TRANS FAT | Kit Eginton | The Hypocrite Reader


Kit Eginton

TRANS FAT


ISSUE 85 | REBOOT MINI-ISSUE | APR 2018

The following are four linked conversations with trans people about their size. I, the interlocutor in bold, am Robbie Eginton, a transfeminine nonbinary person whose pronouns are they/them/theirs. The other four participants, named and unnamed, are Rya FitzGerald, F. J. M. G., Evelyn Millard, and an anonymous participant. All are White, relatively young, politically left, and living in the United States of America.

These conversations were opportunities to turn the ephemeral communications we have with each other about this stuff into a concentrated, written form. Like all attempts at a common language, even among a relatively homogenous group, they are filled with missed connections and bad assumptions – especially on my part. They took place verbally and through texts and emails, and preserve our own vocabulary and rhetoric, but are formatted using the normative conventions of American English interviewing, and are not intended as an ethnographic study. They tell a narrative together and separately, but they are also a record of disagreement and accommodation under the “tent” of transness. I thank the participants for their time, thoughtfulness, and self-disclosure.

Rya FitzGerald

they/them/theirs or she/her/hers

How would you describe your size and body type? (Also, like, how old are you and stuff.)

I’m 26 and tall for a woman. Friends often ask if they can rest their head on my shoulder and I always reply, “Sure, but just to warn you, I’m really pointy.” They’ll say, “Oh, I don’t mind,” and proceed to lean on me for four seconds before sitting up and mumbling, “Wow. Shit. Okay.” My dad says I’m skinny—“bonier than a bag of doorknobs.” Sometimes people worry.

How would you describe your gender?

I’m basically a trans woman.

How do those relate in terms of how you see yourself? in terms of how other people see you?

My gender dysphoria has always referred in some way to my skinniness. As a teen it was bony knees concealed with baggy shorts and rangy arms interrupted by knobby elbows, hard to hide in the Florida heat. Then came the mandible. Big and angular, mercilessly pronounced between gaunt cheeks and a pencil neck. I always think of dysphoria that way: shamefully shaped bones laid bare by lack.

As for other people, most hold me in the same esteem our society has always unduly reserved for the thin. But they do clock me as trans more often the slimmer I am, and that’s a big incentive to change my shape.

Hormone replacement helped me gain some (estrogenically distributed) weight in a way I was unable to sabotage with my daily choices, which is great. I’m trying to gain more now. But let me tell you, the decades I spent internalizing feminine beauty standards and societally endorsed fatphobia have not paid off. Terrible investment!

Do you see a linkage between dysphoria and dysmorphia? How, if at all, do you distinguish the two – either intellectually or in your own life?

I haven’t thought much about that. I’ve heard dysphoria can be fixed by altering the object of one’s discomfort, whereas dysmorphia endures and adapts to such alteration, but it’s probably more complicated than that.

Sometimes I have felt that physical attractiveness as any gender compensates temporarily for dysphoria (usually with a subsequent backlash). Are the experiences of being found beautiful and being found female related?

I’ve heard people mention that compensation effect, but being attractive has never quelled my own dysphoria. Maybe that’s because the attention I received as a man always felt contingent upon the arduous suppression of my feminine mannerisms. And perhaps now it’s because the (very real) cachet that often attends thin, white, trans womanhood remains precarious, dependent as it is upon being seen in the right lighting, with the right fit of jeans, or by the right bisexual. It can be hard to relax.

For me, I think being skinny – conforming to those standards – also felt like a way of escaping a very particular form of masculinity, one that assumes that even if men aren’t bulky, they want to be. Is there a specific image of the male you want to disidentify with?

That makes sense. But I think if I had been able to exercise pre-transition, I gladly would have become muscular, if only to avoid seeing my skeleton so much. There was no specific image but my own.

How does the new estrogenic fat feel?

Have you ever seen the opening credits to the original Ghost in the Shell? The bionic scaffold was a workhorse, but it wasn’t until I affixed plates and floated through a bath of teal goop that I began to see a human in the mirror.

