I think the thing I like about this photo is that I look like a friendly happy person, which I am!
(Some of you who follow me on Facebook or G+ may not realize that because I use social media as a place to shine light on things i think are unjust and to process personal challenges. Just because I get angry about personal, community and societal injustices doesn’t men I’m not a happy person with a positive outlook, yo!)
However, most of the time when I look in the mirror or see photos of myself I have a really dysmorphic experience where I can’t reconcile the image or reflection I see with who I am or how I feel, how I think I look. Ironically, I felt that way about the untouched version of this photo too, which like hell am I going to post for comparison! Sometimes, I’m literally SHOCKED when I see how old or fat I look when I feel vibrant and sexy curvy. It’s been this way most of my life but it hits harder now.
Who else has this experience of feeling like they look completely different from how they look in photos, etc?
Part of what “inspired” this little confession was a long conversation I had with one of my trans friends today. Even if they think they comprehend how grueling the whole process of transitioning is, one of the things I’m sure most cis gendered people don’t think about is that when one chooses to make the complete transition, not only do they essentially go through puberty a second time, they also get to go through all of the awkward teenage and young adult body image issues as they try to discover who they are in their new male or female body.
Without drastic surgery, in many cases, one can’t transcend completely the limits of the body that reached puberty the first time as the wrong gender. This means no matter how feminine a woman is she might have huge feet or hands or broad shoulders. And a man may look like an effeminate female even if that’s not how he feels. How incredibly painful to be mis-gendered when you have a deep voice or a tiny frame, especially after you’ve gone through such an ordeal to correct your gender!
In the context of this conversation I revealed some things but I really haven’t talked to anybody about before that while minor in comparison, give me a frame of reference. As a child, despite my mother dressing me in pink, putting dresses on me, and trying to stick pretty ribbons in the tiny amount of hair I had (I was bald until I was two and then just had wisps), people constantly said, oh what a cute little boy! As a child I was told by other kids and sometimes adults that I looked like a boy even though I eventually had long hair. Playmates made me take the male roles when acting out stories because of my low voice and tall lanky build.
This suddenly and drastically changed when I sprouted pretty big boobs! But all of my life I have constantly been called sir on the telephone because I have a low voice. I stood next to the boys in choir, often singing the bass or tenor parts. As a teenager classmates would tease me and say are you really a boy? In my twenties as a woman with low self esteem who was trying to make it in the music business to have people whispering behind my back that they were trying to tell if I really had an Adam’s apple and was a “tranny,” was really painful because I felt like a woman and I wanted to be pretty and feminine!
Now I’m ok with all that and I know who I am but I do have the dysmorphic experience with my appearance, if not my gender. And compared to what many of my friends who are transgender go through and have gone through their entire life it’s nothing. But it does give me some perspective and empathy. Maybe talking about this will be helpful to someone?