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 →
Last week I went a Weight Watchers meeting at a new location. Before weighing in, I asked the woman at the front desk where the restroom was. She handed me the men’s room key and told me it was down the hall and on the left. I put the key back down on the counter without saying anything and picked up the women’s room key. When I came back, I weighed in at 139 lb. I want to stay close to my goal weight of 140 lb. through the holiday season. I don’t want to use food or wine to numb out my feelings. This post is my reminder.
You are valid. You don’t need to explain your identity. You can use as many labels as you need or no labels at all. You can use a label that doesn’t fit properly if the right label doesn’t exist yet. You can go back and forth between butch, queer, genderqueer, non-binary, and transgender. The label changes nothing.
You don’t have to prove anything to anyone else. You know who you are inside. You don’t have to match up exactly inside and out. You need to look in the mirror and see yourself in the reflection. You are both fine the way you are and you need to change. There will always be discrepancies and inconsistencies. You don’t have to be defensive about them.
Once you acknowledged your identity you began to transition. There is no starting line and no finishing line. There is no set of steps you have to follow. You don’t need to run as fast as you can. You don’t need to be constantly in motion. It is hard to speed things up, but it is possible to slow them down. It is not a race. It is not a competition. You are not trying to win a trophy. Continue reading →
Joey Chestnut set a world record in 2013 by eating 69 hot dogs (and buns) in 10 minutes at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
I went out to a middle-eastern restaurant for lunch with a friend who recently started on testosterone. He chowed down. A shawarma wrap, spinach pie, french fries, and a Coke. He told me that he can’t stop eating. He can’t satisfy his hunger. I ordered the salad combination platter with two pieces of falafel and a seltzer. Not exactly manly. I knew if I got hungry later I could always eat an apple. I carry one in my pack.
Four years ago, when everything was still suppressed, I ate anything and everything without thinking about the calories or the Weight Watchers points. WIthout wondering if I was hungry; without stopping when I was full. I ignored or denied the connections between what I ate and how much I weighed, as if they were independent events. I ate whatever looked good or was put in front of me. I was always game for a meal or a snack. I never turned food down. I finished everything on my plate. 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’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 →
I was an overweight child. I was short and didn’t fit in clothes for my height. Everything had to be shortened. I popped buttons, busted seams, and split zippers. I could not be contained by my clothes. My mother took me shopping in the chubby department (now called girls plus). I didn’t mind being a butterball, but I wanted to shop in the boy’s husky section.
I was rough on clothes. Especially girl’s clothes. In first grade I had a dress that was navy blue “dotted swiss” with red smocking across the chest. I detested it. I accidentally dropped hot dogs on it and spilled grape juice on it. I pulled at the smocking to snap it or stretch it out of shape. I told my mother I was clumsy. I could not outgrow that dress fast enough. Continue reading →
It is the last day of July. The dog days of summer. It is hot in New York. Unless you stay in your apartment with the air conditioning on you can not escape the heat. The sidewalks are hot, the subway platform is hot, the dog run is hot. I try to take Gracie in the evening once it cools down a little. Last week she wasn’t interested in going out for walks. She skipped a meal.
When it is hot Gracie finds a cool place on the wood floor and lies down. She laps up some water and chews on an antler. I get lazy too. I skipped the gym; I went to the dog run and had a couple of beers. The dogs splashed around in the wading pool and then lay down on the hot pavement and watched us drink.
I put on a couple of pounds and blamed it on Gracie. The summer is prime time for losing weight, but I am exactly where I was in April. I am still on Weight Watchers. I am still a few pounds short of my goal. Continue reading →
My post “Traveling to Guatemala” was Freshly Pressed. The post was then highlighted again in a Friday Faves. This has brought me some new readers. If you are one of them, welcome.
I wanted to celebrate my 15 minutes of fame, but I had trouble figuring out what would be satisfying. I could go out for a nice dinner with Donna, but I don’t want to sabotage reaching my goal at Weight Watchers. I could treat myself to a new piece of computer paraphernalia, but blogging was supposed to be an inexpensive hobby. I could buy a pair of waterproof Keen summer hikers that I’ve been eyeing, but the space under my bed is already cluttered with dusty shoes. Then I remembered these posts from Buzz Cuts and Bustiers and Butch Wonders.
My Dad wore cotton poplin boxer shorts; my brother wore basic Fruit of the Loom briefs. The kind with the Y-pocket and the striped band. I coveted the briefs. I had a habit of stealing a pair, wearing them, and then putting them in the laundry basket. I was caught wearing them in 11th grade math class. I told the girl that I had run out of clean ones and that it was better to borrow his than to recycle a dirty pair. I had not worn men’s underwear since. 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.