I grew up in the small town of Loganville, Georgia where everybody knows everybody’s business. In 2007 just before i turned 17, i came out as lesbian. After that at school things were not different but at home life became difficult for that first year until I joined the military right after my 17th birthday.
Looking back at my childhood as a female child in a predominantly male family (on my father’s side) I grew up observing my older male cousins, learning from their mistakes and also admiring their achievements. For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted a beard and muscles, so I made it happen! February 2018 I came out as trans although prior to that i wasn’t really sure what to call myself.
Being black and Trans in the US today.
Honestly, I haven’t had too many problems in the US because of my gender identity in comparison to what other trans people experience in some countries. I mean, of course there are people who wont like me because of my life choices but that would come even if I didn’t transition. I’d like to say I’m a pretty good judge of character. I feel for vibes and listen to conversations. The saying goes, let a person talk long enough and they will reveal all you need to know about them. I value respect over anything and that’s how I carry myself. Presentation is always the first thing a person encounters before you even speak. My fear is that one day a person or people will choose their love of hate over their desire to be free and inflict it on me in such a way that can be traumatising or worse.
On fitness journey and self-acceptance
Before I knew what the word dysphoria was I used to say I’m going to get my breast removed. The truth is i wasn’t actually joking. I really did want them to be removed because I felt like I wouldn’t be able to achieve the body I wanted if they stayed. Up until recently I thought the only way for me to get rid of my A size breasts was to have top surgery. I am proud to say that I was wrong!
Really, working out is a great stress reliever. I also want to look good, because when you look good, you feel good! I am not a professional body builder or a certified trainer but I would like to say I know a plethora about working out. I’m always learning new ways to shock the muscles in to growth.
After 10 years of service, I’d say working out hasn’t changed me much outside of my appearance. I’ve always had discipline and determination. And I’ve never been the type to back down from a difficult task, people have told me I have unrealistic goals or say I’ll never get that big because of this or that, and to them I say “Watch me do it!” I like the disbelief on peoples faces if i tell them i was biologically female it gives me satisfaction.
On giving back to the community
Right now in Atlanta, GA area I am holding workouts every Saturday after 3pm for free (except to get in the gym if you don’t have a membership) at the moment until I am certified. It’s not the typical; you show and I tell you what to do; I’m actually in the trenches with you, blood, sweat and tears. I teach new ways to work each body part of your choice. That way, you leave knowing more and feeling confident in your next work out.
I also like to post pictures and videos on Instagram of me back before I started working out. I was 135lbs and as skinny as skinny can be, until one day I got tired of being skinny and went after my goal to have muscles. I leave my inbox open for anyone who may have questions or concerns, no matter what the concerns are. Just want everyone to know that someone is there to listen and/or give advice.
On Activism and community
I recently joined a brotherhood based in Atlanta called Transgentlemen of Excellence. I’m also looking to become active in the group Trans in Color .Having communal support in this day and age seems like a must for the younger generations to come. By young I mean not just in age because everyone comes into themselves as different stages in life. Just like I needed the brothers to help me get my footing and understandings, there are community groups out there that help specifically with any questions and concerns that need to be addressed. One group I know for sure is Trans in Color, whom has a webpage already set up just for these things! You can find the link in the bio of my Instagram page @maneesh1313
On cyberbullying and trolls
Online people like to call me a sexual deviant until I say it takes one to know one lol. Childish as it may seem, I’ll elaborate; I ask them if they have ever masturbated to porn, used a sex toy, had sex with an apple pie (lol), etc. Nine times out of 10 they have, thus classifying them as a sexual deviant. More so recently, I just choose not to waste my time and energy responding to negative comments. If I respond, that gives whatever person the chance to enter my mind and gain control. I just delete and block. I chalk it up to curiosity that brought them to my page or the fact they are either jealous or hate the fact that they like what they see. Offline, I’m kind of a loner, so I don’t really find myself in such compromising situations.
April of 2017 I lost my only blood brother, he was a great supporter of me in any way possible. We went through a huge struggle growing up (as did my sisters) but never turned our backs on one another regardless the situation. I am in a relationship , for a little over 2 years now. In the Trans community we all have similar struggles and we remain true to ourselves and each other. Loyalty, honor, respect and struggle will have me consider a person my sister or brother I consider everyone family until I am given a reason not to.
Recently I did get picked up with the UNagency Nine9 for modeling and acting exposure. I did try to be an ambassador for a clothing company but it turned out to be a dud. Other than that, I’m fairly new to the swing of things. I want to become a catalog model of many brands and a fitness inspiration to show the world, not just trans individuals, that with the right dedication, correct eating habits and self-education they can achieve their fitness goals.
On fitness, training, social transition and medical transition
For fitness, I say know what goals you are after and don’t stop until you reach it and once you do, set another goal so that you never become stagnant. For social transition, don’t be afraid to explain to your friends and family your desires and needs. Help them understand you changes because those who are truly there for you are also going through the transition, only from a different pair of shoes. For medical transition, I can’t really speak on that entirely because I have not had any surgeries. I will say, own those scars, don’t let the scars own you.
Trans people battling with body dysphoria.
Your desire to be happy must exceed your desire to make other people happy. If you don’t like something about yourself whether it’s your sacred areas or your stomach, do something to change it. No one is going to change you but you. Not everyone is going to understand your journey and that’s okay because you are the only person that needs to understand why you do the things you do. Some of you may have to destroy your circle just to fins peace in your evolution. No worries because with evolution come growth and with growth comes wisdom. Lastly, just know that you are worth it! Self-worth, self-respect, self-esteem and self- control will put you in a place mentally that can only be torn down if you allow it. Be the God of your mind.
To trans fitness fanatics
My advice is to not let anyone or anything keep you from working out that day. Unless you are ill or it’s inevitable follow your weekly workout schedule. Have patience, change doesn’t happen overnight. Working out is a way of life but it all starts with your eating. Research! nothing beats self-education.
Advice on steroids
When I think of steroids, I think of things NOT made in the body naturally. Those things that are not made in the body I do not recommend taking. However, if you must insist on it, do it responsibly research and do not put something in your body that you don’t know and completely understand. Know about the side effects and cycles; make sure you take countermeasures.
My message to all
Find the good in every challenge because whether we realise it or not, the challenges are what make us who we become. Remember the challenge is not the problem, how we handle and recover from the challenge creates the problem. If someone doesn’t like you, so what, on to the next, don’t let the fact that one person doesn’t see you are a diamond turn you back into that piece coal you evolved from. Always be your biggest fan and socialise with like-minded people; that way the conversation comes easy the need for approval from others diminishes. Most importantly; LOVE YOURSELF enough to let go of what’s hurting you or holding you back.
Name: Manĕĕsh Curley Chatman [MUH-NeSH]
Favourite body part: My back
Gender Identity and Pronoun: Non-binary, I accept all pronouns as long as there is no disrespect behind it.
Hobbies: aside from working out, watching any type of “fictional” law TV shows.
Favourite food: corn pudding
Inspiration: striving to be better than the tracks that were laid out for me and knowing there is a chance I can help someone else exceed their own expectations.
What i celebrate about myself : The tenacity I have to be who I have become, regardless of the many efforts by people who don’t support my decision. I am most proud of my mental growth.
My meal plan : I eat at least 3,000 calories a day, all lean foods of course.
My best workout: I hit the chest as hard as I hit any other body part, if not harder to force it to grow at the same pace my other body parts are growing. Most importantly I google and perform exercises with precise form. Knowing the anatomy of the chest will help you to target it just the way you intend to.