I remember the first time I wore a chest binder. To look at it on its own it looked and felt like a very tight crop top to me, but when I put a t-shirt on over it and felt the shirt just slide down the front of me without me having to help it over my chest… wow. I felt like a million bucks! My t-shirts and dress shirts all fit so differently with a binder on. They fit better, like they were supposed to and like I had wanted them to all along. I felt on top of the world, head high and check proud. Damn, that was a good day.
Today, I’m about four months out from chest surgery, have full range of motion in my arms and chest, and am back to doing bodywork! I’ve been noticing how my body’s movement patterns are different now, especially in my work and exercise practices. I’m not having to accommodate my chest anymore which means there’s no more constant reminder and disaffirmation of my gender which has led to a disruption in my thought patterning as well. As it turns out, not being microaggressed by my own body makes room for more affirming and loving thoughts! I’m finding a ton of power and healing in this new way of relating to and thinking about my body. I’m also consistently finding new ways to support these mental and emotional habits. One that popped up right away was a felt sense of appreciation during exercise; I notice that working out and movement feel more like a celebration of my body today and I find myself curious about what else it can do and moreover am so grateful for the confidence to explore.
None of this is to say that body shaming and criticism don’t come up anymore. No, indeed, the voice of white, misogynistic, patriarchal, and capitalistic conditioning is still alive in me; however, chest surgery has cleared out some of the harder obstacles that have been in the way of their dismantling. So now it’s my radical and rebellious practice to send my body as many supportive thoughts and vibes as I can so that when the voice of these oppressive structures disrespect me it becomes less and less impactful.
In a different but reminiscent rebellious act, I’d love to burn every one of my old chest binders to celebrate my freedom from them! They’re such a simple and light article of clothing but as happy and relieved as I was to be able to present and express my true gender, the compression of them matched too closely the constant heaviness and contraction of anxiety in my chest from hiding and daily living.
But I won’t burn them. Not only would that be terrible for the environment, they also truly saved me in so many ways and for that they have my deep appreciation. So, with my thanks, I’ll pass them on for someone else to experience the relief and euphoria they can bring, and I’ll just be over here reveling in the lighter feelings I now have in my chest.
Thank you to everyone for reading and for your continued support of me and PW. We truly wouldn’t be here without you <3