In this episode we will be looking at some of the ways that training can support both non medical and medical transition pathways for Trans and Gender Diverse folks.
Today I really want to take a look how getting active can support whatever transition avenues you may be following.
I have worked with so many TGD folks from places all around the world who have all been interested in adding movement to their lives to help them affirm their identities.
Some folks have wanted to use training to change the shape of their bodies. This is totally valid and something that I did early on.
While other folks have simply wanted to be able to learn to move their bodies in ways that help them feel good.
Not everyone who trains is looking for significant physical changes. Movement in all its forms can play a huge part in supporting our mental health.
I’ve learned that this is often as big of a motivator for people as physical changes are.
And I love that this is the case.
Because it highlights how differently each of us pursue our transitions and the many forms that it can take.
Because transitioning is not just about physically changing our bodies. But it is often the stereotypical way that transitioning is viewed.
Transitioning also involves working through and understanding the ways we see ourselves and perceive ourselves.
And it has nothing to do with fulfilling a stereotype of masculinity or femininity.
Movement can be an excellent non medical transition avenue and it can also be an excellent support for any medical transition avenues.
Training Options for Transitioning
Now you may be someone that is transitioning or thinking about transitioning and wondering what your options and avenues are. This is where so many of us start or find ourselves at points during our transitions.
Disclaimer – You don’t have to transition in any way at all to be valid in your identity as a person that is trans or gender diverse.
I just want to make a big disclaimer here that you don’t have to transition in any way at all to be valid in your identity as a person that is trans or gender diverse.
It is a really confining and limiting view that is pushed that says that this is the case. It buys into the messed up stereotypes regarding the binary that are pushed by so many cis folks. And it is harmfully perpetuated by binary trans folks too.
Now if you’re getting a little defensive about that statement, maybe it’s worth taking a moment and reflecting on why that is.
Because that’s on you. No one is required to transition in a particular way for it to be valid. The binary is a construct and it is not a requirement of others to uphold your opinions of it if you choose to believe in it.
So now that’s out of the way, let’s have a look at what some of your options are.
Because what I’ve learned is that depending on the outcomes you’re seeking in regards to how you want to look or feel, you have a variety of options to choose from.
Using training to present more masc or femme.
Some folks want to change their bodies to present more masc or femme, as I mentioned above.
And there are definitely ways that you can use movement to help you get there.
Some ways that you can choose to move will develop changes that align with particular social stereotypes.
What is perceived as being more masc, for example, if you develop more muscle tone and or mass, or what is perceived as feminine, for example, leaner physique, round and toned butt with curvier hips and boobs.
But to be totally honest here and as I spoke about in the past, these physiques are based on a toxic stereotype of masculinity and femininity.
For example cis AFAB people can be muscular and still identify themselves as women and really lean in to their femininity. Muscles don’t equal masucline. That’s a construct.
So don’t think that if you decide to get more active that your end goal has to be within these stereotypes.
OPTION #1: Weight Training – To build lean muscle mass
Regardless of your gender identity, if you want to develop more lean muscle mass, you can practice specific types of weight training to help you.
I’ve also spoken about the different ways you can train and the physical outcomes they will create back in the little mini series I did on understanding ways you can train.
Feel free to check them out:
[Episode 22] Understanding Ways You Can Train: Part One – Strength Training
[Episode 24] Understanding Ways You Can Train: Part Two – Endurance Training
[Episode 26] Understanding Ways You Can Train: Part Three – Mass Gain
[Episode 27] Understanding Ways You Can Train: Part Four – Mobility Training
Weight training is a really common way that folks who want to develop muscles choose to train. And I get it. I train with weights a lot and it can be really fun.
OPTION #2: Cardio – To reduce body fat
If you are looking to change your shape by reducing your body fat, that is also totally valid.
You can do that by moving a variety of ways that can include light to moderate intensity cardio sessions, lifting weights, walking, getting more sleep or eating to 80% full.
OPTION #3: Diet Change – To increase fat tissue for a curvier look
Some people may even want to increase their fat tissue to help them feel a little curvier. This is totally valid and can be achieved by changing up your diet to eat a little more that you may need.
If you’re trying this, it’s really important to make sure that you’re practicing this in a sustainable way.
It’s not about just eating whatever you want though.
It is possible to increase your body fat sustainably and to a certain point. But I’d recommend doing this with the help of a qualified professional that understands your needs.
Which I’m gonna be honest may not be readily available considering the pathologising of body fat that goes on in the allied health space.
