Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Questions and discussions about your bodies and their parts.
BuddyBoi21
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Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby BuddyBoi21 » Mon Jul 20, 2020 8:28 am

Hey y'all,

CW for Fatphobia
So I have no clue how relevant this is as this site usually deals with sexual health, relationships, etc. I still want to talk about this anyway.

So for a long while, since I was about 13 or 14 I struggled heavily with my body image mixed in with gender dysphoria that wasn't recognized until my late teens.
I remember when I first started developing wide hips I hated what was happening to my body. As with my chest, once I realized it would take much longer to gain muscle and burn the "feminine" body fat off of what I had at the time I fell deeper into depression.

When I stopped working out and started skating almost two hours a day to cope after eating a ton if whatever junk food I could find in my home I lost a significant amount of whatever muscle mass I built on my arms and most of my upper body. That made my gender dysphoria much worse by the time I was 18/19.

I grew up in a family where most of my members are overweight and much taller than me. I listened to my mom who's been overweight most of my life since childhood complain about her body and express very openly how much she hates being fat. My sister did the same in most of her earlier teens but doesn't anymore. My brother grew up skinny like me but has now gain a lot of weight from eating out a lot. I look at him and will admit I feel uncomfortable with his body and fear the same happening to me. So yeah, at this point I am the skinniest person in my household AND am still the shortest; I stand at 5'6 while my younger sister is 5'8 and my mom and brother are both over 6 foot.

I've got a baby face too which all just piles up to me hating how I look. I feel like I look too small, too young and on occasion still too feminine. I weight trained on and off my whole life and wanted to gain muscle but I feared becoming the "fat trans guy"/"fat trans person". I already have a baby face so I feel like being fat will only make it worse. Plus I feel like girls/people I'm most attracted to won't think I'm attractive despite being in a relationship with a partner who tries to reassure me they like my body and that there's nothing wrong with it.

My brain is basically pandering to cishet gender norms and ideals when it comes to body image. It sucks a whole lot.

I feel like this self hatred and punishment has manifested into my eating habits. I'm very physically active but don't eat nearly enough to sustain myself let alone gain weight. I work a manual labor job and am on my feet for 2-3 hours at a time for 5 days a week. I notice since having this new job my body is becoming physically weaker.

I feel like my arms aren't big enough but still find myself eating at most twice a day and in occasion 3 times if I'm actually thinking about it.

I can't see my campus dietitian until next month because I couldn't afford to enroll in summer classes. I feel like I'm only going to feel worse and I can't get in contact with another person knowing whether or not they're educated and competent with trans patients.

So there's a lot of messy things in here but I hope someone can relate or talk about it at least.

Thanks

Sam W
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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:01 am

Hi BuddyBoi21,

I will say that you're not the first trans person I've spoken to, both here and in my personal life, to struggle with more general body image issues on top of dysphoria. It's such a crappy combo, and I'm sorry you're dealing with it.

I'm glad you've been able to schedule a visit with a dietician, though the "are they trans competent" roulette is never fun. If you're suspecting some of the eating habits are arising from a need to punish yourself, do you have a more general mental healthcare provider you could talk to about that? I do also want to give you this resource: https://www.transfolxfightingeds.com/. It's by and for trans folks dealing with eating disorders, but it looks like some of the resources in it could be really helpful for you.

You mention that some part of you already knows that the expectations you're putting on your body are normative and unhelpful. Do you think there are certain ways of challenging those norms or negative messages that might be helpful to you?

BuddyBoi21
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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby BuddyBoi21 » Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:27 am

Hi Sam!

I'll go ahead and try to focus on it in my next therapy session. I tend to focus on many small things in therapy based around what's happening in my life. I'll talk to my therapist about centering around this topic as something to work on healing.

As for challenging, I look at my partner who struggles with the same thing but with some differences. My problem lies in cishet normative standards of what people think "all" cishet women want. For my height dysphoria I listen to a song called Short Kings Anthem which helps significantly. For my body type I remember I've had many sexual partners and/or romantic interests who have found me and my body attractive, including my current partner (as silly as this sounds).

This one feels kind of weird though. It circulates around body standards set by MLM and men in general. Guys seem to feel like the muscular, ideal physique is the thing they want to/should be.

Like in my mind and a lot of other masc of center people's that body type is said to "make women want you and make men want to be you". That second part is hard to challenge because quite a few times I look at other boys and masc people and wish I could fit in. I'm so small though, I'm trans and I feel out of place. I find myself attracted to short muscular men. I feel safer with them because if something goes wrong I feel like I could fight them but also admire/am attracted and even envious of their musculature. Like that shortness is attributed to being less strong/threatening but the muscles make up for that and even the attractiveness of the person.

It's a odd feeling and a terrible interalization I probably got from the toxicity of MLM culture and enforcement of toxic masculinity from other masculine people. I don't really know what to do about this.

Especially since a lot of the remaining issues with my body, after ~1 year post op and almost 2 years on T, circulates around what is "masculine enough".

Thank you for the resource!

