What are some tips on working out as gender affirming care for trans men?
Q: I’m a 15 year old trans man, with not a lot in the way of transition except a mildly androgynous face and a previously short haircut that’s grown into somewhat of a gender-neutral bush.
I know there’s a lot of stuff ways people custom their bodies, which are cool but without much in the way of any kind of surgery or a binder that was meant to be a binder, often I have a difficult time about it (apart from my love of makeup, I do prefer to present masc)
I’ve seen stuff online about workouts for trans men? And stuff like that which is supposed help affirm you. I wanted to ask advice about that specifically, is that stuff true/safe? If so, do you have any tips or anything to recommend? Thanks!
K: Yes, there is a lot of gender affirming workout advice online for trans men. Working out isn’t a miracle cure and can’t do anything about your skeletal structure, but it can help address some areas of dysphoria. For example, many people focus on things like broadening their shoulders, getting stronger arms, or thickening their waist. Workout safety is important, it can be harmful to work out if your form is off (or so I have heard, I know little about fitness), if you’re not staying hydrated, if you’re not eating enough, if you workout too much, etc. If you don’t have a good foundation of workout safety already, that is something you could talk to a professional about. You could frame the conversation about workout outcomes (“I want wider shoulders,” for example) rather than gender if you’re not able to or interested in coming out (in this or any context). I haven't personally done much looking into this, but I've passively noticed a lot of workout advice on tiktok and youtube for trans men and trans masc people from other trans men and personal trainers who work with trans men and trans mas people. There are a fair number of workouts you can do with pretty basic (or no) equipment from home, if access to a gym isn't possible or comfortable.
S: This isn’t an area that I’m terribly familiar with and we don’t know what exact things you’re referring to, so I can’t speak to the safety of any particular guidance; my guess is that it varies, and you’d need to consult a professional for specifics. As K says, you can do this without outing yourself by asking about a particular aspect of a workout; this might also help you pin down what you are interested in. Familiarizing yourself with general safe practices and learning what realistic goals are might help as well. My concern would be if the guidance you’re seeing promises results that aren’t realistic, or at least not in a healthy way. Working out won’t replicate the effects of top surgery or anything like that. Also be aware of whether it assumes you’ve done certain steps common for trans men, like started testosterone, since that might affect the results you can expect. Since you mention not having “a binder that was meant to be a binder,” please familiarize yourself with binding safety too, especially when you’re exercising.