Fat, Trans and (Working on Being) Fine With It

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One of the scariest things about the early steps of my transition was shopping for clothes. I wasn’t ready to go out in “girl mode,” and even if I was, I didn’t have the clothes to do so. Every time I went into a store I was deathly afraid that the cashier would ask who I was buying the dresses for, that other customers would realize what I was doing, or worst of all, that I would bump into someone I wasn’t yet out to. Even though it should have been fun buying new outfits and picking out clothes that finally reflected who I was and what I liked, it was huge cause of stress in my life.

What made it even worse is that I’m fat.

I’m about six feet tall, I wear a women’s size 12 shoe, and a size 20 dress. So not only do I have to deal with the crippling dysphoria that comes from having a body that I often don’t even recognize as my own, I also have to deal with the cultural misogyny that tells me that a woman can’t be as big and fat as I am and still be desirable.

Photo © Meyllen DJneres

Photo © Meyllen DJneres

When I started coming out, I also started getting people telling me that I wasn’t a real woman. I was told that I was claiming God made a mistake, that I was making the wrong choice, that I was kidding myself. I was told that even if I dressed and acted like a woman, because of my genitals or chromosomes, I would always technically be a man. I’ve been able to block most of that out. My friends and family have, almost universally, been incredibly supportive and accepting. They see me as the woman I am. There are still a few comments here and there about “biological women” and “biological men” but I’m learning to manage those. Even though I had learned to ignore people saying I’m not a real woman, I now have to deal with an entirely new criticism of my body. Now that I’ve started presenting as a woman, people feel free to comment on how I look.

best-glasses-sweater-in-the-history-of-life

Photo © Meyllen DJneres

Apparently, now my size is fair play. As a guy, the last time I remember someone making fun of me for being fat was in the ninth grade, but as a woman, I get comments on my weight almost every time I post pictures on my blog. Whether it’s someone commenting on one of my photos saying, “And this is why america [sic] has fallen into ruin. You are morbidly obese,” or porn blogs sending me messages saying they would love to see naked pictures of my “sexy fat ass.” As a woman I have to navigate this strange world where people either feel like my fatness is somehow hurting them or exists only to feed their fetish. And it sucks. I already deal with enough body image issues as it is, you know, the whole dysphoria thing, and I really don’t need society’s standards of how big a woman can be to give me more.

I don’t need stores to only carry dresses and pants up to a size 12. I don’t need stores that only carry women’s shoes up to a size 10. In the town I live in there are only two stores that carry a wide selection of women’s clothes that fit me. Building up the courage to get dressed, put on makeup, do my hair and then go out in public to do some shopping only to be told “We don’t have anything in your size” feels like an affirmation of all the times I was told I was a man. I’m lucky if the thrift stores have more than two or three nice things that are my size. If I want new clothes I have to shop online, go out of town, or wait for the stores to restock their supply. It’s not fun. It makes me frustrated with my body. It makes me even more frustrated with the fashion industry that says women who look like me don’t deserve nice clothes.

Photo © Meyllen DJneres

Photo © Meyllen DJneres

My dysphoria means that sometimes I look in the mirror or I look at my body and feel sick to my stomach at what hormones have done to me. They have misshapen my genitals, given me hair in all the wrong places, messed up my skeleton, and made my voice sound like it’s coming from someone else. It’s hard to see myself as someone who I can like and love, let alone as someone that another person could like and love. I’ve lost sleep because of how I feel about my body. In the past I’ve even withdrawn from my friends and stopped socializing because of how I feel about my body. But it’s getting better. I’m learning how to not hate what I see. I’m reminding myself that some women are hairier than others, some women have broad shoulders, some women have small boobs. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point. I’m not about to let even more body hate derail that. Yes I’m fat, but that doesn’t mean I have to hate that about my body too. There’s already enough I don’t like. So instead I do my best to embrace my fatness.

It’s tough as hell dealing with so much that tells you you’re not being a woman in the right way. If they’re not attacking you for what’s in your pants or in your genes, they’re attacking your for your height and your waistline. And then when they will accept fat women, they say that they better have curves in all the right places and be a perfect hourglass figure. Well, I’m not. I have broad shoulders, small boobs, a big belly and fat thighs. It hard to love my body sometimes, but it’s still beautiful. It’s still sexy. It’s still desirable. It’s just hard sometimes to see that. That’s why I have to practice purposeful body love. I’ve had to learn an entirely new set of exercises and techniques to deal with an entirely new type of attack on my body.

Photo © Meyllen DJneres

Photo © Meyllen DJneres

My body is my own and not here for other’s critique or objectification. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that. Sometimes I get dressed up in one of my favorite outfits and take some pictures, not to share with anyone else, just for myself. Sometime I look at fat fashion blogs and smile at all the other beautiful, amazing, gorgeous women who look like me. Sometimes I go shopping so I can find a dress that I know I look amazing in, despite what other people might think. Sometimes I take a bath, relax and just try to enjoy the feeling of being in my own body. I listen to music by Jill Scott and Aretha Franklin or watch Hairspray. I surround myself with friends who tell me I’m beautiful and compliment me on my looks. I remind myself that looks aren’t everything and that no matter what people think and say about my body I am a smart, talented, creative and powerful woman. It’s taking some time, and sometimes I struggle to love my fat, transgender body, but I’m getting there. I’ve learned that loving my body for all of its fatness has helped me to love my body for all of its transness as well.

