Make a Map of Me

toiletpolice

Although I took a break from talks with the gender therapist (for reasons which I explain here), I did go to Assen today for my scheduled “psychological evaluation”. A taxicab came to pick me up and an exhausting ride later I was facing a pretty girl who explained how the session would look like. She stacked a big pile of questionnaires in front of me, that were divided into different sections.

“This one´s about mental health“, the other ones will delineate your personality.She added that it was fun, she had done the personality tests herself. After giving me a short briefing on the sections and a pen, I was left to fill in the answers, mostly yes/no type of answers and scales in numbers. I honestly wish now that I would remember all the questions that were on this sheet. But I forgot most of them – there were just too many.

The test about mental health was sensible enough. It gauged my anxiety in the last months, whether I´d experienced anything related to trauma, whether I´d been dissociative or unfocused, and mapped possible coping mechanisms that I´d developed for challenging situations. Part of it made me realize that I employ very little positive self-talk and it wouldn´t hurt for me to encourage myself from time to time.

The personality part of the test was as insightful and well thought out as any “test” I have done on Facebook. Some of the questions, like “Do you think Dutch people build better bridges than others“, “Do you think people who are unlawful should be punished“, and “Do you think tax evasion is bad” seemed to be more about my political beliefs than anything else. I didn´t really understand what kind of insight this could give into my personality.

It would be equally accurate to ask me whether I like ketchup or mustard and make inferences about me based on that. Why ask that kind of thing, when you have very professional tests at your service and online, like the renowned Myers Briggs personality test? Instead of poking about in niches of my mind that shouldn´t be of interest to anyone, that test gave me real insight in my strong suits and my obstacles.

If anything, a Map of Me reduces me to a blueprint based on trivial questions, and further serves the appetite for non-information in an age where every juicy bit of self (every selfie, every update about your microwave dinner) is a commodity. We must expose every last detail about ourselves, no matter how petty, because our friends (and therapists) should know whether we most resemble an orange or a banana peel.

Binderventures

superchest

Different kinds of people sport different chests. Women (that is, people who identify as such) have boobs, men with a little extra weight have man boobs, and female-to-male identified people* have a chest to which they might refer using neutral words, like chest blobs. That´s how I call it, anyway. Chest blobs are different than boobs. Boobs, I think, are usually appreciated.

Appreciated by others and by its owner. Chest blobs on the other hand are mainly obnoxious, and often the person sporting them will want to undergo a surgical procedure to have them changed (though not always). Personally, I´ve never admired chest blobs with the kind of reverence boobs get. Judging by the stories I´ve heard, people who have boobs actually enjoy having them.

This is why I wear a binder. A binder is a tight top that you wear under your other clothes. Contrary to a brassiere, it flattens and evens things out. They don´t hurt (some do, but in my opinion they shouldn´t – if you´re wearing a binder that hurts, I´d advice to get a different one or do some DIY). They can however restrict free breathing a bit depending on the size and in summer they are hot like hell.

They can also create an awkward chest when it meets any pressure. By which I mean biking downhill or biking in strong wind. And while I fixed myself a solution for this (fixing stuff I don´t like is my thing), on hot summer days I don´t want to be wearing tons of restrictive clothing. So I have to resort to another method. Which means I hold my shirt at the bottom to even it out.

The other day (before my re-injury) I was biking to one of my favorite places and this happened. I felt funny though. Would people know what exactly I was doing?  ´Cause it looked like I was trying to cover up something else. It looked like I was trying to cover up a stiffy. Which is worse? If it looks like I´m sheltering a tentpole, at least it will match my gender, but… yeah.

I guess the moral of the story is: binders are great for chest blobs the way brassieres are great for boobs, but they definitely have downsides. Personally I would rather have no chest blobs of any kind, so people won´t think I´m raising a drawbridge, and I would really enjoy just going for a swim, but that just isn´t in the picture right now. I´m looking forward to those things.

*Preferring a flat chest isn´t just for transguys though. Nonbinary and genderfluid people, who aren´t on either side of the spectrum, or just not comfortable on the spectrum at all, might also prefer it.