Naturism is a wonderful lifestyle that we try to enjoy as much as possible. In as many places as possible. Most of the time we share our own views on the different aspects of nudism but once in a while, we like to pass the mic to hear about how someone else’s experiences. Via this Naturist Talks interview series, we listen to naturists from all over the world. They share their experiences, tips and stories about naturism and thanks to them we keep learning about the different aspects of life in the nude.
Today we’re listening to Liza, a transgender naturist from the USA.
Hello Liza, please tell us something about yourself
Hi. I’m Liza. I’m a closeted trans woman (pre-everything) taking small, timid steps in a journey of self-acceptance – and naturism, it turns out, is part of that journey for reasons that are both bound up in my experiences in life and are surprising to me. I’ve thought about contacting this blog for a while now, because, although I have encountered other trans naturists online, few have been in the same position as I am – still in the closet, still trying to work out their place in the world. And if there’s anybody out there who is in a similar position as me, I hope I can offer them comfort and maybe provide them with a mirror to see similarities in their own experiences.
I like bright and uplifting things like The Good Place, the new She-Ra cartoon, The Lord of the Rings – anything that shimmers with hope and warmth. I like classic films too, and books, and folk music from the 60s sung by Joan Baez. I’m a young lady with eclectic interests and whimsy in my soul.
How and at what age did you become a naturist?
That’s a simple question with a complicated answer. In some ways, I’ve been a naturist since forever. One of my most vivid childhood memories is reading a Magic Tree House Research Guide about ancient Egypt and there was a blurb on one page that was like, “Yikes! Children in ancient Egypt wore nothing at all!” It was obviously supposed to be an “Ew! Gross!” moment for young readers… but I got so jealous! Why did they get to run around naked but I couldn’t?!
So I drew gold rings on my wrists and ankles with yellow markers one day, shucked off my pajamas, and started bouncing giddily on my bed. My parents caught me and demanded an explanation. I remember being terrified, I remember babbling an excuse, and I remember the shame.
Body shame (which I felt when my parents confronted me) is one form of shame. Internalized transphobia is another. Both are unnatural, imposed by the dictates of society, but both left their marks on me. Looking back, I can’t quite correlate the me I am now with the free-spirited innocent from my childhood memories.
I think I first learned the term “nudist” when my uncle put on the old Pink Panther movie “A Shot in the Dark.” It’s a goofy 1960s movie than can be cringe-inducingly racist at times because it’s made by the same guy who made “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but there was this one scene taking place at a “nudist colony.” Now I wince at the term, and at the stereotypical jokes the scene employed, but seeing it as a kid, my mind was BLOWN. It inspired me to research nudism online (and to this day, I count it as a miracle that I came across positive sites like The Homepage of Sunnyday and Cat’s Chat instead of the innumerable gross sites co-opting the term “nudism.”
So I started going nude in secret and privately calling myself a nudist… but then puberty hit, and hit hard. As you can imagine, for a young trans girl who didn’t have the words to even describe herself, it was a nightmare. Pimples. Facial hair. It was like my body was screaming, “You’re a boy! You’re a boy!” and I didn’t know why each scream was like a hammer-blow, so I pushed it down and tried to ignore it. Dysphoria without a name.
I stopped going nude. As the years went by, I came into a clearer understanding of my transness, and as I did, I honestly became rather jaded with naturism in the same way that I became jaded with superficial body positivity. It’s all very well to say, “Love Yourself,” but I started feeling that statements like that came from a perspective that didn’t take my struggles into account – a well-meaning perspective at best, but one that didn’t realize it was blind to someone like me.
Thankfully, however, I came upon articles from YNA (Young Naturists America). YNA sadly shut down in 2017, but on the old YNA site, there were these lovely articles about trans naturists and interviews with trans naturists that made me realize, “Oh, hey, there are trans naturists! And allies who are naturists!” These articles, while written largely from a cis perspective, had a real sincerity to them that made me feel connected to naturism for the first time in a long time.