Omg, yes, I love the Ghost in the Shell sequence. Well, I have a strong, almost violent reaction to it anyway.

To some extent this is just trans transhumanism, but I’m intrigued by that characterization of fat. I feel like fat is so often seen as natural and subhuman – whale blubber, the fat content of cut-up dead pigs – or else as a pollutant byproduct of late capitalist industry – pushing “eatertainment” foods, creating sedentary lifestyles – or as an accessory, like a purse the government has mandated you wear at all times. We can’t put our fat where we want it, at least not the way we can our muscle mass; most of us can’t really control how much of it we have. That makes it hard to see as part of us. Like an accessory, it lives next to us in our skin; like a pollutant, it’s an inescapable part of our built environment. Rarely do we characterize fat as a primary product of a technological process, let alone a technology in itself. But fat is a productive technology. It produces hormones, distributes energy over time, regulates heat loss. And here you are saying that for you, it produces – helps produce – humanity.

Yeah, those are great observations. We always portray fat as extrinsic superfluity—never part of one’s body, much less oneself, but an obstacle that burdens and obscures them both. As people who have lost a lot of weight will tell you, their loved ones often remark, “This is the real you,” because a fat person’s body can’t be a real body. The way we mark fat bodies as fake, and thus inhuman, seems comparable to the way we treat trans ones. We even police fatness and gendered expression in similarly defensive ways. It’s tempting to impose sanctions on each other, even violently, if we think doing so might curb our own potential inhumanity.

My decision to transition began as an attempt to solve a simple problem: my body felt wrong. I had no idea how I ought to look—I didn’t even really want to be a woman. My face just wasn’t a face. And gaining some fat in the right places made me feel human for the first time in my life. It’s like watching one of those abstract illusions for a minute and suddenly it’s a figure, stark on the page. I look in the mirror and there is a person staring back. And I could stand to gain a few more pounds, but I’ll take humanity. That’s a good start.

I’m reminded of this HuffPo article where Ashleigh Shackleford, a fat Black AFAB nonbinary person, talks about why she doesn’t use “they/them” – because she’s been consistently denied the stamp of femininity because of her race and size, and yet simultaneously hypersexualized: she writes, “I am not neutral in anything I do,” that this is a world where “nothing is neutral or objective.” I think that’s especially true of what racialization does to gender (and almost everything else). But it’s striking to realize that the particular categories of experience that we think of as endemic to transness – the otherness of the body, the policing that you talk about – are also categories that crop up for fat people and especially for people who aren’t White, who don’t measure up to that That Model of Femininity (or Masculinity). I’ve heard it said that America has a misandry problem – and it’s a raced misandry problem. Black men are targeted because we hypermasculinize them and in so doing we objectify and dehumanize them and we overestimate their ages. That’s been a really striking thought for me. And of course it’s a component of why Black trans women are in so much more danger of violent crime than White trans women are. (Which they are; the murder stats on White trans women are honestly not even that bad if you take women of color out of it, though of course the risk of other kinds of violence and discrimination is still there.) Straight-up racial discrimination, as well as lack of resources to support transition and life in general because of consistent historical disenfranchisement, are a huge part of that problem too. But part of it is because Black bodies are hypermasculinized and hypersexualized in the White imagination and that means that Black trans women’s bodies are in all the more danger.

I think this is about all we have time for but I wondered whether you had any more thoughts you wanted to get out there, or PSAs, or anything else?

I think that covers it. Thanks for doing these interviews, Robbie, and thanks for having me.

F. J. M. G.

he/him/his or they/them/theirs

So, how would you describe your size/body type.

I am naturally pretty heavy-set, and currently obese. I am bigger than I’d like to be, but not very big? Above average height for women, below average height for men. Somewhat androgynous.

And your gender?

I’m AFAB [ed. note: “assigned female at birth”] and agender. I use they/them/theirs or he/him/his pronouns. I previously identified as transmasculine but do not ID that way anymore.

What changed?

A few things.

