Thoughts on body hatred

I hate my body? This is a response to people always asking me if I hate my body. Or what it’s like to hate my body. 

A lot of people seem to believe that transgender or nonbinary people hate their bodies. Hate is such a strong word, and I do not agree. You do not have to hate your body to be transgender. Hating your body is a horrible and lonely process that does not achieve anything. It is unproductive; it yields only pain and suffering and broken souls. And, in a world where transgender people are oppressed, murdered, and dehumanized, it is most upsetting that often times one’s biggest enemy and hater is oneself.

I do not hate my body. I don’t. I firmly do not hate my body. My body has done absolutely amazing things for me. I would never treat another living thing anywhere near the way I treated myself. Bulimia, anorexia, depression, OCD, and self-harm have taken a toll on my mind, but my body has somehow recovered in full. It functions well beyond any of my expectations and I am so infinitely thankful for my body. I wouldn’t trade my body for a cis-gendered man’s – because my body is mine. We have been through everything together and even though I couldn’t stand my breasts (that’s no longer a problem, thank you Dr. Garramone!) and I get dysphoric about the shape of my body and the pitch of my voice, I do not hate my body. One of the things I’ve learned over the past year is you can love something but still want to change it. I love my body but I still want to change parts of it.

I also want to address body image distortions. Like people with eating disorders (and obviously there is a lot of overlap), transgender people often seem to have problems with body image and body distortions. We obsess about how wide our hips are or aren’t, how flat or not flat our chests are, etc. And often this obsession can go way overboard and become incredibly unhealthy, as we pick on parts of our bodies, begging them to be perfectly “man” or perfectly “woman.” We must remember that we critique and notice things about our own bodies way more than other people around us do. For example, sometimes at swim practice where I now wear a men’s swim suit, I can’t help but wonder if everyone around me sees a girl body in a boy swim suit. In my head, my hips are as wide as the lane and my love handles spill over like an obese person’s. But I know that in reality, this isn’t true. I know that most of the other swimmers see a guy with some scars on his chest but don’t read any further. I’ve seen other guys on social media who’ve been on hormones for years say they still are trying to hide their small hands and hips every day but when I see their bodies I see male, I don’t see hips or small hands.

We need to stop picking apart our bodies. In a society that lets our bodies define our genders we must take a stand for ourselves: our bodies do not define our gender. Bodies are not meant to be hidden; they should not be objects of shame. The world of 7.2 billion bodies contains so much variation and difference, regardless of gender. Some men have hips. Some women are rod straight, no curves. Some men have more breast tissue or gynecomastia, and some women don’t have boobs at all!

Accepting your body doesn’t mean you can’t change things about it. In my process of learning to love my body, I have gotten top surgery and am on hormone replacement therapy. But I love my body. And every day I hide a little less. I smile a little more. There are bad days. But not like before. Not being at war with the home I’m living in has left a lot of space for other things – for people and hard work and sleep and hugs and laughter. So if there’s anything to take away from this post: do not hate your body. Your body holds you up, it walks you places, it cries for you… It is not your enemy. Your body is your home – your only home in a world of constant change and chaos. So seize this moment to stop and appreciate it.

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