Tag Archives: butch body image

Eat More Cottage Cheese


A few months after I finally admitted out loud that I always wanted to be a boy, I decided to lose weight. At the time, I was a very chubby butch. I was struggling with both dysphoria and body size/image issues. I did not want to be the Pillsbury Doughboy. I wanted to be a trim and solid boy.

I joined Weight Watchers in May, 2012. I hadn’t officially changed my name yet, and It was the first place I introduced myself as Jamie. Idiosyncratically, Weight Watchers is as big a part of my transition as changing my name. Part of making my body my body.

While some use undereating (or restricted eating) to keep from having feminine curves, I was using overeating to hide my hips and breasts. I also used eating as a diversion, to keep certain thoughts and feelings suppressed.

I started to eat smaller portions, and to cut down on butter and sugar. I tried to stop eating when I was angry or frustrated. I ate cottage cheese and yogurt. For the first time in my adult life I felt a little hungry in-between meals. It is still a strange sensation after years of stuffing myself into a stupor. It took a year and a half to get down to a weight that seems right for me.

Now I pay attention to what I eat, how much I exercise, and how much wine I drink. I like being free from overeating. I don’t frantically devour oversized poppy-seed bagels to calm myself down. Maintaining my weight is no longer an incomprehensible mystery, but it does not come naturally. I keep going to Weight Watchers meetings for reinforcement. Continue reading

From Dysphoria to Euphoria

I'll never wear a binder again.

I’ll never wear a binder again.

It’s been three weeks since I had top-surgery. I look so natural to myself in the mirror that it is impossible to believe that I used to be a 38C. I’m not exactly flat chested; my breast bone is prominent, and even as the bruising goes down, I look like I’ve got pecs. Euphoria.

I also have scars, scabs, stitches, and a little flaking and chafing. It isn’t pretty. I’ve got three more weeks to go before I can walk around without compression. I’m sleeping by myself (i.e. with Gracie) because I have to sleep on my back and I snore like Daffy Duck in this clip. Every morning I climb into the other bed, lie on my back, and cuddle with Donna.

Donna still hasn’t seen me shirtless, but she has seen me in shirts. She isn’t ready to look at my scars. I don’t blame her.

Two years ago, Donna was shocked and upset that I started binding. In retrospect, it was the only trans action I took without prepping her beforehand or waiting for her to get used to the idea. To keep the peace, I agreed not to spring anything else on her and to include her in my decision-making. A year ago, Donna was talking about top surgery as self-mutilation and a form of misogyny. Yesterday, while were on the bus, she said that I look like myself only more so. She said my chest fits me. I had to ask her to repeat it. Continue reading

The Other Side of the Shore


Bras Across The Bridge – Breast Cancer Awareness – 2011

I managed to make it this far without going through the social rites of passage for a Jewish-American girl. No Bat Mitzvah, no Sweet Sixteen, no Prom, no graduation party, no wedding. No ceremony to mark the crossing of a line, the shift in status from childhood to adulthood. No ancient rituals, no reading of texts, no scarifications.

Maybe scarifications. I’m counting down the days to top surgery (December 8). If top surgery is my rite of passage, it is not clear to me what is on the other side of the shore.

I’ve been low-key about it because I don’t want to put a hex on it. I am thankful that Donna remains nominally onboard and reconciled to my going through with it. I’ve read up on tips for top surgery and what to expect while you are recovering. I ‘m making a list of what I need to do around the house to prepare. I want to make it as easy on Donna as possible.

Over the last fifteen years I’ve had four surgeries (one to repair torn knee ligaments, two to remove fibroids, and a partial hysterectomy). I learned that I get nauseous and depressed from anesthesia. I learned that I am impatient to recover, that I get bored staying at home, and that I don’t like to ask for help.

But, I am channelling all of my anxiety about top surgery into the realization that I don’t have the right outfit to come home from the hospital in. Or for lounging around in while I recover.  Or for taking a walk to cool my cabin fever. Continue reading

What to Wear to Work – Dressing While Butch

What to wear if you are butch?

What to wear if you are butch and transgender?

