The FTM Transgender Funk

It happens. For a variety of reasons. It’s normal. I’d probably call a transgender individual a liar if they denied they ever experienced this. I call it, “transgender funk.”

This funk can be a fleeting low or it could be a full-blown depression. The causes could be any number of things.

I’m currently experiencing one. In a good month, I will experience this funk for only one or two days out of the month. Normally, it is a result of someone refusing to accept my gender identity. But, thanks to the wonderful support of my partner, it is very short-lived.

My current funk is just over a week in the making and is the result of: 1) Having my legal name change finalized; 2) Physical characteristics; 3) Having no power or agency outside of being vocal.

I’m quite reluctant to discuss my current issue. Last time I even attempting to discuss something similar in a public forum, I was brought to tears after being told that my issues are irrelevant because, to paraphrase, “While intersectionality sucks, you choose this.” Because, apparently, I choose to be a trans man in a petite body, and because I’m petite, I’m not allowed to discuss my size because I have something called “skinny person privilege.”

It is scary enough talking about trans issues. If you only knew the amount of mental prep work I have to do before I write about that topic. A whole other level of anxiety creeps in when the issue is compounded by having the balls to mention my size as part of the issue.

TL;DR: I’m 5’4″ and 105 pounds, so I’m not allowed to complain about shit.

Poor me, right? It could be worse, right?

You try living as a man in my body — a petite body that isn’t exactly feminine but isn’t masculine either — and see how well you pass.

Cis men, while reading this post, imagine yourself in my body. You may have some understanding. Cis-women, I’m not sure what to say to you, as you read this post. Lord knows that what I’m about to describe is can already be a nightmare, without some type of gender dysphoria.

So, poor me is in a funk. Despite being worried that someone is going to rip me a new asshole for writing this post, I have a need to do so. Maybe being ripped a new one will help at least one other FTM know they are not alone.

My legal name change was finalized a couple weeks ago. YAY! I no longer have a very feminine name.

But, that brings a different set of issues. All of my ID will still have the letter “F” beside sex/sexe. This is an issue because when I went to government offices with my name change certificate to start the new ID process, the lady at the Service BC office gave me a look when she saw my new name. She also tried to pronounce my new middle name in a way to make it “girly,” and I had to correct her on it.

PRO TIP: If you are unsure about something, like how to pronounce someone’s name, ASK. People seem to do this with relative ease when it comes to last names. Why not do it for all names?

You may be asking yourself, “How do you pronounce a masculine name to make it “girly?” It is one of those things that you know when it is happening to you. I wish I could give you a more concrete answer, but I can’t. However, if you’ve ever been misgendered, you probably have a bit of an idea about this thing people do; sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.

When I went to the Service Canada office, the lady at the reception also had that tone when I told her my name was Jules. She made me repeat it three times, each time doing an almost visible head shake, but even my Aspie brain could see it on her face, in an attempt to clear out her ears because she wasn’t sure if she was hearing me correctly. Then, she made me spell it out twice.

I’m really not looking forward to having to go back to those offices when I get my new birth certificate and finish the process. It was all I could do to refrain from yelling, “Yeah, I have a vagina and I’ve chosen “boy” names for myself. Yes, you are seeing this information correctly. Do you have a fucking problem with that?!”

So, yeah. I now have masculine names in my not quite feminine, but not quite masculine, body, a name attached to the sex/sexe F label. There is nothing I can do to change that. More on that in a bit, but first, expansion on the physical thing.

So, clothes shopping. This has put what would have been only a one or two day funk into a much longer gloom.

The older I get, the more difficult it is to find 1) Clothes that fit my stupid body; and 2) Clothes that are gender-neutral.

Despite having two children, I am the exact same measurements that I was when I stopped growing at 13. You’d think finding clothes that would fit my body would be simple.

You’d be wrong.

If you are in a female body, you are fully aware, that no matter what your body type, female clothing sizes are BOLLOCKS. Shopping in the men’s section isn’t an option because of sizing.

When I was a teenager, I was a size 5. Sizing has changed in such a way that in some stores, even a size 0 — yes, ZERO — is too fucking big for me. WTF IS THAT SHIT!!! It shouldn’t matter what store I go into, I should be able to grab my size and purchase it knowing that it would fit. No way a size 5 will fit in today’s sizes. I’m anywhere from a 0-3, depending on brand. And, as I’ve said, even a 0 can be too big. because FUCK WOMEN’S SIZING!

