I was at the gym, doing seated overhead dumbbell presses (shoulders). I looked up at the full length mirror to check my form and I didn’t flinch. I didn’t judge. I didn’t wish I had bigger muscles or less flab. I didn’t wish I was using a heavier weight. I didn’t wish I was a boy. I straightened my left wrist and shifted my forearm to get back on course. I did a few more reps and finished the set. I wiped down the bench and racked the dumbbells.
It occurred to me that I don’t hate my body. I’ve stopped running the old tapes through my head.
When I first started telling my women friends that I thought I was trans, and that I didn’t know if I was going to take testosterone or get top surgery, they asked me why I couldn’t just accept my body the way it is. They’d tell me there is nothing wrong with me, that I am fine the way I am. A big strong butch. They were coming at it from a body positivity view. From a we don’t exist for the male gaze view. That you shouldn’t hate your body, you should hate the social construct of body image and beauty.
I didn’t know how to answer them back. What they said was true. Like them, I was taught to scrutinize my body and to judge it against everyone else’s. To fix my imperfections. To strive towards an unattainable standard. They weren’t wrong, but they were missing the point. I used to think that I hated my body. I said I hated my body. Now I realize that hate is the wrong word. I used to hate lima beans. I still hate liver. My body caused me pain. Continue reading →
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 →
I stopped opening my mail. I let it pile up. From December until now. Three big piles.
Roy Rogers and his mail. I think Bullet (his dog) is under there somewhere.
I have a secret streak of irresponsibility and procrastination. When it surfaces I know something is going on. Years ago, I procrastinated filing my taxes. One year, then two, then I stopped opening the letters until the IRS took the money out of my bank account. The weird thing was, if I’d filed on time, I would have gotten a small refund. Instead, I had to pay a penalty and hire a CPA to straighten the mess out.
All the forms I need to file my 2014 taxes are in those piles, and whichever ones aren’t, I’m going to have to track down on-line. I should make an appointment with my accountant. I have phone anxiety. If I don’t call now I could procrastinate for another five years, paralyzed by shame. Like a bad child on my way to the principal’s office, I can’t believe I’m here again.
Telling a procrastinator to just do it is about as effective as telling an overweight person to use willpower or a depressed person to cheer up. I muster up my adult self, pick up the phone, and place the call. I know I won’t blow off the appointment. I will come prepared because I don’t want to look like an idiot. I want to look like a responsible adult, even if I feel like a terrified child. Continue reading →
My mother put me on my first diet when I was eleven years old. It was probably the Stillman Diet, but I called it the “cottage cheese and TaB diet” because that is all I remember about it. I didn’t lose much weight. I ate whatever she fed me plus whatever I could get my hands on. For years I wouldn’t touch cottage cheese, but I became a TaB addict.
I ate compulsively and unconsciously. I ate prophylactically, and opportunistically. I just ate. I couldn’t say why. And I washed it all down with TaB. Two cans for breakfast, a can with every snack or meal, a can when I was anxious or restless. Leaving a pile of bright pink cans in my wake.
I tried to switch to Diet Coke, but it was too sweet. There was something acrid and chemical in TaB that had me hooked. I drank so much of it that I stopped tasting it. I kept track of which grocery stores and deli’s carried it; I kept a stash to make sure I never ran out.
I’m still trying to find my sweet spot. The place where everything butch and everything transgender fits together and feels right. I’m not there yet, but I am closer than I was last year. I’m still evolving. I need to eat an ice cream cone.
The sweet spot may sound like a pathway to either gastronomic pleasure or sexual pleasure, but it is actually a music and a sports metaphor. In the analog era, audiophiles tweaked the sweet spot. It was the place where you got the best sound in the room. The complete stereo effect. A different kind of non-binary; the precise balance between the left channel and the right channel. In baseball, the sweet spot is the perfect place of contact on the bat. The home-run spot. I’m still looking for it. Continue reading →