When I first met my dear friend McCall on February 2nd, 2011, I never imagined I would be writing an entry for her blog seven and a half years later. This was at one of the lowest points in my life, when I was admitted into Carolina House, a residential treatment center for eating disorders. At that time, I was a terrified and frail 17 year old young woman. Fear was such a part of my life that I did not think about the future much, unless it was pondering what I thought would be my inevitable young death.
Looking back on this time, I also never imagined that I would eventually write for a recovery blog about my journey transitioning into manhood. I am so honored to share a bit of my transition story from female to male, and how my transition has played a critical role in my recovery from a once life-threatening eating disorder.
While the intricacies of eating disorders are too vast to cover in a single blog post, I want to focus on one key component to my eating disorder: my motivation to engage in unhealthy behaviors. To the survivor, disordered behaviors have met a need, or provided relief to the individual in efforts to cope something that may otherwise seem intolerable. Eventually, these turn into patterns, and can spiral out of control quickly.
I spent years fighting an internal battle to find the answer to why I was acting on these urges that now controlled my life. I knew that there was a sense of safety and comfort in these practices, but I also knew that they had taken over my life and posed an immediate threat to my mental and emotional health.
When I dove into the depths of “why”, I quickly became overwhelmed and found a myriad of reasons that partially answered how and why I had gotten to this place. However, for many, many years I still felt as if there was a missing piece to the puzzle.
It was not until I faced the fact that I was not a woman, although I was born with the anatomy of one, that I felt as if i had found the missing piece. This revelation was not an easy one to grasp, and at first it felt devastating. I knew this journey would come with loss, grief, and complex layers of oppression and discrimination. While all of this proved to be true, I simultaneously felt a freeing sense of relief and comfort in my identity. I was finally able to enter into a loving relationship with myself and my body.
Medically transitioning (through hormone replacement therapy and top surgery, the removal of breast tissue and reconstruction of the chest area) has saved my life and has been a necessary catalyst in entering true recovery. While I still struggle with insecurities about my body, I never imagined that I would feel as safe and at peace in this body as I do now. This carrier of my soul finally feels like home, and I am proud to be a transgender man in long-term recovery from my eating disorder.
Note: I can only speak on my experience through recovery and transition. This blog is not to suggest that if you are struggling with an eating disorder, that means you are transgender. My transition has been a long thoughtful process guided by medical and mental health professionals. If you are questioning your gender identity, please seek support from your therapist, doctor, and support system.