Sam W
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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:39 am

You're welcome! And talking about this with your therapist sounds like a good plan. Hopefully that gives you some space to work through some kinder ways to approach the relationship with your body and food.

It sounds like you're already doing a lot of work to unlearn the narrow messages about masculinity and what's attractive, which is awesome. Have you done much reading from gay or other MLM about ways to unlearn some of those toxic body ideals that have popped up in the community?

BuddyBoi21
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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby BuddyBoi21 » Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:56 am

Well Sam, on the readings regarding that toxicity, I've found quite a few but they seem to circulate around fatness (as they rightfully should due to fatphobia in society). Many more visible people discussing EDs in these communities are people who have already recovered or are proving the point that fat people can and do struggle with EDs.

Most often when I see skinnier people they are typically posting about working out and eventually getting big and muscular.

I feel like it's a conversation I can't really participate in as I do have a lot of privilege being skinny and it makes sense not finding many transmasculine based stories around EDs and disordered eating.

I did submit a request on one of the groups you recommended so hopefully that will help me figure all of this out.

Sam W
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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:32 am

I hope the group ends up panning out!

Something that can sometimes work in combating pressure to look a certain way is to focus on what you'd like your body to be able to do rather than how it should look. For instance, when I was actively training in Roller Derby, my goal was to be able to do the 27/5 (twenty seven laps in five minutes, a requirement for skaters who want to compete). My body changed, but I found I had a better time when I kept my focus on what I wanted to do, and let any change in my body be a byproduct of that. After all, working towards an "ideal" body is basically a never-ending goal because the goalposts are always moving. But if you set goals for yourself, you can end up feeling way better overall.

For instance, you mentioned weightlifting. Did you like that as a work-out? Were there goals you were working towards within it?

BuddyBoi21
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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby BuddyBoi21 » Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:12 pm

Initially I was weight lifting to gain muscle since I had a strong interest in bodybuilding at the time. I also lifted weights to cope with sadness and my unacknowledged depression. One day when I was still dealing with the rejection from a longstanding crush, I tried to weight lift to cope only to find myself breaking down and crying. From that moment on weightlifting didn't work anymore.

So I went on and off, I stuck to skateboarding on and off too. It wasn't until I started training at a UFC gym that I wanted to work out again. Boxing made me feel strong and like I could defend myself. I even made jokes about fighting fascists when talking about why I worked out.

And because I knew strength would play into it, I got back into weightlifting because of boxing. I can't do it anymore though because I can't afford a gym membership. Even then I still under ate, I would become very lean which was nice but wasn't my goal. After I dropped my membership I went back to my old habits.

I was not and still don't eat enough and when eating I don't eat the best in terms of healthy food. I tend to freak out more over how food affects my skin because of my fear of bad acne.

That's another topic but I'll mention it another time. Basically something I love and have always wanted to do I can't afford and I can't do it because of that. I'm trying to find ways to work with it but I haven't found anything new I liked.

If you have any cost effective recommendations then please let me know!

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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby Sam W » Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:39 am

It sucks that an activity you like and were feeling like you benefited from is out of reach. I will say that, given that the pandemic has made a lot of boxing gyms close for the time being, there may be some affordable options from your former gym or another gym that are remote classes or workouts that could offer you a chance to connect to your body in a positive way.

I would definitely bring up the fact you were still restricting what you ate with your therapist, because that angle may also help you to tackle some of the underlying factors around how you feel about your body (I boxed a few years ago after a friend, who also happens to be a trans guy, got me into it, and I have never been as hungry as when I was training consistently).

BuddyBoi21
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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby BuddyBoi21 » Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:30 am

Hopefully. Until then I'm planning on trying to rejoin a gym I like when the pandemic ends eventually.

I did mention it toward the end of our session but we won't be able to go until more detail until next time. I have a lot of other things going on in my life so I went through all of that first before bringing it up. I have mentioned some details before like my eating and my relationship with my body, my family's outlook on health but never went past much than "I'm working out again!".

I'll try to keep y'all updated!

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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby Sam W » Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:38 am

I'm glad you've introduced the topic at your sessions! It can definitely be tricky to figure out what to prioritize in therapy if you have a lot going on, but hopefully this ends up leading to helpful conversations down the road.

BuddyBoi21
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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby BuddyBoi21 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 11:51 am

An Update on Gym related stuff:

My dad had some old workout equipment from when he was in fitness. He's now physically removed from my family but his stuff is still here.

I slowly started moving some of the equipment to the back porch and ou t of a fit of rage the other night I spent 3 hours disassembling and moving an old heavy bag and stand onto the back porch.

Everything was reassembled in the same night so my plan is to look up youtube videos for HIIT boxing workouts since I can't afford a gym.

I'm really excited! I'm also waiting a bit longer than intended to see a nutritionist and there's good news and bad news.

The good news is the nutritionist I'll be seeing is trans friendly! The bad news is they are associated with my campus which only provides services if you're a student meaning if I stop classes (which I'm very close to doing due to mental health and financial stress) then I won't be able to see them anymore.

