Ask any woman about their body and a lot of them will tell you things that they hate rather than things that they love about their body.
There's so much body shaming and misogyny in the mainstream media levied towards women, that for many CIS women the thought of shopping in the high street or even wearing something that is slightly revealing can be daunting. Nevermind doing it as a trans woman.
I want to use this blog to talk with you about your bodies, and share the most valuable lessons I've learned.
1) You're going to get fatter - Tell this to most woman and they will despair. Believe me I did all I could to avoid this when I started my transition and for a while I was even bulimic. Some of this was down to stress, pressure and real mental health issues. But also a lot of it was to do with body image. You see we as woman are told that skinny is healthy and curves are bad. WRONG! They are not bad! If anything curves make your body look more feminine. The average transgender female puts on 9lbs of fat in transition. I was a UK size 10 when I started transitioning, but at 6 feet tall I looked awful. Looking back at the photos of me early transition I can see I looked unhealthy. Now I have curves and of course boobs!
2) Boobs take time to grow - breasts, titties, boobies, fun-bags whatever you want to call them. For most trans woman (I count myself in this category) we see breasts as one of the things that are going to define our bodies and make us appear more female. We want instant results and if we have no or little growth we get frustrated at the lack of it. As with the Chinese Bamboo Tree that takes 5 years to grow through the ground before growing 90 feet - your boobs are the same! You have to maintain your hormone regime and more importantly you have to eat healthily. I didn't really have much breast growth for the first 2 years of HRT and now I'm a 40 B and it's all natural. Most transgender clinicians will tell you that it takes 5 years to get the breast growth that you're going to on HRT. So be patient. Also as a side note please have a bra-fitting at least every 6 months. I've been wearing the wrong bra for 2 years nearly! You can imagine the relief when your bra fits. Also as your breasts grow you need the proper support.
3) You're going to have a second puberty (probably) - I say probably because unless you've been lucky enough to transition as a teenager and had puberty blockers. You're going to have to grow and go through a second puberty. Remember those feelings of uncertainty, anguish, sadness, fear, tiredness, confusion? You going to get them all again! I remember being at work and one minute I was so angry I felt like the Hulk in the Avengers and then the next minute I was crying because I didn't know why I was angry, and I was upset that I was angry. I asked my friends if this was normal and they said it was and welcomed me to womanhood! So have patience when you're struggling and remember to give yourself a break!
4) CIS women's hormones are cyclical yours will be too - So as you've been on hormones a while and certainly before you have the surgery (if that's the path you've chosen) then as with CIS women your hormone levels fluctuate. In between androgen injections/medication your testosterone levels will lower and then peak as you come up to having it administered. I also found post-op I have some months were I have a surge of oestrogen like a CIS woman does with her period. Obviously there's no bleeding but still we have a cycle of hormones. It's normal so don't worry.
5) You can have sex comfortably pre and post surgery - (trigger warning - If you don't want to read this section then please skip to the ending). Whilst I was never comfortable in my body pre-transition, as soon as I was in a loving, caring relationship and felt able to be touched I was able to have sex with my pre-surgical body. The most important thing I advise all transgender clients about sex, is that you need to communicate with any potential partner and ensure they know what you're comfortable with and agree boundaries. These may change as you grow into the relationship, but it's always best to let the other person know what is and isn't acceptable to you. Sex is supposed to be enjoyable and just because you're a transgender woman, it doesn't mean you can't and shouldn't enjoy sex whatever stage of transition you're at. One thing for certain I've found since my surgery is that sex is far more fulfilling and it feels far more like a sharing experience. When you're finally comfortable in your body and can express yourself freely you get far more from sex. I've had to learn all over how my body works and it took months to have any real sensation in the clirtoral area or to reach orgasm. All I'm saying is that it was well worth the wait! My GOODNESS!!!
This list certainly isn't exhaustive and I haven't really delved into great detail on each subject. I do hope that it's covered some of the questions and curiosities you have. All I will say is that this is your transition, your body, your journey so enjoy and cherish it.
I know I do mine.
Want to see the video that goes along with this article? See here.