My Relationship with My Chest – Part 2

So I know that I’ve written a blog post about my relationship with my chest before. However, I was just reading back through it and I realized that already, this relationship I have with my chest has changed.

I wrote the last entry in August. This would be around the time that I was just starting to socially transition and present more masculine. I do admit, I didn’t have much of a problem with my chest then as I do now. Before, I only had a problem with the fact that having a visible chest meant that strangers would gender me as female right off the bat (this is, of course, speaking as though said stranger hadn’t yet heard my voice). And I will also admit that I did like the way my chest looked – in private. However, it’s now been 11 months since I published that post, and my feelings on the matter have almost entirely changed.

Of course, I’m still not out to my parents (trust me, you would have heard about it otherwise), so this means that I’m still in sports bras to help hide my chest. Over the past summer I did purchase a chest binder, and honestly I love wearing it. I don’t wear it often due to the fact that at around 3 hours of wearing it, it starts to hurt. But, when I do wear it I feel great- I feel like I look like I’m meant to; and I’m more comfortable with how it makes me look to other people. In fact, I’m looking into buying a second one, this time in nude, so that I can be even more comfortable (this way, if it peeks out a bit, it won’t be that noticeable. Plus, you can swim in GC2B binders!) The point is, since August of last year, I’ve become happier with imagining myself with a flat chest. I’m considering that one day maybe I will get top surgery, because I think it will make me feel more comfortable in my skin.

My chest does bug me even when I’m on my own sometimes. There have been a few times where my dysphoria has been bad enough that I feel the need to turn off the lights before taking off my shirt. Of course my biggest problem is still the way my chest appears in public, but my relationship with it has changed. I would be okay with having surgery now (as scary as I find surgery to be). I like the way my chest looks in a binder; but binding hurts, and I don’t think I would want that to be my solution forever.

Needless to say, this whole thing just goes to show how complicated a journey being trans can be for most. Over the course of one more year, my relationship with my body and the way I want it to be has changed. Who knows what’ll happen next. (Hopefully, it’s coming out. Fingers crossed).

-Max

A Letter to My Family (That I One Day Hope to Say Out Loud)

I don’t want to be unhappy and uncomfortable with myself for my whole life. Because of this, there is something I need to tell you. Here, all of my friends call me Max. They call me this because I’ve asked them to, and I’ve asked them to because it makes me feel happier with myself to be referred to that way; as neutral or masculine. They also refer to me with they or he pronouns, which again is something that makes me feel more comfortable with who I am. And this makes me comfortable and it makes me happier because I’m trans.

I know that this is probably hard for you to hear, especially considering I’m almost 20 and have never shown any signs of this earlier on in my life. But this is how I’m comfortable. I feel better about myself when people see me as a boy, and I feel better about myself when I see me as a boy. Being masculine just makes me feel like me. Right now, I’m not comfortable with who I am. I’m not comfortable with being seen as a girl, or sounding like a girl. I wish my voice were deeper. I wish my jaw and shoulders were broader. I wish my chest was flatter. I wish I looked more like a boy than I do. And that is the reason why I’ve decided to tell you this now.

In all honesty, I’ve been going by Max since about halfway through my first year at university. I had a friend who helped me figure this all out by calling me Max and using he and they pronouns with me and it really helped me to understand what was going on. I started my social transition by changing my pronouns and my name, as well as dressing in a more masculine way, during that time. Sometimes, honestly, I don’t know how you haven’t put it together yourselves yet. But, I’ve waited this long to tell you because I wasn’t sure who I was or what I wanted. Even now, I’m not entirely sure of who I am. But I do know that I am uncomfortable with myself the way I am right now. And I’m telling you that I’m trans now because I’ve decided I want to go on a low dose of Testosterone, so that I can start to see the changes I want to see, and so that I can start liking myself more. I’ve also been considering top surgery. I haven’t told you this, either, but on occasion I do wear a chest binder, and it makes me feel more myself to have a flat chest.

