There's a joke going around at the moment on twitter, similar to other observational jokes I've seen for a while, but done particularly well:
Male Writers Writing Female Characters:
“Cassandra woke up to the rays of the sun streaming through the slats on her blinds, cascading over her naked chest. She stretched, her breasts lifting with her arms as she greeted the sun. She rolled out of bed and put on a shirt, her nipples prominently showing through the thin fabric. She breasted boobily to the stairs, and titted downwards.” [original post]
Every time I see that joke I cringe, but it also makes me think of the experience of going through hormone therapy.
Feminising hormone therapy can produce some pretty major body change, and in some cases very fast. Just how and to what degree is obviously going to vary dependant on your roll in the genetic lottery, the type and strength of your therapy, and various other environmental factors.
Facial shape changes make for an odd experiencing getting used to the new person you see in the mirror. Fat redistribution and dramatically reduced upper body muscle mass can alter the entire shape of your body, and your gait.
Even in cases of pretty huge body change (like, flat-chested to B cup in 6 weeks, or getting used to your legs being much heavier over a similar amount of time) I found I got used to them incredibly fast. In fact that was the problem - my subconscious sort of ignored the changes, even in situations where it matters - like manoeuvring through cramped spaces.
The number of times I banged my chest painfully into things or even misjudged something as simple as power-walking was enough to leave me bruised and annoyed, and it took a good few months to adapt to that and stop hurting myself.
Which brings me to what I wanted to discuss: conscious awareness of my body.
I don't have much of it now. I'm aware of what I look like in situations where it's relevant - such as if I'm out on my own late at night - but here's the thing: it's not that I've become more aware of my body, but less aware of it.
Before, my body felt wrong. Like I was trapped in something embarrassing and misshapen. So when I went out I was aware of it. I tried to cover it up at all times, even going so far as to swim in t-shirts for absolutely no reason, despite the weather rather than because of it.
Now that it's changed to something much closer to what my brain seems to expect, the amazing thing is that lack of awareness outside of intimate or sensual moments where I'm made aware of my body.
That kind of self-awareness goes beyond the physical for me, though.
Even being 'aware' of my gender is now something that's subsiding.
Before, I 'knew' I was male and felt a constant pressure to perform / behave as one. I watched other men, noting how they did various things and trying to mimic their behaviour, like an actor trying to put on an accent.
Now... I just do what I do. My mannerisms or physical behaviour are very rarely consciously chosen. My vocal patterns have shifted, and while I've no idea where a lot of them came from, I know they weren't conscious.
Whatever stresses now exist from systemic sexism, the fundamental stress of constantly trying to be someone I'm not is gone, and that's a huge thing.
I get to be me now, and with limited exception and in a twist of irony given how media often portrays us... now is the first time in my life when I DON'T feel monstrous.