My story of boobs, bras and binders

I’ve spent most of my life wearing regular bras.  Since I’m pretty large-chested, I’ve worn bras with underwire – fairly big contraptions.  Uncomfortable, but seemingly necessary.  As we all know, bras are meant to accentuate the chest.  I didn’t want this, nor did I like it, but thought I had no choice but to wear it because I certainly wasn’t going to go without.  If highlighting my chest was a by-product of needing to keep the flesh bags under control, well, I thought it was just something I needed to deal with. The feeling of boobs flopping around unrestrained was not an option.

Wearing those bras was frustrating since they prevented me from fitting into the clothes I wanted to wear.  Thing is, I thought I had no other choice: this was my body and that was all there was to it.  Did I like how I looked or felt?  No.  But, I never questioned it or imagined that another option was available.

After years of this, I realized, “Hey, I feel a lot better when I am wearing sports bras during exercise.  Why don’t I actually just wear them ALL the time?”  It was a huge realization for me and I began to to do it – what a change!  While friends teased me for having “uni-boob”, I didn’t care – I felt a lot better and my button-downs suddenly fit better.  Not perfectly, but better.  Such a relief!

I’ve spent the next several years wearing sports bras exclusively.  As time has gone on, I’ve purchased smaller and smaller sizes to hide my chest more and more.  I’ve worn bras so tight that I could barely breathe just to compress my chest.  The results paid off: seeing pictures of me with a smaller chest (not invisible, but smaller) and fitting into clothes a little better made me feel SO good.  I felt more “myself” and that made me very happy and relieved.

I had a photo shoot for a creative gig I was doing and it was formal, so I wore a very formal outfit.  I wanted to look good and that involved compressing my chest more than usual.  The sports bra wouldn’t cut it.  So for the first time, I tried to bind.  I used an ace bandage (I know, I know – not good) but it worked – my chest was small enough that I couldn’t really see it and my shirt and tie fit perfectly.  I felt so great!  The bandage didn’t hold for long, but I had a moment of knowing what it would feel like to feel totally free of my chest – and it was amazing.

That was two years ago.  Since then, I have only worn sports bras, but my dysphoria has gotten worse and worse.  So, I decided back in September to try an actual binder for the first time.  I bought one from Underworks.  It was a full-length binder (covered my chest and torso).  It was hard to get on and made it very hard to breathe, so I could only wear it for a short period of time.  BUT, the affect it had on my chest was astounding. It really, truly looked like I had a flat chest.  The sense of joy and ease I felt when I saw myself in the mirror wearing it was unforgettable.  I went clothes shopping and found a shirt I absolutely loved – something that would normally never fit correctly while wearing a sports bra.  I put it on and it fit perfectly.  Unbelievable!  I wish I could explain what it was like.  I saw myself looking back at me the way my brain sees me.  I was home.  I was finally home.

Thing was, as GLORIOUS as it felt, it was so uncomfortable to wear for long stretches of time.  Not only did I get sweaty but it was truly difficult to breathe and getting it on nearly caused me to dislocate my arm.  The whole process was such a pain that I only wore it for special occasions, so while I LOVED the effects, it was a “once in awhile” thing.  The rest of my days were spent still wearing sports bras and thus still dealing with the same old issues:  I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror, couldn’t fit into the clothes I wanted to wear, etc.  I knew that if I wanted to get serious about my transition, wherever it took me, I would have to start binding more regularly to know how it made me feel on a daily basis.

I heard many rumors about GC2B‘s binders.  People cited incredible results and phenomenal comfort.  I didn’t have a ton of money to spend but figured it was worth a shot.  The half tank seemed like the best idea – perhaps it wouldn’t compress my lungs so much and I’d be able to breathe better!

They were out of my color of choice and delivery took two days longer than expected, but regardless, the products were not very expensive and looked great on arrival.  I got one green and one grey half tank.  They look like nothing special – in fact they resemble sports bras.  But putting them on was another story.