I’m sorry I waited so long to tell you all of this. I wanted to be confident in myself before I came out, and I wanted to be sure that you would be okay with this. However, I’m still not exactly confident that you would be. But I’m more uncomfortable now than I ever have been, and I can’t exactly undergo a physical transition secretly. I hope that you can understand this and I hope that you can still see that I’m the same person, the same kid. I love you guys, and I hope you can still love me too. And accept me for who I am and who I want to be.

-Max.

Clothes Shopping for Transmasculine Folks

I’ve had this post in my drafts for a while because while it is a post I’ve been wanting to make, I’ve never been fully investing while trying to write it. I think I’ve expressed everything that I wanted to in this one, however. So, enjoy! (two posts in one day, whaaat?)

Being honest, I love shopping. Buying new clothes was always such a fun adventure for me before transitioning, but now I’m finding it to be more and more tedious. Here’s my problem: I am a small person- I stand at about 5’4 and am pretty slim. In “women’s” clothes (and I say “women’s” with quotation marks because I believe clothing shouldn’t have a gender but alas, it still kinda does) I was a small, sometimes a medium. Now that I’ve started shopping in the “men’s” section, a size small is still too big of a fit for me. Being a small trans person makes shopping really difficult. The men’s section is designed for cis men’s bodies, not afab bodies, and I have yet to find a store for androgynous or gender neutral clothing for any body type.

The thing is, I just don’t feel comfortable in feminine clothes anymore. I find a lot of clothes designed for cis women are very form fitting and I hate the way they make me look. That being said, I also don’t want my clothes to be super baggy, which is where my problem with the “men’s” section comes into play- a “men’s” small is like a large on me. The t-shirts fall just shy of the top of my knee and the stitch that is supposed to sit on my shoulder hits way too low. Very rarely am I able to find masculine clothes that actually make me feel good. It’s kind of stupid, but when masculine clothes don’t fit me, I feel kind of invalidated. Like my body wasn’t made to be masculine; which leads into dysphoria and anxiety about not passing.

Packing my clothes this summer in preparation for moving back to university really made me realize how uncomfortable I am in feminine clothing. At that point, I only had about 4 t-shirts I felt comfortable in, and I didn’t want to pack ANYTHING else. Of course, I had to take my clothes with me to school, because what else was I gonna wear?

That summer I went shopping and found out West 49 has jeans that fit me. I bought three new pairs of jeans from there and felt really good about myself then. Throughout the school year I slowly began to rebuild my wardrobe with clothes I found that actually did fit me. They mostly came from West 49 and Bluenotes, but even then I hardly found t-shirts to fit. I found Forever 21 carried “men’s” sizes small enough to fit me, and so I bought all my clothes there any time I could.

Now, all my feminine clothes are in a storage bin under my bed, and I have enough masculine clothes that actually fit me. Shopping still kinda sucks, because I still have trouble finding clothes that will fit my body type, so I still experience a lot of passing anxiety in that respect. But my wardrobe is slowly filling up with clothes that really match how I feel on the inside, and I’m very happy with that.

Max

Are You a Boy?

Today at work a small child asked me: “Are you a boy?”

I’m writing this post because I’m not sure how I feel about what happened. When they asked, I felt the biggest burst of anxiety I think I’ve ever experienced. I answered with a very squeaky “yep” and walked to another section of the store as fast as possible.  I started to feel a little teary and I wanted to escape to the stock room. My heart felt like it jumped into my throat. I’m going to use this post to write down all my mixed feelings about being asked this question.

It made me feel very insecure. Why would they have asked me that if I didn’t clearly look like a boy already? I started to feel as though I don’t pass as anything other than female (a common thought of mine, unfortunately); which I don’t want. At all. But then I started to think about the fact that maybe I should be happy about it. At least they didn’t ask me “Are you a girl?” because that would have made me feel worse.

