Body Made Flesh

My hands are my favorite feature.  Long and slender, they spread between me and the world.  They have grown callus, touching and touched my hardship and resistance.  They are my lifeline to this world. 

My eyes have seen only a fraction.  Once twisted and warped by chemicals beyond my control, they were set right and aligned to view the world correctly again.  They still blur at the edges, creating clouds on sunny days, but I’ve learned to ignore the clouds and appreciate the sunshine.

My muscles have grown strong, pulled and pushed over a few years of hard work and sweat.  They scream at me from time to time but yield to my desires and become shaped to my goals.  They are a work in progress, in a process that will last the rest of my life.  I’m a clay yet to be sculpted. 

My skin hangs from my bones, yearning to be set free.  I wish to part with my flesh, change my body to fit myself. 

My feet are long and tired.  They make me an octopus when I walk, clinging to surfaces for better traction.  They have been broken and reset, made to hold me up, tall and proud.  They are my fractured foundation.

I am my body, at times.  Some days, I’m freer than my body.  Some days, I’m trapped in a flesh unwilling to adapt to my will.  I struggle to see the good in a body, the worth of flesh, the physical being contained in a cage of its own making.  I do not wish to rid myself of this cage but make it better with time and effort.  I am stronger than these irons bars that hold me.  I’ll reshape this cage into a being of my own making.  A self-made man.  I’ll create myself anew and walk among the world a new man.

I wrote this prose poetry piece the other day and I’d thought I’d share it here. I have an evolving relationship with my own body. I’m working out more and trying to shed pounds I gained in lockdown. I’m excited for this new chapter in my life.


Coming Out

I first needed the words.  I’d always known something was different for me.  I never fit in my own body.  I never wanted the role assigned to me.  I didn’t have the words to understand these feelings until grad school.  By then it felt too late.  I felt like I’d wasted my twenties being someone I wasn’t.  I danced around the topic and took a ridiculous amount of time to discover the ideas I was pursuing were about me.  Gender, embodiment, feminist, masculinity.  I read Judith Butler and Jack Halberstam and applied it to texts, but it took longer to apply it to myself.

Many argue that the humanities serve no function.  I deeply disagree.  Studying all these topics gave me words to describe myself and come to terms with my identity.  For instance, I knew trans women existed through media, but I didn’t know about trans men until I happened to attend a talk by a trans man at a gender conference at my university.  It changed my life.  I had all these words floating in my head, but until that moment, I didn’t embrace them.  Sitting, listening to him talk about bathroom bills and the murders of trans women of color, I couldn’t help but think, Am I trans?  His descriptions matched my experience.  I’d never considered it before.  I grew up around the LGBT movement, but I never felt I was a part of it.  I didn’t date.  I didn’t talk about my attractions.  I felt I couldn’t express myself in that way.  I bottled it up and locked that bottle away.

The idea took time to percolate.  I talked to a dear friend about it and tried to understand all my thoughts and emotions.  I talked to a close cousin who had always been out and proud when I was growing up.  I didn’t follow up for two more years.

It wasn’t until I started getting fit that I saw how my body could change.  I’d always felt trapped in it, weighed down by it.  I didn’t exercise after puberty and I ate very badly.  It took a toll.  When I moved after grad school, I set a goal to talk to a personal trainer and sign up.  I couldn’t go on in this body, in this way, and not hate myself.

I worked hard.  I started lifting weights and my diet became so much better.  I felt amazing in my smaller, fitter body.  Then it dawned on me.  I don’t have to consider this body a trap.  I can change it, through hard work, and through medical surgery.  I felt inspired to come out and come clean about my whole being.  I told everyone.  Sometimes it was very awkward, but I didn’t hide myself.  I announced it on social media and felt a weight lift.  I told my longtime therapist and she felt so happy for me that I was living as my true self.

Shortly after I posted, Elliot Page came out as trans.  My heart soared.  Here was a successful trans masculine person coming out at 35.  We had both lived our 20s not fully being ourselves and here was our chance to change things. 

To backtrack, I took me months to pluck up the courage to talk to my doctor about HRT.  Then it took longer to follow up on it.  I finally started testosterone on June 1, 2020.  At first, I couldn’t give myself the shots, but I eventually did it and it wasn’t too bad.  I started growing hair and experienced second puberty.  I’m still in the middle of it, discovering a whole new world.  Binders don’t really work for me, so I can’t wait for my top surgery.  I’m eager to be myself now.  I have been very lucky with coming out to my friends and family, who have all been so loving and adapted quickly.

I don’t plan to change my name, but I will go by a different name online, to avoid gender confusion.  I really love my name because it comes from a mix of a few family members.  To honor another family member, I’m going by Jack on the web.  I will use male pronouns, but I’ll be forgiving for a while.  I expect people to be confused or not know how to respond.  We can all learn and grow together.  I will not accept hate; you don’t need to stick around if that’s how you feel.  Hopefully soon you will see me out and about town, expressing my true self.