Trans Joy – Tattoos

Delighted to share this Trans Joy post by Kelvin, talking about how tattoos help him love his trans body. You can find more of his work here, or follow him on Twitter or Instagram @kelvinsparks_

CW: Mentions of Fatphobia and Eating Disorder

Getting tattooed has helped me love my trans body. Partly because several of them depict trans bodies, or reference trans identity. The Lovers tarot card – where both lovers are men with top surgery scars. My fisting tattoo, which depicts a person with a phalloplasty scar putting a nitrile glove on. And the ⚧ symbol which shows me where to do my testosterone shots. I’m planning plenty more—the Two of Cups depicting an m/f t4t couple, a tattoo of a fat merman with top surgery and hysterectomy scars, and what I can only describe as ‘leather daddy trans minotaur’.

I love this kind of art – my walls are covered in art of different transmasc bodies, including different medical statuses. Carrying depictions of the kind of body I have, or one day will have, helps me think of these things as something to be proud of.

A friend once described the act of getting tattooed as the ultimate act of body acceptance. Tattoos can be a way to accept a part of your body for what it is – not see it as a work in progress or something that will be fixed. I’ve struggled for a long time with feelings about being ‘the wrong kind’ of trans, or a ‘bad outcome’ of transition due to internalised fatphobia. The people who are held up within transmasculine communities as ‘successful’ transitions to aspire to are uniformly skinny, and I am not. Like many other trans people, I’ve had an eating disorder, and I think a large part of that was a desire to be seen as a ‘good’ transition outcome – want to be skinny, and always seeing my body as something to be improved.

When I get tattooed—be it on my thighs, or arms or stomach—I’m accepting my body the way it is now, not seeing its shape as a shameful stop on the way to my future ‘ideal’ body. I’m accepting that having a skinny or conventionally attractive body isn’t the price I have to pay for living in this world as a trans man.

Trans Joy written over a heart shaped trans flag

Trans Joy is a blog series celebrating the positive side of trans experiences, to bring some balance to trans discourses.  If you want to contribute to this project then please get in touch. If you want to support the project you can order a zine here.

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