... (ftmwolfcasey) wrote in tgpos,

Intro

1. How does your identity as trans or gender-variant person converge with your weight, height or body shape?

I think the depression and anxiety that I feel being both transsexual and overweight feed into each other and make things worse. It's hard enough being overweight (even though most Americans are overweight, the cultural standard still sways toward being lean) by itself, and it's hard enough to be trans by itself, but when those two factors are combined it's like putting water in acid. I've found that it's far easier to be a fat guy than it is to be a fat girl any day of the week, but that doesn't diminish the shit you get simply for being fat to begin with.

2. What are the unique pressures put on trans/gender-variant people in regards to their weight?

I imagine that being immersed in this culture everyone picks up on the pressures of how to look and what to weigh, but I think that for transfolk in particular, there's a cycle of  scrutiny that takes the pressure up a notch. We're already examining ourselves through a distorted lens (you're your own worst critic, right?), and then we have everyone else in the world thinking/saying things like, "Hmm...she's awfully tall. I wonder about her sometimes" or "Hmm...his voice is kinda whispy. I wonder about him sometimes." That makes you ultra-conscious of your appearance anyway. Add the weight and you'll be doubly conscious, especially as it relates to your passing abilities.

3. What is the intersection between trans passability/plausibility and height and weight?

Taller and somewhat larger FTM's will almost always pass better than those of us who are shorter and perhaps don't quite "measure up." I think being heavier weight-wise as an FTM can actually make it easier to pass because sometimes it helps to hide the curves and the breasts can be passed off as fat-man's chest, but then they turn right around and rip you a new one for not keeping up with the masculine standard of beauty so you're put into this awful double bind.

4. What are the unique pressures that FTMs face in terms of body image in a misogynistic, heterosexist and transphobic culture? MTFs?

I think we're all facing pressure by virtue of living in a society where these attitudes are so incredibly pervasive that conformity to them is regarded as entirely natural and, conversely, any deviation from them is unnatural/wrong/sinful. Specifically, I think many...not all but certainly very many...transpeople play up the stereotypes, i.e. transmen who aren't just themselves and feel they must overcompensate by drinking a gallon of whiskey, driving the biggest damn pick-up trucks they can find, talking like a sailor, making sexist jokes, and bench-pressing 500 lbs. and getting compound hernias/transwomen who aren't just themselves and feel they must overcompensate by  altering their inflections to be more 'femme,' buying the beauty product aisles, dressing like Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City, and acting like doddering June Cleaver clones.


5. Do you experience the trans community as affirming of size diversity or as fat-positive?

Well, putting aside the fact that I have a hard time seeing a very cohesive " trans community" at all, no, I don't find it to be very affirming of larger folks on the whole. Individually, people's attitudes will vary of course, but in general it seems that you really have to dig to find acceptance on a broader scale. Speaking from my own experience, I feel a great deal of pressure as an FTM to be a perfect male specimen, even in a place like Memphis where most people aren't exactly healthy weights. FTM's want you to be some damned Adonis. Sometimes it feels like the message I'm really getting is, "If you aren't tall, lean, ripped, and the epitome of handsome, you're not really a worthy, smart, or attractive man."

6. Do you experience the size acceptance community as trans-positive and affirming?

Frankly, I didn't even realize that there was such a thing as the size acceptance community, so I can't exactly say that I have experience with it. However, I would surmise that it's probably not very affirming given that most people in our culture are repulsed by transgenderism. From trying to bridge the gaps in my own communities (Memphis and Tennessee, that is), I can assure that you that just because people belong to a marginalized group does not automatically guarantee that they will possess empathy and understanding for other marginalized groups.

7. Describe a particular conversation or life incident where issues of size and gender diversity intersected in some way

Last week, I drove to Nashville with a group of people to participate in Tennessee Equality Project's Advancing Equality on the Hill Day where we lobbied our state legislators on bills that would affect the community. It didn't take me long at all to notice that even though I was lobbying with a group of transpeople, I was the only one who was overweight. And oddly enough, it was fine for the politician to interrupt me or dismiss the points I had to make, whereas my much, much, much thinner and more attractive colleagues were more readily listened to and taken seriously. About a week later, I was forwarded the group photos. Now mind you that I only begrudgingly participated in photos because with the way I photograph, you're expecting me to be holding up a number and hearing, "Turn to the left." The person who forwarded me the pictures says to me, "You look....good. I think we all look great." Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive, but it just seemed like what he said had a patronizing, pejorative slant to it.
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