The body dysphoria was more acute seeing the photos from the “Nothing But Light” photoshoot, but it’s not a new feeling. It’s something that’s grown during the past two years of doing burlesque. Burlesque is definitely a two-edged sword — OTOH, it eases my social dysphoria, but it’s worsening my body dysphoria. Much as I try to think of myself as a glamazon, all too often I feel like Fiona from “Shrek.” And yes, the rational part of me knows that there are fellow performers who are also “larger than life” (one of my good burly friends is 6-feet tall and big boned (and not in the euphemistic way)). But until their come up with shoulder feminization surgery (and hand- and foot-size reduction surgery…) it’s not something I can change. Thankfully, it’s not really about body parts that I hate, as much as ones I wish I had.
I don’t really think of myself as a man anymore — my homme self is definitely akin to a trusty old pick-up, reliable, not particular exciting — but I don’t quite think of myself as being fully a woman either. Yes, it is a bit of not feeling “authentic enough.” A bit of it is also still feeling somewhere in the middle, and not in a bad way.
OTOH, I definitely do seem to vibe “woman,” as far as I can tell from the way other people see me.
A friend asked me if I’d been noticing any emotion truths in my reactions to the photos. There’s a couple:
- The extent that I’m feeling increasing uncomfortable in my own skin. I look into the mirror and see myself with boobs and hips and it just feel so right. (Home is where the bra goes on.) The way I should be. I know society makes life tough for larger women, but I’d be fine being an oversized woman if I was curvy in the “right” ways. Being stripped of the props I use to bring my (clothed) body in line with the image of myself in my mind’s eye was… disconcerting.
- The extent that being seen as a woman is important to me. From the time I first started going out in public, my working assumption is that people aren’t going to mistake me for someone who’s female-bodied. But as long as they treated me as a woman, it was/is OK. But being visibly and overtly male-bodied…. that definitely gets in the way. Much of my body dysphoria is tied to what’s publicly visible (i.e. I’m not particularly bothered by the furniture in the playroom); the social signifiers of “woman.”
- The extent that I’m trying hold it together. Ms. High Functioning that’s me. Dealing with the short-term about how trans stuff is taking over my life. Electrolysis twice a week. Plans to start working with a speech therapist twice a week. Researching FFS surgeons. Looking for a good gender therapist… Admittedly, I can always push some of it out if I hit overload. But part of it is wanting to feel like I’m in control of things when things are feeling a bit out of control.
There’s no obvious reason why I seem to be changing states. I was reasonably happy on the middle path for years. It’s not like I finally admitted to myself that I’m trans, nor that I finally worked through guilt, shame, etc. But suddenly the slope has become slippery and all that is solid melts into air. So how do I know what I’m feeling is the “real me”? Can you see the real me, can ya? Other people seem to, so why can’t I fully do so myself.
Then there’s holding it together in the face of a huge unknown, one that scares the fuck out of me. The rational part of me knows that things should work out OK. There will be prices to be paid, including the loss of male privilege. Prices I think I can accept. But having a lot of privilege also means there’s potentially a long way to fall, and it’s a long way until retirement.