Saturday, October 25, 2014

How Getting Naked With 30 People Improved My Body Image

I've never been naked around other women. I'm the girl who changes in the corner of the locker room, stealthily replacing my regular bra with a sports bra without removing my shirt. Eyes averted, I tear off my jeans and jam my legs into yoga pants, as though I'm racing against a stopwatch to set a record for the shortest time to dress. God forbid anyone sees my cellulite. Or my less than flat abs. Or that gravity has made my boobs look like they belong to a thirty year old rather than a teenager.

Since my boyfriend and I started frequenting sex parties last spring, I've gotten comfortable with nudity in a very specific context: we go to the venue, we take off our clothes, we have sex, we get dressed again. People look around, but everyone is pretty preoccupied with their own play. When I do notice someone checking us out, I tend to think, "that's hot, they're watching me orgasm" over "I hope my ass doesn't look too big from that angle." In other words, I'm too turned on to care.

When Bradley and I went to a play party at our friends' house last month, it was the first time I'd ever socialized naked. Everyone took off their clothes to jump in the pool, and nobody put them on again for the rest of the night. So we were telling jokes in the hot tub naked, introducing ourselves and shaking hands naked, snacking on chips around the kitchen table naked, dancing in the hallway naked... People of all ages, shapes and sizes, just hanging out with our stuff hanging out.

And it felt so... natural. And healthy.

On the drive back home, I shared my epiphany with Bradley:

"I only just now realized that women's bodies tend to be proportional. Skinny women usually have small boobs. And women with huge boobs usually have extra fat in other places on their body."

"Um, yeah."

"Well I hadn't thought about that because all the naked women I've seen in my entire life are from watching porn. And you know I watch way too much porn."

This whole time I've been struggling with body image issues, it hadn't occurred to me that I'd seen very few real naked female bodies, so my expectations were warped. A single nude party helped ground me in reality and made me feel more comfortable in my skin.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Help Make It Happen for Trans Documentary "who we become"

Who we become follows a group of trans people who form a makeshift family, bonded by the search for community. I must see this film and just contributed to the Indiegogo campaign to help make it happen. Join me?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

7 Things About Me That Have Nothing To Do With My Transgender Wife or Polyamory

I am proud to announce that I am the recipient of a blogger chain mail prestigious blogger award. Thank you to Ashley of Fjarilar och Zebror (a blog I can't pronounce but love to read) for nominating me!

I'm supposed to write 7 things about myself, so I thought I'd share some random facts that deviate from my usual topics of transgender marriage and polyamory:

1. My body is unmodified.
No piercings. No tattoos. No split tongue to look like a lizard. I think earrings are beautiful on other women, but can't rationalize punching holes in my body parts just to hang decorative adornments.

2. I am a popcorn addict.
I don't mean "addict" in a lightheartedly exaggerated Ohmygod I love popcorn so much I'm like totally addicted kind of way. I mean "addict" in a once I start eating I physically can't stop, double-hand shoveling popcorn into my face even after my stomach hurts, polishing off solo enough popcorn for 20 people, eating stale popcorn out of the sofa cushions kind of way.

3. I keep tap shoes in the trunk of my car.
They've been there for over 10 years.
I don't tap dance.
But you never know when you're going to need a pair.

4. I am prone to hypochondriac dramatics.

These are actual recent conversations:

Bradley: It looks like a pimple. It doesn't look anything like herpes.
Me: It looks like a pimple but what if it's herpes?
Bradley: It's not herpes.
Me: Did you see my eyes? They are all red and gooey. I probably gave myself herpes in the eye. I am going to go blind!
Bradley: You're not going to go blind.
Me: I'm going to die of eye herpes!
Bradley: That's not a thing.

Me: When I go to the doctor next week I'm going to ask about ovarian cancer. I have all the symptoms-- fatigue, bloating, frequent urination.
Jay: You're bloated because you've been eating like shit lately.
Me: Oh yeah. That's true.
Jay: And if those are the symptoms, then you've had cancer since I met you. Thirteen years ago.
Me: I probably have had cancer since I met you and now it's progressed really far and I'm going to die!
Jay: You need to STOP diagnosing yourself online.
Ten minutes later...
Me: Ugh, my shoulders are so tense, I have a headache.
Jay: It's probably the cancer.

5. I've never tried drugs.
Not even marijuana. No judgment, I just can't fathom consuming anything that might make me more paranoid than I already am (see above), or give me the munchies worse than I already have (see #2).

6. My cat verbally abuses me.
"Feed me, bitch!"
"Meatball! That is so rude. I am feeding you right now."
"Just kidding mom, I love you."
"Yay! Come sit on my lap. Oh please oh please, I need a lap kitty today."
"No way. You wreak of desperation. It's pathetic!"

Like all names in this blog, Meatball is a pseudonym. To protect his privacy.

7. I write blog posts while driving.
No, not with a computer on my lap in the car. I write blog posts in my head while I'm driving and then type them out when I get home. If I haven't blogged in a while, there's a good chance I haven't had to commute as far for work.

Now is the part where I nominate 5 other bloggers for the One Lovely Blog Award. I'm pretty sure this chain mail is going to die here (no pressure y'all if you actually see this) but here goes:

A Place In My Heart

Him and Me and Her and Them

Poly Nirvana

Rachel Leibrock

Thoughts that need to be...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Personal Pronoun Problems

My mom mailed my wife this birthday card, with the envelope addressed to "Ms. Jay." She couldn't have found a more perfect greeting, down to the word "transparent."

Jay's mom in contrast called with birthday wishes:
"It's the birthday man!"
"Mom!? Did you really just say that?"
"Ugh humph. Whatever."

Utter dismissal. On Jay's birthday.

"Why don't you start calling your mom a man and using male pronouns? Show her how it feels to have her gender identity denied," I suggested.

Jay came out to her parents about a year and a half ago. She gave them simple, brief articles to read and videos to watch. They looked at nothing.

Each time Jay talked to her parents they asked about genital surgery. Each time she reminded them that surgery was still years away; they should be asking about pronoun preference instead.

Six months ago Jay told her parents she was ready to switch to female pronouns. Her mom said she'd have to "process it."

They obviously still have not made the switch.

Why is it so hard for people to use requested pronouns? This is a real question for my blog readers out there. Please explain to me the psychology behind being an a-hole about pronouns, because I can't understand. It's such a simple request, often the only thing a trans person asks for in terms of support. It requires almost no effort to change "he" to "she." Granted, it's easy to slip up, especially when the subject isn't presenting traditional gender cues (my wife still passes as a man most of the time). But I'm not talking about the well-intentioned mistakes, the slips of the tongue. My wife doesn't care if people mess up 50 times, as long as they're trying. It's the people who blatantly resist acknowledging her gender identity who are infuriating.

I have been running into my own challenges with pronouns lately. I refuse to call Jay my "husband" or use male pronouns anymore. It feels inauthentic. Wrong. A lie. However, there are still people she's not yet out to-- coworkers or acquaintances at parties for instance. Sometimes she wants to socialize as her androgynous self and not assert her gender identity, not correct people when they label her erroneously, not have to explain her life story. I respect that and want to support her. But I can't bring myself to say "he." So I find myself dancing around pronouns entirely. I repeat her name a lot, or awkwardly answer questions without a noun at all:
"What does your husband do?"
"Oh, uh works in tech."

I look forward to the day when Jay is out completely and I can say to the world, "Yeah, that's my wife. She is awesome. I've nicknamed her Princess Kitty Boom Boom Gumdrop Lollipop*."

*True story. She even has a theme song.