THE DAMNED THING WAS SO COMFORTABLE!!!!!!!!!

Honestly, it feels no different than wearing a super lightweight sports bra.  It’s amazing.  The fabric is moveable and yet the compression is astounding.  My chest, normally a 38D, looks quite, quite flat.  In fact it seems like I have kinda buffish pecs.  Whaaaaat is happening!

Wearing this not only felt good and allowed me to fit into my clothes, but felt like the kinda thing I could wear frequently since it was so comfortable.  So that’s what I started to do.  A couple of weekends, I wore wear the binder (and my packer) and began feeling so aligned with my maleness that taking it off began to feel weird.  On weekends, I was a flat-chested guy.  On weekdays, I was a butch dyke with big boobs.  As time went on (and it didn’t take long) the dysphoria spiked and I felt terrible.  I noticed more and more how out of alignment I felt: I became so aware of my body: the way I spoke, the pronouns people were using, even the sound of my own name.  To get through work I had to dissociate entirely because feeling all of that dysphoria was paralyzing.  Yet on weekends, I felt happy and easeful and very much in my maleness. I started feeling like I had a double life.

So this week, though scared, I began to use the binder at work, too.  Since my chest is so big I knew it would be noticeable, and I was extremely nervous.  So I wore a t-shirt and hoodie the first two days.  I was SO anxious.  My chest was remarkably flat and I wondered if anyone was paying attention.  By the end of day #1, I kinda felt like most people didn’t notice anything.  People are so wrapped up in themselves that I doubt they were looking at my chest.  A few people may have noticed I looked a little different, but perhaps couldn’t place what it was.  I suspect maybe those closest to me, like 3 people, might have caught on to the specifics, but given that we work in a corporate office, no one was going to say anything, and that was a relief.

Day 2 was slightly better and it became clear that I would be binding on a daily basis from then on.  It was so comfortable using the new binder that NOT using it made no sense at all anymore.  It was an interesting shift.  Just a few days before, it felt impossible to go to work in a binder.  But after just 1 or 2 days, it felt impossible NOT to go to work in a binder.  In fact, I truly wonder how and why I didn’t know this was an option before.

The answer is complex but part of it is simply not having known that binding could be so easy and accessible.  Now that I know, its an option right up there with a bra and sports bra.  In fact, there’s nothing any more unnatural about wearing a binder than a bra or sports bra.  None of those items are born on our bodies, and both of them serve to accentuate our breasts.  Well, okay.  Why not also have the option to de-accentuate them?  The idea felt rebellious and reprehensible.  God forbid a female-bodied person has agency over their own body.  God forbid I make a choice to move away from objectification.  I had no idea these things were at play – but the choice to bind, and to do so in public, went deep: far beyond my own gender identity and expression.

But I digress.

Binding my chest has been one of the best steps I have taken in my transition / experimentation process.  It has made me feel so much more like myself.  I can look in a mirror and see myself reflected back more than ever before.  I can wear clothes I feel more confident in.  I can feel more masculine on a daily basis.  And as I do this, I am able to start recognizing how I want to continue to feel this way everyday.  It isn’t an experiment anymore.  It’s me.  Binding has been a relatively easy first step out of fear and doubt about my gender identity.   It has made me more confident and, in some ways, celebratory about who I am.

As I’ve addressed my chest dysphoria, binding has made me aware of the additional ways that I still need to work towards aligning my body and mind.  For example, I am beginning to consider going by a new name.  I am now going by “they/them/their” pronouns with a few people in my life.  I’m going to schedule a consultation with a top surgeon.  I’m coming out to more people in my life.  I’m even feeling a sense of pride about who I am and where I am in this process.

I don’t know what all of this means; I am just taking it one day at a time.  Each day I ask myself how I feel about all of this.  Some days I feel doubt.  But most days, when I really listen past the fear and sink into my body, I feel so good.  There is no mistaking the ease and calm I feel in my body when I put on that binder, toss on a shirt, and look in the mirror.  My anxiety loses its grip, I can breathe easier and something just clicks into place.