  1. The longer I’m on testosterone, the more comfortable I feel expressing my femininity.

  2. I realized that what I was uncomfortable with wasn’t not being seen as a man but rather being seen as a woman.

  3. I realized I feel uncomfortable dating people who are only attracted to men and male-identifying people, and totally fine dating people who are only attracted to women and female-identifying people.

So how would you say your gender and your body type relate? Are they happily married? Amicably divorced? Locked in eternal struggle?

So, this is kinda a complicated answer. When I first came out to my previous therapist, his response was, “Are you sure you’re really transgender? Maybe you just think it would be easier to live as a fat boy than as a fat girl.”

Huh.

It was really incredibly invalidating. And that comment mirrors some of the stuff I’ve been dealing with re: my gender ever since. There’s a sense of doubting my internal gender identity because of my external presentation, and a lot of how my presentation is read has to do with my size. Alongside that, I had to lose eighty pounds to qualify for any gender-confirming surgeries. I just finished losing it, and it took two years. In that time I also got my name changed & started testosterone. So I can’t totally separate my gender transition from my weight loss. In both I’ve had to contend with like… figuring out how to love my body while also doing a lot of work to change it. I’m trying to come up with a metaphor for the relationship between the two, maybe like – I’m a train, running on tracks. One side is my body type, the other side is my gender identity. The tracks are parallel to each other, and when one swerves, the other has to, too. They move in sync with each other by necessity, but the point isn’t their relationship with each other, it’s that I use them to move forward.

I hope that makes sense.

Yeah, twin oxen pulling the cart that is F. J. M. G. I think it does make sense to me. Lately I’ve been thinking about the idea that being trans isn’t an identity so much as it is a strategy. Not so much what I am as how I am. There’s a couplet by the Russian poet Mandelstam that goes something like "I’ve been given a body. What do I do / with something so mine and so all-one?"

That’s a very good way of putting it yes!!

But maybe that’s not quite it, maybe the trans version would be something more like “I’ve been given a body. What do I do? / Half of it’s me, while half of it’s you.” Mine and the other’s. Mine and society’s. The human and the monster, or the monster and the human.

How does it feel to be thinner?

It feels very strange. Not bad, but very strange. I’ve never really looked like this before – I was thirty pounds heavier when I came out.

Do people treat you differently?

Oh my GOD yeah.

People are way more respectful to me. Again, it’s hard to tell whether it’s a combo of transition and weight loss or what. I’m androgynous enough that I can pass as a woman if I want, but most of the time I’m read as a man if I put no effort in. And people definitely treat me better when I’m read as a man. Once, I went into a restaurant two separate times, first passing as a man and then as a woman. Same time of week, same staff. I got served faster passing as a man. Because weight loss is so gradual I can’t do that kind of test, but I do think I’m being treated more respectfully and taken more seriously. It fuckin’ sucks. Like, it’s great to be treated well, but I’m furious about it. People should’ve been taking me seriously when I was heavier. I’m the same person.

I’ve been talking with some trans women about this, and they’ve mentioned that, when estrogenically distributed, fat tissue can have a beneficial feminizing effect (sidebar: my swipey keyboard somehow typed “daemonic” for “feminizing” just now, which, like, no, but also YES??). That’s probably not your goal, but I do want to ask… do you feel that fat, and fatness, have a particular gender to them? Did being fat make you look more feminine? More masculine?

Actually, I find it’s kind of mixed? The bigger I was, the easier it was for me to pass off my breasts as a case of gynecomastia. Now if I wear a bra I actually like… look like I have breasts. I think my previous therapist was talking about a real thing though, when he said it’s easier to be a fat man than a fat woman. I think fatness is seen as a masculine attribute by a lot of people, and they think if you’re fat you’re not woman enough, something like that. People are more open to judging you if you’re bigger. Not sure if that answers the question exactly, but that’s what I think. Also: deeply into daemonic for feminizing.

"For most pre-op trans women, the first step of transition involves choosing which infernal to summon…"

omg

And no, I think that exactly answers my question. So now that you’ve lost the weight… are you going ahead with GCS?

