BodyImage4Justice is honored to present this reflection on body image by Carter Brown, founder of the pioneering organization Black Transmen Inc., the first national non-profit organization of African American trans men solely focused on acknowledgment, social advocacy and empowering transmen with resources to aid in a healthy female to male transition.
Body image has been increasingly important to me from a young age. At a pubescent age, I had a negative body image and body dysphoria as my body began to develop female characteristics. I continuously played sports in school and exercised regularly in effort to optimize my natural muscle mass, hoping that my body would become more masculine through puberty. By young adulthood, my failed attempts to create the masculine body traits I desired created a greater negative effect on my body image. Disownment of my physical appearance created despair in my emotional health, social life and spiritual wellness and eventually my sexual wellness.
Now, as an adult, I understand that the sense of how I feel about myself and how I feel I appear to others does matter. It matters to everyone, and it should. Having a positive body image is a pertinent component to an overall positive relationship with one’s spiritual self and others. I’ve learned that treating my body well through regular exercise and healthy eating choices makes me feel better about my body, subsequently making me feel better about myself in social, professional and intimate settings.
Upon finding community with other Black transmen, I’ve found inspiration, encouragement, and motivation to be the best I can be in the face of all opposition, even when I am my own biggest opponent. Sharing the transitional journeys with men with my similar, unique genetic makeup and watching them transform their bodies, minds, and spirits into strong and dignified men heartens me to assume many of their same affirmative values for a positive body image. I’m so thankful for all of the people that have inspired me along my endless journey of transitioning into the best man that I can be.
– Carter Brown, Texas