It just feels right.  And there are no intellectual arguments – others’ or my own – which can talk me out of that.

Saying YES to being trans

For the last few months, I’ve opened my mind to trying to understand my gender.  One huge step I took has been beginning to bind and pack.  I have been binding and packing on and off, here and there.  Sort of on special occasions or when the mood strikes me.  It hasn’t been a sustained, committed practice.  I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself in the process; however, I haven’t come to any conclusions about my gender identity, or what further steps I wish to take.  And this is simply because I haven’t given myself enough time doing it to know what truly feels right, and what doesn’t.  Essentially, I haven’t committed fully to the process.

But why?  Well…

Part of my avoidance is simply due to wanting the process to unfold slowly and organically – I don’t want to rush things, or push things in any direction.  I’m trying hard to keep my will out of it – and taking my hands off the wheel is often a good way to do that.

Part of my avoidance is due to fear.  Now, a little bit of fear makes sense.  Let’s be honest.  This path isn’t easy.  Caution is sensible and at least for me, too much change at once can overwhelm my nervous system and make me an anxious mess.  

But.

There’s another kind of fear, the insidious kind, the kind that paralyzes me and undermines my deepest truth because it makes me feel unworthy.  I know that if my avoidance is coming from that place, it is not healthy.  It is destructive.  It is holding me back, keeping me in shackles, keeping me stuck.  

I do not want to be stuck.

So last week, I realized that I was at risk to be stuck if I didn’t start taking some bigger, riskier steps.  If I am ever going to fully understand my gender and decide whether or not I want to transition, I would need to start binding and packing more frequently.  If I didn’t begin to experience living as male (or, as male as I could possibly live) on a more regular basis, I would never know if – on an experiential level – it felt right.  And if I didn’t know that, I wouldn’t know whether transitioning was the right next step for me.

I’m an improvisor.  One of the most basic rules of improv is that if you find yourself in a scene, you have to commit 10000% to that scene.  You can’t walk off the stage in the middle of the scene.  You can’t say no to your partner.  You have to absolutely, positively say yes to everything, otherwise the scene won’t work.  And no one will have fun – not you, not your partner, not the audience.

Likewise, if I don’t say commit to this exploration 10000% and absolutely, positively say yes to everything about it, it isn’t going to work.  I am not going to know which path to take.  I will stay in limbo, living in a body that doesn’t feel right, but being too scared to make changes because I don’t know if I could ever possibly feel different.  

So last week, I chose to say YES to my gender exploration.  Whole-hearted, full-on YES. 

I packed for a few days in a row once I decided, and I used my binder once and dressed in all of my male clothing.  It felt great.  I always felt connected to my packer, but using it for so many days in a row really made me feel like it was a part of me.  It was a fascinating and great feeling.  One night, I went to see a movie with some friends and I sat there with my hand on my crotch the whole night.  I felt like such a guy, and felt so aligned – it was great!  

I also noticed that today at work (not packing, but still carrying that experience with me), someone called me “he” for the first time (by accident), and it actually felt GOOD!  I used to hate it when people called me “he.”  Today it felt right, and I felt myself relax inside.

I even began to settle on a possible name for myself!

All of this just because I committed more deeply to this process, taking conscious steps every day to continue the exploration.  My gratitude is tremendous.

I don’t know where this is going, much like a scene in improv.  But what I know for sure is the only way I will find joy in the process, and the only way I can keep discovering and moving forward is to remain committed to the exploration and to continue to say yes no matter what comes up.

I’ve finally come out and now my partner won’t sleep with me

Ever since I began to pack and/or bind (last 3 weeks or so), my partner says she has had trauma come up when we are intimate because of her negative experiences with men.  

I get it.  I get trauma.  It’s horrible.  And I love this woman, and I want her to be okay and take all the time she needs.  We don’t even need to be having sex.  She’s my person.  She’s who I want to be with, end of story. 

AND, at the same time….I feel totally rejected.  

