Male Privilege and Transitioning From a Fat Woman to a Fat Man

By Michael Young I am a fat man. Once, I was perceived to be a fat woman. My transition has taught me a lot of things that I might...

By Michael Young

I am a fat man. Once, I was perceived to be a fat woman. My transition has taught me a lot of things that I might not have otherwise engaged with if I had lived my life as a cis person. Transitioning really highlights male privilege and how society can treat you completely differently based on what gender it perceives a person to be. As soon as I started ‘passing’, I found I was treated with a respect that wasn’t often given to me as a woman. My personal space and boundaries were no longer violated, I was no longer talked down to, and people suddenly respected my right to privacy and my right to be left alone. I was no longer treated as if I simply existed for men’s pleasure.

Similarly, my body was no longer overtly criticised. Fat women are disproportionately targeted in Western society. They are subjected to public humiliation and discrimination every day, simply because of their bodies. They are stared at in the streets, they are under-represented in media (and then, only as the butt of a joke), and they are targeted with verbal and physical violence.

Fat men are also at the mercy of some stereotypes – laziness being the most common. However, I can now exist as a fat man largely without comment. I can shop for clothes in most stores rather than being turned away at the door and told that they don’t stock my size. Clothing companies cater to my needs, considering my body type ‘average’ (even if I am on the short side). Most clothing stores that cater to men stock from small to XXL and many beyond that. Meanwhile, despite the fact that the average dress size of a woman in the US is a size 14, many clothing outlets aimed at women will not stock above a size 12. Some stores such as Abercrombie do not stock above a women’s size 10 whilst simultaneously stocking XL and XXL in men’s sizes.

This imbalance, and the effect it has had on my life and the way that people perceive me, is one of the clearest and most startling examples of male privilege and sexism that I have encountered. It all comes down to the patriarchal view that women are somehow obligated to make themselves attractive to men. That men are entitled to gaze upon and comment upon women’s bodies.

When I was perceived to be a fat woman, there was a real sense of not just disgust, but a poisonous, malignant contempt. People (most commonly men) commented on my appearance like I somehow owed it to them to be, in their view, attractive. Like I was breaking some kind of cardinal rule because I was happy with my body without their approval. Now, in complete contrast, I am barely given a second glance.

Occasionally, I still face discrimination as a fat man, but it’s not as vehement, societally sanctioned nor pervasive as it once was. My treatment has changed simply because of the way that society perceives my gender. This is male privilege in action. We live in a society that has built a whole industry on bullying women for not being what is considered ‘attractive enough’ to men. Think about that the next time you want to stare at a fat woman on the bus.

Michael Young is a twenty-something trans* writer from the UK. He graduated the University College Falmouth in 2010 with a bachelor of the arts in English with Creative Writing. He is post-transition and currently involved in several UK ftm groups helping trans* men to navigate their transition process. He enjoys film, is an avid reader, and spends too much time on the internet arguing with people.

  • Diego

    Loved this piece!

  • Zeee

    Thank you for this piece. As a fat cisgender white woman, I will never face many types of oppression present in our current society, but I will also never know how it feels not to be stared at for my weight and appearance. Thank you for sharing your experience and highlighting this issue from such a critical angle.

  • Rhino

    As a fat man myself, the guy writing the article is lucky to have the treatment he has. It is true that a male shape will hide some pounds, so a _very slightly_ overweight woman’s body wouldn’t be seen as overweight as a guy’s body. But once you are truly in the realm of overweight, it IS the go-to for everyone. And not just kids, as an insult, but professional responses too. I’m sick? I’m just fat. I’m tired? I’m just fat. I’m injured? I wouldn’t be if I wasn’t fat. I can’t buy clothes in my size (I’m tall too)? I should lose weight (even though the problem is usually shirts being _short_ not tight). That “assumption of laziness” is absolutely a thing.

    As far as what people call guys who aren’t fat? I grew up believing I was fat all my life (because of what I was told at school). Sometime recently, a friend uncovered some photos of me aged 18. I was not fat by any stretch of the imagination. That surprised even me. Turns out, when you’re 6″ taller than everyone around you, and a big, strong guy, they call you fat. Then you believe it. Then you make it true.

    Everything he said about fat women (under-represented in the media, the subject of jokes, even the standards of beauty mentioned in the comments here) applies just as much to men.

