Today I’m focusing on bringing myself back into my body, and if I’m being honest, it’s going to be more than a one day process. I hesitate to call what I’m dealing with “dysphoria,” although I know it’s the term that a lot of folks might use. For me, though, dysphoria is a descriptor more for disconnect explicitly with my sex, and what I’m dealing with now has nothing to do with my genitals. This weekend I fell back into a really difficult time with my body. I’m allowing myself to feel all of the emotions that come with this- jealousy, fear, inadequacy, anxiety.
For my current situation, I can trace a lot of these feelings back to the freedom male bodies experience vs female bodies. I used to understand this as a fundamental difference between male and female experience, that women wanted to cover up and men just didn’t give a shit.
But I am not a man, and I, also, in a world without men, do not give one shit about covering my body and what woman would see it. Add men into the equation, however, and the whole thing gets turned upside down. This is patriarchy, and it’s real fucked up.
So I’ve got all these thoughts rolling around in my head about the jealousy I still combat surrounding male bodies and musculature, male privilege and freedom of expression. In the past I’ve tried meditating through these things, but a sitting meditation just has never really worked for me. I meditate better while pushing weights around, I have to get my body engaged before I can let my mind clear or wander. I’ve spent as much time as I can since I’ve gotten home half naked and bare chested, the same way I’ve always felt I should be able to be, and it helps. Seeing my body bare this way regularly, doing regular things, helps in not feeling so cut off and disconnected and disgusted. I do yoga and the dishes and bench press and drink my coffee and snuggle with my dogs, and I yearn for the freedom of the one morning I got to run down the dirt roads shirtless and free in michigan. I allow myself to think about what would be different if I were to go back on testosterone, because it’s a thought that still peeks it’s way into my brain uninvited, and I have to acknowledge and deal with it. Then I think rationally about the fact that my body truly doesn’t look much different than while on testosterone, and the urge begins to dissipate. I think about the relative unimportance of my muscle size in the scheme of life, I think about taking years off my life, I think about the health risks and the fact that a beard and chest hair would no more make me a man or deserving of body freedom than the next woman – we are all deserving. I remind myself that I have found more peace and calm and connection in existing naked by myself than I ever have in the validation I get from others when they think I’m an acceptable form of “man-lite.”
One thing I keep coming back to is the fact that I no longer “feel like a man” at all, and yet the urge to modify my body through exogenous hormones remains as something to be chased away every so often. I often wish I had never been exposed to the possibility of changing my body in this way, I wish I could have remained blissfully unaware and with strong Amazon role models to illustrate a life and bodies I could see myself in instead from a young age. I remind myself that I need to be that Amazon for anyone else out there struggling, as much as I am able. This gives me strength, resolve. I will pull through. I will hustle and push and I will succeed in building my home in this body, the only body I will ever have.