I’ve always had a weird relationship with my body and how it relates to my gender. To be clear, I’ve never felt like anything other than a woman, but I’ve chafed hard against what people expected of me because of that.

I never cared for makeup or skincare, fashion, shoes, or my hairstyle, preferring efficiency over decoration. I stopped shaving pretty early on, and pretty much only wore a bra if the jiggle factor was too high. I even did drag for a few years in university.  Weirdly, I found that rejecting the trappings of femininity altogether meant that people treated me differently than if I had tried and “failed” to achieve it.  I was happily non-conforming, and people tended to leave me alone because I was sufficiently unfeminine.

The whole… making a baby thing, unsurprisingly, makes it pretty hard for anyone to read you as anything other than feminine. And things get weird when people think you’re female. Obviously, when I got pregnant the boobs situation changed, and it only got worse breastfeeding. My once easily-ignorable boobs were suddenly the subject of intimate conversations with people who were NOT privileged to be talking about my body. Which, I mean, one, weird?? and two, intensely uncomfortable that I now had this obvious marker of a gender presentation I had so actively rejected.

But you can get used to anything, especially when there are more important matters than your complicated relationship with femininity. So I stuffed my boobs into underwire bras and I stuffed my androgyny in a little box and put it under the bed, and that was fine, except for the dull dysphoric roar that got louder every time I looked at my squishy meat body in the mirror.

It sounds like such a small thing, but last week I traded my usual bras out for sports bras – something I don’t usually wear either, because 1) hah, sports, and 2) ugh, bra shopping is gender torture. But all of a sudden, my chest is flat! And the change I’ve felt in my confidence has been DRAMATIC. I feel like I’m BACK. And all because I’ve put some distance between me and rigid gender presentations again.

I don’t even know if this is even a relatable strip for anyone else – it sure doesn’t fit into the narrative of ‘getting your body back’ (and one day I’ll do a strip about how that phrase often means ‘looking sexy for men again’), but. It’s an important thing for me, even though it’s weird.

I’m back home from Tsukinocon, and getting ready for Emerald City Comic Con at the end of the month! Mark your maps with AA1, because that’s where I’ll be with bells on!!