Photo © Meyllen DJneres

Photo © Meyllen DJneres


About the author: Mey (short for Melínda) is a 26 year old queer trans Latina who lives in Idaho with her cat Sawyer.  She loves scifi, fantasy, horror and comic books.  Her hobbies include reading books and watching movies, going to concerts and being a comedy nerd.  She’s afraid of heights, airplanes and whales.

Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.

Mey Rude is a fat, trans, Latina lesbian living in LA. She's a writer, journalist, and a trans consultant and sensitivity reader. You can follow her on twitter, or go to her website if you want to hire her.

Mey has written 574 articles for us.

160 Comments

  1. Reading this article, I almost shed a tear! Sorry, I’m at work and typing this up quick. Anywho, I was currently in the US Army, and one of my, “battles” was a trans male. I never fully realized it, he had come out telling me he was gay, which to me.. HEY, whatever brings happiness to you, the better! My mother as well is gay, so to me I’m all for finding your happiness and love in life with whoever you find it with! Anyways, I read this story and it automatically brought me back to when I looked him up online and seen pictures of who he really is… a beautiful, full-bodied woman. Let me tell you one this, GORGEOUS! To me beauty isn’t about having a barbie-sized body, beauty is what you portray in your life. My boyfriend told me the other day while I was looking in the mirror at myself, “nothing about you is a straight-line, and I love you for that.” Some people look at others with the concept of “society”, while others see the true value of a person from the inside. Just for you telling this story, I truly wish I had a friend like you where you see things that others don’t, and in my eyes… this makes you beautiful. Keep living your life, and looking for the beauties in life. Also, when I have rough times with myself. I make myself look in the mirror no matter how hard it gets, and tell myself, “I am beautiful.” It doesn’t always help, but it makes the day feel just a little brighter. :)

    • Have you seen whales? They are giant and live in deep, open water (which are two more of my fears) and they are giant. I think just the idea of being in the open, deep water with a giant creature that could come at me from any angle is terrifying to me.

  2. You are beautiful and amazing! Never let anyone tell you what you should look like, no one should have that kind of power (or any power!) over your body, but you. The amount of pressure that we as women are under, in terms of how to look, what to weigh, etc. is insane and intolerable. It is stressful and useless. If you haven’t already, you should read “the Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf, she lays out all these issues in an amazingly clear way.
    Anyway: you are beautiful inside and out, and shouldn’t care what the haters say!

  3. Great article. You look great, and I’m glad you feel great. You ARE sexy as hell, because you own it, and allow yourself to be. I’m a cisgender woman, 6′ tall, size 11 shoe, shoulders like a linebacker, and have been as large as a size 24, although I currently hover around a 16-18. I’ve weighed as much as 280. I’m currently around 220, WAY above my “ideal” BMI. BMI is a crock of s**t. I’ve been weight training, because I looooove being strong as hell. I feel sexy. I’m big and curvy and muscular. I walk into a room and everybody knows it. Damn, I AM sexy. Ask my partner. He’s 5′ 10″, about 175 soaking wet, is the love of my LIFE and thinks I’m the hottest woman alive.

    GO YOU! Loved your article. Own it!

  4. Sigh. I can relate to this article all too completely. I’ve been fat for my entire life, and am currently in a women’s size 26 dress and size 12 shoe. One thing that has always astounded me is how our entire culture thinks it has the right to treat fat people like worthless pieces of shit just for existing. Why does my body size illegitimize me as a human being? People think a person’s size gives them a free card to make as many degrading, dehumanizing, and utterly cruel remarks as they want, because after all “being fat is a choice. We’re all just lazy.” Well let me tell you, nobody chooses to be ostracized. Sizeism is a real thing and it’s fucking terrible.
    When I’m feeling dysphoric about my body, I try to remember that a fat body is a radically queer body. I believe that queerness extends not only to those who are gender- related or sexual minorities, but any group of people that is forced to the outskirts of society. Fat People, Poor People, immigrants, People of Color, Homeless People, Drug Addicts… All are a queer in their own way.
    So every time you step out of your house in that radically queer fat body of yours, every time you dress that bodacious body up in a hot outfit, every time you look at yourself in the mirror and think “damn I look good today”, remember, YOU WIN! because your mere existence as a fat person who feels sexy is enough to completely implode society’s puny little brain. You’re tearing down the patriarchy, kicking every shallow ignorant bigot where the sun don’t shine, and being RADICAL AS FUCK simply by putting on a cute outfit and a dash of confidence and deciding “I’m not going to let anyone make me feel bad about myself today.”

  5. Hi Mey. I read your first person Fat,Trans and (working on Being) Fine With It and I guess I just wanted to say that it really helped me although I am not trans I was put into a wheelchair for what will be a year June 23 and I have been told that I will never be able to walk again. I went through a depression, gained weight, refused to recognize my own body, and I was terrified to go out into public and to see the people I know, I honestly couldn’t look in the mirror and see my own worth all I could see was an ugly crippled undesirable body. I Just really want you to know that I read your first person and I can’t tell you how much hope it gave me and I know that the issues I have with my body are different than yours but when I read about you learning to love your body it gave me the strength to start recognizing my body for what it is and learning to still love it. Thank you for being brave enough to write that because you did I was able to make improvements to how I viewed myself my worth and my opinion of my desirability. I am still working hard to love myself and I do have bad days but I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am that you wrote that first person because if you had never written that and if I had never read it I don’t know where I would be know although I am almost positive that I would still be that person loathing their body so thank you so much -Adrian Fox

  6. I’m a cis woman who is 5,7”, wears a size 11 shoe, and is size 18/20. It’s crippling to deal with fat shaming, society’s unrealistic standards for us women. I just want to tell you that you are a beautiful, strong woman, and I hope that your journey continues to show you this!

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