Everything special about you came out of a bottle!
I came out to myself as transgender almost a year ago. I started having thoughts of the “Maybe this is the wrong body for me” kind when I was eleven, but I found excuses to dismiss them: “I’m not trans, I’m a butch lesbian”; “I’m not trans, I just like men’s clothes”; “I’m not trans, I just feel insecure because I don’t look like a man…”
Keeping the truth buried deep inside for over ten years felt like drowning. When I found the strength to accept who I am and breached the surface, I took in a huge breath of air to make up for the prolonged apnoea.
I decided I wanted everything right away: I threw away my (few) female clothes and began using a new name, researching HRT and top surgery, and lifting weights (in a more serious and structured way than before). That was June 2018.
Today, I choose to be a little more patient. I’m still not passing, still not on testosterone, still have gender dysphoria. So what’s changed?
First, training changed my perspective on myself. Then it changed the way I see fitness and nutrition.
I’ve never noticed my body transform as much as it has in the last nine months. Ironically, when my mental health was at its worst, it was also when I was avoiding my reflection and my body at all costs. Yet one would think appearance would be the whole point of an eating disorder (obvious spoiler alert: it isn’t).
Since I embraced my trans identity, I’ve wanted to look at myself for the first time in years. Learning about physiology, nutrition, and exercise, I’ve been trying to empower myself to present more as the man that’s in my heart and in my mind.
In that respect, bodybuilding has been literally mind-blowing.
Inch by inch, my body is getting thicker, more defined, less obviously female. However, nine months have taught me that the physical changes are slow and gradual.
As a result, my attention has been shifting more and more towards progressing my training and improving exercise technique.
That’s been the most beneficial development for my mental health to date.
I took up lifting from a place of deep-seated discomfort regarding the way my body looks compared to the way I feel it should. Through training, I’ve started to appreciate what my body can do for me instead.
So I’ve begun to think that I’d like to see how much closer to my ideal I can push myself before I need some testosterone-shaped extra help.
This mental shift has reshaped my ethos as a fitness professional, too.
A lot of the time, I think, “Until I’m on testosterone, what’s the point?” I even consider not posting on Instagram or abandoning this blog until HRT, because that will make me “legit.”
But that’s not true. I’m already “legit,” whatever that’s supposed to mean, and I’m teaching myself not to look forward to HRT as a magic pill that will solve all of my problems.
In the end, it’s the same as always being on the hunt for the new diet that will get you to lose fat or the new supplement that will make you grow muscle overnight.
I decided I want to be Iron Man, not Captain America.
As I try to be active on social media and reach out to fellow members of the LGBT+ community, I’ve realised how many others are in a similar position. And I want to help them change their mindset, too.
I’m not talking about promoting the “Love your body” message. As valuable as that is, it simply does not apply to a lot of LGBT+ individuals, including me. Instead, my message is, “Work with what you have.”
You can start making progress towards the person you want to be regardless of where you’re at. Choose to be Iron Man. Let’s be Iron Man together.
In Future Episodes:
Re-reading my articles about the fat loss phase I went through last year, I’ve been thinking about how I would help someone else avoid the mistakes I made if I were to coach them now.
Tune in next week to find out what my strategies would look like!
What is your relationship with your own body like at the moment?
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An online fitness coach who likes bodybuilding, superheroes, and bread.
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