I found out that my pitch to blog for Original Plumbing was successful. I will, it seems, be blogging weekly for the online version of this magazine once the new website launches. Original Plumbing is a quarterly magazine and online hub that takes a trendy look at the ftm way of life. I’m very excited to be a part of it! But it means I will need to be diligent about putting a trans angle on the posts I write.
That’s probably not as hard as I think it is. After all, most of my posts here talk about gender one way or another, even when I don’t mention it directly. Being trans is one of those pervasive characteristics that impacts you in surprising ways in every aspect of your life. For instance, who knew that being trans would affect the way I eat? But it does and it did.
Growing up I had a huge appetite to match the energy that hummed through my pre-adolescent body. A friend of the family used to joke that I had a hollow leg where all the food landed; that’s why I could eat and eat and not pick up any weight. Then I hit puberty; my body started to change. And so did my eating habits.
I was still hungry a lot of the time, but as I approached sixteen I stopped eating with the family as much as I was able to without drawing too much attention to myself. I lost a lot of weight and hid my exposed neck bones behind a scarf I wore to school. Unlike my sister, who had also struggled with anorexia nervosa growing up, I wasn’t doing it because I thought that’s what girls should look like. My motives were much simpler: I didn’t want to be a girl.
My starvation tactics kept my body underdeveloped for a little while longer. But life was changing in irreversible ways: I could no longer wander shirtless in the back yard, though I had loved to do so as a child. On my chest two breasts emerged like unwelcome buds. They were small but impossible to ignore. They augured the arrival of the Next Big Event in a girl’s life: bleeding. I was not looking forward to that.
The loss of weight allowed me to keep at bay menstruation until I was fairly old: sixteen. Oh, how the blood disgusted me when it eventually did come! The way it poured out of me like a cruel joke, fate cackling mercilessly at me. And with its arrival came mood swings that spiralled me further into depression. I would crawl under the covers with lights dimmed and try to sleep away the ugliness of my existence.
Mine felt like the ugly duckling story in reverse: I was born beautiful, with a flat chest and a boyishness that I was allowed to express while I was small, but as I aged my swan-like innocence transformed into something monstrous to my own eyes. And people no longer tolerated my tomboyish ways. Maybe I was more like the main character in Kafka’s Metamorphosis who woke up one day to discover that he was turning into an insect. Like Gregor Samsa, I witnessed myself transform against my will and didn’t know how to reverse the process. Limiting my eating slowed the transformation, but it couldn’t stop it entirely. I knew that.
Eventually my parents took me to see a neurologist and a nutritionist and I was given a regimen to follow. Relieved that I was receiving some attention, I hoped that I would soon be whole again. But no one seemed to understand exactly why I was doing what I was doing, and I – at the time – knew virtually nothing about transsexualism. I had no vocabulary to explain my predicament.
I’m happy to declare that I stopped bingeing and purging before I left high school. I never really enjoyed limiting my intake, especially because I love food so much. These days I’ll eat anything, though I avoid soy products – too many phytoestrogens can cause feminizing effects. Food is something I love to share and I’m lucky to have partner that spoils me with the most wonderful concoctions!
So yeah. Being trans impacts your life in unpredictable ways. In every conceivable way. Like learning how to go the toilet. But that’s a blogpost for another day.