Courtney Demone, a transgender woman in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada is documenting her journey with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on social media platforms to see when her breasts are deemed sufficiently “female” to be censored.
In documenting her journey in such a public way, she is engaging the world of social media to discuss and consider what it means to be a woman, and what privileges are lost in the transition. Being topless is one of the areas in which she faced a major change:
“Shortly after coming out as a woman and before I had started HRT, I was sunbathing topless in my yard when a roommate asked, ‘Since you’re a girl now, does that mean I’m not allowed to look at you shirtless anymore?’ Though he said it jokingly, that thought stuck with me. The next day I went swimming and left a top on, because as a woman I feel ashamed when my nipples are showing, regardless whether the world sees them as a problem.”
Challenging herself and society at large to question the way we think about men’s bodies and women’s bodies (and about the binary way we tend to think about the genders), she started posting topless photos to social media platforms.
She says of the transition:
“After all of this loss of privilege, not being able to be comfortably topless in public might not seem important. While it certainly doesn’t have as big an effect on my life as overt harassment, it’s a clear example of the sexism that comes with living in a female body.”
Her thoughtful and heartfelt reflections on the female body, both from the inside and from external perceptions and actions, force us to think about our own gendered-ness and bodies in a new way.
She lauds the #FreeTheNipple movement for exposing the way women’s bodies are sexualized across social media platforms, but she warns:
“#FreeTheNipple has failed to show the diverse ways in which people with differing bodies are sexualized, fetishized, exoticized and shamed. It has also failed to recognize that baring her nipples doesn’t mean freedom for every woman. To further explore those ideas and examine these same issues through the experiences of people with different bodies, #FreeTheNipple needs to be pushed beyond narrow definitions of femininity.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. My hat (and shirt!) is off to you, Courtney, for your wisdom and vulnerability.