Yes, though my plans changed. I just had a pre-op procedure for my hysterectomy two days ago. Should be having my hysterectomy in the next two months. But: I was going to have top surgery, and that’s why I initially began losing weight, but I no longer feel like I need to. I thought my breasts were what prevented me from passing, but after I got on T [ed. note: testosterone] and started passing consistently, I realized they didn’t have too much of an effect (as long as I’m not wearing a bra), so I’ve decided to keep them for now.

One thing I’ve noticed throughout this conversation is that you’ve been really focused on how both being fat and being thinner have shaped others’ perceptions of you and your gender. Have they played a role in how you see your own gender/other aspects of yourself? Are you the kind of trans person who mostly cares about how other people gender you? Or is there an important internal component?

All right. Mmmm. I think they’ve played a role in how I see myself, but mostly a minor one? And that’s an intentional effort on my part. I struggled with bulimia as a teenager, so as an adult I’ve tried very hard to avoid judging myself for my size. I’m proud of myself for losing the weight, and I find it easier to love myself when my body can do more of the things I want it to do. I don’t want to deny that. I definitely have an internal gender identity and i experience some dysphoria when I’m alone, but most of my dysphoria comes from a mismatch between how I want to present and how other people see me. I definitely focus on that a lot. So, uh, both?

That makes sense.

I wrote an entire song just about this subject, actually. I keep thinking about a line from it that sums it up for me: “I wish my body would do the tasks / my love or wanting assigns it to do.”

As though your body were a recalcitrant servant.

Yeah. Working on that [laughs]. It’s just doing its job. My body wants to be prepped for famine. But famine isn’t happening.

Do you have any other things you want to bring up? Alternatively, do you have any thoughts or messages for the folks at home?

I like your phrasing. Um, I think probably they know this but: you can be fat-positive and still want to lose weight. People have brought this up to me constantly. It’s okay to be both. You can also be trans and not want to transition or want a nonstandard transition. It’s all cool. There’s not one body narrative and if anyone tries to put one on you, tell 'em to fuck off, to be honest. I could probably phrase that more politely but that’s the essence of it. The personal is political but that doesn’t mean your body inherently carries whatever messages other people decide to give it. You decide what it means.

Thank you for talking to me!

No problem!!!

Evelyn Millard

she/her/hers

How would you describe your body type?

I would describe my body type as fat. Fat and chubby. Fat and/or chubby.

OK, sounds good, are you, like, tall, or small, or?

No, no. Average height, girthy, curvy, thick, fat, chubby. Not like the “thicc” with the double “c.”

Just, there is a substantial distance between one side of you and the other.

I am a deep dish pizza.

What is your gender?

Woah, how is that easier? Trans woman. It used to be so many words. It’s just trans woman.

So, if your gender and your body type got married, how would the relationship go?

I think they already are married. I think they’re happily married.

What do they do for each other? What is their quid-pro-quo? 'Cause like every relationship is based on a give and take, right like…

This metaphor… So I have to say the thing that I usually say. You have an upside of lower visibility; people don’t expect or imagine trans women, so it helps you pass. Also, when I was young, I – like, I’ve always been chubby, I’ve always had fat around my chest and breast area, and I used to really dislike it or be confused by it. And now it makes perfect sense. I’m very thankful for it. So that like literally helps physically in terms of understanding my body. And also, like, geez, I can’t imagine being a skinny trans girl. When I imagine my ideal body type, if I imagine the future of my transition – it’s not as a skinny woman. So the fat element of my identity is deeply ingrained the same way that my gender is deeply ingrained.

Would you say that they’re linked? It would be a really obtuse question, and I’m not asking it, to say, are you trans because you’re fat – but, for example, are you a fat woman in particular; is your gender linked to your fatness and your fatness to your gender? Are they both longstanding parts of your identity?

