Written by Hannah Pittman.
My body and I have a complex relationship, never feeling quite attuned to one another. It demands all those hallmarks of manhood; the bulk, the presence, the lumps and bumps, and the voice that cuts through even the most cacophonous of rooms.
Joyful trans narratives abound – cries of “I love my body!”, “I feel right!”, and “You don’t have to hate yourself!” reverberate around our spaces. Important messages, of course– the sorts of messages that I needed in my teens, and even in my early twenties, when I finally made the commitment to transition. Still, they never speak to me, even after two years of hormones doing their work.
It seems to me that those proudly proclaiming self-love and body positivity have an advantage. They have something that I don’t; they have ownership. But me? I’m renting.
Those proudly proclaiming self-love and body positivity have an advantage. They have something that I don’t; they have ownership. But me? I’m renting
My body isn’t mine. In many ways it never has been– the terms of the lease have always been there. It was okay for the first decade (you never notice the issues immediately), but by the time I reached the second and now the third, things had changed. The landlord’s agent dropped by one day for a routine inspection and informed me that changes were to be made, muttering something about “compliance”. I was okay with things as they were, but I had no say in the matter. It’s in my contract so it had to be done. This “compliance” was thrust upon me.
The changes were small at first, like changes to wiring. They were not enough to be noticeable, yet still possessing an almost intangibly different feel; A feel I didn’t like, the electricals all humming in subtly different ways than I was used to. Slowly, more and more work was done, leaving a mess that I was left to clean in its wake. Everything changed, and seemingly none of it for the better. Doors, windows, water tank; I recognised my space less and less. What felt like it might have been mine became increasingly alien.
What felt like it might have been mine became increasingly alien.
Every change brought with it a creeping sense of unease, the illusion that this home could be in any way meaningfully described as “mine” was crumbling alongside its very foundation. The creeping mould was never addressed or acknowledged and the damage became more noticeable and unbearable as everything continued to shift around me. My home was becoming more and more like those which I would never even think to desire and comfort became increasingly distant with every new screw as clarity came to all the increasingly apparent problems that had been so easily ignored in the past.
As the changes became more and more disorienting and distressing, my hopelessness grew. I felt powerless; There wasn’t anywhere else to go. This was my one and only home– the only place I could be, whether I liked it or not.
As I became forced to truly observe my surroundings, it became clear the state I found myself in; Wooden furniture splitting and splintering, chairs with legs as unstable as my trust, cushions flattened and misshapen, and a home that was never truly cared for. The dilapidation of all this, against the pristine soullessness of the supposedly “refreshed” foundations, made clear that there was perhaps more control than I’d realised. The things falling apart had been here so long that they’d been taken for granted and became melded into the space in an infinite fixedness. Luckily, options existed! These things could be repaired, altered, or replaced!
There is room and freedom in being able to change and alter these things piece by piece. It is not a haven, not by a long way, but it is something grounding and controlled. As time passes, and more accumulates, the space fills with colour, texture, and life. Throws adorn vibrant upholstery, as curtains hang elegantly at the ends of the room, lending light to shelves lined with books, plants, and ornaments. These small comforts grow, softening my space, with rugs and paintings easing the space in my mind. It steadily has become liveable and inhabitable as life swells in all the right places.
However, it is not a faultless fix. The landlord forbids me from painting the walls, that one tap always runs too warm, and there’s no hope of ever having the plumbing for a dishwasher. I’m stuck with these faults. At times, concerns swarm my mind. Visitors and unfamiliar faces invite themselves in passing, sometimes even joining those whom I’ve dared trust, and scrutinise every inch of my home. They hold my style and taste in low regard and make known a disgust not far from that which I once held myself. I fear the implications. What punishment may be enacted for the curation of what should be mine?
What punishment may be enacted for the curation of what should be mine?
Those fears mean so little next to the transformation of my home from a distressing nightmare to the presentable space that exists now. It has become a place of warmth and comfort, maybe not with everything in its exact correct place, but… something approaching that correctness.
I might not be like so many others and I may not love my trans body. I may not love its water-damaged cupboards or the bathroom that never feels quite clean. But the décor? The small additives that hide the horrors underneath? This offers a small relief– Just enough for this body to be home.
About the Author
Hannah (she/her) is a writer focusing on trans experiences, growth, and the sharing of trans narratives in familiar context. She has an intense passion for community, working to develop and improve spaces around her, fostering collaboration and support wherever she can.
| Follow on Twitter: @HLPitt