    I’m sorry, but trying to make this an “applies to women only” issue is denying the discrimination that fat men experience too. Why force a line that doesn’t exist, when we can just protest the treatment of fat people in general?

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  • Dallas

    I’m a MTF transsexual. I weighed more than 350 pounds before transition. I slimmed to 220 for surgery at age 41,and we back to 350 pounds within a year. My surgery was 22 years ago.

    For reasons of safety I performed masculinity just enough to avoid ridicule and discrimination. Unlike a lot of male-to-females, I never overcompensated. I got through my first 40 years without being teased or feeling in danger– even though the last five or so years, when I grew size DD breasts and grew androgynous.

    As a male, I exclusively dressed casually in jeans, sneakers or sandals, and shirts. I had a beard much of a time because it was soft. I hated the feel of sharp whiskers. I was once told by a child that I looked like a biker dude– this because of my clothing, hair, and beard. I wore a suit and tie only for my wedding and the marriages of my siblings, and a tux once for the best wedding of my friend. In each instance I was in formal clothing for no more than a couple of hours.

    My mother, who knew about my transsexualism but never spoke of it, was always giving me suits for Christmas and urging me to cut my long hair.I never wore them, and in fact, they seldom fit– but one year she got it right. That year I was out of work and for the only time in my life went to a job placement service. They arranged for an interview for a position as the director of a senior citizens center. I wore the suit for my interview and a second time to make a speech as the newly-appointed director.

    The way I was treated when I wore that suit was astonishing. It was as if the world respected and admired me. That was certainly not something I had had before, and it repelled me.

    The above is to say class or perceived class has a huge effect on privilege. As a passable, presumably heterosexual “biker dude” male, I had little. People did not move out of the way for me, nor was I conditioned to expect them to. My several hours experience as a “business dude” revealed a world of privilege to which I had had no access.

    When I transitioned I noticed little difference in the ways people treated me– but during the brief time when my weight was at its lowest men, or at least some of them, started treating me as a sexual object, and women, or a certain type of woman, at least, began to consider me a rival. I was assumed by men to be incompetent at lots of things, particularly if they were in the supposed realm of men. For example, when I bought a pair of vise grips at a sale table in a gas station, the attendance said, “Now, don’t you squeeze your fingers with those, now.” I realized he was mildly flirting, but it was irritating.

    Once I regained weight, and as I aged, it was as if I had become invisible. Men rarely flirted, and women no longer seemed to feel I was competing with them. I found myself ignored when I was in stores by both male and female sales clerks (which was fine with me. I could shop in peace. When I needed help I wasn’t to proud to track down a salesperson and ask them for it. When I was in line and ordered, people, both male and female, often just wouldn’t hear me, even when I was speaking more loudly than normal. I would have to restate my order. And yet, probably because of my bulk, I’m not crowded in public spaces.

    My takeaway from all this is that women who reach a certain age and weight escape a lot of sexism.

  • j

    Thank you so much for this article…and thanks to the many commenters who have shared their own stories!

  • Sophia

    I’m MtF. I can totally relate to the change in how people respect your personal space and boundaries. I just didn’t have men *shove* past me like that when I was perceived as male.

