Thursday, May 04, 2006

t-shirt weather

It's supposed to be over 80 degrees today here in NYC. The advent of May has clearly kickstarted summer, and given the mildness of our winter, I see no reason to believe that we're going to be spared any heat at all this summer. I predict (though I hope I'm wrong) that it'll be hotter than blazes here for the next few months.

Which, naturally, puts me in something of a quandry, because summertime weather is not meant for guys with breasts. At least, guys with breasts who don't want the rest of the world to know they've got 'em. I mean, binding is a pretty uncomfortable affair in general- I don't bind very fiercely because I can't stand the discomfort. There are ways to make one's chest look pretty darn flat, but it's pretty hard on one's rib cage/skin/chest tissue, and I don't really want to go there. So I have my own system, and it basically involves two extremely high lycra content sports bras and a lot of layers- usually, if I have my way, I've got a t-shirt, an actual shirt, a tie, and a sweater between me and the outside world. However, come summertime, this is not the best system. That is clearly a fall/winter outfit, and while it can get sweaty and the elastic can get pretty uncomfortable at any point, in the summer, it's darn near suffocating.

Which is why I'm looking forward to August 9th which such intensity.

Anyway, I figure I have a couple of options. I could get a more hardcore binder, which would hurt, but would make me more comfortable wearing fewer layers because my chest would be flatter. Or I could keep wearing my sweaters and just sweat my way through the summer (at least my work is air conditioned), but as I may have mentioned, I don't like being extraneously sweaty. Or I could adopt the approach that I'm test-driving today: go about my ordinary binding business, and just wear a t-shirt and a polo shirt and try not to look down.

I've been hunching my shoulders and tugging on the front of my shirt more than usual this morning, but I'm also banking on the fact that people know me as a guy, and aren't going to spend a lot of time examining my chest. How often do you really look at the people you see everyday?

Also, frankly, this is something of a fuck you to the world.

I don't want these breasts, I didn't ask for them, and I'm going to be getting rid of them shortly (sounds so menacing when I phrase it that way...poor breasts), but while they're here, I'll be darned if I'm going to let them make my life difficult.

And okay, those are big words from a short guy, and I know that I can't always back them up. I do let my body make me miserable sometimes, I can't help it. I don't look down at myself when I'm making out with someone, and I try to avoid mirrors when I'm shirtless, and I still sometimes get hit (it's a very visceral sensation, really) with the crap avalanche of Help, I'm trapped in a body I don't identify with! (Now THAT would make a good latest edition in that YA series, Help, I'm trapped in... about the boy with the body-swapping adventures)

I've always really admired folks who can put their bodies out there or not even notice their bodies, and still express and embody their gender identities with ease. I can't do that; I always feel like my body is constantly undermining me. That's why I'm taking these steps to change it- it's not a good feeling to have the sense that your body is working against you. (Betrayal is simultaneously too harsh and too cliche to use here. Insubordination, perhaps?)

but today! today I decided that being sweaty and uncomfortable may just be worse than being gender dysphoric and uncomfortable. and it's probably good for me to try to ease up and let go of the anxiety around my chest. And hell, it's my last summer with breasts, so I'm just going to carry on and deal with them. It builds character.

It's a good sign, too, I think. Six months ago, a year ago, I was far too nervous about whether my masculinity would hold up in public to think about going out in public without a lot of layers and binding. Now, the fact that I can do this (even though I need to write a long blog entry about it to make myself feel better) shows me that I'm dealing with my discomfort.

I'm starting to separate my discomfort with my body from my discomfort with my self. Does that make sense?

My therapist said something similar to me before I went home for Christmas, and I was nervous about my first Christmas with my family as Eli. She told me not to worry if they were upset, or distant, or being difficult (none of which happened, fortunately!)...not to let it seep into my feelings about myself. That it would be hard for me to ask them for what I needed (pronouns, etc) because it's hard for me to ask for help, that's part of my personality. And I should worry (as I was starting to do) that being reluctant to correct my family, or anyone, about my gender would mean that I wasn't trans enough, or what not. Just because it's hard for me to try to enforce my gender shouldn't make me doubt the legitimacy or validity of my gender. It just means I'm not a very good enforcer.

Likewise now, I'm taking that lesson to heart and trying not to let my discomfort with my body and how it's read by others affect my ability to be in the world.

Hm, I don't think I'm being very articulate, I don't know that I'm describing this process very well- the fact that my unhappiness with my body- with parts of my sex and gender (note to self: interesting thought, explore this later)- feels like it's embedded in me deep, and affects a lot of my life and my actions. I'm trying to change that, and I can feel it happening, and I'm trying to encourage it. I can feel myself slowly compartmentalizing my unhappiness with my physical self and teasing it out of me. I want to gather up all of my different bodily discomforts from all the corners of my mind and sweep them out the door this summer, as the T starts shaping me and my surgery draws nearer. I refuse to let the unfortunate (or at least, less than ideal) disagreement between my embodiment and my identity condemn me to perpetual discomfort. Hell, I refuse to let it condemn me to a sweatier summer than absolutely necessary.


Anonymous said...

how often have you worn a regular binder, and are you sure it was the right size? when i first got mine it was too uncomfortable to wear for even a couple hours, but after wearing it two or three times i can wear it and do physical labor for hours on end....the other day i wore a sports bra and the binder for extra flattening, and when i got uncomfortable it was the sports bra that was chafing me....

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