Like you, I’m not comfortable with my at-birth gender assignment, I have struggled with eating and body image, and I’m Autistic. I think these things intersect super frequently!

As a child, I was completely uninterested in food. I was bothered by some textures and was a bit picky, but I was able to eat in a purely utilitarian way — to get what I needed to keep going. In my teenage years, I became increasingly uncomfortable with my growing body, and restricted and over-exercised in order to get narrower hips, a flatter stomach, and a generally more “androgynous” appearance.

This continued for years, until I developed severe anemia and a heart murmur in my mid-twenties, as a result of years of nutritional deprivation and illness. I started exploring eating disorder recovery, and found that a lot of the resources were tailored to women, and celebrated having a “womanly, curvy” body. I tried to buy into that…but I was just as self-conscious and self-destructive when I saw myself that way as when I aspired to be thin.

For me, this was all exacerbated by Autistic hyper-sensitivity to textures and pressure. Certain clothing is so uncomfortable it immediately triggers the urge to restrict, and over-exercise, to make myself smaller. Tight clothing is a no-go.

For me, the way out of destructive eating and exercise habits was embracing being nonbinary, and realizing that my body already was a nonbinary person’s body. My mind and soul are androgynous, and so my body is too, because it belongs to me. I don’t have to change it to make it less curvy, it is already not “womanly” because I’m not a woman. I have also learned to disengage — my Autism can make me hyper-focus on flaws and discomfort, and so for me the escape hatch was by learning to ignore how i look to a large degree. I wear clothing that I think looks cute, and which feel comfortable, but do not focus at all on how it looks on me. I rarely look in the mirror. I don’t have a full-length mirror in the house. I got rid of all my small clothing. On good days, it doesn’t cross my mind at all.

But not all days are good days. And the self-destructiveness comes and goes. But I keep working at it, and getting slowly better.

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