  • Benji

    I can relate. I, too, am f2m. Difference being that I haven’t transitioned yet. I am, also, overweight. My weight fluctuates. I’ve been average weight and I’ve been 20 lbs overweight. When it is obvious that I am a born female (and unfortunately I am “gifted” as friends put it CURSED as I put it in the breast department, DD’s when overweight, D’s when average, so sometimes when I’m feeling too lazy to hide them, you CAN tell) I get far more criticizing stares. When I post on Facebook with a picture where you can tell, people are much quicker to discredit my opinion because I’m at least 10-20 lbs overweight. And people, overall, treat me like dirt. Like I’m not even worth the time of day. However, on the flip side, when I do take the time to hide the er… things that I wish weren’t there, people treat me differently. Less people glare at me. Less people stare in disgust. Less people whisper. Mind you, I’m not even that overweight on normal days. Normally, I’m only about 10 lbs overweight. I’m about 20 lbs over right now because I fell into a depression that caused me to binge eat for some time after the loss of a loved one. Of course, these people don’t know that. And since bullies are bullies, I somehow doubt they’d change their tone even if they did. As they’ll bully you for mental illness, as well. Likewise, it is much easier to shop in the men’s department. Which is good since I seldom wear “women’s” clothes, anyway (why do we label clothes? why can’t clothes just be “clothes”?). A man’s XL actually fits me. Comfortably. Not too tight, not too loose. A woman’s XL? Different scenario entirely. It’s as though it’s made for someone who should be wearing a medium. On what planet is that considered “XL”? I am a Large in men’s. I wear an XL because I like loose fitting clothes (to hide my boobs, obviously). I am an XXL in women’s. Let that settle in for a moment. The difference is astounding. I am not saying overweight men don’t sometimes feel the pressure to be fit. Many of them do. Society sucks like that. What I am saying is that as someone who has, also, seen it from both sides… I have come to notice that there does tend to be more pressure on women. What sucks the most is that even WOMEN succumb to this mindset. Even WOMEN expect other women to dress a certain way, look a certain way, and weigh a certain amount of pounds. Thing is, even when I’m not overweight, I am cursed with a body type that makes me look bigger than their ideal vision of beauty. So even at my PROPER BMI I have trouble finding clothes in the women’s department that fit me. Always have. It’s probably a good thing I identify as a man 98% of the time. Their clothes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Only problem I have with them is that the pant legs are always too long.

  • Duke Marine

    Totally understand what you’re saying. But male privilege can never be that simplified. Just from the start the assertions about fat men being acceptable are utterly and completely invalidated if we include gay men. Fat gay men are completely shamed in the gay community and made the punchline of most gay jokes by straight media. However, even excluding sexuality, if by “mainstream stores” you mean Target or Wal*Mart then yeah, you can probably find a 2xl. But if you’re at all shopping for something higher end, fashionable, or even just readily accessible in a mall store like Abercrombie, you are totally out of luck. With the “skinny fit” fad that has been picking up speed for years now, even larger sized clothing is athletic fit or ultra-skinny or fitted. These “large” sizes work for bulked-up bodybuilder types, but do not in any way fit most, average bodies. So while I agree that male privilege has its perks and the societal pressure put on fat women extends far past clothing selection, I can’t agree that this particular male experience generalizes to most male experiences.

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  • Andreas S

    Thanks for the article!

    Just a quick tip: The clothing example doesn’t resonate with me at all. Normal clothing stores have limited shelf capacity and it’s expensive to create different sizes because the fit has to specifically tailored to the different proportions. Personally I’m a very skinny individual, and I often have to shop in the kids section in Germany because my size just isn’t common enough to make their selection available to people like me.

    Now, I’m a very social person, and there are issues where I think that laws need to be made to force people to be more social because it betters the situation for everyone (even the forced people, most of the time), but clothing availability is certainly no problem in our society. If there is a market for it (which there obviously is), there are products for said market, even if is is a little smaller so you can only get said clothing online or in specialized stores (of which there are some for bigger people, unlike small and skinny people). You could even get stuff custom tailored using quality fabric which is probably still cheaper than buying new clothes every year.

    This brings me to another point (albeit a bit off topic): The amount of clothing we buy and throw away is much too high, and this seriously damages our planet because of the huge amounts of water clothing production requires, sadly exactly in those places where water is very limited and rationed). Maybe buying durable, nice and a little more expensive clothing is the solution for those problems, too, and personally I see it as a pretty easy to follow way to better my resource consumption compared to not having a car or not buying electronics.

    Anyway, I’m sure there’s way better examples to get your point across to people who can not relate to day-to-day gender issues than criticising the availability of clothing of certain sizes in clothing stores 🙂

    PS: I haven’t touched on the real issues of brands not making stuff available to big people because they think they have to “protect” their brand identity. This is obviously a gender issue, and I hope they damage their brands by doing this. The rational and financial reasons for not having every size available are still valid for them, too, though, so I don’t think more gender equality will change the clothing situation anytime soon.

    • MrsH

      While I understand from a bottom-line/shelf-space point of view, the average size of 14 is very hard to find anywhere. “Normal” stores don’t go that large, and most “specialty” stores start at size 16. So… good luck to us average folks. (Not to mention the price hike between store types, so nuts to average or large women who are poor.)
      You make a good point, though! 🙂

    • Benjamin Geiger

      “it’s expensive to create different sizes because the fit has to specifically tailored to the different proportions.”