Seriously, when I was a teen, I never had to try on a pair of slacks before purchasing them. Now, I have no choice.

So regardless if a female is “average” body size, or “plus” size, or “petite,” shopping for clothes is a horrific experience. I don’t know how some ladies enjoy this process.

Now, imagine being a man in a “petite” body having to spend 3 hours, in 9 stores, in 2 counties and 1 town, being forced to look in the women’s section of clothing, in order to find trousers that fit, never mind ones that are are gender-neutral and not a pair of jeans. Just plain slacks. Hell, even if I would wear jeans, that is still the same “mission impossible” that involves uncomfortably going into the women’s change room, and dying a little inside each and every time you look at a pair of slacks and realize: 1) They are too big despite being a size that you could wear if it were a different brand; or 2) The style is flamboyantly feminine and even if size was right, the style is one that just will not do.

The next issue finding gender-neutral clothing. When I was a teen, this was never an issue. I had so many choices. Lots of shirts in gender-neutral colours and cut/style. Lots of slacks in gender-neutral colours and cut/style. Now… Well, I cannot even look at the women’s clothing section without feeling like I’m going to vomit thanks to all the anxiety and other issues that come up when I have to walk into that part of the store, as I look at a sea of bright, feminine colours, mixed with very feminine detailing and cuts.

Then, this weekend, I had to shop for shoes. Two pairs, to be exact, for the wedding.

It took over 6 hours and looking at over 10,000 pairs (not a typo) online to find something appropriate. Even then, one of the pairs of shoes is still too feminine for what I’m comfortable with, but it was the least evil of all the pairs I looked at. Neither pair is close to what I was hoping to find, but I suppose they will have to do.

I really have no choice because, again, men’s shoes are just not made for my feet.

Being transgender makes clothes shopping an experience that can bring me to tears. When I have to spend close to 10 hours in order to find one pair of slacks, and two pairs of shoes, none of which I am completely comfortable with but they have to do… a big part of me dies on the inside, and it is so very difficult to not burst out in tears because I hate my body… well, I hate the world my body lives in.

Then, I get a little envious of other FTM who are able to do something about this, allowing them both to shop in the clothing section of their choice, and change their sex on their ID. You see, I can’t.

I cannot get hormone therapy because I have migraines, I’ve had a stroke and multiple TIAs, I have a bleeding disorder, and I have lupus. So, one of the easiest, for many, solutions to changing physical appearance is not an option for me.

I’ve had a hysterectomy, but only partial. They wouldn’t take my ovaries because of other health issues. So, one of the surgeries required to change sex from F to M… well, I’ve only had it partially done so it doesn’t count.

If I want medical to pay for a mastectomy, I have to go through a horrible process that takes a minimum of two years. Being barely an A-cup… well, that idea bothers me on many levels. My breasts are smaller than a lot of moobs, yet for them to not be seen as breasts, instead of excess fat, I’d have to jump through so many hoops if I don’t want to pay out of pocket.

But even if some magic were to erase the red tape today and I could have my ovaries or breasts removed tomorrow, I can’t have those surgeries because of allergies to medicine and the number of surgeries I’ve had for other things. When I had my hysterectomy, they couldn’t give me a general anesthetic for these reasons. They had to use a sedative. Twice, I became aware during the surgery. Let me tell you, being aware of having your uterus removed through your vagina, and remembering it, is an experience. Another major surgery would have to be performed under sedation and I don’t think I want to risk “coming to” again… because… yeah… it was an experience and we’ll leave that TMI there.

So, I get envious of other FTM who have more options. Then, I get feelings of guilt for having envy, because at least I’m not a transgender person who was born and lives in Quebec, and is seeking a legal name change. Because that process is HELL. Being a person in BC means a very simple and quick process for that.

Then, I learn that I could get my sex marker changed to Male on my Canadian passport, which made me so happy. Why? Because, ever since I was held in US Customs because I packed like a male, but my passport says female, travelling to the US causes even more anxiety than what is normal for me.  BUT, then I learned, only if I’m planning one transition surgery within the next year.