She says she can be intimate me when I am not packing or binding.  If I present as female, game on.  But if I present as male, she can’t and won’t be sexual with me right now.  She doesn’t even want to make out with me for long periods of time if I have a phallus attached to my body, or if I’m binding.  She wants to move slowly, as she says she doesn’t feel ready yet.

Again, I get it.  Slow is fine.

AND…I am so incredibly hurt.  It feels like only the female side of me (the side I least identify with) is being accepted, embraced and loved…the male side of me (the side I am finally allowing myself to express in the world) is being rejected, almost punished.  

Finally, I let myself embrace my masculine identity and now my partner not only won’t have sex with me, but can’t even make out with me for a long period of time.  It is so painful.  I am in tears about it.  I feel so hurt.  She says it would be the same if I were a cis-guy….but frankly, that’s not true.  I know she’s been intimate and had sex with cis-men in the last few years, and one of them in particular she only knew for a couple of months before she slept with him.  She and I have been friends for 5+ years, and 3+ years out of that best friends.  Best friends!  

So we have this huge level of trust, and so much history – and, we’ve been having sex for the last 5 months, mostly without toys – but as soon as I begin to express myself fully and pack and/or bind, she can’t handle it.  No sex, no making out for me.  But a cis dude she’s only known a few months?  Sure, she can have sex with him.  I don’t fucking understand.  

Knowing this makes me feel like its something about me, my being trans, or something else I don’t know about.  Maybe she doesn’t like silicone dicks.  Maybe she’s not attracted to me when I present as male.  Maybe she doesn’t want to be with a trans person and really just wanted to be with a butch woman.  I don’t know what else it could be.

At the root of this, I feel incredibly hurt.  I have worked so hard to allow myself to come out.  I’m 36 years old.  I have been in denial for a long, LONG time.  I am finally starting to feel good in my own body for the first time in my life.  Finally starting to feel like I can live the life I was made to live.  I am celebrating inside, feeling so much hope.  In the midst of this, the one person who I have been sharing so intimately with is the one person who pushes me away, and gives me a reason that really doesn’t add up at all.  

It’s not about the sex.  I don’t care about the sex.  It’s about the love.

I’m heartbroken.

Am I genderfluid or in denial about being FTM?

I began this blog to document my gender exploration and to connect with others doing the same.  I started the journey knowing very little.  As I said in a previous post, all I knew was I could no longer pretend to identify as a “woman” in the way that I had before.  Traditional women’s clothes were no longer an option, with very few exceptions.  I knew that in a room full of women, I stood out like a sore thumb.  I knew I was different, but that’s about all I knew.

I then swung in the other direction, assuming I was trans and needed to transition, and right away.  I felt deeply connected to my masculinity, felt great when packing and binding and began to find myself in a way I hadn’t ever before.  Female pronouns didn’t feel right and people saying my name was weird as well.  

And then there’s a day like today.  It’s a day where I wore men’s clothes but didn’t wear a binder.  It didn’t feel necessary.  I didn’t feel like I needed to pack, either.  I felt good holding a female gender identity while presenting in a more masculine way externally.  I felt comfortable being who I was and very confident as well.  The grey zone felt absolutely good – nothing felt missing at all.

It is hard to claim the FTM label when I have days like this.  It’s hard to think about top surgery or to consider changing my name.  How do I make sense of feeling two distinct ways on two separate days?

One thing about today that is different than the others is I spent tonight with a group of queer and genderqueer folks.  It was not a binary situation at all, and it felt totally cool just being where I was without needing a label.  I also didn’t feel marginalized – I didn’t feel “different”.  My daily life in the corporate world is very, very binary – and I constantly feel like a weirdo.  I am tired of it.  I want to fit in and feel comfortable, not like some errant monster running around.  Sometimes I wonder if this feeling has pushed me closer to transitioning – I obviously have a great level of gender non-conformity and dysphoria going on; this coupled with feeling marginalized could have easily resulted in a desire to conform to the binary by transitioning to male.  Sometimes it feels simpler to transition than to continue living as a female-bodied person wearing men’s clothes and carrying herself in a very masculine way.  Don’t get me wrong, I realize that nothing about being trans or transitioning is “simple”…but for me sometimes it feels easier than living in the grey middle zone given the reality of our binary society.  If our world was non-binary, I wonder if I wouldn’t feel the urge to transition so strongly.  