      I’d believe that if they actually tailored the fit to differing proportions. Instead, they seem to simply take the smaller sizes and scale them up. Most pants I find that fit my waist are incredibly tight around my thighs and extremely loose around my calves; sizing for my thighs makes the waist loose and the calves look like I’m wearing bellbottoms.

      There’s no reason for 48-waist pants to be $15 and 54-waist pants to be $75.

    • Joz Hunter

      This clothing size issue absolutely resonated with me. I understand shops aiming at teenagers should have smaller clothing. But shops in general? The bottom line would be increased selling clothes for average sized women, the range of women would be increased shopping in their shops. But the catering to men’s sizes that at the killer annoyance. The men’s size run up to enormous, well above average for a man, which is an excellent thing, for men. While the very same shop sells only under average women’s clothes. Actually I find that incredibly telling. It has less to do with the bottom line and more to do with not wanting your clothes worn by fat women.
      This was an excellent way to get the point across, it relates to my every time shopping experience, a source of ongoing frustration.

    • Al

      Ok, I know I’m picking one small thing out of your post, Andreas, but there’s something I think you really need to realize – forcing people who are not social to be social can cause them a whole world of undue distress and discomfort. I am extremely introverted, with a side of social anxiety on top of that. Do you really think dragging me to a party or out in public to talk to people is going to help me, or make me feel like an animal on display?
      This is regardless of my gender. It wouldn’t matter what I was, I would still be like this. I can’t even sit next to people on public transportation unless I know them. And I live in a very ‘friendly’ country (believe me, a day does not go by without some stranger trying to make small talk with me in the US. It’s very unnerving). Please do not assume that forcing people to be social is helping them.

      • Leah

        thank you, that bothered me as well and you expressed the introvert’s side better than I could.

      • Andreas S

        Sorry, I’m not a native speaker 🙂

        When I was saying “social”, I was actually meaning to say “caring” or social as in “social politics” (Things like unemployment money, public healthcare, etc). With “Forcing people to be more social” I meant forcing companies, private institutions or even single people to do things that are good for the general population, like paying taxes, adding disability entrances/escalators to their buildings, or forcing them to conduct business with people they do not like because they offer a service that everybody needs (water/power/gas/internet/…)

        I consider myself an introvert, too, although I have learned to cope with most social situations. I definitely don’t think that forcing me (or other people) to partake in social gatherings helps me or others. Best of luck with your struggle,


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  • Michael

    Hi, I just want to ask a few questions, sorry if I offend anyone.

    “My personal space and boundaries were no longer violated, I was no longer talked down to, and people suddenly respected my right to privacy and my right to be left alone. I was no longer treated as if I simply existed for men’s pleasure.”

    Firstly, I don’t understand how your personal space and boundaries were being violated when you were a woman. Its not that I don’t know what it means, its just that I don’t understand how it affected you enough for it to be comparable to how you aren’t being violated now that you are a man. Were men violating your personal space or were women or was everyone? And if so, what were they doing? I don’t understand how your boundaries were being violated so much then, but not now.

    Now, how were you talked down to? Because you are fat, or because you were a woman or both? I know that everyone gets bullied for various reasons, but how are you different from anyone else? Personally, I was bullied because I was (and still am) a scrawny, stick thin guy with no upper-body strength at all. This is the complete opposite to being a fat woman, a skinny man. What I’m asking is, what makes you so special? Feminists think that they have so much more to complain about than everybody else, but they don’t. How were you and everyone else like you (overweight women) all of a sudden a special case. I understand that it is easier to identify something to bully someone about/ over if they are clearly showing something that can be manipulated, but no matter what you look like you will always be bullied. If people were coming up to you and insulting you wherever you go (the impression that I got) then you must live in a terrible area. And if someone does that, then you just ridicule them right back.

    ‘You’re fat.’
    ‘Go fuck yourself you stupid piece of shit!’

    It is that simple.

    I could try to get more information on lots of this blog, but I’ll just say one more thing. Please, no-one take offense to this, but here it is: If you are a fat woman, then you do not simply exist for men’s pleasure. I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but (most) men do not want to have sex with obese women. Just because someone has a vagina does not mean that rapists will be jumping at you left right and centre. If you think realistically then you will realize that skinny women with big tits etc are the people that men are fantasizing about and wishing that they could have sex with, not fat women.

