Category Archives: Body Politics

Being Fat Post-Op

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[Taken from: https://trainingbytarabrunet.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/health-at-every-size/

Description: A graphic with a title that says, “Body size is not an accurate indication of health” Below the title shows four silhouettes of people presumed to be women of various sizes and shapes. The only thing in common is that each one had their left hand on their hip and they’re all wearing what is presumably a suit and heeled boots. The silhouette is filled in with various fruits, vegetables, grains, and other food items.]

Going into surgery, I was terrified. Intellectually, I know that thousands of trans women have come before these doors and had their surgeries done. This is an exacted art. But I was still plagued with fears of bad results, death, dismemberment, and the gravity of what I was about to undergo. The message I got was that because I was fat, it was going to go badly. But still go and get surgery! Everyone is super nice and supportive!

When I met with the anesthetist, immediately he made me uncomfortable. He was brisk and wasn’t particularly patient. He (man)splained to me his preferred method, the spinal block. But it would be more difficult because of my obesity and that it would also make it harder to heal from surgery, but he was confident in his abilities in spite of my weight. I gave Cath a horrified look and turned to him to tell him to just knock me out. I didn’t want any memory of the surgery. (That way, he wouldn’t have to interact with my fat body beyond sticking an IV in me)

Then I was taken to the waiting room for surgery (alone). I met with Brassard, expressed my anxieties, and he reassured me to the extent he was able to. I didn’t really have any support or way to get calmed down in the waiting room since loved ones weren’t allowed there. But I somehow managed to at least not fly off the handles. When I entered the operating room, I focused on the nurses. Especially the male nurse who was beside me during everything and let me hold his hand. If it wasn’t for the nurses and especially this guy (who was incidentally, the only other person of colour in the room to my knowledge…) I don’t know if I could have gone through with surgery. The anesthetist was at least good at not causing much pain while he found a place in my hand to stick an IV.

I was woken up in the operating room after the surgery was done by another nurse. I promptly told her I was going to puke which she caught in one of those little plastic basins they have on hand for this purpose. I was informed about the success of my surgery and that I was going to be taken back to my room. The male nurse was one of the two nurses that helped pour me into my bed and I kept on thanking him for everything.

The day was spent in part, sleeping, drunk texting friends, and gaming. Unfortunately for me, the drowsiness wore off after a few hours and I had a lot of time to kill on my own after Cath left me for the day. I didn’t feel that much pain which was great beyond a general soreness in the crotch. I was helped up to my feet once in the evening probably for circulation reasons. That night, these two devices were attached to my legs that massaged my calves to help keep the blood flowing. They restricted my movement and were hard to sleep with going on the time.

The second day, I became more agitated after not sleeping much (again). I hated being cooped up in a bed and not being able to move or shift positions. I found out that I was healing well and that there hadn’t been much blood during Brassard’s morning visit. I was encouraged to walk which was both painful and exhilarating. After being stuck in bed, I had a lot of excess energy and I wasn’t nauseous or in too much pain. Each walk I took around the floor, I did without any support or much pain. I had to awkwardly crab walk and it was hard getting up, but I was able to walk. The stories I’ve heard about how horrible this walk was didn’t apply to me. I did feel tired after a walk, but I was excited to do it. I met up with the trans women who got surgery at the same time as me and found out that I was doing the best out of everyone. I didn’t have any of their pain complaints. I was the first to have my IV removed because I didn’t experience any nausea.

Day 3, we were moved to the resting house. I was anxious to leave having gone out and visited people during my early morning walk. I had a lot of frustrated, anxious energy to burn from being stuck for days without much movement or sleep. The worst thing that happened to me that day was that I overextended my capabilities walking around. In the house, some of the trans women were envious of my ability to just walk down the stairs without much trouble. I was also the first person to have a bowel movement at the end of that day. In post-op experiences, having a bowel movement so easily and soon is practically unheard of.

Day 4 was pretty uneventful. It was my rest day to get used to doing stuff on my own around the rest house.

 

In all my checkups, my vitals were all healthy. I haven’t bled much. I have excellent results. I don’t feel a lot pain. I’m active and eating well. And I’m the fattest person that has had surgery recently. Regardless of all the indicators that my fatness is unhealthy, distasteful, is diseased, I’m still the trans woman with the best health at present.

