I did something recently that I didn’t think I would ever do again. I put on a swimsuit and swam. It was one of the scariest things I’ve done since coming out as transgender. I was in the relative safety of my close family, but even then it was hard to show myself in a swimsuit.
Growing up swimming was something I, and anyone affluent enough to enjoy a community or private pool, take for granted. My family vacationed in the Ozarks, specifically outside of Branson, Missouri. We’d swim in the lake or one of the pools in the cabin resort we’d visit each summer. We also belonged to a pool club that we’d swim at during some summers.
I was never really comfortable with my body and my appearance, but dysphoria isn’t something I could have understood at that young of an age. Nonetheless I’d put on a swimsuit and enjoy the water.
A lot of transgender people, however, cannot so easily do the same. It is hard to find a swimsuit that can hide the obvious bulge in a pre-operation transgender woman’s crotch. Swim trunks for men do the task, but look strange when paired with a top made for women. In addition, it’s almost impossible to find a top that would fit the pre-pubescent breasts of an early-in-transition transgender woman. I don’t even want to think about how hard it must be for a pre-surgery transgender man to deal with having to cover up in the pool.
Before this weekend, the last time I had put on a suit was two months after starting hormone replacement therapy. I wore a two piece bikini with a skirt, and swam in an empty hotel pool. The top didn’t fit right, and the bottom hid everything when dry, but the second it got wet it clung and revealed everything. It was far from a euphoric experience. I looked like a man in a woman’s swimsuit.
This weekend, however, was different. It’s been three years, and while I’m not sure if I am quite fully developed or not, I can actually fit into a proper top, and with a bit of searching I was able to find a bottom that had a skirt that did a halfway decent job of hiding my junk. Putting on the swimsuit was, for the first time, euphoria inducing. With the exception of my wide shoulders, I actually looked like a woman.
It felt great, but once it was on I had the realization I’d have to walk out of the bedroom I was staying in, and confront my fears of being in front of my family. I was sure they would say something. Not intentionally something that would hurt me, but no matter what they said, it would make me self-conscious. Much more so than I already was.
Fortunately, what I feared would not come to pass. I managed to get into the pool without an awkward word from my family.
It was great, and euphoria inducing, which is so nice compared to everything else that causes so much dysphoria.