One transition lesson that took the longest time to sink in but finally did thanks to Dr. Cole, my biofemale friends and personal observations was that women come in all shapes, sizes and body types.
It was one of the things that bugged me, especially after my last growth spurt pushed me to my 6'2" height and I first began seriously contemplating transition in my late teens.
One of my BT (before transition) concerns was if I could convincingly pull off being a statuesque plus 6 foot tall woman. Fortunately I grew up in the late 70's, and there were plenty of examples of tall beautiful sisters around me from 5'10" Jayne Kennedy, 6'1" Phyllis Hyman, and 6'2" model-actress Tamara Dobson.
As I finally hit the gender wall, transitioned and made mind and body match up I had more examples with supermodel Tyra Banks, various women around me in my life and the women of the WNBA.
Even with all that evidence smacking me in the face, I was not immune to the same body image concerns that plague my biosisters. In some cases, I'd argue that those body image issues impact transwomen even harder because of the importance we place on presentation. Being seen as convincingly female can be the difference between life and death in some cases.
Even though I know I shouldn't be comparing myself to a supermodel or the JET Beauty of the Week, stuff happens. Even after 15 years of relatively happy life on the femme side of the gender continuum, there are still days when I feel 'unpretty'.
Some of it results from the negativity that Black transwomen get whacked with on a daily basis. We get shame and guilt heaped on us concerning our transgender status combined with the drama of being Black, and the societal meme that Black women are 'less pretty' than others.
The zero to evolving female nature of a gender transition has me feeling sometimes like I'm trying to play catch up with the women of my generation and younger who have the advantage of having gender ID and body match up from birth. With transwomen transitioning in their teens, it adds another layer of 'that could have been me' angst.
But what expeditiously brings me back to reality is the fact that there are biowomen in society who do match up to the so-called conventional wisdom bandied about concerning how to spot a transwoman. Since you get genetic material from mommy and daddy, there are biowomen who wear double digit sized pumps, have big hands, have to regularly do electrolysis and have facial and body builds considered 'masculine'.
At the same time there are transwomen who you wouldn't guess weren't born on the male end of the gender continuum with petite curvy bodies, feminine facial structure, minimal to zero facial hair who are happily shopping for size 7 pumps.
It's also interesting to read various blogs and hear from my biosisters that they have from time to time the same body image issues and feelings I'm articulating here.
Despite going through all the introspection I take myself through from time to time, I'm happy with the shape and size of every square millimeter of this fabulously feminine 6'2" body. But the most important lesson is that when I look into the mirror, I love Monica and the person she's gracefully evolving to be.