At first I was offended that they asked me; and that their mother didn’t say anything to them. On the other hand, though, if their mother had pulled them away and said “you shouldn’t ask people that, it’s rude” I would have thought that it was fine, that it was necessary. When this child grows up, maybe they’ll have trans friends. Or maybe they will discover that their gender is not was they were previously taught to believe- then, of course, they’ll want to be respectful and ask about their friends’ pronouns. Why would I want to encourage this mother to teach her child that it’s rude to ask someone a question like that?

I don’t understand why it had such a bad impact on me. When people my age ask me what pronouns they should use, I experience some discomfort, sure, but never to the degree that this child caused me. What is it about small children that can knock my confidence levels down so much? I wish I could have taken the time to confidently say “yes, I am. Thank you” or “No, but I’m not a girl either.” I wish it could have happened outside of work, where I could have sat down with them and explained it, because I believe it’s important for children to learn these things.

I’m not sure how I feel about what happened. I don’t know if I should feel good or bad, happy or upset. But I do know that I feel insecure, and that I’m sure I shouldn’t feel this way, but alas.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and listen to me rant about the weird feelings I experienced because of this.

Max

Meeting Ivan Coyote

Alright, so this isn’t the post I said I would do next, but something incredibly important to me happened today and I feel like I need to write about it.

For those of you (assuming there are people who read this blog) that don’t know who Ivan Coyote is, they are a transmasculine author and storyteller who just published their 11th book in September this year. They are an amazing author and an incredible inspiration to me and my journey with gender, and today I got to meet them.

Ivan came as a guest to my Transgender Studies course at university today to do a reading from their latest book Tomboy Survival Guide. This was such an amazing experience for me, and I’ll tell you why. In my first year of university (so, last year) we watched a few videos of Ivan doing readings from a different book, and I fell in love. Their work was so incredible and I absolutely loved the way they performed their readings. But more importantly to me, I think, is that this was the first time ever that I had seen someone who represented everything I’d been feeling about myself in terms of gender. Here was this person who was so un-apologetically themselves, and writing about their experiences and sharing them with other trans kids. Ivan was the first person I’d ever been shown who was transmasculine and non-binary, and this was at a time where I was feeling the exact same way, just without the words to express it. Being introduced to Ivan’s work was basically life-changing to me, and I thank them so much for it. I strongly believe that I wouldn’t be where I’m at in my journey now had I not been introduced to Ivan and their work when I was.

Not only was I given the opportunity to be present at one of Ivan’s readings, but I was blessed with the opportunity to buy a copy of their new book and have them sign it. I now own my first copy of one of their works, and it’s signed by them to me. I also have a second chance to see one of Ivan’s readings tomorrow night at my university, and you bet your ass I’m gonna be there. Today was such an amazing experience. I could hardly stop smiling the whole way through, and by the end of it, had I not been in a room full of other people, I probably would have cried from happiness.

Ivan Coyote, as I’ve said, has been one of the biggest inspirations and influences on my journey through gender, and for this I am so thankful. I feel truly honored to have been given this opportunity. I only wish I could have told them this to their face, but alas, I still feel so blessed for what happened today.

I strongly recommend looking up Ivan’s work to anyone who’s interested (which you should be). I hope their work can help some of you the same way it did for me.

Thank you all for reading this and sharing in my excitement about what happened today. Enjoy your lives, folks.

-Max

My Relationship with my Chest

Today I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind for a while: my chest.

When I was a few years younger, before any sort of gender struggle, I only ever had one thought about my chest: that it was too small. At the moment, I’m grateful for the fact that I don’t have a large chest, but my relationship with it is a lot more complicated than I ever thought it would be.

First of all, I think I should talk briefly about how my relationship with my chest used to be. When I was younger, I was self-conscious about my bra size. All the girls I went to school with had significantly larger chests than I did and I always viewed it as something inherently important in deciding how attractive I was to people; which, apparently, was the most important thing to me. But I did go out and buy nice looking bras, and as I got older I would look for matching underwear as well. I put a lot of effort into how I looked underneath my clothes- I bought pretty bras and underwear, and I shaved my legs almost every other day. But in this last year alone, that has changed so drastically.