How to use training as part of your transition
STEP #1: Make a list of how you want to present and see yourself
If you’re thinking of getting active as part of your transition to change your physical appearance or support I’d strongly recommend you start by making a list .
Start with listing how you think you may want to present and see yourself, because this is gonna influence what activities you may try out.
Be as detailed as you like.
Think not just about how you want to look, but how you want to feel in your body. Because how you look and how you feel can be two completely different things.
Consider how you want your body to feel when you lay down, sit, walk, stand, bend, lean, move vigorously or any other ways it’s possible to move you.
Because the activities you end up doing are very likely going to have you in many of these positions.
And to start with, it’s probably gonna feel uncomfortable. And that’s ok.
It can actually be helpful for you as it may change your ideas of how you thought you wanted to feel.
This list is not set in stone and it’s really great to remember that it can evolve with you as you explore what you want and how you want to get there.
You can plan your whole transition this way really.
STEP #2: Write down all the things you could do to get active.
It’s ok to be as creative as you like here. Definitely don’t think you need to stick to conventional activities or training.
And it’s not that you’ll necessarily do all the things on your list, but it’s always great to have ideas of your options.
This may take a little time and some research but that’s ok. It’s great to understand all the possibilities.
Your choices in how you want to move may depend on access to your activity of choice, trainers or coaches, funds, equipment.
It’s ok to keep this in mind but our circumstances may not always be how they are right now, so don’t write an activity off just because right now it may not be where you’re at. It can always be something that you work towards.
STEP #3: Try out all the things that you think you might enjoy.
Utilise free trials of things. These are a great way to help you get an idea of whether an activity, space or coach is right for you without having to commit upfront.
We have a free trial running all year round for any person that may be interested in trying out what we do and how we work. We help TGD folks to use online fitness training and movement to achieve the health and transition goals they want from home or their local gym. We’ve got goal-based training programs, programs that can be tailored to meet your specific needs/goals and 1:1 personal training, online or in-person (Melbourne, Australia).
You’re welcome to jump in and try us out.
When you’re looking around for ways you can move/train it’s good to keep in mind that certain activities will offer you certain physical outcomes.
Now you may want to base your practices working towards a particular physical goal and that is wonderful and totally ok. But it will limit your choices somewhat.
Another option is to practice a couple different activities.
You don’t have to train just for training’s sake.
I used to, but since I began BJJ a few years back, I’ve now aligned my training with developing my abilities to support any sparring/grappling I do.
Originally though I trained just for the sake of training and the love of kettlebells.
There is really no wrong way, just be open to being flexible.
STEP #4: Choose an activity you like and give it a good go
Once you’ve tried out things and hopefully found some stuff that you like, then it’s worth dedicating a bit of time to that activity.
Physical changes don’t come quickly so whatever you decide to do, remember that it’ll take quite a bit of time before you begin to see significant physical changes.
I’d suggest you spend a minimum of 4-6 months practicing an activity.
This will give you plenty of time to decide if you like it and for your body to adapt to the activity and begin to develop real significant changes.
Now this goes for any folks that may be looking to increase their body fat as well.
It’s far better to gradually develop this increase in a balanced way.
I mean you could just spend every day eating highly processed foods and not really being active and you’d see some pretty rapid changes, but this isn’t really going to help you long term.
So look around for nutritionists or nutrition coaches that know what they are doing and can help you make a plan.
What if you can’t do this right now, for whatever reason?
If you can’t find anything at all that you think you would like to try, that’s ok. As I said you don’t have to follow conventional practices.
You can move in the ways that you do enjoy moving, however that may be.
The most important thing here, regardless of what you do is to do the things that help you feel good in your body.
Those physical outcomes don’t matter if you don’t feel good about you.
Don’t trade off something you enjoy for superficial goals either.
You may really like a particular activity but it may not get you where you think you want to be.
This doesn’t mean that it’s the wrong activity for you. If you really enjoy it, perhaps reassessing your goals and what is realistic for you is something to look into doing.
We’ve touched on a lot today.
- How you can plan and explore your options when it comes to how you may want to add movement or training to your life to support your transition.
- We’ve looked at how you can do it by sitting down and making a list of how you want to feel and look and of what activities you think you may enjoy that would help you get there.
- And we’ve taken a moment to reflect on the fact the importance of being flexible and understanding that there is more than one way to achieve a goal that you may have.
Until next week remember, you can transition any way that you like. And you can use movement and training in so many different forms to help you get there. So be curious about how you can move your body and how you want to feel. But flexible in understanding that change takes time and things aren’t gonna be perfect or right the first time.