Slimming World and transgender people

1482766_10152117222661068_1688192330_nI’ve Googled those five words a few times over the past three years and not really found out too much – so I thought I’d write about my experiences of being a Slimming World member who just happens to be transgender – and it’s all good (well, mostly!)

I wrote in my last blog post a little about my time in Slimming World – and how, over the past few weeks, I’ve come out to various members of my amazing group that I’m trans, even winning a golden Slimmer of the Week certificate made out to Andie instead of Andy tonight.

So I thought I’d write a little more. I joined three years ago, and I’ve told the story to group so many times of why I joined with my then girlfriend – we’d both put weight on and decided to join together. In my case, I hated my body and I got out of breath just tying up my shoelaces.

As of tonight, I’ve lost 3st 3lb and I feel epic for it. As well as looking and feeling better, I’ve made what I believe will be lifelong friendships – and I look forward to my Thursday nights as social occasions. My consultant, Liza, has a heart of gold and is so motivating.

'Now that could be a problem.'
Me before Slimming World

If you’ve done bad, she won’t judge you – she’ll just coax you back to the plan and point out what you’re doing wrong. And if you’ve done well, as I have this past fortnight (lost 8½lb, don’t ya know?!) then the look of pride on her face is a picture. I never really take pride for my achievements – but I like it when other people do, and nobody does it quite like Liza.

Anyway, a couple of times every year, we all do a little talk about why we joined Slimming World and how it’s changed our lives. And I always come out with the same old spiel – couldn’t do my shoelaces up… was sick of being lardy… lost the weight, took up exercise, took up ballet, life changed for the better.

And while all of that is absolutely true, it’s not the real reason I joined at all. The real reason is that I’m transgender and want to start hormone therapy – and I read somewhere that I wouldn’t be prescribed estrogen if I was overweight (at the time I was obese).

Now I’ve since read that it’s only surgery “down there” that surgeons won’t perform if you’re overweight. I don’t want that. Whether it’s hormones, too, I’m not sure. I shall find out when I attend my first appointment at Nottingham GIC on May 31st and ask the question.

But hey, it can’t hurt being slimmer anyway. Who wants to sashay around in a strappy summer dress when you’ve got a big “apple-shaped” tummy from eating and drinking too much? It’s not such a good look.

I remember seeing the A-board outside group the first few times I went. There was a picture of a stunning woman – probably from one of the Slimming World Magazine covers – wearing a daffodil yellow dress. She looked sensational and I thought: I want to be like that.

-hzAfYzC
Yellow Dress Girl! My motivation in those early weeks

Frocks aside, have you ever worn heels? They really hurt! They hurt even more if you’re carrying around a few stone of fat that shouldn’t be there.

So, stop press, hormones – that’s the real reason I joined Slimming World, and I’ve never looked back. I’m not at target yet – but I plan to be by the end of this year. As of tonight, I’m ahead of schedule. Once I get there, I’ll keep attending group. I’ll be a member for life.

Soooo, what’s it like being a trans member of Slimming World? Well, it’s only recently that I’ve come out as trans – and even now, that’s only to four people at group.

I told my target member pal Jan a few months ago and then Liza, the consultant. Both were incredibly supportive and said all the right things. Last week, I told Debbie and Heidi, and they were equally wonderful. Tonight, Debs wrote out my Slimmer of the Week certificate to Andie rather than Andy for the first time. I almost cried with joy, big wuss!

I’ve not come out to the group yet. I may do one day but have no plans to do so yet. I’m far happier just telling people one by one – and that goes for other friends, too. It might be a little overwhelming to tell everyone all at the same time and have 30 or 40 pairs of eyes watching me as I try to explain myself.

When I got home tonight, I decided to update my name on the website. It was dead easy to do. You just log on, head to your profile, delete the old name and replace it with the new one. If only it were that easy outside Slimming World! No Deed Poll or Gender Recognition Certificates needed here!

swonline
Now doesn’t that look better? Not sure about cheerleading, though.