    Other than that, I have a lot of admiration for you for being brave enough to go through such a change in your life, I hope I didn’t offend anyone and that my comment can be taken at face value and not assume that I’m a sexist, scumbag, woman hating etc….

    • TrixyLix

      “If you are a fat woman, then you do not simply exist for men’s pleasure” And you’ve just validated the point of the article. He was not saying that as a fat woman he was sex object, he said that as a fat woman he was despised for *not* being a sex object, and frankly, you’re perpetuating the attitudes both that fat = unattractive and that women should be judged for how they look. Sorry but if you didn’t want to be offensive, you failed with that comment :/

    • Benji

      Rapists do not rape women (or men) for pleasure or based on attraction. The fact that you think they do already discredited your words before I even finished reading the paragraph. You are clearly, exactly, the kind of person he was writing about in the first place.

      • Benji

        Well, it is pleasure, obviously. But not the kind you’re thinking of.

    • thecovertsociologist

      So… the highest compliment that a man can offer you is to want to rape you? Michael, I think you need to re-think your words.

    • kyleen66

      Oh jeez, how to men violate a woman’s personal space? As a man, you of course don’t understand what that means. Standing line, Often, if a man is behind me, he will be close enough to breathe down my neck where a woman would be a few steps behind. Or if I’m walking down an uncrowded hall, they walk past me close enough to bush my arms when there is plenty of room for him to do other wise.

      When called out on the carpet, they call me a bitch or stuck up, or even RUDE for even wanting a bubble of personal space around me. Men don’t have to ask for it. They just GET that personal space without being asked. Women are expect to “like” it because it means a man finds you attractive.

      Feminists only want equal rights and equal treatment. Not “special” treatment. And yes, every one of your comments offend me. I don’t think you’re a scumbag, but you are most certainly sexist by equating desirability with the potential of being raped.

    • Sam

      also FtM trans and also fat (about 300lbs so not even ‘just a little chubby’) I find it hard to bind at the moment because I recently broke my arm and it still hasn’t healed up right so getting the binder on is pretty painful.

      When percieved as a woman I’ve had men stop me in the street and physically block me into corners to tell me how I’m ‘more feminine’ and how they want my number and they never ever take no for an answer until I’ve repeated it a good ten times. I’ve had a guy stand *right* behind me at a bus stop and whisper various (frankly vile) things he’d like to do to me and then call me a stuck up bitch when I moved away. I’ve had a guy walk up to me, when I’m grabbing some dinner after a 12 hour shift just sitting reading a book, and ask me if I want to come back to his and he’ll ‘lick my pussy’. This isn’t just once or twice but so often that I actually avoid areas near where I live because I HATE it and I’m frankly terrified that one day one of these guys is going to take ‘no’ badly or work out that i am trans and I’m going to get hurt.

      In short Michael you can pretty much shove it.

    • Skyler

      Ways that men (straight, cis men, specifically) violate my space on a regular basis (and do not even realize that they do, I think, because they’re programmed to expect it as much as I’m programmed to get out of their way):

      – When walking down a sidewalk, I must move out of their way, despite plenty of room, to avoid a collision/brushing against them. If I don’t move out of their way, they will run into me, touch me, glare at me, or otherwise make me feel shamed for not giving way to their obvious superiority.

      – When seated on public transit with an arm rest, if a man sits next to me and I’m using said arm rest, my arm is elbowed off of it 100% of the time. I naturally shrink against the side of the bus to be as small and inconspicuous as possible because that’s what’s expected.

      – When seated on public transit, women pull their legs under the seat, cross them, or otherwise tend to make themselves smaller and taking up less space. Men tend to spread out, stick their feet out into the walkway, and put their knees against those of their seat neighbors.

      – When walking down a flight of stairs, if several men are walking up, they tend not to walk single-file (because the stairs are two-way), but in a clump, meaning no one else can walk down the stairs in the direction opposite of them until they are off the stairs entirely.

      – When walking down the street, I have been grabbed on the arm, spit on and called a bitch (by someone I didn’t even have any interactions with), and cornered plenty of times.

      – I have been tapped on the shoulder on public transit until I took off my headphones by complete strangers who only wanted to repeatedly proposition me.

      – I have been nearly rundown by men on bikes who didn’t give me a wide enough berth while walking down a sidewalk or smacked me with their hair/bag/straps/jacket as they passed by too closely.

