I know this is a generalisation, but I think it’s probably fair to say that a lot of trans people have body issues before they transition. I certainly did. I’ve compared my ‘old’ body to a lump of clay: awkward, heavy and lumpen. My relationship with my physical self was rocky, to say the least, and I did not recognise that my corporeal packaging was part of me, other than that I was stuck with it.

Hormones have changed my body, slimming my hips, shrinking my bum, broadening my shoulders, squaring my jaw, pumping up my muscles. Just as potently, my confidence has grown, my ease with my physical self is growing and, like a Venn Diagram slowly closing in on itself, my body is gradually becoming part of me.

Along with the positive changes come an inevitable flipside: I have gruesome acne on my back, my stomach area is fatter (thanks to all the fat that has moved from my hips/bum/etc) and I have hair in some very funny places indeed. But all in all, these are things I can deal with.

I do worry a lot about putting on weight. I’ve been heavier than I am at the moment, by a couple of stone (that’s 28 pounds to some…) and I fear putting that weight back on. I joke that I don’t want to go through all this to end up with a figure like Homer Simpson, but behind that joke is a real concern. I actually weigh exactly the same now as I did before I started T, so I know I’ve probably not got too much to worry about, but fear isn’t always rational. It’s not helped by the various doctors in my life regularly greeting me with “Have you put on weight?” Thanks. And that brings me to the Trans Body Police.

As we transition, I have experienced a general assumption that one’s body and behaviour becomes public property. Intrusive questions about one’s lower anatomy aside, many people do feel free to ‘advise’ or ‘correct’ us, in the misguided hope that we’ll be grateful that we can ‘fit in’ better with some sort of gendered norm. Remarks about the way you walk, dress, carry yourself are seen as being ok. Weight becomes part of conversation. Perhaps I should say to someone “You know, the way you sat down in that chair made you look really mannish, and did you realise that that extra weight you’ve put on recently makes that skirt pretty unflattering”. Hmm – just as well I’m a nice person.

Chatting to transwomen, I’ve heard stories that make my toes curl where people have told them they need to look ‘a certain way’ to be a ‘Real Woman’. “You need bigger tits and should wear skirts more often”, for instance. But it’s not just looks, it’s behaviour. When did it become acceptable to tell someone their behaviour is ‘too masculine’ or ‘not masculine enough’, like there is some sort of gendered behaviour Plimsoll Line?

The trouble is, this isn’t just me ranting about ‘Other People’ not understanding the trans experience. The Trans Body Police come just as often from within the trans community. There are strong expectations for both transmen and transwomen to look and act a certain way, and when insults are wrapped up as advice, particularly from someone perceived as more experienced as yourself, it is easy to see where damage can be done.

Most of us have had to battle years of body dysphoria, years of not fitting in with our gender presentation, or social gendered expectations. Living in a body that feels alien for a long time causes problems that take time and love to unknot. We have made the decision to become ourselves and reunite the physical with the rest of us. A little genuine advice goes a long way, but misplaced comments wound those who definitely do not need to be wounded any more.

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