By: Lex Horwitz
Last year, my squash team had a party that was “USA” / red, white and blue themed.” I was honestly not a fan of the theme but wanted to spend time with my teammates. And also, I’d found a pair of Captain America spandex boxers that I LOVED and wanted to wear with a blue sleeveless shirt and white high socks. I figured just wearing boxers was fine ‘cause they were just like spandex, which people wear to parties all the time. At least in comparison to booty shorts, my boxers seemed like the Pope's wardrobe.
So I threw on the boxers and my tank and ran to my friends' house to get ready for the party together—get pumped up, listen to music, and chat before meeting up with the rest of the team. When I got there my two friends, Carrie and Jordan, both loved my outfit choice. So did I, but while they were talking I looked at myself in the mirror and for the first time since wearing the boxers noticed that the area where a peen typically goes was empty and awkwardly poofing out. I felt embarrassed that I had bought boxers (made for cismen) that emphasized my lack of a peen. I started to panic because it was so obvious that I didn't have a peen, especially since the boxers were all I was wearing down there.
I turned around to my friends and holding the fabric of the empty crotch said, "Guys, I don't know how I feel about this..." and the next thing I knew Jordan was grabbing a pair of Carrie's socks and stuffing them in my boxers! When I turned to look at myself in the mirror I found a grin on my face—I liked the “friend-inspired” bulge—even though I still didn't feel 100% comfortable. I was so pleasantly surprised at how casually my friends just joined in the "dealing with dysphoria" moment. Instantly, it had been made into something fun and wasn’t my sole burden to carry.
We joked about whether or not I should position it to look erect, if it should be longer or shorter, how girthy it should be... We made it into something that was simply another aspect of our conversation, not something that was abnormal or something that I needed to struggle with on my own.
After trying a bunch of different positions for the sock peen, I realized that although I liked the bulge, I didn't like the texture of the socks which made the peen look bumpy—it just didn't look right (‘cause it looked like a pair of socks!). So I told them that I wasn’t feeling the sock-like-nature of the peen bulge and they said to just try one sock. So I did. But that looked worse. So we went back to the pair and messed around trying some other positions. We spent time listening to music and adjusting my “friend-created sock peen” and I felt relieved.
I felt like a weight was lifted—not only did I feel less dysphoric but it felt so freeing to actually share my discomfort with others and to be honest about my dysphoria without the comments being blown off as "overreacting,” "making everything about me," being told to "get over it," or simply being ignored. It also felt so great to try out a bulge with other people around and know that I wasn't being judged and that my body wasn't being hyper policed.
Both of these friends are cisgender (one straight girl and one gay guy) and I wasn't sure what sharing my discomfort was going to turn into—turns out it was a story I would keep close to my heart, a story that still makes me smile years later. It's a memory of the first time I tried to pack. It's a story of true friends.
Before going down to the party, I took the socks out. Although I felt comfortable with the bulge around my close friends, I wasn't ready to have a visible bulge around my other teammates. The journey to finding comfort in my body is a process. It’s not something that will be settled overnight. So this party was a no go on the sock peen, but maybe a later party will have the packing green light.
Whatever I decide, I know to make my comfort a priority.