The fatphobia I experienced was gross. It terrified me and made me second guess my choice. My fat is not a disease. I may agree that it can increase the risks of certain conditions, but it also protects against others which goes unsaid.

I’m a pretty healthy person. I inherited my dad’s constitution. I don’t get sick nearly as much as my friends. I heal pretty well and usually pretty quickly. And I’m fat. The fact that I’m fat according to the doctors should mean I experience shortness of breath, heal slowly, and will likely have bad results. Instead, I’m healthy and fat. My fat has made me feel so strong during my healing. It makes me feel like I have a lot of energy and power. These scare tactics into weight loss are shitty and perpetuate more violence against many trans folks.

I don’t need to remind people that a lot of fat people are people of colour. A lot of fat people are disabled. A lot of fat people are trans women.

And I wish that the medical community would acknowledge that fat people’s perspectives need to be taken seriously. Fat is not a death sentence. Medical prejudice is a death sentence.

The narrative of fat as unhealthy needs to stop. As I’ve demonstrated, I’m hearty and hale. And fat. I don’t want to be put on a pedestal as a good fatty, I’m really not. I don’t exercise much and while I eat well, I also eat junk pretty often. The focus needs to be more about what’s going on in someone’s life instead of what their waistline looks like. While it has its issues, the Health at Every Size movement had some really good points. It’s possible to be healthy at any size. I want to see fatness and medicine divorced. I want fat de-pathologized.

What Surgery Could Have Looked Like

The anesthetist could have asked me what method I wanted and could have given me more information about the different methods. He could have talked about the risks and benefits of each one and his concerns. The reality is that fat bodies are bodies and thus he might not have the experience working with us and let’s say find a vein to stick a needle in. This way, the focus is more on what I want and what his capabilities are, not that my body is going to kill me.

They could have talked about my results differently. They might have concerns about breathing and healing ability, but that’s just it. They’re just concerns. It’s not set in stone. Fat is not a death sentence. All that negative talk didn’t help me feel good about going into surgery. Instead of focusing on weight loss, they could have talked about how better physical activity leads to greater lung capacity and better healing abilities without making it about being fat.

(Cishet) Men Should Read Gay Fan Fiction

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[Image taken from: https://65.media.tumblr.com/92534fe84b34615a4ea697b665250b40/tumblr_nk921y0JwB1t4elojo1_500.jpg

Description: An edited photo of Liam Payne and Zayn Malik kissing. Both of them are conspicuously clothing-free, but we are only blessed to see a little bit of their torso with most of the focus on their faces which are mashed together gloriously in a messy, stubbly kiss. Liam is wearing a snap back backwards and has a hand carding through Zayn’s hair.]

 

Dear non-culturally queer, non-trans men,

You should be reading gay fan fiction.

Now I know this may squick some of you out, but here me out. Reading gay fan fiction will help you get laid and/or get dates! I know! Unreal right? And no, this is more than just a chance for me to drool over one my favourite pairings.

Continue reading (Cishet) Men Should Read Gay Fan Fiction

Transmisogyny and Dating

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[Description: This is a Grumpy Cat meme. Grumpy Cat is a cat who looks grumpy due to their lips. The text over the picture of Grumpy Cat say, “Happy birthday – now you’re one year closer to dying”.

Retrieved from: https://www.pinterest.com/joydawo/grumpy-catxd/ ]

It’s my birthday and I’m feeling a year older and it’s bittersweet. On one hand, I’ve survived another year of life and it marks the fourth year I’ve been on hormones. It’s also one more year where my body is crying that its needs aren’t being met. And the older I get, the stronger the crying gets.

I just want to do the relationship thing. I want to be soppy and disgusting in public. I want to take up space and annoy cishets with public displays of affection. I want to do domestic shit like shopping or laundry as a couple/polycule. I want the physical and emotional intimacy. I want someone that I can depend on. I want someone who can mesh into my household and make it feel even more like the patchwork family we are. I want all the things that I read about in fan fiction and live vicariously through.

Is that too much to ask for? I’ve been single for over a decade without much dating experience. I see cishets married and procreating at my age. This makes me feel ancient and like I’m running out of time.

