Lessons Learned: Part XI – Avoid Purging

Hi,

The other day, someone asked about how they could stop purging. Okay, so first off, from a Trans community point of view, purging is all about throwing all your your clothes, shoes, wigs, and makeup away. At least for Assigned Male at Birth folk, and I would guess there’s a similar process for Assigned Female at Birth people too It typically follows periods of very low self esteem and/or high levels of guilt.

What do we have to be guilty about? Oh, you just need to listen to that negative voice in your head. The one that tells you are aren’t good enough, that you’re ugly, that you’re a fake, hideous, attention seeking, a perv, etc. I would wager that non-trans folk have heard that internal criticism as well in the low parts of their life. Whoever said being human was easy? 🙂

So, with feelings of guilt running high, it’s not uncommon for a Trans person to chuck everything out. I mean, if we’ve got no clothes from another gender, we can’t crossdress right? Problem solved! 🙂 Not so fast, their buckaroo….

While it might seem like an obvious option, I would say it’s not a solution. In fact, it can make this worse. Hear me out for a moment. When we purge, we put ourselves at risk of a negative cycle. We buy, we collect, we panic, we throw, and in a short while, we’re back to buying again.

Whatever starts our curiosity around gender is quite varied and it can happen at different times in a person’s life. When we start to explore who we are, it’s not long before we’re buying clothing that fits how we see ourselves. Maybe we start to find our comfort level or personal style, and we start to amass a certain amount.

The risk at this point is of guilt overload. Somehow self doubt, or internalised transphobia, or other external forces (re: hostile media representation) combine. So, Internal transphobia? This is when we draw in the external criticism of being trans and make this our internal dialogue 😟 If we tell a group of people they’re the Bad Guy, how might that affect that group’s self image and mental health?

If we’re not okay about who we are yet, and that we don’t have the support we need, we can’t cope with the pressure. That stress pushes us to the drastic action: often, throwing it all away in a purge. I would add here that I absolutely do not judge anyone who’s purged. That’s not how things go here at YATGB and really, how might that help to be looked down on? Nah, let’s be kind instead. ♥️ Plus, I did it years ago, so that would be pretty hypocritical of me.

Of course, you’re still you and those feelings of being somewhere else on the gender map – other than male or female – well, they are likely to come back. So, the cycle begins again of exploring, buying, crashing, purging, and round we go.

Breaking the cycle

So guilt and shame play a large part in this and while it’s easy for me to say you’ve no reason to feel shame, emotions rarely make sense and words might not be enough. Of course, that does mean this entire blog is now irrelevant. Bugger. 😉

Jokes aside, to be caught in that cycle is horrible, emotionally speaking. But there is a way out. It’s part self-care, part storage, and steps to self acceptance.

Now, I will be open here and say I’ve purged and I would add that to anyone else who has – once or frequently – there’s no shame in having been there. It’s okay. We need to be kind to ourselves and work on making it better next time.

So, not throwing things away is a good start. This may sound a bit crackers, if every fibre of your being is telling you the only way to beat this, is to chuck all of it. Take a breath. Breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, and repeat. Instead of the no return of purging, pack your things away and put them out of sight. Maybe that’s in a suitcase, maybe that’s all airtight storage bag, a locker at one of those rental places, or with someone you trust. Stash things up in the loft of you need to: just don’t bin things. Once you’ve done that, take a moment to think you have taken control of the situation and you have more power than you might have realised.

What now? Carry on with your life and if those trans feelings return, that’s okay. You are not wrong, broken, damaged, weak, or pervy in having a different take on what it is to be a person. It’s totally okay to be unsure and to explore things. You can go as far as you are comfortable and you are in charge of this. That word comfort, it’s not about playing it safe or staying in the shallow end of the pool: it’s about doing what works for you. Do what you are okay with and if you want to try something else, do. However, only when you are ready. You’re not in competition with anyone and you’re doing your best with where you are now.