I am honestly not sure.

Alternatively, maybe I am genderfluid.  That would make sense given my frequent mental shifts.  Yet, when I am in those other mind states – when I feel absolutely male, for example, I feel ABSOLUTELY male. There’s no greyness about it.  It doesn’t feel like something that can exist part-time.  But maybe I am wrong.  I’m not sure yet.

Perhaps I am in denial.  My therapist tells me that I keep going in to see her with a big gender announcement and then backpedal the week after. I suppose that is possible.  I made some major progress last week, wearing a packer and binder at the same time out in public, then at a close friends’ party.  According to my therapist, this could have been so terrifying that I jumped back into the closet.  Also, my girlfriend had a negative reaction to my gender journey just 5 days ago, and it sent me into a crying shame spiral.  It would make sense if I am only trying to squelch my FTM feelings if I so recently experienced what I perceived to be rejection.

I don’t know.  This is just another part of the journey.  In the end, I just want to be 100% sure before I start taking T or have top surgery.  It’s hard to commit to something like that if I am still having days where I feel totally okay in my skin and don’t feel an urge to alter anything. 

How binding is changing my feelings about exercise

I have NEVER liked exercise.

For one, I’m kinda lazy.  I’ll say it.  Plus I get bored and distracted easily.  It’s hard for me to focus too long on one thing, so I lose interest in working out after about 10 minutes and want to move onto something else.  Those are two real issues between me and a regular exercise life.

But something interesting happened since I started binding (which was like 2 weeks ago, so its all new).

Last night, for example, I hosted a party at my house, and I was binding.  I was running around getting everything ready and I noticed at one point that as I was running from one room to the other, I felt lighter.  I was wondering what was different.  Then I realized, OH!  I have a binder on, which means I don’t feel my (very large) chest bouncing around like two beachballs lost in a raging ocean. I remembered quickly how much I HATE that feeling and thought back to myself as a teenager trying to play sports.  

I remember very specifically disliking the feeling of my breasts moving as I ran.  I remember also feeling relieved when I finally got a sports bra, as it made me feel less jiggly.  But I still noticed them.

Last night was the first time EVER that it felt like I was flat and I didn’t feel my chest at all.  I felt faster and more comfortable and was actually having fun running around getting things ready.  It was great!  And it made me wonder, if I had a flat chest, would I maybe enjoy exercise?  If I felt in sync with my body, would it feel good to get out in the world and move?  Would it change how I felt about dancing?  Dancing also makes me feel quite dysphoric for the same reason.  With a flat chest, what else would be different?

One sport I really enjoy is swimming, but I have come to avoid it for a few reasons.  One, because the practicality of dealing with changing into a bathing suit, showering, then dealing with a wet bathing suit and going to work afterwards is a pain.  (Recall the laziness from earlier!)  However, let’s not forget that all of this ALSO involves going into a women’s locker room knowing many women don’t want me in there, changing in front of other women (hellooooo dysphoria!), and putting on my makeshift bathing suit, which is a pair of board shorts, sports bra and fitted tank top.  While this is better than a women’s bathing suit, it still calls attention to my figure, which is uncomfortable, and makes me stand out even more in the women’s room as someone who doesn’t belong in there, which is scary and makes me feel terrible.

So I’ve just avoided working out for a long time, which means I am doing damage to my health.  While I don’t like working out, I still want to do it to take care of myself, but never realized that my dysphoria was one of the things standing in my way.  

The more I allow myself to be honest about my feelings around gender, the more I notice how much it has impacted all areas of my life.