In the recent admittance to myself that I am in fact transmasculine and genderqueer, I’ve been a lot more aware of how I present. I recently cut my hair to a super short length that I am so happy with, and have also started to shop for clothes that I’m comfortable in. I dress generally very masculine, and tend to present myself very masculine as well. In addition, I’v stopped caring so much about being “pretty” and “feminine.” I switched to sports bras and boxers and have stopped shaving entirely. But the thing I want to draw attention to right now is the sports bras.

I switched to sports bras because of the way it hides my chest under t-shirts. But, this is where the relationship I have with my chest gets complicated. Because although I want my chest to be hidden, I actually don’t mind my chest. I like my chest. At this point in my life, top surgery isn’t an issue, because I don’t want to get rid of my chest. The only issue I have with it is the way it looks in public. When I’m out, I don’t want to be seen as a girl. But because my chest is even remotely visible under my t-shirts, I’m read as female. And that isn’t what I want. I like my chest, but it interferes with my gender presentation.

Because of this I’ve been considering getting a binder to wear when I go out. But again, this comes with a few problems. I know they can damage the breast tissue and cause them to change, but like I said, I like my chest; I don’t want anything too drastic to happen to the way it looks. And I’m also aware of the consequences of wearing a binder too often and too long; but I’m still looking into it. And anyways, that’s my problem, not yours.

Anyways. I just wanted to get this off my chest *finger guns*

But seriously, this is something that has been weighing on my mind for a while. It feels good to write it out. So thank you for taking the time, if you did, to read about my experiences, and I hope that this could have helped some of you. Next time, whenever that is, I’ll be talking about clothing and my recent experiences with shopping and packing for university.

Thank you all. Good night

-Max

On Coming to Terms with My Queerness

Everyone’s experience with queer identities is different. I don’t mean to be obvious, but it’s true. Some know from the very beginning about their identities in terms of sexuality and gender, and some struggle for a major portion of their lives, and of course, other experiences include everything in between these two ends of a spectrum. In my personal experience, I was unaware of my queer identity until at least 15 years old, and let me tell you, I’ve been through a lot of different labels for myself.

At 15, a friend of mine told me that she “might be bisexual.” This was the first time I’d even known there was a word for it. Looking back on it now, I had a HUGE crush on this friend before I even acknowledged my queerness. But at the time, it was kind of an eye opener. I played around with the idea of being bisexual myself for a while; I never told anyone, but I questioned it at least 10 times a day. For a year I came to terms with myself as being bisexual. I never told anyone until I was 16, if I’m even remembering correctly. I remember telling my sister, who was already out as pansexual, but that was about it. The first girl I knew I had a crush on was a friend I’d made through Twitter. We don’t talk anymore, mainly because neither of us even still use that platform, but regardless, we don’t speak. I told her I had a crush on her, but she didn’t make much of it. This led to telling another friend about my bisexuality, because it was insisted that I spill who my crush was.From there, it transpired into telling my closest friends, but I never dared to tell my family. And, at almost 17, I FINALLY admitted to myself the huge crush I’d had on the friend who essentially awakened my queerness.

At age 17 I learned about the word “asexuality.” The discovery of this word was made because a boy had a crush on me and I didn’t want to get into that kind of a relationship. I began researching asexuality and trying to identify myself with that community. It took me a year to realize that I was demisexual. But for that year I was especially confused. I was confused about where I fit on the spectrum of asexuality, and I was confused about asexuality itself. That boy and I dated for a few months, and my confusion about the whole ace thing kinda destroyed it. It was an unfortunate circumstance, but we’re much better off as friends anyhow. Age 17 was also the year of my first ever gay haircut; I’d officially come to terms with the fact that I was bisexual and I was out to most of my friends. I also told my mom this, but she tends to forget a lot of the time.