They’re definitely not both longstanding, considering how it took me 20 years to figure my gender shit out, but coming to an understanding with my gender helped me to come to terms with my body and my body type. Almost, I would argue, simultaneously. Not quite, but the further I get into transition – medically, socially, in terms of community support – and having been in transition for as long as I have been, the more comfortable I become with my body, and the more comfortable I become with my body the more comfortable I become with my gender. I had pretty serious weight issues when I was a teenager. I hated, hated my body and considered myself fat. And looking back at pictures, I’m like, I wasn’t skinny but I was pretty average weight for my height and build, and I was more unhappy with my weight then and considered myself fatter in a pejorative sense when I was average weight than I am/do now. So they’re deeply wrapped up in each other in ways I haven’t actually fully plumbed. Plumbed? Ploughed. Mined. Mined is probably –

Strip mined.

Strip mined. Fracked. I haven’t fracked it enough. Yeah. Linked isn’t a word that I would probably use, because that makes it sound too connected. It’s not nuanced enough.

Maybe you’ll think of the right one. But it does sound like you had some dysmorphia shit going on; you had a distorted view of your body that was linked to some strong negative feelings – and when you start dealing with your dysphoria, your dysmorphia got better.

One of the things that I’d fixated on then is still the only part of my body that I’d change if I could – namely, the fat and skin around my neck. When I was a teenage boy weighing around 180 lbs, that was what I fixated on, along with the fat on my chest and my belly. And those are likely familial – my much skinnier brother has them – but I still fixated on them. But my feelings about my chest and belly changed almost immediately upon understanding my gender. I’ve also reached a point where I’ve gone through weight gain and loss several times in my life multiple times in my life and I just kinda like having my body change. I’ve gained weight, lost weight, gained weight, lost weight severely, gained weight severely. Now I’m working on losing weight.

So, when I was in college, I got around the weight you were as a teenager, and it was heavier than I’d ever been. I gained the freshman fifteen and then the sophomore fifteen. And then the junior fifteen. I was probably getting taller too because my puberty was stupid late – which, you know, for a late-blooming trans girl, not the worst thing ever –

Oh, I know, if you wanna talk about great tragicomic things for a trans girl – I used to be able to go like a week without growing facial hair when I was just starting to finish being a boy. And pretty much the second I started embracing femininity, within a year, my face darkened, and it was just like.

YESSS. That’s the terrifying thing – the testosterone doesn’t stop. It continues throughout your twenties and it gets worse and worse and worse. Your shoulders, your face. The hair spreads. Anyway, getting back to our sheep – when I started gaining that weight, and I started figuring my gender shit out – which were simultaneous – I went through this period where I was like, this is nice, I like how round my butt is and the little bit of curve around my waist. But the more I put on, the more it became obvious that it wasn’t distributing right, wasn’t distributing the way I wanted it to. There was this point where I was desperate to get rid of the fat not because I thought I was an (unattractive) boy but because I thought, if I look like an anorexic girl, I’ll look like a girl; if I look like a slightly plump human, I’ll look like a slightly plump male human.

Part of it, I think, is… When I was a boy, I really really wanted to be skinny. I did not like my body’s shape at all as a fat boy.

Well, part of that is estrogen, right?

Yeah, and so I much prefer where it’s going. But also, I have a large belly, I carry a lot of belly fat. But I’m cool with that now. I like being soft and kind of curvy with weird little creases all over the place. And I feel like there’s a preference before, during, and after transition regarding how much fat and where you want it. I’d rather look like a super-skinny girl than a fat boy. I’d rather be a fat girl, now, than an average-sized boy who thought they needed to be skinnier. There’s clearly a connection there to how trans bodies and self-image works. They’re co-constitutive.

OK I’m gonna veer a little bit.

Veering. OK, let’s veer.

OK, yeah, well, so, like, have you had any, like – because, you know, women, historically – in the last 70, 100 years – have potentially not always been encouraged to be fat? Does that run off of you like a torrential downpour off the back of a tiny duck?

