The Beatles in Miami, 1964. Photo by Charles Trainor.
It has been almost two years since I went swimming. It is a shame. I love the beach and I love swimming in the ocean.
I stopped going to the beach because wearing a women’s swimsuit hit the perfect trifecta of dysphoria, negative body image, and self-consciousness. My Speedo made me look like I had breasts (or more accurately, I could not ignore my breasts when I wore it). My Speedo displayed my hairy armpits and a tract of dark hair running from my crotch to my big toe. I wore a T-shirt and shorts over my swimsuit except when I was in the water.
I was envious of the guys. Gangly teenagers in baggy knee-length board shorts. Collegiate life guards with ripped abs and a full body tan. Pale dads with beer bellies rolling over the edge of their trunks. There was not a woman on the beach whom I wanted to look like. Not even the other butch lesbians.
I don’t want to look like a woman. I look a little less like one now than I did three years ago, but I’m not sure what I actually look like. I’m not sure what I want to look like; how much further I want to go, what I’m willing to do to get there. Continue reading →
It is 10° F in New York. I am surfing the internet for swimsuits. Gracie is curled up on the floor in a patch of late afternoon sunlight. I’d like to know what she is dreaming about.
I have the perfect wardrobe for January; for 12 inches of snow, slush moats, and arctic windchill. I’ve got high-tech long underwear, three different types of fleece jackets, a down sweater and a down jacket, lightweight and heavy weight Gore-Tex shells, boot socks, windproof gloves and moisture wicking glove liners, neck gaiters, wool beanies, and insulated waterproof work boots. I can mix and match for any winter weather condition. If you wanted to throw an outdoor party in January I’d have the ideal outfit. I’m an urban slumberjack.
Last year I waited until June to think about swimming. I swore it would be the last season that I’d wear a black racerback Speedo in the water, topped by a pair of quick-dry shorts and a damp T-shirt on the sand. A black racerback is the butch equivalent of a little black dress. It is elegant and understated, but I don’t wear dresses. I promised myself to start looking for genderqueer appropriate beach wear in January. This is my 2014 swimsuit challenge. Continue reading →
Every year I make a resolution to do something about my swimsuit. Then the weather gets hot and I think about going to the beach. I have nothing to wear.
My default for the last decade has been a black Speedo one-piece, with a racerback and a “shelf bra”. This is the most neutral women’s swimsuit that a butch can wear. It’s the “women’s swimsuit” that throws me into dysphoria. There is no equivalent of Levi 501s for genderqueer swimming.
Last year, my compromise was to wear a lightweight T-shirt and quick-dry shorts over the Speedo. I changed out of them right before I went in the water. When I got out, I toweled off, and put them on again over my damp suit. This is not an elegant solution, but it works. I don’t want dysphoria keep to me from swimming.
I am fine once I am in the water. It is the distance from where my clothes are to the water that is the problem. It feels like a perp walk. The crime is impersonating a woman. Continue reading →