I checked the app on my mobile phone and that had automatically updated with Andie. Great stuff.

Then I looked at the website again. Two gender options – male and female. No non-binary option at all. This is where Slimming World lets itself down a teeny bit. I did email them about three-and-a-half months ago to explain that I’m non-binary, and asking if they could add a non-binary option. Even “prefer not to say” or “other” would have been better.

I had the following reply:

With regards to the gender options on our website, we want to reassure you that we have passed on your feedback to the relevant team for future consideration with coming developments.

Well, a few months later, there’s been no change, sadly. These days, most large organisations do offer a third gender option, so it would be lovely to see one here in future.

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And the app version

As of tonight, I changed my gender on the website and app to female. As I’m non-binary and transfeminine, I identify with my female side more than my male one. Again, that was easy to do on the website. Again, wouldn’t it be marvellous if you could switch gender so easily in real life?

Another thing that occurred to me when I wrote my email was the awards. I’ve won the group’s Mr Sleek title twice and am the current Man of the Year. But I’ve always felt uncomfortable about those. Although most members of the group consider me male, I ain’t!

I’ve always just gone along with it before, but I shall pull out in future. I can’t be taking estrogen and trying to win a male competition – that’s just not right!

Again, I mentioned this in my email. They replied:

We want to reassure you that our competitions are open to everyone regardless of ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation and that we do have a number of competitions that aren’t gender orientated. Our competitions have various criteria and so if you feel there is a criteria you particularly identify with you’re welcome to be nominated regardless of your gender.

Basically, that’s saying I could go for Man of the Year, Woman of the Year, Mr Sleek and Miss Slinky, and that’s fair enough. I can see their point – I’m more than likely the only non-binary Slimming World member in the country, and I can’t expect them to create Non-Binary Person of the Year or Mx Slinky competitions just for one person.

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From Sleek to Slinky?

Good to know I can have my pick of the competitions. In fact, before I joined the group, and before the Mr Sleek contest was invented, the winner of Miss Slinky was a guy. I think the previous consultant decided it should be open to anyone, regardless of gender, and the winner had done particularly well, losing several stone.

So as for what I’ll do when it comes to the next competitions, I don’t know. We’ve just had Greatest Loser and Couple of the Year – they weren’t an issue as I wasn’t eligible for either.

I won’t be going for Man of the Year or Mr Sleek again – not sure what I’m going to say to group about that, but I’ll think of something. And I feel a bit awkward about going for Woman of the Year and Miss Slinky because I don’t want all the cisgender women there to think I’m invading their territory. Tis a tricky one!

Anyway, trust me to be awkward. Those two glitches aside, the Slimming World family has made me very welcome as both a transgender and non-binary member, and I shall be forever grateful for that.

Liza took a look at the blog tonight and sent this message:

It’s just so lovely and open and honest. I have always thought you were amazing but I have a whole new respect for you. You have been through some shit haven’t you! I truly think better things are coming your way. You will find true love for who you really are. May might seem ages away but it will be here before you know it…You’ve waited this long! So excited to see where this journey will take you. x

She’s a superstar. If there’s a Consultant of the Year contest, she should win it hands down. I love her to bits.

sw_med_logo
Never a truer word said

Trans issues aside, it’s a great lifestyle. I’ve tried loads of diets in the past – everything from cabbage soup to 5:2. I was even a vegan for two years, purely to lose weight – not the right reason to become a vegan at all. And while I lost weight on all of them, I soon put it back on.

Slimming World has been the only plan with which I’ve consistently lost weight and kept it off. And if that means my BMI is low enough that I can be prescribed HRT to further unlock the real me, then that’s all for the good I reckon.

I’d love to work for the firm one day – that would be my ultimate dream. For now, I’ll keep on counting the syns, watching the pounds melt away and making beautiful, openminded and understanding friends.

Thank you, Slimming World. I love ya!

Andie xxx

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