How Practicing Barre Helped Me Find Strength and Community After My Transition

Photo: W+G Creative
When I made the decision to transition at 46 years old, I thought I was too old, too masculine, and too far gone. But I started taking a low dose of hormones, and month after month, I started to feel more like myself. As the hormones moved from my brain to my body, my skin started to feel softer, my hair started to get finer, and three or four months into the process, I took a selfie and just started sobbing. It was the first time in my life that I ever really recognized myself. I waited half a century for that moment, but it was worth it.

I celebrated by buying a ridiculous amount of Anthropologie sundresses, but didn’t love the way they looked, so I started searching for a workout routine that would help to give me the “ballerina body” I had always dreamed of. I wanted something that would lengthen my muscles and make me feel lither, and it was through this process that I found Pure Barre. It has changed every single aspect of my life.

Walking into the studio for the first time, I was terrified. I had always seen barre studios as these unattainable “women’s spaces,” and I was sweating bullets and shaking, wondering: “Are they going to laugh at me?” “Are they going to reject me?”  But I took a leap of faith and signed up for my first classes, and just kept going back day after day.

In the beginning, I would show up, set up my props in the back of the room, do the work, and leave. But now, I’m right up in front of the mirror. I feel like I’ve earned my spot there, and with that, I’ve earned my confidence. I started gangly, insecure, stick straight, and terrified. But I committed to the workout, and now I’ve got hips and curves, I’m flexible, and I’m strong in all the ways I want to be—I feel like doing barre has supercharged my transition in so many ways. I’m so proud of myself, my body, my physique, and my identity, and so much of that was built from the time I've spent in the studio.

In addition to the effects that going to Pure Barre has had on my body, it's given me a community that I am so grateful for. To be a part of a “sorority” of well-meaning, supportive women at my age and with my background is such a blessing. I never had big sisters or a supportive aunt or mother to give me lessons about how to put on makeup, or teach me any of the other stuff that’s foundational to women when they’re growing up. But I get that in the studio. I get a sense of community and belonging that I haven’t had elsewhere, and I really feel like I’ve grown up there.

I’m also really aware of the fact that I’m one of the few transgender people that the women in my studio have ever been around, or that they’ve ever exercised or shared this type of space with, and I’m conscious of the responsibility that comes with that. I know that part of their understanding of trans identity comes from how I represent myself, and it’s an honor to be able to do that and go into the studio and have conversations about it. It’s not a one-way street of people validating and accepting me—I know that I’m offering back an experience that will hopefully lead to greater understanding, greater tolerance, and greater inclusion.

Now, two years after my transition—and with two years of barre practice in the books—I get to experience the world as me for the first time, and that’s exciting as fuck.

As told to Zoë Weiner

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