Questions that repeatedly come up at meetings and online support groups are often on the subject of how things look, eg: ‘Does my chest look OK?’, ‘Are my nipples too low?’, ‘Are my hips too wide?’ There are also questions about other men, such as: ‘How does a penis hang normally?’ or: ‘How do foreskins work?’ Here we try to answer some of these questions, or help you to answer for yourselves.
Realistic male bodies
The men we see in films and magazines usually have square jaws, amazing bodies with huge muscles and body hair in all the right places. These are not the people to compare yourself to! Their job is to look good, so they have personal trainers and spend hours in the gym to keep looking like that, not to mention make-up artists, plastic surgeons and Photoshop wizards shaving off an inch or two and smoothing out wrinkles. To quote super model Cindy Crawford: ‘Even I don't wake up looking like Cindy Crawford.’ For most of us (trans and cis alike) this isn't a realistic expectation.
So how do you find more realistic male bodies? ‘Look around you,’ is the simple answer. Walk down the street, go to the beach or swimming pool and you'll see men with wide hips, men with boobs, no noticeable facial hair, no Adam's apple, men of all shapes and sizes.
As for genitals, professional porn is not the place to look! Porn actors will often be chosen because they have an unusually large penis, and pornography production studios tend never to show them soft either. There are plenty of men out there with a penis the size of a metoidioplasty, they just don't tend to be working as porn stars or underwear models.
Some transmen check amateur pornography websites for videos of a range of men’s genitals. There are a few transmen on there too if you want to see if your bits measure up before surgery.
Realistic FTM bodies
Testosterone and surgery are wonderful things but they do have limits. Testosterone won't make you taller or take away every single female attribute your body has, but it will change a lot. Surgery is pretty clever but not perfect - you will have scars and there are always risks with any operation.
Having said that, for most of us what we get is vastly better than what we had before, and for some the scars we carry are something to be proud of, a mark of everything we've fought to achieve.
There are many online groups with photo sections that you may find helpful. Try Transbucket or the Yahoo surgery group.
There are also hundreds of video blogs on YouTube covering everything from your first visit to the GP, to surgery and everyday life as a trans man.
None of this compares with getting to see things for real though, and talking to other trans men about their experiences. Support groups are amazingly helpful and more local groups are popping up all the time.
Diet and exercise
Aside from surgery and hormones you can change the way your body looks a huge amount with diet and exercise.
If you can't afford a dietician, diet group or personal trainer, there are many apps available to help keep track of how you are doing or give you exercise routines to bulk up, tone up or thin down.
The human body is an amazing machine and if you look after it well it will reward you. So take pride in it and come to love the skin you are in.