Continue reading Transmisogyny and Dating

What Undesirability Looks Like

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[Image taken from: http://access-denied.ca/img/logo-accessdenied.png

Description: a red circle with a horizontal white line cutting through it and the words, “access denied” flanking the line.]

I recently came back from a life-changing workshop with a bunch of trans women writers and I definitely learned a lot while there.

But not everything was sunshine and roses. Actually, I felt excluded, less valuable, less part of the group at times. Now reflecting on the whole experience, I realized a number of things were going on. I felt awkward being surrounded by people who I had just met and a number who already knew/were dating each other. They would split off and do their own things or hang around in their circles and I’ve always found it hard to enter conversations. My autism manifests in part as strong writing skills and obvious weaknesses in non-verbal communication. Aka, I’m good behind a computer screen, but I’m a socially awkward turtle in real life around strangers. With friends and in classrooms, I’m more an annoying chatterbox that probably talks too much.

I was also cut off from my support network because I didn’t have data in the US and didn’t have my crew to turn to. This resulted me into curling inside myself like a child in fetal position and I was just so upset that I lost the ability to speak for a bit. I can’t recall the last time I became so upset that I became non-verbal. None of this helped in making connections with the people around me. I didn’t have any friends to step in and help ease me into conversation with strangers.

I eventually got a little support from a couple people which I’m super grateful for. It definitely helped a lot. But the point of me writing is not about the people who were supportive. I’m writing this piece to draw attention to the production and creation of undesirable bodies.

Continue reading What Undesirability Looks Like

I Feel Ugly

This piece is revised from a Facebook post I made. The night I wrote this, I was feeling angsty and I was hurting too much. I have no clue what set it off, but my usual chronic feeling of -part of me is missing and I need to complete it like I need to breathe, eat, or sleep-  decided to push itself to the forefront of my mind/body. I decided to work on my little rant further because other people chimed in with similar feelings. Here’s to hoping that it’ll have a little more impact now.

 

Continue reading I Feel Ugly

The Legend of Green Snake

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[Taken from: http://www.californiaherps.com/films/snakefilms/SorcererAndWhiteSnake.html

Description: Two snake/human hybrids are depicted in this picture lounging in a bed of plants. Both snake/human hybrids appear to be young, Chinese women with long black hair. The green snake/human hybrid is laughing holding onto the white snake/human hybrid who is making a face.]

So! A couple months ago, I attended this series of workshops/community study called, “Through Thick and Thin” which was about fat queer women’s experiences. The culminating project for Through Thick and Thin was to make a video.

My video is a re-writing of a famous Chinese tale called the Legend of White Snake. The original story is more or less, about two snake spirits/demons named Green Snake and White Snake. White Snake falls in love with a human man named Xu Xian and eventually marries him. But shenanigans happen to try and divide their heterosexual union. Anyways. The story has numerous versions so I thought I could write my own. I felt connected to the potential queerness (femmeslash) of the story and felt it tied to my blood. Continue reading The Legend of Green Snake

“Diversity” and the Continued Erasure of Intersectionality

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[Taken from: http://sociology.mrdonn.org/diversity.html

Description: the word, “diversity” is written across the top of the image. Below the word are five smiling, cartoon human figures. In the middle is a dark skinned man with short, wavy/nappy black hair wearing a yellow sweater and belted brown jeans. His arms are around two other people. On his right is a pale white man with short, straight brown hair. He’s wearing a red polo shirt and blue jeans. To the pale white man’s right is a presumably East Asian woman in a manual wheelchair with shoulder-length black hair. She’s wearing a goldenrod button up and violet pants. Her chair is facing to the left. To the dark skinned man’s left is a warmer toned white woman with long red hair. She’s wearing  a teal sweater with a white “H” in the middle and is wearing a shirt white skirt and knee high socks. To the left of the warmer toned white woman is a warm toned white man in a manual wheelchair with short, straight blonde hair. He’s wearing a green t-shirt and violet pants. His chair is facing forward.]

I feel pretty ambivalent about the word, “diversity”. On the one hand, I was raised discursively to talk about diversity through queer organizing and anti-oppressive work. But I can’t help but despair at where it falls short and how I see it being applied incorrectly.

Continue reading “Diversity” and the Continued Erasure of Intersectionality