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 →
No, I lost my breasts. Except that I can’t really say that. I can’t easily explain, to someone who barely knows me, that I did lose weight, but they are probably noticing that I had top surgery (in December 2014) and then I went out and bought clothes that fit me. I lost some weight, but mostly I lost my shame. Not all of it, but a healthy chunk.
My dentist was the most recent person to ask me “You look great, did you lose weight?” He is a middle-aged straight white guy. He looks like he is in good shape. I imagine he has an easy life, but all I know about him is that he lives in the suburbs and took over the dental practice when his father retired. We mostly discuss my teeth. He is big on flossing.
He told me to “keep on doing whatever it is you are doing” and I was tempted to explain just what it is that I’m doing. He was picking up on something, but it eluded him. My transition is only visible if you know what you are looking for.
The gracious thing to say is “Thank you, I feel great.” and move on, but I hate when people bring up my weight. His statement implied that I used to look overweight, uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfashionable (true on all counts). He might have meant to pay me a compliment, but instead he fat shamed me. I don’t want it to be all about the weight. Continue reading →
Just when I thought I had finally worked off the weight I put on between Thanksgiving and New Years, just when I was shaking off the end of winter sluggishness, just when I had dreams of spring asparagus and Alphonso mangos, Girl Scout Cookie season arrived.
I hate Girl Scout Cookies. I hate everything about them. I bought four boxes at four bucks a pop because my office mates sold them for their daughters. My policy is to comply with most forms of work place extortion. I buy something (magazine subscriptions, crappy chocolates, raffle tickets) from everyone in the office who asks; I don’t want to be accused of being cheap or playing favorites.
According to the Girl Scouts, they sell 200 million boxes of cookies each year. Hundreds of them end up in my office. There are open boxes of cookies everywhere. For weeks. I can not get away from them. And, like a perverse version of the kid’s game Go For Broke, I have to get rid of my boxes without eating anyone else’s cookies. This year I have zero tolerance. I am not going to eat a single one. Continue reading →
I hit my goal at Weight Watchers. It took me 15 months to lose 25 pounds. At 140 pounds (5’4″) I am solid, not svelte. In Levi’s speak, I’m down from a snug 36 inch waist in a “relaxed” fit to a comfortable 32 inch waist, even in a “slim straight” cut. I haven’t worn 32’s since the last millennium. I’m ready to celebrate.
I wrote here about the incongruity of joining Weight Watchers. How it is geared towards straight, conventional, suburban women. Soccer Moms and Grandmas. Other women talk about losing weight to feel more attractive, to look better for a wedding or family reunion, to fit into a particular dress. Every week I weigh in, attend the meeting, and feel like an outsider. Not because I’m not fat enough, but because I am gender trespassing. Continue reading →
The least butch thing that I do in “real life” is to go to Weight Watchers. I’ve been going for eight months. I do it stealth. I am embarrassed to tell anyone that I joined. The weekly meetings are my nightmare of a straight suburban housewife’s Tupperware party. They even give out stickers for minor victories (Bravo!) and keychain/bracelet charms for major accomplishments. It is a relentlessly cheerful heteronormative environment. It is enough to raise the lint on the back of my flannel shirt.
At least one of us feels like an elephant.
I have been pudgy since I was old enough to reach the cookie jar. I ate to stuff down my feelings. I denied the correlation between the volume of food and alcohol I ingested and my size. I hid my sex behind a layer of fat.
I never tried theme or fad diets. I subscribed to the feminist anti-diet approach, which works great if you don’t care how much you weigh. I attended some eating awareness groups run by the Women’s Therapy Center Institute; they helped me cut down on bingeing. I read Geneen Roth’s books on compulsive eating. I could blame my inability to make the connection between being chubby and not wanting to be a girl on the exclusion of transgender/butch/lesbian issues from the material covered, but I know I am good as avoiding what I don’t want to see. I don’t want to see a girl in the mirror. Or an elephant.