I'm very upset and I'm trying to figure out what I'm gonna do after that session if I decide to drop out temporarily. So again hopefully things will sort out in my favor but until then I'm very nervous about how things are going to play out, especially all the other factors in my life considered.

Back to eating and exercising, I'm no longer staying with my partner and we've moved back into our respective homes with our parents. Given I don't have to go out to eat as much and note that I won't accidentally copy my partners habit in terms of sleep schedules and eating, this will hopefully make it easier for me to work toward eating foods consider "healthier" I would hope. Here's to things progressing!

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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby Siân » Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:40 am

Hi Buddyboi

Having your own gym equipment sounds exciting! There are a lot of good resources online that you can use for at home workouts, so I hope you find something that works for you and allows you to set reasonable goals for yourself. Have you thought about a "thing your body can do" type goal like Sam was suggesting?

I'm glad you have at least one appointment with a nutritionist coming up, it sounds like you could use some support around eating that is beyond what we can give. Perhaps you could mention when you meet them that you're concerned that you may not be able to have follow-ups and ask for some ideas of approaches you can take alone, or referrals to other sources of support?

You mentioned no longer living with your partner, is that something you want to talk about at all?

BuddyBoi21
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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby BuddyBoi21 » Sat Aug 01, 2020 6:47 pm

Hi Siân!

I've been looking toward the "what my body can do" goal for quite some time since I started boxing. It's why I love it so much; it helps me focus on self defense rather than how my body looks.

The referral idea will hopefully help! I sometimes feel nervous about how referrals go because of the possibility of it going wrong somehow.

On the "living" situation with my partner, it was a temporary thing we both knew would be temporary. They were in a lease related to our campus and they recently graduated. Their lease ended so they had to move back in with their parents. We both liked the time away from our parents because we aren't 100% happy with our living situations for different reasons.

However, despite enjoying each others' company, we both agreed that we wouldn't want to make a full on commitment to moving in together. We would have sleepovers without question but legit living together has been established to be something much farther down the line assuming we're still together.

All of that aside, I get nervous about working out again despite having my setup because I know I won't eat enough. But I also stress over eating too much junk food on the same coin when it comes to bulking. It's this sort of chain of obsession around food that I feel makes it hard for me to get out of this cycle of struggling with my eating habits.

Again I'm hoping things will work out after my appointment.

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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby Alexa » Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:28 am

Hey Buddyboi21,

I've been looking toward the "what my body can do" goal for quite some time since I started boxing. It's why I love it so much; it helps me focus on self defense rather than how my body looks.


I LOVE this! Functional goals like this can be so rewarding.

It's this sort of chain of obsession around food that I feel makes it hard for me to get out of this cycle of struggling with my eating habits.

I really hear you on this. It can be really difficult when establishing healthy eating habits means, necessarily, thinking a lot about your food -- which can just put you back in that obsessive cycle. Maybe ask your dietician if they have thoughts on methods of eating healthy that avoid calculating your food intake, like intuitive eating? It can be helpful to tune in and listen to your body rather than create presupposed expectations of what it needs/is healthy for it.
Alexa K.
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BuddyBoi21
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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby BuddyBoi21 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:55 am

Hey Alexa!

I'll keep this in mind for my upcoming appointment, especially since I won't know if there will be another one after.

I hope all goes well next week.

Thanks!

BuddyBoi21
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Re: Transmasculinity and Body Image CW: Fatphobia

Unread postby BuddyBoi21 » Tue Aug 11, 2020 8:15 am

Update:
Hey y'all,

So my appointment went fairly well. I wasn't misgendered or anything like that which was nice. I got a lot of ideas about what I can eat, how to work eating into a busy schedule and what's best to eat for it.

What I didn't like and hope someone can give me some insight on is eating with a mental illness. Although I'm medicated for my bipolar disorder many of my symptoms have come back because of triggers from the horrible state of the world.

In depressive episodes, I don't wanna move. I find it extremely difficult to keep up with hygiene unless truly necessary like washing my hands or showering if I went out or after work.

In manic episodes, I'm buzzing around and can run off of very little sleep and food without noticing.

With both my appetite is awful and you can't "plan out" or predict a manic or depressive episode.

I guess what rubbed me the wrong way is that after everything was said the phrase "no excuses" was used. I really didn't like it because it also failed to address my relationship with my gender dysphoria and my fear of becoming fat like there rest of my family.

Plus I don't know if this is good advice for neurodivergent, body shaming transmasc people; I was told to weigh myself weekly and see if my body weight was going up. Apparently 500 calories a day will help me gain 1lb a day. Really I noticed this during the beginning of the pandemic and state lockdowns; if I simply eat 4 meals a day then I look at my body and I can physically see a difference in my build.

What do y'all think about this? I'm VERY wary of weighing myself but I'm told I need to track this and I'll be following up with her in 3 weeks.

Also again if y'all have any articles on managing to eat with bipolar disorder then that'd be very appreciated.

Thanks!


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