For a good two years I was hyper aware of everything wrong about my body and it’s mannerisms - how high my voice was before it dropped with testosterone, how feminine and round my face was, the way my chest looked even when I would bind it tight with sports bras and the like. I would worry about crossing my legs in public, speaking to people and having them hear the feminine lilt of my voice. The anxiety that consumed me in public continued in private, my breasts and hips taunting me, my body merely existing only adding to my mounting anger and disgust for it in my gut.
But suddenly it was a year and a bit on hormones and my pronouns were automatically "he/him" to perfect strangers, my breasts small enough to hide under a shirt (or two) without the constraint of fabric tying them down. My voice and new facial hair helped in making my body a home, soothing my social dysphoria as others embraced me as a man.
Even further into my journey of self love and acceptance now, all of this turmoil and self loathing smoothed out and quieted in my head. For the first time since I stepped out as my true self I could hear above the din of that chaos and I could see through the shroud of my dysphoria.
Through the beautiful communities and friends within that swath of folks like me that lie outside the gender binary - I found myself coming to a few realizations, all very important. One, that my self hate and admonishments were all done in order to fit into a binary I never wanted to. I felt shoved into this so that the public and other trans folks would deem me to be "truly trans"; a pitfall many young and fresh faced trans individuals fall into in the beginning of their transitions.
Secondly, that I don't hate every part of my body and that that fact does not negate my transness. Many people believe that to be transgender you must hate every part of your body, to wholly hate yourself for not fitting the cookie cutter definition of the two roles society gives us: man or woman. What this idea conveniently leaves out is that there are and have been countless trans individuals that exist beyond that binary and do not necessarily despise their bodies but instead experience dysphoria in many other ways. That simply existing as transgender we will never be deemed cisgender (a term for a non-transgender person) by society.
The idea that I had to perfectly mirror society's view of what a cisgender man physically and mentally should be wrought more pain and needless suffering on me then my dysphoria ever did. That same idea has forced babies born outside of the norm as intersex to have surgeries foisted upon them, sometimes even without the parents full knowledge, to conform to this rigid binary.
As I delved deeper into myself, discovering and exploring my sexuality in further detail, I came to the realization that that rigid view of what a man is is a cage I do not subscribe to. I wear these ropes in my photos with Lady Luck Photography as an ode to my body and rebellion to the sexual and gender norms of our world; as an acknowledgement that even if these breasts have me appear visibly trans rather than as cis - it does not bother me. Neither does having my bottom parts; as when delving into the waters of my sexuality I came to realize that the norms of a strictly monogamous and heterosexual society where a straight cisgender man will be with an equally as straight cisgender woman do not apply to me. That I am not a pariah in the pool of dating and intimate relationship because of my body, a body I once thought of as defective or unworthy of love. That there are many individuals in the realm sexuality I am interested in - that of kink and BDSM - who fully embrace the diversity that exists in trans and non-normative communities. That I am worthy of the kind of love and devotion I crave. The idea that any sexual and non-vanilla relationship is sinful or disgusting dissipated as I found myself deep down inside.
Overall it comes down to me not being made to conform to the stereotypical mold in mind or body to that of a cisgender man. I exist beyond the binary, as many cultures and peoples around the world have done for centuries before me, and I exist calmly and boldly in that space. These colours, those of the transgender pride flag, are strewn up and down my body as a war paint against those toxic ideals that trample me and other gender nonconforming people, especially those not born with the privilege of a paler skin tone.
As a dear friend of mine, Ivy (@cisturbed on Instagram), put it simply - "[I'm] beautiful because I'm trans, not despite it."