A little piece on bras

I was an early bloomer, as they say, but it sure never felt like blooming to me. While I suppose being the first in your class to enter puberty is never a fun experience, it is only in retrospect that I see how truly horrendous it was for me. My experience became divided into both pride and horror, as I wore it on my sleeve, or should I say, on my chest. I didn’t know at the time that I was transgender – had I known I might have acted differently – so in my self-hatred I decided offense was the best defence, and started to show off my chest. A lot.

Needless to say neither my teachers at catholic school nor my parents seemed very amused, but it was the only way I could handle the fact that something completely alien to my existence was growing in front of me. Literally.

My first bra was a B-cup. It was essential for me that it covered my entire chest, no lumps and bumps sticking out. I opted for a deep red colour with black lace trims – something very grown up, something empowering. I switched the awkward pre-teen boobs for a masquerade of “I’m sexy, I got this”. As my chest grew from a B- to an F-cup I wore increasingly elaborate contraptions; lace, frills, glitter and straps. That kind of extravagance is really quite alien to my true nature, which was kind of the point with it all. When friends admired and commented on my big boobs (and they did so with love) I could distance myself from their words. The bras became shields between me and the dysphoria. It went quite well with the rest of my dramatic style at the time, but it was all a big hoax. I was a pretender in a frilly dress.

I have always dealt with pain and trauma by transforming it into something I can own. I take the hurt and I make it beautiful. That way no one sees what is really happening, no one sees what I really feel. So I spent my free time reading about the history of underwear, watching fashion- and burlesque shows and adding my own (terrifyingly bad) embroidery to my bras. No one ever questioned my love of lingerie, because they didn’t know I was a boy. And when they found out, the questions beat down over me. Why don’t you try harder to look like a man? Why don’t you wear a binder? A binder is, to me, all the pressure that kept me in the closet for so long put into action. Not only pressure to pass to avoid prejudice, but also pressure from the queer community to be trans enough – not to mention the feelings of failure when my large chest is still apparent to everyone.

The advice on how to be more manly (i.e. giving up bras) comes from a place of love and caring, but it fails to understand the different dimensions of dysphoric feelings. The feel of my breasts, more than the look of them, is what triggers my body dysphoria. In a world where we are so obsessed with judging our bodies in the mirror it is often assumed that dysphoria is a predominantly visual affair, to do with how others view us, but that is only a part of the picture. Making my breasts as small as possible to those around me at the same time as I have to deal with the literal pressure of society’s expectations on my chest only serves to create a monster of dysphoria. I shouldn’t have to hide and pretend. I am a man with two big breasts. They are uncomfortable and always in the way – but they are there, for now, and I will not deny their existence, because to do so would be denying my own existence as a transgender individual.

I don’t understand why so many people inherently assume trans individuals should try their hardest to conform to gender roles – often the same, oppressive roles that only a very conservative person would ask a cis-gendered individual to live in. I have experienced this idea everywhere, even in queer communities, and it seems to stem from the same falsehood described above – that dysphoria is all about how others read us. Of course, the idea only feeds itself because if one constantly expects trans individuals to try harder to be enough, we will never be able to be just that. Then we will never be accepted, until we are invisible. Shouldn’t we rather be encouraging whatever makes a trans person feel as comfortable as possible, whatever makes us feel queer enough? If we are to truly reclaim our bodies, we can’t keep pressuring each other to do what others expect of us.

But I also don’t want to be deemed less of a queer. A lot of my male friends wear frilly knickers and nylon stockings, and they are celebrated for their courage. Because I am a trans man I am not. If I wear nylon stockings and show off my lacy bra I am, mildly put, confusing. Unmanly. Unqueer. Less subversive. If I show off lacy knickers with my low-cut trousers I am not trying hard enough to pass.

My main focus now is to make sure my chest is always as unnoticeable as possible. It’s about not feeling it as much as it is about not seeing it, so underwires and most sports bras don’t work – soft bralettes are the way to go for me. There is one thing that I miss about the time before I came out though: I miss the feeling of wearing an artwork on my chest. I miss the feeling of reclaiming the breasts that are not mine by covering them with something both beautiful and personal. I want to make sure that when I look in the mirror I see a lovely piece of design, a thing of beauty, covering the source of my anxiety and pain. If my breasts can never be a part of me then at least I want my bra to be. A bra made for me, and not a woman they want me to be. In a world where breasts are not manly, trans men need to reclaim the bra to reclaim our chests. Frilly or not, underwire or not, minimising or push-up, it does not matter. What matters is that it makes you feel beautiful, empowered and confident – and no one else has any right to belittle that experience for you by implying that your bra is not for you, but a woman that you are not.