How I was forced out of the closet shopping for ‘Maid of Honor’ dresses

Up until February of this year, I was living as a queer, masculine-of-center female – bopping around the world in a constant state of discomfort but having absolutely no idea why.  

Regardless, I was actually doing okay.  Sure, I disliked my chest and I got strange looks when going into the women’s room.  Sure, people looked at my license 5 times to double check my gender.  Sure, my entire wardrobe consisted of men’s clothing.  But on a daily basis, those things were sort of in the background.  Identifying simply as ‘queer’ helped me to make sense of all of it.  Plus, I live in a very diverse and progressive place, so it was easy to float around in genderqueer land without having to answer any questions.

In February, one of my best friends announced she was getting married and asked me to be her Maid of Honor.  It felt a little weird given I had largely given up wearing women’s clothes (not because I identified as trans, but simply because I didn’t feel comfortable wearing them), but somehow I thought i could grin and bear my way through it.  I loved her, so, I was willing.  Besides, I had been in two weddings before around 10 years prior, and in both I wore the traditional bridesmaid’s dress.  I looked good at the time, and while I was never a dress person, thought it was fun playing dress up.  Now, don’t get me wrong – there were issues, but mostly with my short hair (once my head was shaved, the other time it was quite short).  Both times I was asked to grow my hair enough so it could be styled, which I did.  Despite this little hiccup, the weddings came and went and had no lasting impact on me at all.

Given that history, I thought I could totally do it again.  I wasn’t excited by the idea, but again – I thought if I treated it like “dress up”, it would be okay.  And plus, it was just one day.  Not a huge deal.

The bride created a Pinterest board with dress ideas.  She had 4 other bridesmaids and we all shared access to the board.  The theme of the dresses was “pink”, so the board was a flood of pink, every shade and style imaginable.  The bridesmaids were picking out dress ideas and I was the only one avoiding it.  I was busy, I was dealing with health issues, etc. – there were a ton of reasons why I never got around to it.  The bride had also sent some links to dresses she liked for us, and I had taken a few glances at them, feeling confused because I didn’t think they were particularly nice, AND thinking I’d never want to wear any of them. That was as far as I had gotten into researching dresses.  After a few weeks, the bride was putting pressure on me to chime into the Pinterest board discussion, so I finally logged on and spent more time checking out what everyone was posting. 

I will never forget this day.  I was on a lunch break at work, sitting at a local Chipotle.  I went to the Pinterest board (entitled, “My Best Friend’s Wedding”) on my iPhone, and looked through the dresses, completely baffled.  First off, they were ugly – to my eye.  Nothing looked attractive or fun or interesting to me.  (Women’s clothes rarely made sense to me).  Secondly, I looked at the clothes I was wearing – a button-down men’s shirt, men’s jeans and men’s shoes – then back at the images in the photos.  

It suddenly hit me.

“I can’t do this,” I thought to myself.  “I can’t wear a dress again.”  

At this point, I began crying right there in the Chiptole.  I hit a point of no return. For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to actually and definitively admit to myself that I did not identify as a woman in the way I was being asked to.  It became abundantly clear that the person I was at that moment was in no way, shape or form what this friend was asking me to be, OR what I had thought I still was.  Maybe I could pretend in the past, or play dress up for a couple of special occasions 10 years prior, but that was over.  I had crossed some kind of threshold.  I didn’t have words for it, but I knew something had changed.

I tried to explain this to my friend.  She was the first person I ever told about my gender questioning.  It was extremely vulnerable to share, because I had absolutely no idea what her reaction would be.  I didn’t tell her I was trans, because I didn’t know that at the time, but I simply said that over the last several years, I no longer wear women’s clothes and it doesn’t match my identity to do so.

She, interestingly enough, had a vague understanding of gender nonconformity given her studies in social work.  She was compassionate about my situation and expressed that she really wanted me to still be a part of the wedding, and wanted me to be her Maid of Honor.  She said it would be okay if I wore pants, and I was so grateful.  It felt like there was some hope.

