Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies: M.J. Depina

Today’s reflection on life changes, transition, and body image comes to us from M.J. Depina, a pre-op FTM, Licensed Massage Therapist, and an AAI-ISMA Certified Personal Trainer who loves going to the gym. He enjoys networking with people and wants to utilize his skills for the greater good in our community.


Hi, my name is Marc Joao, but I go by “M.J.” Before my transition, career, and improved body image, I was a lost person, not knowing what to do with my life. I wanted to be somebody, but I didn’t know how to get there.

When I was a kid, I knew something was up with me. I was born a female but acted very masculine. I loved playing sports, played with action figures instead of Barbie. Most importantly, I absolutely hated wearing dresses. I mean, I’d kick and scream, dodging from my mother. But as I got older, I realized I couldn’t stop my body from changing, so I was disappointed and emotional. Being bullied and teased throughout my school years didn’t help either. My confidence was really low, and I couldn’t defend myself.

I felt alone because I didn’t have anybody to help me who I could trust to share my secret. Thank god for the lesbian community, they took me under their wings. Before I knew I was Trans, I identified as a “Butch” masculine lesbian during and after my college days. It helped me release some built-up tension, and I had a group of special individuals who accepted me. But as soon as I started dating, I realized how much I was still uncomfortable in the body I was in. I even tried working out harder in the gym to build muscle because I hated my chest.

It was through couples therapy that I discovered I was Trans. My relationship ended, but I managed to get something life-transforming out of it. Seriously, I accepted the trade-off as a blessing in disguise. Finally, I had a reason to light a fire under my ass. I took the Personal Training test, then started hormones, and went to school for massage therapy. I graduated, and am now employed as a massage therapist. I haven’t been this happy in a long time, and it feels amazing!

I love meeting and helping people. There are many of our brothers and sisters who are in need of a massage, but are dysphoric and uncomfortable going to a spa. Even though I’m pre-op, I can relate to this. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to be a part of BI4J. We want to create a network of services to benefit the community. As a trans man, I want to provide a service to my brothers and sisters. Not just because I want to, but because it feels right. I hope to meet you all at our upcoming events.

Peace n’ love,



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