Yes, actually, for the most part. I think that – there is a certain way where I get frustrated with my weight, but even then, those moments are few and far between, and they feel more like intrusive thoughts than a continuous self-narrative. I’ll watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi and see Daisy Ridley looking pretty fit and say, you know, if I were skinny, that’s the body type I’d want to have. It would be nice to look more conventionally attractive, maybe. I don’t know how to put it other than, being homeschooled, being cut off from the pressure cooker of the school system – I did not internalize a lot of narratives. I wasn’t around that stuff. All I was play video games and read books. It also helps that my family, the only people who were ever around, were also fat and never saw a problem with it. We were never berated for our bodies. There was never a sense that being fat was bad. It was just who we were. The main woman I was around, my mom, was fat and perfectly fine with it. Occasionally she’d be like, I should walk more. I’m gonna take the dogs for a walk now. Honestly, if I have any problem with it, it’s that clothes are hard to fit, but that’s just the trans girl dilemma.

So, veering again – something that is true for some trans people, me included, and not for others, is that being seen as beautiful as any gender can function like a temporary cure for dysphoria. And it works sporadically, and often there’s a dysphoric backlash later. But maybe it’s not that they’re fungible currencies, maybe beauty is like the foreigner exchange certificates they used to use in China that could only be used at particular stores and gender is like the actual internal currency.

That reference did not land. I mean I get what you’re going for, but. But, yeah, I think that beauty is wrapped up in femininity and that to some extent the act of transition is an attempt to have your self recognized and reflected back at you. And so insofar as beauty is tied to femininity, to be recognized as beautiful is to be seen as feminine. That said… I’m not what you’d call a conventionally attractive woman. And that’s not particularly a goal because I’ve never felt conventionally attractive, ever.

You’re not expecting scores of admirers to drop at your feet.

Or really any. And in particular I think I’d be uncomfortable being seen as pretty by certain people whom I don’t want to be seen as pretty by.

So… you want to check the “I don’t want to be seen by straight people” box on OKCupid.

Yeah, I don’t really want straight people around me. Or men. I have no interest in being attractive to men.

Trans lesbian separatism! There’s an ideology without any problems whatsoever.

It really is! In fact I’d go so far as to advocate trans lesbian supremacy.

Oh dear.

That was a joke.

Sure.

But I think my inability to access femininity and beauty for a long time means that I don’t feel I need certain elements of it.

You know how to love yourself. You don’t need that to prop you up.

And I think that’s part of why I identify so strongly with monstrosity. Why I’m so interested in the erotics and aesthetics of monstrosity.

It’s a kind of ressentiment. You reevaluate monstrosity as beautiful. There’s a kind of inversion of the scale. Suddenly “what one wants” is not to be beautiful. We take our ostracization and distill our difference down into principles and we say, you know, these are the principles I’m true to. This is my badge of honor. Although I think I don’t identify with monstrosity, specifically, I mean I don’t not identify with it but–

You don’t abject it.

Yeah. But I do – when I’m dressed like I am now, in blue slacks, a baggy brown sweater, and some smartwool socks, and I have these broad shoulders and slim frame, I’ll look in the windows of the shops as I walk by, and what I’ll think is “Oh, my god, what a handsome butch.” And it bums me out that other people don’t see me that way. Because I’ll probably have to be more feminine if I want to pass, and it sucks. Since, basically, a soft butch and a librarian in a wool skirt timeshare my body. (Not in, like, a multiple systems way.) And it’s good that you’ve found comfort in a particular female stereotype that does pass, but it sucks that we have to fit into those very few boxes.

Yeah, and there’s a lot of discussion in fat feminist politics about how for fat women to be considered attractive, they typically have to emphasize femininity very strongly. I think that being uninterested in men, heterosexuality, conventional beauty – part of the duck wax feather armor I have is that I don’t have to wear a dress every day, I don’t have to wear makeup, because I’m just not interested in the male gaze. And being a fat, not glammed-up woman is already asking to be invisible, especially to men. People don’t pay as much attention to whether I do or don’t pass, because they’re just like “oh, there’s a fat woman.” And they don’t start scanning the body for signs of masculinity. So there’s no danger there. There’s this weird emergent defense system that comes with my very specific embodiment. And so I’ll have this experience of moving through an environment and being gendered completely differently by two different service workers. And it’s often based off of whether they’ve heard me speak.