This leads us into the idea of being kind to ourselves. If you can be kind to yourself, that can help take the feelings of guilt away. It’s about accepting who you are and knowing that this will always be part of you and that’s okay. Try not to think anything about yourself that you wouldn’t say to a good friend. To be as you are is a superpower: you get to know what some of the things women or men go through, be more accepting of others who are different, and in this world, we need more kind souls. ❤️ To be able to see things from different perspectives or hold seemingly opposing views on your head, these things are a talent.

When it gets too much, distract yourself with positive activities: getting into nature, light exercise, talking witha friend, gaming, reading; whatever it is to occupy your mind and ride out those feelings. Sometimes, those feelings – as strong as they feel – are temporary and with a little time, maybe we can keep them from ruling is.

By being kind to ourselves around our decision to try and accept who we are, we are taking small but steady steps to bring okay, and, maybe one day, accepting that it’s okay to be ourselves.

I’ve written about self acceptance before and I feel it’s more than a journey. It’s more like a garden: we take away the brambles, hack back the weeds, and make the best of what we have. Things will change for us as life changes, yet we tend to ourselves with care, nurturing and supporting. It’s a steady process, not a chore, and with regular looking after, you’ll be okay. Hell, you might even be amazing and cool. ♥️

L x

14 Comments

  1. Wow!
    A really powerful yet gentle post.
    I hope anyone considering the big abandonment of not just a wardrobe but of their hopes and dreams listens.
    May I suggest you think of writing a book for travellers in various gender territories?
    A very big project but not beyond you.
    Just a thought but a damn good one!
    Geraldine

    1. Thanks Geraldine. That’s a lovely turn of phrase about travellers.

      As to a book, well, I’ve thought about it, although that was mainly around writing fiction. Someone said to me that if you want to write, you should write the book you want to read. Maybe there’s something in that.

      Then again, who’d buy it when you can find it on here for free? 😁

  2. Been there, done that. More than once.But not for many years now. A very wise and considered post again, Lynn.

  3. Having over the years read many similar articles on the subject of purging, I have to tell you Lynn that yours is without doubt the most sensible.

    1. That’s high praise indeed, Faye. Thank you! ♥️

      This post has been lurking in my drafts folder for a number of months. It was only this week that I opened it and somehow what I wanted to say, started to align.

      I genuinely have no idea what posts people will connect with. I don’t write for an audience, at least, as in to draw in hits (“you won’t believe Lynn’s favourite shoe shop!” 😉). However, I aim to at least entertain, inform, and maybe support.

  4. What an excellent post on this difficult subject. So many of us trans folk have purged. I have many times. In the end, I thought I’d better do as you suggest here and pack stuff away in the loft. A bit more than a year later it was back down, but the guilt started again and it was repacked and put back. Then, finally, I accepted who I was and the only purging after that was male clothing! There was a mean satisfaction in that! lol

    I think in life one has to learn to be kind to oneself. Kindness from outside can be had, but is erratic. It takes time to learn to overcome the desire to please the world rather than one’s real needs.

    Sue x

    1. To be kind to yourself and indeed to accept who you are: they feel that they are one of the many things people have in common, regardless of who they love and how they identify.

      Good to know you managed to break the cycle, Sue, and your closing statement around not seeking to please the world, wise words ♥️

  5. I purged once – and only once. And just thinking about that now, I find I still rather miss some of the stuff that went out back then, close to forty years ago.

    What was it femme lesbian A.J. Potter wrote…?

    Mmmm-hmmm, she can hold her breath longer than anyone I know, this other me. This inside girl who won’t insist on being called Woman. Just when I think she’s gone for good she comes back with a vengeance, and each time reasserts herself with a little more self-assurance. Looking me in the eye and saying, “I’m not going to put up with your being disgusted with me and embarrassed by me. You might as well love me, because I’m not going to leave you.”

    Quite so 🙂

    1. Quite so, indeed. Thanks for sharing.

      Sorry to hear about the things lost in the purge. I think that’s one of the big risks. Maybe that should’ve gone into the post? That you can lose not only the goods, but also the memories associated with them and that if certain items make you feel good, that’s another knock. Hey ho, another visit to the guilt dispenser.

        1. It’s possible to escape the cycle. It does need both perseverance and learning to accept who you are. Maybe even merging a little, so there’s not a him/her, but just you.

          Good luck ❤️

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