Thanks to Alex for sharing his thoughts on being a trans* naturist, and for Dan Jones for the photography.
I love going to clothing optional events. They are places where I feel very comfortable and safe. This surprises a lot of people because I am transgender. I was identified as female when I was born, but have chosen to live as male. A lot of trans people are very uncomfortable with their bodies, which can make naturist events quite daunting. Although I have some physical dysphoria, however, most of my discomfort is social. This means that as long as people see me as who I am, I feel fairly comfortable.
Of course, getting naked with a load of people who don’t know you when you’re trans does bring up some fears. Mainly, I worry that as soon as people see my chest and genitals, they may see me as female and start calling me ‘she’. I also worry that people who have seen me clothed and read me as male may be shocked and look twice when they notice that I don’t have a penis. That kind of attention can be pretty uncomfortable.
I also worry that I may end up as an educator. A lot of trans people spend far too much of their lives explaining every detail of their identities to people, often strangers. Although I am happy to answer questions that help people to understand trans issues, it gets boring to talk about it all of the time. It isn’t the only thing that makes me who I am, and occasionally I do get fed up of being seen in a very one-dimensional way.
I also have the constant fear of being sexualised because of my identity (and my bits!) A lot of people are attracted to the unusual or to androgyny. Whilst this, in itself, is not a bad thing, people can be a little to vocal about their attractions or about my body, which can get really uncomfortable, especially in a public setting. Another variation on this is curious people who basically ask me whether I have a vagina or a penis – at least in a naturist setting the answer to that question is fairly obvious!
Feeling able to join in these events, however, has been such a positive for me. I think that body positivity is really important and healthy; and my confidence has grown massively. I have been able to let go of my hatred and fear of my body; which has even meant that I have stopped binding and become more confident in my sexuality.
To realise that there are people who can see me naked and continue to call me ‘he’ is a massive boost. I have gained more trust in people’s ability to understand me and emphasize with my situation. I also hope that my openness has helped people who have never knowingly met or seen a trans person to understand us more and fear us less.
Most valuable, though, is the feeling of equality that is unique to clothing optional and naturist events. Taking off our clothes removes a lot of the stereotypes and differences that e carry around with us and allows us to connect as human beings. When I am naked, I no longer feel the need to hide.
Transgender – adjective to describe someone who lives or identifies as a gender different to the one they were assigned at birth.
Trans – a ‘catch-all’ term for anyone who is within the spectrum of transgender, transsexual, transvestite, cross-dresser, etc. etc.
Androgyny – an adjective to describe anything or anyone who is somewhere in between male or female or whose gender is unclear.
Dysphoria – the discomfort felt by people whose gender does not completely line up with their body.
Further reading on trans* issues:
T-vox’s trans 101 - a quick introduction to trans issues.