Behind the enemy lines

After three times now changing in the men’s locker room without a friend as company, I’m summing up my experiences so far. It’s much harder than I thought it would be. I feel stressed up about it, both while I’m at it and in advance, on my way to the gym. I feel vulnerable while I’m in there. Rather than being a part of a sweaty but silent brotherhood, I feel like I’m lurking behind the enemy lines, risking to be exposed at any moment. I’m afraid to be questioned. I feel like I’m breaking the rules. I guess I am, in a way.

Today there was a big guy changing just next to me and I bet he could hear my heart pounding like mad. The good thing is that at the gym I have a perfectly valid excuse for looking blushed and pumped up with adrenaline – either I’m late for my gym class or I’ve just worked out. Another guy kept a close eye on my suspiciously round, petite and rather hairless behind when I pulled my pants down and my gym shorts up. I tried to comfort myself with the idea that he probably liked what he saw.

I guess it is al right to struggle with this now for a while. I’m creating queer space for myself and in the long run for others, and I’m giving the girls their safe space back. They had started to stay on guard and looking really bothered by my presence. And they can hardly go anywhere else. I’m the one who has to leave, as it is now with our locker room-situation. It will take some time now, for me to get used to this.

My gym handed out a questionnaire the other day. It was all sorts of questions in it, designed to find out what they could improve and how happy their members and customers are.  I was so glad to find a third option to gender in it, not only “man” and “woman”, but also “other”, which I opted for. I wrote in it about my locker room troubles. Afterwards I started to think that I ought to have done something together with my gym related to IDAHOT, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transfobia that was last weekend. But I guess it’s never to late. Seriously, I’ll think of something.

/ E.

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Ps, I spent the weekend posing for a good friend who is a photographic artist. It resulted in lots of pictures for a queer project of hers. I got a brand new blog header and some really cool “before” (or rather “in the middle of”-) transitional photos. Thank you, E!

Breaking up

Last Saturday I had my last sweet date with the girls locker room and sauna at the gym. While I caught my breath in the steamy sauna after working out we had a little breaking up conversation, me and her. I told the locker room gently that we’ve had a great time together but that we cant keep seeing each other like this.

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Dear girls locker room, I’m sorry, we cannot go on seeing each other like this. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve changed.

For too long I’ve felt questioned and judged when we see each other in the company of others. It hurts my feelings. I told her that I feel uncomfortable to be defined by our relationship. I told her that I need to start seeing others, just like she already is. I told her that we’ve been trough a lot together and that I’ve truly enjoyed it, so much fun, sweat and tears. It’s not you, I told her. It’s me. I’ve changed. Our relationship has made me grow in so many ways. But the time has come for me to move on.

The locker room-dilemma has troubled me ever since I came out as transgender. Initially I hoped to be able to change the world or at the least the situation at my local gym instead of adapting to a fucked up binary gender-system myself. So much for those noble intentions, so far. But now when I pass better I have the possibility to do some serious trans activism and claim my space anyway. My time has come.

I had decided to change locker room once I was introduced to the transgender team. It would be a suitable way of expressing determination, demonstrating my commitment to transitioning. Exactly the sort of thing I’ve been told that the “Real Life Experience”-phase is about. So after my meeting with the team psychiatrist, I launched my plan.

A trusted friend followed me to the gym yesterday and joined me in my workout. I usually enjoy working out alone but this time his company was of the essence. He was my escort to this point of rites de passage, finally breaking the taboo of entering the guys locker room. I was really nervous but his unconcerned company was of tremendous help in making me feel safe and in my full right to do what I had to do.

My plan worked out perfectly! It was Wednesday, which usually is a rather quiet day at the gym. We where there half an hour early, so there was no stress and locker room even happened to be empty to begin with. I had prepared myself by putting on my sports bra and a loose-fitting men’s sports top at home so I only had to pull my jeans of and slip in to my shorts and shoes. After our work out I just reversed the process, keeping my eyes to myself but otherwise acting confidently.

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Done changing. There is always a first time. All went well!

I was pleased to note that even if we weren’t alone in the guys locker room when changing after the workout, I received less suspicious looks from the others there than I usually do among the girls. Actually, no one even looked my way or looked awkwardly away either, for that matter. I was all stealthy and nobody gave a fuck.

Now, this was something I’ve dreaded to do for a while and I’m so happy to have friends to back me up. Things turned out so well and I feel proud of myself, doing this even thou it was scary at first, risking it. I feel totally confident about going back, even without company. Tomorrow I’ll have my first chance.

You know that you are a transgender guy when…

…Friends who are moving or arranging a party kindly wait for you to arrive to let you carry the really heavy stuff – in the pure purpose to help cultivate both your male ego, your back and biceps.

…You find yourself discussing different ways to do a mastectomy (breast removal) with no less than four different transgenderd people on a week flat, considering loss of sensitivity, re-positioning of the nipple and the risk for visible scars. (Amount of pain experienced or expected was never mentioned.)

…Tired cis-genderd guys follow you blindly into the changing room at the gym, looking at you rather than the sign on the door and therefore ending up in the ladies locker room. Embarrassment.

…Tired cis-genderd girls stop and blink in a mix of confusion and awkvardness when you meet them in the door to the ladies changing room at the gym, seemingly questioning which one of you who are not supposed to be there. Embarrassment.

…You feel awkward and embarrassed about NOT having a rolled up sock tucked down in your trousers, because you forgot to do your packing routine when dressing in the morning.

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