I am a male to female transgender person. I have male ‘parts’ and I spend more time in the world as a man than I do as a woman. If you need more labels, I am probably non-binary, gender non-conforming. I do not live full time as a woman nor do I want to. But I do enjoy expressing my feminine side through clothing, behaviours etc. The need for this disclosure will become clear shortly bear with me.
I live in the southern hemisphere and we are coming to the end of our summer holiday season. We have therefore been spending a great deal of time doing summery things. Al fresco dining, walks in the parks and indeed sitting at (and in) the swimming pool.
In my male form I have always been very comfortable with my body. It is certainly not perfect, it could be firmer, it could be younger and it could have fewer scars, but I have never let these issues worry me. I have been comfortable wearing pretty much anything at any time. I have worn ‘Speedo’ swimming costumes at school galas and to the gym. I have worn ordinary ‘baggy’ swimming trunks to the beach to resorts and the like as well as smaller, tighter swimming trunks. I have worn these with t shirts and I have been topless. I have dressed like this in front of friends, family and strangers. I have never had an issue.
A few days ago I got the opportunity to dress. My wife was with me but I was just not in the mood to go out. I felt like staying at home. I was also in a lazy mood and the thought of putting on makeup, choosing an outfit and generally getting all dolled up was just too much. I suggested we spend some time at the pool. She was game. I asked if it would be ok if I borrowed one of her bikinis and she was happy for me to do so. We looked in her cupboard and found a very cool (if rather old) pink string bikini top and black bottoms that I thought went rather well together:
To be clear we were alone and our pool is private and secluded. We have high walls and lots of greenery giving privacy. My wife has seen me dressed, naked, in suits and ties, in mini skirts and in lingerie. We are comfortable with ourselves and our bodies. I donned the bikini and all of a sudden I felt more self conscious than I have ever felt before.
There was suddenly nowhere to hide. No fabric to accentuate or obfuscate. The string bikini was also too skimpy to support my fake breasts so I had to go without. This and the lack of makeup almost certainly contributed to my lack of confidence but I was still surprised at my own reaction.
Not only have I always been comfortable with my own body, I have always said that women should feel free to wear whatever they like. Bikinis look good (they really do). Women in bikinis look phenomenal almost all the time. A women in a bikini usually looks better than in a one piece. I have always been confused by the fact that so many women are nervous of being seen in a bikini. A one piece does not actually hide much more than your average bikini. My reaction was therefore very surprising to me.
Why was I feeling so exposed? Why was I suddenly unsure of myself? Certainly it was a new experience and that always makes you nervous and concerned, but this seemed a bit more. After some time I started to warm up to the point where I was happy for my wife to take some pictures (pictures are a big part of the crossdressing experience, we are so vain). I still felt very unsure of myself and even ugly.
I posted a summary of my feelings on Facebook and was immediately asked to post the pictures. I was not ready to do so. In fact I was thinking of deleting them all. I did not. Instead I decided to do nothing until the next day.
My wife looks fabulous. She looks fabulous all the time but I think she looks really good in her bikini. She has never agreed. She has always felt uncomfortable swimming in front of anyone but the closest of family. In 2015 she decided that she did not want to transfer her body image concerns to our daughters and she has made an effort to be brave and confident. To this end she wore her bikini to the beach and some resorts when we were on holiday in Europe in June. I never fully appreciated how brave she was doing this. I took my own subjective view of her and expected her to see herself in the same way that I saw her.
Having posed for a few photographs and having been asked to see them by a supportive group if friends and having had serious reservations, I suddenly appreciated just how brave my wife was. She had put herself out there amongst strangers. She had risked a lot. Not for herself, but to show our daughters that they need not be ashamed of their bodies.
Having reflected on this and thinking of all the people who bravely go to the beach, the pool etc I decided to post the pictures on my Facebook profile. The response was not nearly as bad as I feared. It was in fact overwhelmingly positive and I was very relieved. This helped me to resolve some of my concerns and I have gained some confidence. But I still have concerns. I was prepared to share the pictures on Facebook, with a largely supportive and sympathetic viewership. Yet, I am too nervous to do so here, where anybody could see them. Clearly I have some issues here.
The lingering questions still remain. Why does the male me feel so little concern for the way I look in a swimming costume, but female me is racked with self doubt? Where does this come from? I have been socialised as a male. Have I internalised a whole bunch of messages that were never meant for me about body image? How does this reconcile with my view that women are beautiful no matter what they are wearing (and they almost always really are beautiful)? Am I projecting or denying any beliefs here? And perhaps most tellingly, why does any of this matter?
Anyway I have a new found respect for women who brave society’s gaze. Who look fabulous and confidently wear what they want and look amazing doing so. They have inspired me and I thank each and everyone of them for doing what they want to do when they want to do it. More power to you all. I would urge us all to do what we can to give young girls and women more confidence, to have fewer issues with the way they look and to be happy to be themselves and dress whatever way they wish. Clearly our society does not do enough in this regard and probably works against rather than for women in this regard. Sadly I still do not feel brave enough to share these pictures here, or to be seen in public in a bikini. I have work to do it seems.
You know, I nearly cried reading this. Keep strong and don’t succumb to the fear.
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Well, Dear, I thought you looked Fab! 🙂 It’s that simple. You wore it well OR your an excellent model. Either way, my compliments. Good read. It has meaning for me. I am two days out from setting up a check up from the neck up with a real head doctor! First time ever.
I believe that I started following your blog right about the same time I began following another blog as well. For me it is a fascinating study in contrasts because it deals with the same gender thing-dang-doodle I have been dealing with myself. I have learned a lot about myself. Comparing the narrative of the three blogs shows me I have exactly zero chance of predicting were I will be in a year. Something that I have learned from both blogs is to keep a record of where I have been. So I am doing that.
First thing I learned. Having someone with a medical background sleeping beside you every night makes a world of difference. Second, now is probably the perfect time in my life to get with some mental health professionals. Third, I have to get out and meet more people and read the narrative of what they are going or went through. Fourth, what people look like is not who they are, but you can tell the ones that take pride in how they look. And that’s fine with me because I am so mid century. I have never seen a picture of you Ms Argento that does not reflect that same attention to detail.
The pics were good. Also, my compliments to your charming wife, because the pics look natural and she takes a LOT of good pictures of you. See I have a different problem. If I go to the beach or to the pool I have no problem with wearing a suit. Probably not a bikini. Just like the line of a monokini or one piece better. It’s the legs. Oh the screams from the children! Yeah. they really are that gnarly ! 🙂 Unless I stuff them into that is something opaque then they are like, money. I so enjoy walking! 🙂
Plus you went with pink & black. Score on the fashion sense. You could also rock that top with some daisy dukes. Just sayin. After all, you were saying the heat has been oppressive of late!
Also, a person wearing suit like that feeling “exposed”? I am sure that’s exactly the same word thousands of woman use in the exact same context, like, probably at least a couple hundred times a day, across the Galaxy, as far as I know.
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I too get very self-conscious about my body, especially at how manly it still looks, and I imagine it will be a very long time before I feel confident enough to wear a swimsuit publicly, if ever. If nothing else, that does make the gym changing room issue completely moot. 😦 I am sure you look much lovelier than you think, though. We all tend to see flaws that nobody else even notices. xxx
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