I am extremely privileged to be able to get top surgery. There are many who have to live with breasts that are not theirs for an entire lifetime, and we need to face that a large part of the hurt comes from the inability to find bras and bralettes that cater to male and androgynous tastes. My wish and hope is that as trans men are made more visible in the lingerie industry there will also be a growth in garments that help us feel better about the breasts we have to carry around – be it for a month or for a lifetime. To know that it is what makes us feel our best, feel our manliest and most ourselves, and not be confined to binders because that is what is expected of us. I want beauty and affirmation, I want to feel proud of what I am – a man with breasts. We exist and we need to be able to see our identities represented and respected, we need bras that are a part of ourselves and not something that makes us feel even more alien to ourselves. We need support, both from our friends and from our bras, just like everyone else. Because:

Of Gods and Men

My witchcraft is heavily based on the calling and invoking of different gods and deities, spirits and demons. As I do not actually believe in most of these deities, or at least have a very distanced relation to my own belief in them, it can be quite confusing to those few who know about and are interested in my spiritual pursuits. This post will be a short attempt to explain why I use deities and how my belief in their powers co-exist with my belief that it is my own magical power that does all the work.

Were you to ask me what religion I believe in, I would answer “Satanism, in which you are your own god”. If you would like to dig deeper into this concept I recommend The Satanic Bible. I have a strong belief that all religion and magic is in the end just different, and often corrupted ways, of channelling the magic within us. Every living being holds magical power, but humans are the only species I know to pursue an increase of magical power. Usually this is performed by trying to channel magical energy that is not our own – in traditional religions, especially monotheistic ones, this power is believed to come from a god that is detached from reality, an imagined ultimately powerful being (or beings) who hold more magical power than we can imagine. These gods are rarely associated with any magical element of reality, and if they are, they are so in a very vague way. Then there are those religions who try to channel the magical energy of deities that are linked to other magical phenomena, such as different animals, our own dreams, weather phenomena et cetera. Still, what the practitioners are doing is calling upon the power of others to aide them because their own power is limited, they are asking for help, rather than trusting in their own power and worth and demanding it.

That is the core of Satanism. Instead of asking for the help of imagined deities, we use the power of the image of the god to command them to do our bidding, because we in ourselves are powerful and worthy beings. We are equal to the gods, but just as they, we are not omnipotent. Calling upon omnipotent gods within Satanic ritual is to my knowledge not only avoided, but also scorned, because it always puts you down from being the most powerful being in your life – and believe me, you are!

Now then, on to the more personal dimension. After practising magic for only a few years I realised that sticking to the classics in Satanism, that is, Satan and his various incarnations, wouldn’t do it for me. In order to properly channel my magic I needed to invoke deities that lay close to my own heart, deities that brought up emotion and power from within me. You can call for the service of the most impressive and powerful forces of nature, but if you do not believe in the personification of those forces you ultimately do not believe in your own magical energy, and your casting will be useless. Looking back at my life and what had influenced me I found a tingling inside me as soon as I thought of Tolkien’s world. If you are unfamiliar with The Lord of the Rings and the world of Middle-Earth, I strongly recommend that you catch up on your reading. Tolkien imagined an entirely different world with gods of their own. In the book The Silmarillion and various other works he describes how the gods create the world, how they function in it and he tells many different stories of their lives and adventures. The gods are called valar and their helpers, spirits of sorts, are called maia. The gods are all associated with different phenomena in our lives that not only hold deep magical power, but their responsibilities and associations were also grouped in a way that made a lot of sense to me. Thus I decided to use them as a basis for my magical practices. They are, in essence, my home gods, that I feel personally connected to. I have cultured a belief in them within myself, formed deep associations between certain powers of my own and their domains. I, for all intents and purposes, believe in these gods. Sometimes in my rituals I will incorporate other gods. Ancient Egyptian gods, Lucifer, even Catholic saints – but they are always secondary.

It is our belief in a deity that makes them real. It is only through our power and our imagination that they exist. We are the creators, and the ones who hold ultimate power. We are the source of all their magic, and through our existence they live.