      – If I make eye contact accidentally with a man while I’m alone, there’s a 75% chance he’s going to make a lewd gesture or expression, say something disgusting, or move into my space.

      It is not unreasonable to expect to be able to walk form “here” to “there” without being touched or assaulted (verbally, physically, or emotionally) by someone getting in my space. Sometimes this is unintentional/programmed behavior (expecting me to move out of the way or give way on the arm rest) and this is mostly easy to shrug off. But then there are the ones that make me scared to go outside because they leave me feeling disgusting.

      Women are not objects whose purpose is to please men. If they want to, that’s fine, of course. But if they don’t want to cater to the lowest common denominator, that’s okay, too. All I want is to be able to go out of my apartment and receive the same personal space by right that men do by privilege.

      Your comments were entirely offensive, and then your half-ass defense and attempt to negate the offensiveness by saying you didn’t intend to offend anyone are laughable, at best, and terrifying at worst. Good job. You’ve reinforced exactly what the author was talking about.

      You’re part of the problem.

    • Cassie


      This part of your comment really struck a nerve with me:

      “If you are a fat woman, then you do not simply exist for men’s pleasure. I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but (most) men do not want to have sex with obese women. Just because someone has a vagina does not mean that rapists will be jumping at you left right and centre. If you think realistically then you will realize that skinny women with big tits etc are the people that men are fantasizing about and wishing that they could have sex with, not fat women.”

      First of all, rape is not sex. Rape is an attack and a violation of a person’s body. Secondly, because so many people stick to the idea that “fat women aren’t sexually attractive”, when a fat woman is raped, it is most likely the case that nobody believes her or takes her seriously. In fact, the common responses are “you’re too fat to be raped” and “you should be thankful anybody wanted to have sex with you”. Yes, I should be thankful my rapist decided to violate my body. Silly me, I thought rape was rape regardless of body size. If rape were based solely on what is “sexually attractive” by society’s standards, fat women wouldn’t be raped. But they are. People dressed modestly or with tiny tits or old people wouldn’t be raped. But they are.

      The oppression of fat women and thin privilege is wholly related to sexism. Women in general are perceived to exist for men’s pleasure, and when they don’t conform to the standards men thrust upon women, they are punished by the male-dominated society through such harmful ideas as “you’re not sexually attractive to me, therefore, I can treat you like garbage”. Fat women are much less likely to be employed as opposed to their equally-qualified thin counterparts. Fat women are usually the butt of the joke in the media, rather than portrayed as human beings. Fat women are seen as animals (cow, pig, whale, elephant, etc.) and nobody bats an eye when fat women are shamed for simply existing. We’re “easy”, we’re “repulsive”, we’re “lazy, stupid, ugly, etc.” simply due to the shape of our bodies.

      Yes, people of all sizes get crap from people. But skinny people, whether they believe it or not, have privilege in a society catered to thin. “But thin people have this problem, too!” is always derailing in a conversation about fat oppression and thin privilege. Just as it would be in any conversation about privilege for a privileged person to speak up and say privileged people have that problem, too.

      You, just like the rest of us, have fallen prey to the sexism that permeates every pore of society. Scrawny men are bullied because macho-masculinity is revered in this society. Misogyny and sexism backfire on men, too. However, you are higher up on the gender ladder simply for being male. Women are so “special” because of the constant oppression by the male-dominated society. Again, the privileged are derailing the conversation about the oppressed to focus on them.

      You don’t realize it, but your comments are dripping in sexism and thin privilege. All of us at some point have been trapped in the mindset of the privileged at some point without realizing it. We internalize the harmful oppression set by the dominant groups, and we defend it. We’ve all had to step back and say “Is this really true, or was it just beat into me through societal standards?” and “Do I have the authority to make this comment? Am I relevant to the issue at hand, or will I be showcasing my privilege to the oppressed?” The first step is to realize and accept that you do have privilege, and while you face hardships, the underprivileged and the oppressed face much worse than you do on a daily basis.

      I respect the fact that you don’t like sexism or want to be perceived as sexist. However, breaking away from the sexist mindset will do you a whole lot of good. Once out from the iron grasp that sexism has on every member of society, whether they know it or not, you will truly be able to combat sexism without defending it at the same time.

