We’re so entrenched, we can’t accept bodies that don’t fall on either extreme of the gender continuum. Transgender men and women encounter these attitudes in direct and sometimes life-threatening ways. And, given the misogyny that pervades society, these pressures are even harder for women and girls, whether they’re cisgender or transgender. Their bodies are hated and desired in equal measure. When my bully grabbed my breasts and called me “Tits”, he was taking what he wanted. He was also reminding me that I was no better than a girl. I was beneath him.
…Perhaps because of my early struggles to accept my body, I’ve found a measure of freedom in appearing naked on stage as a performance artist. And now, 20 years after my surgeries, I find I miss my breasts. Looking through childhood photos, I was astonished to find a picture of myself at 12, dressed for Halloween in full drag as Dolly Parton. In the photo (left), I have a big smile and my boobs have been pushed up and exaggerated. The photo touches me, because it suggests that even while I was facing intense bullying and social stigma, I was already using my body to comment on gender with humour and strength.