Back to hating myself.

Then, I learned that if I was born in Ontario, all I’d need to change my sex marker is “A Letter signed by a practicing physician or psychologist (including a psychological associate) authorized to practice in Canada that includes the statements necessary to support your request (see cover sheet for instructions).

And the funk sets in even more because I had the misfortune of being born in Manitoba, a province that requires you to have either a full hysterectomy or top surgery, plus letters from physicians, in order to change your sex marker.

Then back to the guilt and the different set of hating myself because, “First world problems” right? Poor me in my poor petite neither feminine nor masculine body, living in a country that, even if work still needs to be done, has a pretty good track record on human rights issues.

Why do I have any right to be upset about this. So, what if I can’t find clothes that I feel comfortable in and that fit. So, what if people will now look at me funny because I have a masculine name with a female sex marker, dressed in clothing that is neither masculine nor feminine. So, what?

“So, what,” is right. After all, some would tell me I’m choosing this heartache.

I think putting up with some of the hate I receive is much easier than trying to find clothes or the new thing of the looks I’ll receive whenever I present my new ID and I’m stuck in this ridiculous body.

I feel down because I have limited power in this situation. I feel down because I’m feeling stupid envy towards other trans people (seriously, this is fucking ridiculous! Because they certainly don’t have it easier than I do, and I really hate myself for feeling this way). I feel down because I have stupid guilt telling me, “The people in your life are right. You have no right or cause to complain.”

It is rare that I hate my body. But, the events of this last week, especially involving trying to find clothes, has reminded me why it has been about seven years since I last purchased slacks and longer for shoes.

If I were slightly heavier (something I can’t control. Believe me, I keep trying) or slightly taller (something else I cannot control), I’d be able to fully cross-dress. With my androgynous facial features, it certainly would make passing easier and perhaps less strange looks when presenting my ID.

I end up hating myself, my body, and feeling really discouraged.

All, when you boil it down, because of the stupid clothes made for my stupid body.

13 Responses to The FTM Transgender Funk

  1. Tony Miller says:

    You’ve been through enough, and most likely have more to go, to complain all you want.

  2. “After all, some would tell me I’m choosing this heartache” . Just like I chose to be me? I’m a woman who belongs in my woman’s body, always have felt this. You don’t. Its not a choice you’ve made, its your reality. That’s a big enough thing for you to deal with, without having to deal with the crap other people put on you cos they make assumptions or just plain don’t know how to accept it. I can see how on good days that’s easier to believe, but that on harder days its not.

    It’s often the things that appear little that get to me – a bra shop assistant telling me I was putting my bra on wrong – fastening it at the front then swishing it round cos my left arm won’t reach behind me to fasten it. That comment made me leave the shop in tears. Ridiculous. No, it was just how I felt that day. Clothes that fasten with a side zip? Nope, can’t wear them, cos I can’t fasten the zip. Two women on a bus pointing out to each other that I’m disabled. My hearing works fine, thank you. I got off the bus as soon as I could instead of challenging them.

    The only thing that should matter is are you a good person? Not how you describe yourself, the names you use, the clothes you choose to wear, the person you love. I think you’re a good person.

    I only know MTF trans women; their lives are hard; it takes courage for them to live their lives every day, to deal with ignorant people’s prejudice. Passing is difficult for them both, they are tall, chunky women, but they are both happier now than when they lived as men.

    In an ideal world, we wouldn’t care what we looked like, we’d care about what we did, what we contributed to each other’s lives, how we lived our own. Neither of us live in that ideal world, we both have to deal with people looking at us funny, talking about us as if we can’t hear what they’re saying, treating us differently because we have the temerity to breathe oxygen. The only thing we can do is keep on breathing in and out, hold our heads up and carry on living.

    I know this probably doesn’t help much, and I expect you’ll get some mean spirited comments. I hope you don’t, you don’t deserve them. If people have nothing good to say, they should say nothing.