      Good luck on your journey through sexism and thin privilege.



  • Barry Deutsch

    This is a wonderful article.

    But I do wonder if you aren’t universalizing your own experience too much when you suggest that fat men can easily shop in mainstream stores, etc.. If you’re not over a 2x, that’s true. If you’re a 3x or 4x, you might get lucky at a mainstream store, but it’s just as likely you’ll find nothing. If you’re a 5x or over, then forget it.

    I think that men are given a much wider range of body shapes and sizes which are regarded as “normal.” A man who is a 2x isn’t “fat,” in the mainstream view; he’s “stocky.” A woman at the same size, however, is considered unacceptably fat, and treated much worse. Generally speaking, men have to be fatter than women before we begin suffering much anti-fat mistreatment. But that doesn’t mean that fat men aren’t subject to anti-fat prejudice.

  • Mum

    Hi Michael, fantastic article and with such insight well beyond your years.
    I am a fat woman on the ‘wrong’ side of 40. I face daily judgementalism not just by being overweight but by also being older, outspoken, strong, independent, single now (and that’s a sin in it’s self, never mind CHOOSING to be so!). A carer looking after other family members with their additional needs (bringing in another whole load of complex issues). And I have a son who has transitioned! What an unusual family we must seem and it seems anything unusual is up for debate and judgement by others and it’s as if it’s their right to do so. I am very proud of my family and everything they accomplish in their own individual ways, despite everything they face on a daily basis.
    They have a loving, accepting home environment, who believes in accepting difference not indifference. My brother’s name is Ian. He has autism and learning difficulties and sometimes signs his name ‘I am’ which is good enough for me.

    • Benji

      You remind me of my mom. Which is a good thing.

  • Scout Moriel

    “When I was perceived to be a fat woman, there was a real sense of not just disgust, but a poisonous, malignant contempt. People (most commonly men) commented on my appearance like I somehow owed it to them to be, in their view, attractive. Like I was breaking some kind of cardinal rule because I was happy with my body without their approval. Now, in complete contrast, I am barely given a second glance.

    Occasionally, I still face discrimination as a fat man, but it’s not as vehement, societally sanctioned nor pervasive as it once was. My treatment has changed simply because of the way that society perceives my gender. This is male privilege in action.”

    Good summation.
    I’m one to talk about how harmful standards of masculinity hurt men, I always cringe when people compare the body shaming of men to the body shaming of women.
    Not saying that men can’t also feel self-conscious or develop eating disorders and the like, but there are clearly observable reasons why these things in particular hurt women much, much, much more often than they do men.

    And on gender non-conforming… Personally, I think I can better explain the stigma against male gender non-conforming in terms better than “feminine/women being considered lesser.”
    Sure it’s a byproduct of patriarchy, but I don’t believe in that way. Though there definitely exists a correlation between gender essentialism and misogyny. I’m not convinced it’s a causal one.

    I’ll write a detailed piece on that very soon.

  • Michael Young

    Thank you, I’m glad you liked the article. I have no doubt that being perceived to be a non gender conforming man was challenging, as you are definitely right in saying that men that are considered ‘feminine’ are punished and discriminated against in our society. I believe that this is a by-product of the patriarchy – as you so rightly note, being female (and therefore being feminine) is considered to be lessor. I believe that this is also why trans-masculine people generally face less outright danger than trans-feminine people (though visibility does also have an impact on this). However, I am very wary of statements like ‘being a feminine man is on par with being a fat woman’, because I think that this is very subjective and I don’t believe it’s a competition. I think that both (and a bunch of other things!) are unacceptable and should be fought against and be made aware of. Also, intersectionality is incredibly important (imagine being a fat feminine man! Or a fat masculine woman!).

  • Sierra Angel Boehm

    Great article! I found the same thing out when I transitioned, though since I am MtF I had to deal with loosing my “male privilege” as it may be. I was happy to loose it. Strangely enough I was feminine enough in my life as a man that I got treated worse than most women do. Being a feminine man is probably more challenging than being a woman. This has to do with gender role expectations and the inherent western patriarchal idea that to be female is to be lessor. Strangely enough I actually get treated far better now, even when people read me, than I used to pre-transition. I am going to say that being a feminine man is on par with being a fat woman when it comes to the treatment one receives by others. Thank you for sharing this unique perspective.