Posted in Rife

Before My Name Was Rife: How I Knew I Was Transgender

-written by rife-

For the first two years of my life, I was blessed with only a very tiny amount of peach fuzz on my head. This is a curse bestowed on nearly all of the children on my mom’s side of the family; in fact, mine and my brother’s hospital photos are nearly indistinguishable, save for the color of the blankets we are swaddled in. My mom, presumably filled with visions of pink and frills, topped me with headbands and bows. She must have been so disappointed when, as soon as I could communicate, I declared a full-scale war on anything with fringe.

Not that I won, of course. I recall many aspects of my childhood as a precarious balancing act, me always aiming to please. We could pry apart all of my various childhood tendencies, but it would be a waste of time; for every doll you meet, there’s a matching nerf gun. The truth is, some things are only clearly seen in hindsight, and this has often held especially true for myself.

I suppose, as a kid, I must have been different. But if so, I never knew it growing up. Even now, I can point out a dozen reasons why that would be so: I was shy, I couldn’t figure out social situations, I was too serious, I was anxious, I was depressed. There are so many different ingredients that make a cocktail of a person, and it took me a long time to distinguish the different flavors of myself.

I thought I had it figured out when, just after my freshman year of college, I informed the world I had a girlfriend. My introduction into the queer community was in no way spectacular, but it was populated with people who, like me, knew what it felt like to be different. I started to allow myself to indulge in things I’d previously thought were forbidden to me: a men’s t-shirt here, a tie there. As a lesbian, I was afforded a great deal more social grace than I had when people believed I was straight. No longer carrying the burden of “attracting the right man”, I thought I was free.

It took a long time for me to realize that this, too, didn’t quite fit. I’d buried, deeply, a jealousy I couldn’t name or quantify: for square jaws, for muscular shoulders, for flat chests and stubble. My exposure to the trans community was brief, even as a collegiate queer, but a fascination began to form: one in which I would only allow myself to indulge on rare occasions.

Still, the process of realization was incredibly slow for me. This was not a truth I wanted to know. It wasn’t until Ali met me with absolute and unconditional love that I even began the arduous task of addressing what, exactly, I had been feeling all this time. When I finally, with her love and acceptance, admitted to myself that transitioning was something I very much wanted, all I could think was: “this is going to be so. hard.”

And, indeed, sometimes it was. Is. Those moments when I have to divulge intimate parts of myself to family, to strangers, or anywhere in between, and always bracing for impact. The knowledge that my body is considered relevant to people who will never need to know it the way my partners do. Trying to escape the shadow of the girl I used to be. But I consider myself lucky. I have a stable job, a safe home, and two wonderful partners who love me for who I am.

One day, this won’t be considered luck.

Hopefully, one day very soon.

Posted in Ali

Thick Thighs and Renaissance Painters

Body positivity is a hard concept to quantify. I have thought on many occasions that I finally had at least the idea down. First I realized that even though my body wasn’t what I wanted it to be, that was okay. I was going to get there. And the fact that I was working toward my goal was enough to be positive about. As long as I knew I was trying my best to get in shape, I was doing it right.   

Then I thought, no that’s not it. It’s loving my body even though it’s not where I want it to be, no matter if I would get there or not. I could still think my thighs needed to shrink, but as long as I loved my body now too, then I had reached the pinnacle of body positivity. The words “even though” were used a lot in this stage.

“I love my body even though my tummy is rounder than I want it to be.”

“I love my body even though it would be really nice to get rid of the stretch marks.”

“I love my body even though other people probably wish I was skinnier, and even though this isn’t what the world sees as beautiful.”

Even though.

And now I’ve finally broken into the idea of the third stage. I love my body, period. There aren’t “even though”s because there isn’t anything wrong with my body now. Fuck what the world thinks about beauty and the standards fashion industries have set. The way society judges beauty changes with every passing year. These thighs of mine would have brought Renaissance painters to their knees.

I’m not great at following through with the idea yet, but at least I’m starting to understand it. I’ve started to do things that I never would have done before. For instance, Adam told me his hands were cold a couple evenings ago and I put them against my stomach and bent over until there were tummy rolls warming up his fingers. “Warm tummy to the rescue!” I had proclaimed before I had the chance to be horrified at myself. The familiar feeling of oh god, I want this person to actually be attracted to me, happened, but only briefly. Before my brain could spiral out of control, he tugged my shirt up higher and ran his other hand across the softness of it. “I love this tummy.” And he meant it. Slowly but surely I’m learning to as well.

It’s a strange but common situation when you view yourself completely different than you view other people. I love curves. I don’t think they are just okay, or that people are pretty even though. I love them. I look at my friends and their curvy hips and soft bodies and think they look like Aphrodite. Beautiful. Stunning. So I am trying to see myself through the same eyes I see them.

Despite my growth in the body-loving thought process, I still have bad days. The key is to figure out what helps you get through those bad days. Here is a list of things that help me:

  • looking at photos of other people who have a similar body shape to mine, and noting how beautiful they are
  • putting on an outfit that makes me feel good about myself, and then strutting down to the kitchen in it to grab some yummy things
  • soaking up some sunshine and reading a good book (preferably about an awesome lead character that says “fuck you” to the world’s standards and goes on a great adventure)
  • scrolling through some of my favorite body positive tumblrs and instagrams (bodyposipanda is the absolute best)
  • reminding myself that my body is doing an amazing job, and that it takes great care of me

Be patient with yourself as you follow your own body-loving adventure. It takes time to undo what the world has told us repeatedly since we were five. But know that you are so, so beautiful exactly as you are. No matter what shape or size, no matter if you have all of the curves or no curves at all, you are perfect.