Long story short, there was a lot of back and forth on the outfit.  She is a cisgender, heterosexual woman who has always had a dream of her perfect wedding, and had sort of become a bit of a bridezilla about it.  The pants I suggested weren’t okay with her, and instead she came back with suggestions that looked, basically, like a skirt.  It felt like there was no real change.  In my mind, wearing pants like that was essentially wearing a dress, and I felt terrible.

I almost backed out of the wedding.  Several times.  I was torn up about this, so much so that I ended up getting a gender therapist (who I am still working with).  That’s a silver lining to the whole situation.  But I seriously doubted my ability to handle it.  The thought of going to the wedding wearing a pseudo-dress made me want to throw up.  It felt like an absolute violation of who I was, and I felt like my friend cared more about having the perfect wedding than seeing me for me.

I knew that choosing to not be in the wedding would hurt because she meant so much to me, and I also knew that being in the wedding wearing the clothes she suggested would hurt because I’d be lying about who I am as a person.  Either way, there were negative consequences.  

I tried everything.  I went to multiple stores, tried on all sorts of outfits, and even got a personal shopper at Macy’s to help me.  I felt ugly and horrible no matter what I put on.  Everything emphasized my chest and hips, two things I always try to hide.  I kept hoping that eventually I would find the perfect outfit that would both erase my dysphoria and make me presentable for the wedding, but it wasn’t possible.  After weeks and weeks of this, I pushed myself into such denial about my identity that I tried on a long skirt thinking I could make it work and I’d feel okay.  I didn’t buy it, but I think I felt like if I just found the right outfit, it would cover up the reality of my gender and make all of my angst go away.

It was a few weeks before the wedding and I had very little energy left.  We finally compromised – well, sort of.  I wore a pair of flowy pants and a shirt they picked out for me because I just didn’t have it in me to go to one more women’s clothing department. I felt beaten down by the process.  

The outfit was UGLY.  Just flat out ugly, and I looked terrible compared to the rest of the bridal party.  While preparing for the wedding, the bride insisted that I looked “pretty!”  In fact, everyone was quick to tell me how pretty I was, and I wanted to tell them all to just shut up and leave me alone.  Hearing the word “pretty” did not make me feel good about myself.  

The other four bridesmaids were cisgender women who all normally wore very feminine clothes.  They looked great and natural in their dresses.  I stood out like a sore thumb.  I was the only one with short hair, the only one not wearing a dress and the only one wearing an outfit that was ugly and didn’t match itself.  (The shirt they picked out didn’t match the pants).  It also didn’t fit me well, so I looked like I was about 50 years old.  The whole scene was terrible and I was so hyper aware of how much I didn’t fit in.

I wasn’t planning to wear makeup, but that just made me stand out even more. Wanting to try to blend in as much as I could, I got some makeup done at the last minute.  This helped me fit in a little, which felt good in a strange way because at least I wasn’t getting a lot of attention called to me.  I felt better.  And worse at the same time.

Somehow, I made it through the night.  I felt so ugly and out of place throughout the entire ceremony and reception.  I tried my best to have fun – and I did – but internally, I was so twisted up.  I was masquerading as someone else.  I was playing a role as the cisgender female best friend.  But that’s not who I am or who I was.  My actions were in total defiance of myself.  It hurt deeply.  When the wedding ended and the bride and groom left, I took the clothes off and threw them directly in the garbage.  I was done.

It was a painful experience, one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and one that I will never force myself to go through again.  But I think it needed to happen.  I had been living in denial about my gender for so long, just floating along without addressing my dysphoria.  Being in the wedding forced me to come to terms with who I really am and then say it out loud to someone else.  Now I’m in a FTM support group, have a gender therapist and have been openly talking about my gender identity with a few close friends, including my partner.  I no longer try to wear women’s clothes to make other people comfortable.  I’m more clear about who I am, and more confident about it too.  I’ve tried binding and packing in the last few months, two things I’d never done before.  Each day, I am slowly beginning to like and accept myself and live more authentically.