And here we are at age 18. Actually, 19 in two weeks time. Over the past year I’ve decided that the term “pansexual” fits me a lot better than bisexual does, and am officially open about being pan-demisexual. So that has the basics of my sexuality covered, and I thought that would be the end of my self-discovery. However, during this past year I’ve been struggling with my gender identity as well. Currently I’m still working out the labels that fit me best, but I do know that I’m not a girl, and I’m not a boy either. It’s been difficult to think of myself as transgender since I’ve always thought of trans being strictly FTM* and MTF** transitions only, but during my first year at university I came to learn that being transgender means that you’re someone who transitions away from the gender you were assigned at birth, and hey! that’s me! As a genderqueer/non-binary person, I am trans. And I will be honest, I often feel like I’m not “trans enough” to be considered trans, but I’m working on that.

I haven’t come out about gender to any of my family. My boyfriend knows, and my closest friends know, and that’s about it for now. I’m still working on things in terms of pronouns and how I want to present myself, but that’s the adventure of coming to terms with my queerness. And while I’m at it, I love identifying with the term queer. I think it fits me incredibly well, and it covers my identities on a romantic, a sexual, and a gender identity level. It used to be a word I would never dare to have enter my mind, but recently I’ve been all about reclaiming it and using it as my identity marker.

Thank you to those of you who took the time to read what is pretty much a timeline of my queerness. I know it’s pretty straightforward but I haven’t posted in a while and I wanted to write something. Hopefully I’ll be back up and running with this and I can go further into detail on my experiences with identifying with some of the most invisible orientations and identities.

Thank you all. Good night.

 

 

*FTM- female to male

**MTF- male to female

 

Beyond the Plus Sign

In a recent bout of what I’m going to call insomnia (I’m not certain it is, but it sure seems that way) I had the crippling realization that my life is just sort of plain. Wake up, go to class, read for the next class, go to sleep, repeat. University has brought more structure to my life, sure, however it’s proven to become more and more stale as I go through it. Thankfully I’m into my second semester and summer will soon be right around the corner, but already immediately after the winter break I’ve found myself in the same boring routine, spiced up by a little bit of a twisted sleeping schedule.

Within the realization of my utterly stale weekly routine, I decided that starting a new project to dedicate some time to would probably help to reduce the boredom. I’ve wanted to run a blog for a while, but I’ve never had an idea for what to have a blog on. I’ve never been excessively interested in something; at least not to the point of writing a whole blog on it. Recently though I’ve realized that I do have an excessive interest in something: myself. I know that sounds egotistical, but hold onto your seat for a moment. I don’t mean this to say “I only care about myself because I’m so incredibly interesting that nothing else could possibly be better than me,” I mean it more like “there is a particularly big aspect of my identity that provides a pretty decent topic to have a blog on.” Essentially, my excessive interest lies mainly in a community I’m part of, not myself.

The title “Beyond the Plus Sign” came to me before the entire idea behind the blog came together. I’m sure at this point, it being 2016 and all, a lot of people are aware of what LGBT means. Of course, there are tons more letters to that acronym, but because acronyms are supposed to be short and sweet it becomes simplified now into LGBTQ+. While Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender are clearly the most well-known and accepted orientations, beyond the plus sign lie an abundance of other titles. Two of which I would like to draw the most attention to are Pansexual/romantic and Asexual, as these are the two categories I personally fit into. “Beyond the Plus Sign” is my clever way of expressing my experiences with identifying with two of the most ‘invisible’ orientations.

I figured I may as well make a formal introductory post while my self-diagnosed insomnia keeps me up a little longer. I’m really excited about this blog as it gives me something new to do with my life as well as give me an area to talk about my experiences and challenges with being in the ace community as well as the pan community. A fair warning that not all my posts will be as formal as this one should be given out; as a member of two invisible identities I can’t promise you that they will all be polite or very formal in any way. But hey, as you’ll come to notice (hopefully), it’s all a part of my charm.

I appreciate the time anyone has taken to read this post and I doubly appreciate anyone who decides to take time out their beautiful lives to follow me on my “adventures” so to speak. Thank you all very much. Enjoy your lives folks.

-Max