And that’s where I am now, learning to be comfortable with myself again. So at what age did I become a naturist? When I was little and untouched by the weight of shame? Later, when I actually started calling myself “a nudist”? Or now that I’m in my twenties and I’ve taken up the label again? I’m not sure. I’m a home naturist these days (I can use the term nudist and naturist interchangeably, but I find something… I don’t know?… meditative in calling myself a naturist) and taking small, shy steps forward in my journey of self-acceptance. It’s a journey that’s still ongoing, and I’m sure that as I move forward, my perspective will continue to evolve, but as of right now, I’m proud to call myself a naturist.
Is naturism allowed in your country and what’s the public opinion?
Yes, in the US, naturism is allowed. There are beaches and resorts around, especially in California. At this point in my life, I’m not comfortable going to any of them and prefer to keep my practice of naturism private, but I’m grateful that these places are available. At the same time, I feel like popular culture treats naturism as a bit of a joke (see “A Shot in the Dark” that I mentioned or, more recently, “Zootopia.”)
What do you think is the best and worst thing about naturism?
The best thing about naturism is the way it reminds me of my own self-worth – even though I am in an uncertain space. I’m still closeted, I haven’t been able to begin my transition, but on those days when dysphoria isn’t… too horrible, I can go nude and it gives me a unique perspective on my own body and my sense of self. I’m not a cis woman. I never will be. But I don’t want to be cis. Even if I don’t “pass,” I’m beautiful. I’m a woman. I shouldn’t tear myself apart for not passing or try to strive after passing if it just causes me pain. I shouldn’t let cis standards get too much in my head.
Being able to go nude, even for short periods of time at home, is an affirmation of myself. It’s a tremulous affirmation because dysphoria can still be crippling (and on those days, I don’t go nude), but I feel it has a positive resonance for me. It helps me.
The worst thing about naturism doesn’t have anything to do with naturism itself. It’s the way that creeps and perverts misuse the term online, the way they harass and degrade female naturists. I said before that I’ve been thinking about contacting this blog for a while now but didn’t. One of the main reasons was because I’ve been scared of speaking up in any way about being a naturist online. I’ve seen cis women who open up about naturism be hounded by creeps like that. I kept imagining what would happen if I opened my mouth. Creeps and chasers harass trans women who aren’t naturists. What, then, could they do to me? I don’t want to think about it. But I am speaking up now because if there’s anyone else in my situation, I want them to feel less alone.
Do you find it easy to make naturist friends?
Not really, no. But I feel that’s simply a result of my being shy and reserved about my naturism with others, and my only being a naturist in private. When I move forward with my transition and gain the courage to go to a naturist resort, I hope people will be accepting.
What’s the best tip you have for beginning naturists?
There’s a statement I’ve heard repeated time and again that naturism is more a state of mind, really. And I agree with that completely. If you feel that you’re a naturist or feel you want to be a naturist, then you are. Even if you barely get the chance to be nude, if something about naturism resonates with you (the sense of freedom, a feeling of self-acceptance, a feeling of oneness with the splendor of the natural world, even if you simply like the niceness of the air on your skin) then that’s wonderful. Whatever naturism means to you, it is. Just be proud of who you are and have kindness and understanding for those around you.
Anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
I hope that my words can reach people. If you’re trans and considering naturism, I hope my words speak to you. For the longest time, I was the only trans person I knew with an interest in naturism (and I still feel like trans naturists are few and far between, leaving me a little insecure), but even when I contacted Naked Wanderings, I learned there are more of us than I realized. Nick & Lins mentioned meeting trans women before who have found comfort in naturism. And if you’re cis and haven’t encountered a trans naturist before, I hope I’ve made a positive impression.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Liza!
Do you also want to tell your story and experiences in naturism? Please get in touch via the CONTACT page! As long as we have people who like to contribute, we can keep The Naturist Talks running!
PICTURE CREDIT: Due to privacy reasons, Liza prefers not to have personal photos published. We used generic photos from Google instead. If these would happen to be yours, please contact us and we would be happy to credit you. Or remove the photo is you’d wish so.
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