I truly don’t think I’d be here unless I was forced to awaken through having such a powerful experience of living so UN-authentically.  That wedding was painful, but it was worth it.

Having a partner while coming out as trans

I’m in a serious relationship and have been coming out to myself over the last several months.  I thought my partner was comfortable with my process (she’s expressed some fears, but has always been extremely supportive) but last night she told me about some new fears that have popped up.

One is that she is afraid she won’t like me anymore once I transition.  Hearing that was hard.  I was glad that she was honest, but nonetheless, not an easy thing to hear from someone you love.  It makes me almost want to stop the transition process, which I know is not a good idea and I am not going to do it.  But, the thought of her suddenly not being attracted to me or falling out of love with me is heartbreaking.

She also told me that she had a meltdown the first time I told her I was thinking about top surgery.  She never indicated this to me at all in the moment, not even a slight bit.  But last night she told me when she first heard about this, she was so upset she was crying all night and couldn’t function at work the next day.  

I told her about the top surgery thoughts several months ago and again, she gave me no indication that she was upset about it.  I feel frightened that there are other things she hasn’t shared with me all these months.  It also feels extremely vulnerable to have shared so much about my coming out process with her when I now realize she wasn’t 100% with me.

Maybe I am overreacting.  I don’t know.

Anyways, finally she also told me that she feels like when I start to embody my masculinity by packing or binding she feels like I’m a different person and she needs time to get to know me all over again.  She wants to slow down our intimacy so she can build trust with this “new” person.

She has a history of trauma with men, so, I understand where she’s coming from, and I am totally empathetic.  I am absolutely willing to slow down and go at whatever pace is comfortable for her.  However, I can’t help but feel hurt at the same time.  It is hard to hear because I’m not a “new” person when I pack or bind.  I’m still me!  I haven’t changed at all.  The only difference maybe is that I feel more confident, which only makes me MORE myself.  The thought that she wants to start dating me all over again to get to know me doesn’t feel right.

I hate thinking that she is grouping me in with the abusive men of her past.  But I know that’s what’s happening.  I also realize this is a trauma response and not voluntary, so again, I don’t blame her.  But I can’t help but feel sad.  It is really hard thinking that my partner looks at me as a different person, particularly as a potential abuser.  It hurts on a very deep level. 

It is also extremely hard because I while this process has been terrifying, I actually got a place these last few days where I felt slightly happy about being trans.  I began to find a little stream of joy in it.  And right in the middle of that comes her reaction.  It made me run right back into the closet and into denial in many ways.

I already have so much fear about transitioning that reactions like this make me want to continue to live in denial.  What I need right now is support, not resistance or even more fear.  I want her to share her feelings with me, but when it comes out in a fear-based stream of tears, it is actually harmful to me, my process and our relationship.  If she shared these feelings with me calmly like she has in the past, they would still be hard to hear, but I would welcome them and I don’t think they would push me back into the closet.

I know she needs support and is struggling to get it, and I have a lot of empathy about that.

I’m scared.  Not only to continue to be honest with myself about my gender identity, but also to possibly lose my relationship in the process.

I got my soft packer!

I got my soft packer today! I bought NY Toy Collective’s “Archer” and it feels great. I created a “harness” out of some kitchen twine. Seems to be working well so far under my boxer briefs.

It’s amazing how much more aligned I feel wearing this. There was a noticeable shift immediately when I put it on. My mind and anxiety seemed to just calm down right away. Finally my body felt like it had this part my brain always thought it had.

It feels so good I’m wearing it to bed!

This journey is scary sometimes, and once in a while I have to pause and let myself stop exploring. That’s how I felt the last couple of days. Even part of today. But feeling aligned feels so wonderful that it overshadows the fear and leaves me feeling encouraged and hopeful. And then, exploring starts to feel fun and exciting rather than scary. I’m so grateful for that.

What does “everything is waiting” mean?

It’s from this poem, by David Whyte.  

~

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

 – David Whyte
     from Everything is Waiting for You