  3. Julienne Cunningham says:

    My heart goes out to you. I have always felt awful shopping for clothes in my plus-size body and tiny feet but that is NOTHING compared to what you are going through. Just a thought – Does your family have a history of breast cancer. My cousin was approved for a ‘pre-emptive’ radical mastectomy due to the high risk. Might be a work-around the system.
    My heart goes out to you fellow Geeky Jules and you can complain all you want!! <3

    • Jules says:

      Nope, to the breast cancer thing. Even if I were to do that work-around… I’d still need a letter from a therapist saying the surgery was done because of gender identity issues, or something similar. The surgery has to be specifically for SRS purposed, complete with all that it entails.. except of course, if I was born in Ontario.

      I just hope that the rest of the country catches up because SRS is not for every trans person. Many people, either FTM or MTF have barriers to surgery.

  4. Corey says:

    Thank you for this article it was so informative.

  5. Corey says:

    You should try shopping in the junior boys section. There are alot of things you can wear that will give u more of a masculine fashion style and I’m not talking about the t-shirts with trucks or cars. I’m referring to solid color or striped polo shirts, khaki pants, cargo pants, blue jeans and shorts, dress slacks, and dress shoes. While shopping in those sections may feel a bit uncomfy you will be happy with your appearance and being able to wear masculine clothing without having to alter it yourself. If you want to appear larger in size, then layer your clothing. Also wearing baseball hats is helpful in public. You may also want to try weight lifting to enhance your muscles. The more you pass and look masculine the more comfortable you will feel going into the mens changing room and know u belong there.

    • Jules says:

      Junior boys pants are too small in the hips, even though they fit in the waist.

      Finding gender-neutral shirts, while difficult, isn’t a completely futile task.

      Finding pants that fit my form and shoes that are narrow enough for my feet is another thing entirely. I’m a men’s size 6 in shoes. So, that part of the sizing isn’t the issue. But they are always too wide.

      I shop in the men’s department for some shirts, pyjama bottoms, and a few other things. I should probably make an effort to look in there more often.

      As for muscle definition, I have that in spades. Despite being petite, I have an athletic build.

      I don’t mind shopping at all in the men’s section. I’m more than comfortable in it. I think one bonus is that women here tend to do the clothes shopping for everyone in the household, so I’m not out of place shopping for men’s clothing. Or, maybe people think that I am but it has just never occurred to me because I think it is perfectly normal for me to shop in that department. But, as I said, it all comes down to body shape and men’s pants and shoes are just not cut to fix my form, regardless of department.

      As for the hat thing, I wear tuques when the weather is appropriate. The cap thing… not so much my style, but it may just be worth a shot!

      Thanks for all of your suggestions. I know it may come off as I didn’t appreciate it because I already now they won’t work for me, I really do appreciate them. If you think of any more, please let me know!

  6. PJ says:

    Have you considered a tailor? It’s expensive to get clothes made, to be sure, but you’ll be sure to get exactly what you want, and it will be fitted to your frame. Plus it might be worth the extra money not to have to go through the pain of shopping for clothing. I understand hating shopping. I’m female, but my taste in clothing is simple. I don’t want bows, beads, sequins, spaghetti straps or see through gauze – just simple shirts and simple pants in subdued colors. Add in being plus-sized, yes, I can honestly say I understand how clothes shopping can be an overwhelmingly unpleasant experience.

  7. Gray says:

    My mother’s name is Julie, people often refer to her as Jules. I never thought of it as a masculine name at all, but I suppose it is. Hm.

    There’s little I find more obnoxious than the use of the privilege in Internet debates. ‘You’ve been through enough, and most likely have more to go, to complain all you want.” Hear, hear.

  8. [...] of the above being said, despite our anti-discrimination laws, the treatment I received last week when I went to Service Canada and Service BC regarding my legal name … no longer surprises [...]

  9. Jesse says:

    Man, I really hear you, I’m in the same clothing situation (5’3″ and 95 pounds, also FTM, also can’t take T). Finding clothes is like pulling teeth and I’m not picky.

    American Eagle makes some men’s jeans and pants in a size 26″ waist and those fit me at the hips (my actual waist is 23″). Finding anything that isn’t casual wear is almost impossible. Frye makes a decent oxford shoe down to a US size 5.5.

    It was great to hear someone talk about this. I’ve also been told to shut up about it.

  10. […] is really important to me that the other identity completely dies. As I’ve written before, I can’t do physical transitions. All I have is personal agency and my real […]

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