a guy. That does not bother me, quite the opposite – I like it. But it might also look sort of perverted, me seemingly around 16-17 and my kissing friend more than twice that. My blonde and innocent looks don’t help at all in making me look less vulnerable. When I come to think of it, I mostly don’t mind looking perverted. It is worse to feel victimised. I notice how people look, how they judge me and the one I’m with. There are social punishments that will affect me no matter how right I am and what I think of it. Nowadays there is a price on the public affection I show the people I love.
Another utterly unexpected thing that transitioning has done to me; two weeks ago I was stunned when I noticed that my breasts were at the least one size larger than they’ve ever been! They’ve always been very small to begin with, but now I want them to shrink away into muscle and disappear forever. They haven’t, they look bigger instead. I was so disappointed and felt totally humiliated. How and why the hell did this happen?
Then I realised why. I know very little about what happens to a female body when it builds muscle, but now I’ve learned this; my breasts are placed on the pectoralis major muscle, the largest muscle on the front side of the body. My breasts look bigger because I’ve developed serious chest muscles underneath! If they weren’t so small to begin with, I might not have noticed.
That made me feel a little better, but still bad. I don’t want my female breasts to be more protruding! But there is nothing I can do about that now, except to suck it up. I’ll wear my binder more often and try to enjoy my new muscular upper body as much as I can to compensate for the parts of me I like less. I find very little comfort in the fact that the surgeon I might meet in a distant future for my mastectomy (breast removal) will like what zie’s got to work with. Good for the surgeon, then. Bad for me now.
My chest, shoulders and upper arms have developed massively since I started to work out with serious transitional ambitions. Sometimes I’m able to enjoy that, able to be proud of all the hard work that’s behind my transformation. But at other times it makes me feel lost and freakish. Either I think I look monstrous and out of proportion or that I just imagined the change and that no one else can see it either, that I’m just bragging about my efforts at the gym and have to work even harder.
Body dysphoria is a term used to describe this kind of general feelings of sadness or an uncomfortableness about your body. It can include feeling great anxiety, irritability or restlessness and a more or less distorted view of self.
My clothes don’t fit me any more. I don’t look like I want to do, nor like I used to. I’ve grown out of my comfort zone and sometimes I feel like nothing really fits or works any more. But it seems like my discomfort with this is totally hidden for others by the fact that my training is actually giving the results I want. I work hard, I get the reward; so what’s the whining about?
At the same time as I’m being socialised into being a man by my network, friends and family, I also strongly feel how limiting the male gender role is for me or probably for anyone. It is utterly unmanly to whine about your body, to talk about how awkward your muscles make you feel. But I really don’t feel at home with my body and I can see no end of that.