So, to close… do you recommend –

Do I recommend being fat?

I recommend continuing to exist.

I recommend that everyone hit the overweight for their BMI at some point in their life.

Can I wait till I’m like my grandpa’s age though?

You can wait or whatever, I mean. I say this in the same way that I say that everyone should have to work a service job for at least a year of their life. So that they would understand what service people are going through and not treat them like shit and would raise their wages and shit. Like I say it in the same way that I say that, where I don’t actually expect everyone to go out and do it. But I think everyone should be overweight in their life. And really think about it. Because like… like I said, I avoid a lot of stuff, but I don’t want to come off as bulletproof. I pay attention to my weight, I know very well that 165-185 pounds is what society wants me to be at for my height and build. And preferably skinnier now that I am a woman. I think about those weights and they don’t make any sense to me. I have no interest in attempting to reach them. I have no interest in getting muscles, I have no interest in any of that, because of how much I like my body having fat on it.

Having fat on it.

Yeah. Being fat, right like.

It’s doubled. We are fat, and yet fat is the other.

Yeah, it is, right? There’s this weird sense in which it’s mine but also attached to me.

Industrial byproduct, government-mandated accessory…

It’s… and also, like, I think if I wanted to describe the way in which it is other… it’s also this kind of symbiotic thing, right? This symbiotic element to me that both composes me and is other to me.

I think it’s interesting – going full philosophy bro – that this discussion [ed. note: referring to a deleted part of the very long conversation, but see the interview with Rya FitzGerald] has sort of traced the development of Donna Haraway’s thought. She starts out – I mean, she doesn’t start out with the “Cyborg Manifesto,” she starts out as a biologist and then writing about the history of experiments on apes – but then she does write the “Cyborg Manifesto” and then over time she starts moving away from the figure of cyborgs and towards the idea of “companion species” and symbionts, both internal and external.

Yeah, and that’s really…

I don’t feel like talking about this anymore.

We should start a podcast.

We really shouldn’t.

Thank you for talking to me, Evelyn!

Thank you!

Anonymous

she/her/hers

Okay so! How would you describe your body type, size, age, etc?

I’m 24, tall, fat, I don’t know if there’s any other relevant descriptors.

How would you describe your gender?

I’m a nonbinary trans womxn.

And how do your gender and your size interact?

I mean, my size impacts how I approach questions of passing etc, and I have no real way to know how that functions as a limiting factor in terms of how the way I present defines how I identify, but I’m sure that it does.

What kind of impact does your size have?

I mean, I can’t say how it impacts that, because I’ve never lived otherwise. I’m just saying, I’m sure it has an effect, but I can’t know how I would identify if my body were different.

You might identify as a different gender?

No, probably not. But I do feel like my size puts my claim to womxnhood under more scrutiny because of height? And the way I present in public is often very androgynous, because I feel safer that way than if I were to actually present unambiguously as my gender regularly. Because of height and size. I’m 6’2", 250 lbs, broad shouldered etc.

Are there situations where you do feel comfortable presenting more how you want?

Yes. I live in a relatively quiet, queer neighborhood, and I often do whatever I want at home with my housemates and in my neighborhood. It more just affects my life at work, and whenever I go anywhere beyond a 4-5 block radius.

I sometimes think that, apart from worrying about safety, trans people fall into two categories – some care more about how other people gender then; others care more about how they gender themselves. Would you say you fall into one of those? (If “apart from worries about safety” is even a coherent concept for you.)

Mm. I definitely spend more time thinking about the former.

If you could be any size you want, and no matter what size you picked you’d be seen as female, what size would you want to be?

I mean if sizeism isn’t an issue in this hypothetical, I’d probably stay the same, but if the world at large is the same I’d definitely chose to be a waif.

Yeah. Jeez.

Are there any other things you want to say, either areas of your experience you’d like to record here or messages you’d like to put out?

I think I’m good! Thank you!

Thank you too!


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