After five months of slumming I laid out work clothes. I want to feel comfortable going back to the office. I tried on a few permutations of jeans, button down shirts, and sweaters in front of the full length mirror with the lights on. Five years ago this would have been a humiliating and depressing task. Now, I only wish I had sent my sweaters to the cleaners in April instead of throwing them in a heap to moulder.

Except for senior management, new employees, and ambitious scum, no one at Transit dresses to impress. There is a lot of cheap polyester. Dated and out of fashion. There is no incentive to buy new clothes if you can still fit in your old ones. There is no written dress code. The expectation for men is a shirt and tie; the expectation for women is nothing that I would wear. My perpetual dilemma. Continue reading

Which Side Are You On?

David Bowie in a man's dress, 1971

David Bowie in a man’s dress, 1971

David Bowie said it best “You must understand that it’s not a woman’s. It is a man’s dress.” If a dress is made for a man, or bought by a man, it becomes his. He owns it. The dress has no gender; the person wearing it does.

There was a cold snap and I broke out my favorite flannel shirt. It is a classic L.L. Bean, a Black Watch Plaid, in a women’s large. It used to look really good on me, before I lost weight. Now it is super baggy. I can still wear it, but I’m hesitant. It buttons to the left (the girl’s side).

I’m struggling with this. My weight is down from 175 lbs. to 140 lbs., but my height is still five foot four. My eyes have not adjusted. I can only see how much weight I’ve lost when I try to wear my old clothes. I’ve downsized my jeans several times and replaced a few worn out T-shirts. My button-down shirts are between two and five years old. They are between big and too big.

I stopped buying dress shirts because I knew I was going to stop working. Then I went on a self-imposed flannel hiatus because I have slew of old flannel shirts. It didn’t last. Then I decided to completely stop shopping for shirts because I want to wait until after I have top surgery. If I need to shop, I will stick to sneakers and hiking shoes.

It is almost impossible for me to buy a women’s shirt off the rack. I’m petite (I hate that word) and I won’t touch anything that has darts, princess seams, funny collars, or odd plackets. I’ll wear clothing made for women that looks like it is made for men. There isn’t much out there. It is also almost impossible for me to buy a men’s shirt off the rack. I like the styles, but the sleeves end below my fingertips, the body is too long, and if the chest fits it doesn’t close over the hips (and if the hips fit it is too big everywhere else). Continue reading


Michelangelo's David

Michelangelo’s David

I am still in top surgery purgatory. Purgatory implies hope and patience. Donna is slowly reconciling herself to my having surgery. I’m trying not to pressure her because I don’t want to sabotage her efforts to come around to it on her own.

I’ve tried to take a break from thinking about top surgery, but I can’t. I’ve got the money, I’ve got a doctor, but I don’t want to proceed until Donna says she can handle it, or is willing to try. She mentioned the end of the year. I mentally put the Prosecco on ice.

Meanwhile, nipples are on my mind. I am obsessed with chests. I chest gazed while on vacation. Italian men take more care with their appearance than American men do. They wear their dress shirts, T-shirts, and polo shirts tighter. They show more. I’m not attracted to men, but the Italian men are very attractive.  Continue reading

Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Right to Decide

The feminist who came up with the pro-choice chant “Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Right to Decide” was probably not thinking about transgender butch lesbians contemplating top surgery. That slogan has been this week’s mantra. It has been a hell of a week.

I’ve struggled to understand why “suddenly” top surgery has become important to me. A few weeks back Donna told me to go ahead and start looking into it. She doesn’t like the idea of surgery, and when she stepped aside, I took it as a good sign. I made an appointment for a consultation with a surgeon in New York (Dr. Paul Weiss). Donna came with me. We liked him; he has no issues performing surgery on someone who is not on T and is not transitioning to male. We talked about nipple placement and keeping the nipple attached instead of grafting it back on. We went through his photo book. I was able to visualize my chest.

And then it hit me. It was my chest that I was seeing. It was the chest I used to have, the one I felt comfortable with and did not have to hide. I was not losing something I was getting something back. Continue reading